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This nOde last updated February 20th, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
(3 Cauac (Storm Cloud) / 2 Kayab (Turtle) - 159/260 - 188.8.131.52.19)
Question: If you could live forever, would you and why?
Answer: “I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever.” -- Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest
1. The quality or condition of being immortal.
2. Endless life or existence.
3. Enduring fame.
Deathlessness should be arrived
at in a . . . haphazard fashion. Loving fame as much as any man, we shall
carve our initials in the shell of a tortoise and turn him loose in a peat
E. B. White (1899-1985), U.S. author, editor. "Immortality," in New Yorker (28 March 1936; repr. in Writings from the New Yorker 1927-1976, ed. by Rebecca M. Dale, 1991).
To achieve great things we
must live as though we were never going to die.
Luc Vauvenargues, Marquis de (1715-47), French moralist. Refléxions et Maximes, no. 142 (1746).
Perhaps nature is our best
assurance of immortality.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), U.S. columnist, lecturer. "My Day," syndicated newspaper column (24 April 1945).
He had decided to live for ever or die in the attempt.
Joseph Heller (b. 1923), U.S. author. Catch-22, ch. 3 (1961), of Yossarian.
Every idea is endowed of
itself with immortal life, like a human being. All created form, even that
which is created by man, is immortal. For form is independent of matter:
molecules do not constitute form.
Charles Baudelaire (1821-67), French poet. My Heart Laid Bare, sct. 102 (written c. 1865; published in Intimate Journals, 1887; tr. by Christopher Isherwood, 1930; rev. by Don Bachardy, 1989).
Immortality is what nature
possesses without effort and without anybody's assistance, and immortality
is what the mortals must therefore try to achieve if they want to live
up to the world into which they were born, to live up to the things which
surround them and to whose company they are admitted for a short while.
Hannah Arendt (1906-75), German-born U.S. political philosopher. Between Past and Future, ch. 2 (1961).
I don't want to achieve immortality through my
work . . . I want to achieve it through not dying.
Woody Allen (b. 1935), U.S. filmmaker. Quoted in: Edward Lax, Woody Allen and his Comedy, ch. 12 (1975).
What is history? Its beginning is
that of the centuries of systematic work devoted to the solution of the enigma
of death, so that death itself may eventually be overcome. That is why people
write symphonies, and why they discover mathematical infinity
Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, novelist, translator. Nikolay Nikolayevich, in Doctor Zhivago, ch. 1, sct. 5 (1957).
Universal Immortalism: The belief that death can be overcome completely, even for people already dead.[R. Michael Perry] - Terminology From The Omega Point Theory List
"he's not dead, really... as long as we remember him... " - McCoy re: Spock, in _Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan_
After Enkidu's death, Gilgamesh seeks to learn the secret of immortality from a sage who tells him that a plant in the sea bestows eternal youth. Gilgamesh finds the plant but loses it. The Gilgamesh epic was widely studied and translated in ancient times, and Greeks incorporated elements of it into their epics.
So everything lingers but a moment, and hastens on to death, The plant and the insect die at the end of summer, the brute and the man after a few years; death reaps unweariedly. Yet notwithstanding this, nay, as if this were not so at all, everything is always there in its place, just as if everything were imperishable... This is temporal immortality. In consequence of this, notwithstanding thousands of years of death and decay, nothing has been lost, not an atom of the matter, still less anything of the inner being, that exhibits itself as nature. Therefore every moment we can cheerfully cry, 'In spite of time, death and decay, we are still all together!'"
Some people remain big fans of Teilhard de Chardin's apotheosis - the notion that we will all combine into a single macro-entity, almost literally godlike in its knowledge and perception. Tipler speaks of such a destiny in his book _The Physics of Immortality_, and Isaac Asimov offers a similar prescription as mankind's long-range goal, in _Foundation's Edge_. I have never found this notion particularly appealing -- at least in the standard version in which the macro-being simply subsumes all individuals within it, and proceeds to think just one thought at a time. In Earth, I talk about a variation on this theme that might be more palatable, in which we all remain individual while at the same time contributing to a new layer of planetary consciousness -- in other words we get to both have our cake and eat it too. At the opposite extreme, in the new 'Foundation' novel, that I am currently writing as a sequel to Asimov's famous novels, I make more explicit what Isaac has been painting all along -- the image that conservative robots who fear human transcendence, might actively work to prevent a human singularity for thousands of years, fearing that it would bring us harm. In any event, it is a fascinating notion, and one that can be rather frustrating at times. A good parent wants the best for his or her children, and for them to be better. And yet, it can be poignant to imagine them -- or perhaps their grandchildren -- living almost like gods, with omniscient knowledge and perception, and near immortality.
But when has human existence been anything but poignant? All of our speculations and musings today may seem amusing and naive, to those descendants. But I hope they will also experience moments of respect. They may even pause and realize that we were really pretty good for souped-up cavemen.
- David Brin - _Comments on Vinge's Singularity_
...life expectancy in Shakespeare's day was about 30 years. (That's why Shakespeare wrote of himself so often as aging and declining in sonnets written when he was only in his early 30s.) In England, 100 years ago, life expectancy was still less than 40 years among members of the working class. It was 60 around the turn of the century of this country. It is now 72. Even if Bjorksten, Segall, Phedra, and the hundreds of other longevity researchers are overly optimistic, even if we can raise lifespan only 50 per cent in this generation, that still means that you will probably live at least 30 years past the projected 72."
"This revolution can't be
defined in ordinary terms, either scientific or spiritual.
Our whole understanding of science and faith is being radically mutated.
Just this year, Dr. Ronald Bracewell, professor of engineering and astronomy
at Stanford, and Dr. Frank Drake, astronomer at Cornell, announced their
belief that "we'll learn the secret of longevity from space aliens who
are trying to communicate with us right now." These are distinguised
men who are careful of their reputations. Dr. Drake later wrote in
the prestigious Technology Review of M.I.T. that he now believes
the majority of advanced races in this galaxy have immortality."
- Robert Anton Wilson - _The Illuminati Papers_ published (1980)
Phoenix (mythology), legendary bird that lived in Arabia. The phoenix consumed itself by fire every 500 years, and a new phoenix sprang from its ashes. In ancient Egypt the phoenix represented the sun. Early Christian tradition adopted the phoenix as a symbol of immortality and resurrection.
I asked the spirits to show me Shakespeare. They said, "okay" (they are not always so accomodating). He was a magical being of great size and power, made of energy. There were a million spirits in the form of fizzy colored lights dancing around him, like tiny Japanese lanterns or candleflames, helping him as he wrote, his pen scrawling across the quantum Void. James Joyce was there as well - he was like a little pendant resting on Shakespeare's desk. I recognized that part of the artist's spirit went directly into their creations. Their spiritual power depended on the earthbound public's continued desire for their work. That is the deeper meaning of the artist's quest for immortality.
- Daniel Pinchback - _Breaking Open The Head_ (online version)
GEORGE CARLIN: As much as I love my family, I enjoy it when the house is empty, because then I know I'm truly alone, as we all are on the planet, after all. You know, every atom in us is originally from a star. And during my moment of aloneness, I'm most mindful of that; that I'm just another group of matter randomly but wonderfully arranged. That's when I feel my immortality.
PLAYBOY: Your immortality, as in afterlife?
CARLIN: Not in the christian sense, but I do believe in the survivability of the human spirit. We were all part of a giant explosion once, and we've come a long way. The incredible distances of past and future time, the history of this whole fucking, vibrating, resonating mother mass - that's what I read and think about more than anything else.
"Frankly, I'd find life a bore if I weren't playing for very high stakes in a very high risk situation. We do have the chance now, for Utopia and even for immortality. If we who see this opportunity aren't smart enough, adroit enough, and fast enough to seize the chance, then we don't deserve to initiate the next stage of evolution... Meanwhile, until they shovel me under, I still think our side is winning and that the power brokers that you worry about are a bunch of dying dinosaurs."
"We should always try to have a reality-tunnel this week, bigger, funnier, and more hopeful than we had last week, and we should aim even higher next week. Besides, paranoia is a Loser script; it defines somebody else as being in charge around here except me. I prefer to define myself and my friends as the architects of the future. If David Rockefeller has the same idea about himself and his friends, well, the future itself will decide which coalition was really on the Evolutionary Wave: the Money people or the Idea people"
- Robert Anton Wilson, 1977 interview with _Conspiracy Digest_
post rock release _Millions Now Living Will Never Die_ by Tortoise (1996)