Immortality

Another post on vampires? Actually, today, I’m taking a little detour. I’m not going to write about vampires so much as one of the defining characteristics of them: immortality. A vampire, whether it is Dracula, Lestat, or Lucian val Drasmyr, is generally considered immortal provided he or she is not slain by some pesky human or the victim of some other fatal twist of fate. With that in mind, I want to examine immortality. Why is it so appealing? Or, better yet, is it really appealing?

 

Clearly, at some visceral level, immortality is appealing. That’s usually one of the temptations to become a vampire (“Become as I. Strong. Immortal …). Writer’s wouldn’t use immortality as bait for us poor mortal humans unless some part of us pined to last forever. I think this is largely a result of the natural fear of death. Even if you are religious and believe in an afterlife with sunshine and flower-filled fields of leisure, you certainly don’t know it will be as you think. No one does. And because of that, there is always a threat of total annihilation as one contemplates one’s future death. The fix for such is, of course, to not die. And obtaining immortality somehow—be it through a vampire’s bite, or what-have-you—is a way to avoid death. Immortality, then, is a balm for the human condition. We fear death. We seek to avoid it. And so we set up elaborate fancies in which we imagine we will never die.

 

But is immortality all it’s cracked up to be? First, what are the positives? For me, I like to learn. I could learn advanced physics, and math, and a bundle of other disciplines that have always intrigued me. Curious about the nature of Infinity? You’ll have ample time to read up on the subject. Quantum Mechanics? All in due time. Intellectually, it would be great for the first few centuries or so. Then, I suspect, boredom would sink in. How much can you learn, how much can you know, before it all just devolves into meaningless drivel? I’m forty years old and some days I’m already tired of life; I can’t imagine what it would be like when I’m 4000. Yikes!

 

Worse, still, is the question of company. Would being the only immortal on the planet be worth it? If all the people you knew and cared about died, would it be worth it? I’d say no. That would be depressing in the extreme. Talk about loneliness. Soon you would become an introvert simply for your sanity: it would be too painful to befriend somebody, just to watch them die a few years down the road.

 

Finally, the last negative of immortality concerns the afterlife. If there really is one, and it really is quite nice, then becoming immortal would deny you such an experience. And that would hardly be good.

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About atoasttodragons

The author, Matthew D. Ryan, lives in northern New York on the shores of Lake Champlain, one of the largest lakes in the continental United States, famous for the Battle of Plattsburgh and the ever-elusive Lake Champlain Monster, a beastie more commonly referred to as Champy. Matthew has studied philosophy, mathematics, and computer science in the academic world. He has earned a black belt in martial arts.

13 responses to “Immortality”

  1. Frank says :

    Soon you would become an introvert simply for your sanity: it would be too painful to befriend somebody, just to watch them die a few years down the road.

    Or maybe falling in love, despite the foreknowledge that the relationship will likely last only five-maybe-ten years, is the only thing that gives cruel immortality any meaning, the only way to keep hold of your lingering humanity, because the day you do give up is the day you truly die.

  2. Steve says :

    I think, maybe, (and who knows really?) one might get used to forming new families and friendships over and over – unless one is socially incapable of forming healthy human relationships in the first place… Then it truly would suck. (And let’s face it – plenty of us have enough trouble forming a first set of compainions – although I suppose all that time might enable one to practice one’s social skills!)

  3. conjurors says :

    And of course, there’s the added matter of drinking blood to survive. That definitely puts a damper on immortality. Who wants to live knowing that you will have to make other people suffer on a regular basis in order to survive? I hope when the time comes I’ll be ready to step aside and make room for the next generation.

  4. nyelome says :

    Honestly the human condition is what that totally negates the concept of immortality. Really what makes us who and what we are is a sense of being finite. Mortality is an interesting concept – whatever the literature; Tolkien wrote a great INTO it in his novels. The over-arching theme of all his work is death ( for obvious reasons) and the certainty of it – but not the hopelessness of it. He has an interesting ‘dialogue’ on it called Athrabeth Finrod ah Arabeth.

    Essentially, mortality changes your perspective of the world ( necessarily.) Also, it is an unconditional part of the human psyche to desire. The basic impulse is one of things that may be acquired – which a fundamental unit of ourselves – it is our ability to ask: “Why?” in many respects. We ask why, then seek to acquire. Not just material things, but also immaterial notions.

    Frankly, immortality be a great agony. The dilation one would incur would create a great, bone crushing weariness and desire for release. I’m only in my twenties and god knows I don’t want to live forever, much less 100 years, much less 90 – etc.

    • atoasttodragons says :

      20’s, eh? Get ready for the great acceleration. Blink and your forty, then fifty. And then, Kaput! There was a movie a few years back called “The Order” with Heath Ledger about a sin-eater. That offered extended life … say five hundred, six hundred years or so. The carrot there was learning. What could you learn over that much time with the appropriate resources and what have you? Anyway, yeah, the inherent mortality of life does alter one’s perceptions when one comes to grips with it. People close to you become more important; material things, less so.

    • atoasttodragons says :

      I had a long, really cool reply to this, but the site crashed. Oh, well.

  5. redraggedfiend says :

    An interesting thought. I look at it as whether the immortal creature is born immortal or made immortal. A human’s mind is not constructed to live forever. I think most people would go mad after a time. And though there would finally be time to do all the things we want to do and learn everything would we be able to remember it? Some times it’s difficult to remember what I had for breakfast yesterday forget quantum physics I learned two centuries ago.

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