Sunday, 29 July 2012

Inhuman immortality

In an article on the BBC website, John Gray writes about Theodore Powys and his novel "Mr Weston's Good Wine." Gray sums up a theme of the novel thus:

"only creatures that live in passing time can know moments of undying value.
There are no such moments in a life that can never end. In such a life, there's nothing to treasure, nothing that has value because it cannot come again. Our lives have meaning because they are bounded by death."
If so, then our human mortality is a great blessing; if a creature were to live for ever, it would not be a creature of time, bounded by time. It could not know it was immortal. It would not be human. As a life, it would have no meaning. 
It seems to me one thing to wish to prolong life into a reasonably healthy old age, quite another to wish to live for ever, to attempt to deny the effects of time on oneself, to pretend that this life is not going to end.

It seems to me that if we had a soul, a spirit that survived death, it would be immortal but not human. I don't know what it would be - it wouldn't be me, or you. We have to let go of ourselves eventually - that's what makes us me and you.

Morbid thoughts? No. What is morbid is trying to stave off the effects of ageing with the surgeon's knife until my face isn't my face, denying the reality of life's ending, pretending that life goes on forever. That is - inhuman. That is the reverse of spiritually or philosophically enlightened.


  1. I accept that I am mortal, but I wouldn't mind a really long go on the wheel of life.

  2. Eminently sensible, dear Arkers, I sincerely hope you and both get to have exactly that!

  3. Ah! I heard this on my in-car wireless as I drove to pick up my lovely wife from Stansted aerodrome. How good to get it back. Indebted to you, GM. Well done for finding it on the website. Much simple wisdom here.