‘Hey, do you wanna live forever?’

A question posed by Norm.

I started thinking about death when I was around nineteen. Perhaps I’m unusually morbid – but then I come from a morbid generation. A friend of mine complained, on turning twenty, that he was now halfway to forty. Everyone is terrified of dying and getting old.

However, although I don’t want to die and I find it hard to accept that I will die – surely, an exception will be made in my case? –  I don’t know that I fear death. No one really understands what death is. After all, we were all dead before we were born. The common sense rationale, that it’s just an endless, painless sleep, doesn’t seem so bad. And perhaps there are dreams.

Michel Houellebecq, in Atomised, said that the ’68 generation had ‘replaced the tragedy of death with the more general humiliation of old age.’ He then posits a future scenario in which humanity has become physically immortal. Now I don’t want to sound like a raving Scientologist but is that really beyond the bounds of possibility? After all, science does seem to be postponing death further and further.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that in a few hundred years or centuries we may have come up with a way for people to not actually die – providing that our love for nuclear weaponry hasn’t reduced the planet to a giant, smouldering cinder by then.

Of course even if people were technically immortal it still wouldn’t be forever – the sun would eventually burn out and then we’d be fucked. But let’s keep this hypothetical: if you had the opportunity to live forever, would you take it?

I’d say yeah. In almost all cases, being alive is better than being dead. Especially if I’m wrong about religion: then I’ll be getting spitroasted in hell’s kitchen with Richard Dawkins and the rest of the unbelievers.

But this desire for immortality, for me, is more a desire to have lived. When I read history I regret that I wasn’t born in a time or place where I could enjoy the Jazz Age or the summer of love. It would be good to live through the centuries, experiencing the Enlightenment and the Renaissance in a never-changing body, like the Comte de Saint- Germain.

But remember – when you ask for eternal life, don’t forget to ask for eternal youth.

Finally, this quote from Sam Harris sums up the present situation for me.

Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person you will pass in the street today, is going to die. Living long enough, each will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?

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