If You Became Immortal

Wednesday, January 19th, 2000

YOU ARE CURRENTLY SEEING BLOG POSTS IN PROPER CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. While in this mode, the links at the bottom and top of each page are not correctly labeled. However, the left pointing arrow always advances forward in time, and the right pointing arrow retreats.

think about it from their side

Friday, February 5th, 2010

If you didn’t have to get old later, how would that change the way you live now?

What’s your best trick for pretending you’ll live forever?  What if you didn’t have to pretend?

What would it be like to be one of them?

– Kate

How would it change the way I live now?

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

If I didn’t have to get old later, how would that change the way I live now?  Hey, Kate, I’m 23. It doesn’t seem all that real.

– Flyss

If I didn’t have to age?

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Re: Kate’s question and Flyss’s answer.

It would change a lot for me, Flyss.  Now, of course it would for someone of my extremely advanced age,  but, seriously, even when I was your age it would too.  Maybe it’s a male thing, but I had ambitions, and I knew I didn’t have all the time in the world to accomplish them.  On the other hand, if I knew I had all the time in the world, maybe I wouldn’t have done anything at all.  – Glenn

When would you first notice it?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

When would you first notice that you weren’t growing any older? Thirty-five?  Forty?

If this happened five hundred years ago, what would your neighbors say?  What would you think about yourself?

Could you ever get over it? — Kate

Wisdom in opposites

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

From installment 4 of The Mortal Janice.

There’s more life in poisoning yourself than trying to live forever. It lets you know you’re dying little by little and if you don’t know that then you don’t really live.

I’m so profound.

There’s truth here.

Not that one need literally poison oneself. Nor would I agree that mortality is a necessary prerequisite for fullness of life. Rather, the wisdom here has rather to do with the realm of antinomies.

The line “I’m so profound,” is, of course, meant to be read not as a direct claim but as self-mockery. In fact, to state, “I’m profound” without irony is in fact to demonstrate that one is not profound. In contrast, Janice’s sincerely self-deprecating usage immediately alerts us to the presence of real insight. Here, already, there are at least three opposites at play. But that is just the beginning.

Janice herself does not believe in poisoning herself: She is in recovery, attending 12-step groups. Rather, she makes this statement as a kind of irritated reaction against Blair, with whom she has just undergone, several days of constant proximity. His  shallow brand of”perfection” has begun to ear on her. She has begun to recognize, as we have through her, that he is a terribly stunted person. Listen to this description:

I affected him, which meant that some part of him saw me. But he couldn’t look at me directly, only at the part in himself that got affected. Like using himself for a mirror. And that meant he only saw me through himself.

This is very subtle. It’s not that he uses her as a mirror, which is the conventional concept of narcissism. Rather, it’s that he uses himself as a mirror; he can only see her as she is reflected in his own reactions to her. Again, these are antinomies in abundance.

Returning now, to the antinomy of poison and life. Here I must say that I am having trouble articulating what I sense. Perhaps I would roughly state my impression this way: “The certainty of death gives us contact with reality, and deprivation of that certainty may put us at risk of never being real.”

I do not for a minute believe that narcissistic self-involvement  is an inevitable consequence of immortality.But  it may be a risk. Based on recent occurrences, I suspect that in the near future we shall have the opportunity to learn whether these personality characteristics are specific to Blair, or are present more generally. If the latter, we shall need to face the issue squarely, for Janice is right: Never to be touched is never to live at all.– Stephen

P.S. I believe we are beginning to see the possibility that Blair may emerge from his shell, though via an unexpected route.  See the newly posted Installment 5, titled “Bondage as Psychotherapy.”