Immortality: a prize so great that some would die in attempting to secure it. But are they wise to do so? The Last Crusade suggests not. After all, not only are the two people who throw their lives away villains, but the knight who guards the Grail explicitly warns that the cost of living forever is having to stay in that very same temple, forever. And what sort of life would that be? Immortality — the film is suggesting — might be a curse, rather than a blessing. Such a conclusion will not come as a surprise to philosophers who have considered the issue.
This was because after a certain amount of living, human life would become unspeakably boring. We need new experiences in order to have reasons to keep on going. But after enough time has passed, we will have experienced everything that we, as individuals, find stimulating. The former is a contingent, the latter a categorical, desire.
A life devoid of categorical desires, Williams claimed, would devolve into a mush of undifferentiated banality, containing no reason to keep on going. Born in , Elina drinks an elixir that keeps her biologically speaking at age 42 forever. However, by the time she is over years old, Elina has experienced everything she wants, and as a result her life is cold, empty, boring and withdrawn.
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There is nothing left to live for. Accordingly, she decides to stop drinking the elixir, and releases herself from the tedium of immortality. Imagine that the natural biological lifespan of a human being was 1, years. In that case, in her s, Elina would have died comparatively young. Scheffler points out that human life is intimately structured by the fact that it has a fixed even if usually unknown time limit.
We all start with a birth, then pass through many stages of life, before definitely ending in death. In turn, Scheffler argues, everything that we value — and thus can coherently desire in an essentially human life — must take as given the fact that we are temporally bounded beings.
Sure, we can imagine what it would be like to be immortal, if we find that an amusing way to pass the time. A desire for immortality is thus a paradox: it would frustrate itself were it ever to be achieved. You might think you want to live forever, but reflection should convince you otherwise. But is it quite so clear? What is interesting in this regard is that, when we return to wider popular culture, instances abound of immortality being presented not as a blessing, but a curse.
Initially thinking that these must be the happiest of all beings, Gulliver revises his view when he learns that Struldbrugs never stop ageing, leading them to sink into decrepitude and insanity, roaming the kingdom as disgusting brutes shunned by normal humans. It seems, then, that both philosophers and popular culture keep trying to tell us the same thing: you might think that you want to live forever, but reflection should convince you otherwise. And yet, if this is ultimately true — as philosophers and popular culture seem to want to say that it is — then another question arises: why do we keep needing to be told?
There is something both deeply and persistently appealing about the idea of immortality, and that cannot be dispelled by simply pointing to examples where immortality would be a curse. To see this, we have to think a little more carefully about what a desire for immortality might in part be about. O n the face of it, a desire for immortality most obviously seems to be a response to the fear of death.
Most of us are afraid to die. If we were immortal, we could escape both that fear and its object. Hence, it seems, a desire for immortality is simply a desire not to die. In the face of this, what philosophers, poets and novelists remind us of is that there are fates worse than death.
Immortality might itself turn out to be one of them. If so, we should not desire to be immortal. No sane person, after all, wants to be a Struldbrug. But when we look more closely, we see that fear is not the only important response to the fact of death. Unamuno is imagining the situation that most of us do when we are contemplating our own deaths: not a distant point of decrepitude, aged , trapped in a hospital bed, in an underfunded care home — but rather death as claiming us before we are ready.
We do not just fear the inevitable fact of death, we also resent it as a personal affront. This is one reason why in Western culture death has often been literally personified: not a brute, indifferent, merely biological occurrence, but a Grim Reaper who comes to claim your individual soul.
If you beat him at chess — so the legend goes — he has to let you go. You, as the agent, can try to stay in control. This is because desiring immortality might not simply be about having a desire to live forever. It might instead be a desire to control when we ourselves will die , choosing to end it all only when — and not before — we ourselves are ready.
Bhishma cannot die until he wills it — but that does not preclude him from later falling in battle at the hands of Arjuna, finding himself incapacitated on a bed of arrows. In some versions of the story, Eos eventually shut him up in a room with shining doors to babble endlessly in his senility, too weak to move; in other versions, he ultimately became a cicada, eternally living and begging for death.
When Selene asked Zeus for Endymion's immortality, she carefully considered the consequences of her wish. Learning from the mistake of Eos, she phrased her request to keep Endymion perpetually in the state which she had first met him- as a handsome youth sleeping on a hillside. Prometheus's punishment was to live his immortal life in torture. Every day, deadly wounds were inflicted upon him by an eagle sent to eat his liver.
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Every night, he would regenerate and heal to await the next assault from the bird. Subverted in some versions of the myth, where Hercules eventually passes by and, seeing Prometheus's suffering, kills the eagle and frees Prometheus. In Christianity, this is considered to have been the fate of all humanity , if it weren't for the existence of Jesus Christ. For those in Hell, it's still felt to be their fate by traditionalists. He was an evil man who tricked the Devil into being trapped in a tree by putting a holy symbol on the trunk whilst the Devil was in the tree.
Jack would only allow the Devil down if he promised never to bring Jack into Hell. The Devil agreed. However, since Jack was still too selfish and wicked to get into Heaven, he had nowhere to go after he died. The Devil gave him an ember from the fires of Hell to light his way, which Jack kept in a hollowed-out turnip since pumpkins were more plentiful and easier to carve, they became the vessel in which the ember was kept.
Jack is now cursed to wander forever, carrying his lantern, a Jack-o-Lantern. Ashwatthama of the Mahabharata was cursed with immortality by Krishna after brutally slaughtering the Pandava and using a Brahmastra on the womb of their pregnant queen. Not only was he made immortal, he was also afflicted with diseases, ulcers, and wounds that would not heal for 3, years. Nothing ever really happens to me.
I am completely safe from harm, and this is a great burden I think that one day, this world will simply talk itself to death, and I will be left to flit about in the void. Animus Bell: How would you like to live forever? Magnus: I'd hate it. Shut the fuck up. He ends up outliving 12 wives, becoming more bitter and evil over the years, and hating the Doctor more for stopping his plans to help his Masters invade. He hopes for a more ethereal immortality when his Masters invade the Earth.
When he goes back in time from to just before he made the deal with the Nimon, this leads to Future Me Scares Me , as his past self kills him. One of the many themes connected to immortality that get explored in AH. Having lived for billions of years, he's the last human on Earth when the sun finally begins its expansion. The story ends with the Shield sitting on a cliff on Mount Everest, watching the sun get bigger and bigger and redder and redder in the sky, hoping that this time, he's finally found something that's powerful enough to overcome his power, and dreadfully fearful of what will happen if it isn't.
The Makropulos Affair , a play written by Czech playwright Karel Capek and subsequently adapted into an opera by Leos Janacek, concerns a woman who has been granted years of life through a magic potion, with an option for renewal. She finds that such a long life is an ordeal that leaves her exhausted and numb to human emotions. She decides that death is better. There is a wizard in the play, who tells his wife near the end: "But alas, I am immortal, so I will spend the rest of eternity missing you.
Visual Novels. Tsugumi of Ever17 has eternal youth, immunity from infection, high healing factor and possibly increased strength.
- Can We Become Immortal? The Quest to Live Forever Through Technology.
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On the downside, the handful of people who know about her really want to study her lots. Oh, and she gets sunburned really easily, but she can see in pitch blackness anything due to infravision. She can even pass the immortality on to whoever she pleases. Except two specific characters, one of whom is implied to be changing into a being that exists in the fourth dimension and is thus outside time and effectively immortal as well.
Yet all she can do is whine and complain about how much it sucks. She gets better but never seems to see it as a good thing. Monster Prom : Polly, the Hard-Drinking Party Girl ghost wonders about this briefly, on the sense that she fears that she'll someday do everything and have nothing left to do, since she'll likely live forever.
Brought up in the visual novel Songs Of Araiah , where it is mentioned that most magicians who can be immortal revoke their own immortality after having lived about a thousand years. In addition, immortality works by "freezing" the state that the body is in, meaning that immortals do not age, women can not have children, and their bodies will get neither better nor worse for example, the lead female, Melissa, will always have to wear glasses, despite the existence of spells which could fix her vision. Outliving loved ones is a minor issue, as a magician can grant immortality to anybody.
Archer, during his life, swore over his existence to the world so that he could continue to save people. Eventually, he died still believing in his ideals, but after that he, in his position as a Guardian, is sent back repeatedly to stop devastating conflicts by killing people instead of saving them. He doesn't even get to remember any of this, but he knows it happens and it affects his psyche. Small wonder he decides to wait until he can pulled into a time with Emiya Shirou so he can kill his past self and hopefully commit suicide that way and escape his current life, where he has no free will.
Then again, that is a pretty sucky form of immortality and no one takes it up for that reason. Rune from Frozen Essence constantly regenerates and cannot die due to becoming the Life Hex Monument many years ago, and his life simply consists of a neverending cycle of being imprisoned and the painful process of charging the Life Sphere. It's such a miserable existence that he stops caring about anything anymore. In the True End he succeeds in finally being able to rest in peace with a smile on his face.
Diego in Havenfall Is for Lovers is a year-old vampire. For the most part he makes the best of his ageless existence, but when the subject of whether or not he'd turn his love interest, he expresses some very strong opinions on the subject. Diego: There's a reason there are so many cautionary tales about eternal life.
Web Animation. Both of them are immortal, and both for different reasons.
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However, the one thing they have in common is that their immortality is treated as a curse rather than a blessing. In ancient times, Salem incurred the wrath of the gods by trying to resurrect Ozma, a love she lost to sickness. Cursed with Complete Immortality to learn the importance of life and death, it was impossible for her to die and join him in the afterlife, so she tried to turn humanity against the gods in revenge.
To give humanity one single chance at redemption, the God of Light resurrected Ozma with the mission to constantly reincarnate into the body of a living man or boy to guide humanity towards peace and harmony; the flaw in the mission is that Salem was corrupted by the God of Darkness's pools of annihilation and destruction, and is trying to divide and destroy humanity.
As long as Salem exists, Ozma cannot save humanity. Unable to die or defeat the other, they are locked together in an eternal war for the fate humanity, their love long since lost to grief, despair and rage.
In the web series True Tail , there is a phoenix wizard named Kanikus, who wants to find a way to become mortal, because he has outlived all of his friends for millions of years. A Dorkly Originals short pokes on Tails ' ability to not die, eventually believing himself to be blessed He revives again and screams a Big "NO! Web Original. While Iriana in Ilivais X may be suicidal for reasons unrelated to immortality , the result is the same.
She wants to die, but can't no matter how hard she tries or how much she frappes herself. However, they continue to age well past the point where their body would ordinarily shut down and any wound, no matter how minor, never heals.