Life stretched thin

If the basic desire of man, as Miguel de Unamuno contends, is personal immortality, and immortality consists of the endless repetition of a person’s thoughts on to eternity, then he comes as close to realizing his dream in Del sentimiento trágico de la vida as anyone probably should. How many different ways can you possibly say “I want to live forever”? Personally, I don’t know what I’d do with eternal life. Generally, I take it as a premise in life that you shouldn’t long for those things which you can have no possible knowledge, evidence or report of, not because they’re impossible but because how do do you know that they’re really all that great? Anyway, if everyone’s existence has a certain finite value and you were to divide it by an infinite length of time, its value at any given point in time would come so close to zero as to make no odds. I call it the Mick Jagger Principle, since he’s basically lived an eternity in rock-star years. Surely I’m not the only one who would respect him a lot more if he had had the dignity to choke to death on his own vomit at 28 like Hendrix? Not that any of this will probably dissuade those hell-bent on immortality (so to speak), but, to paraphrase Douglas Adams, those that most want to live forever are probably those that you’d least want to actually do so.

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