Re: Desirability of immortality

E. Shaun Russell (
Tue, 17 Feb 1998 10:26:39 -0800

Anders wrote:

The most beautiful aspect (and often the most infuriating) of
mythology is that each myth can be looked at in a variety of ways. It
seems that any myth a person would use to dissuade another's notion of
or trans-human ascension could also be used to promote it.

>The Tithonus story, for example, shows that just immortality isn't what we
>want, we want eternal youth (plus it contains a clear example of why one
>should think through one's wishes carefully before implementing them).

Well, as the myth goes, it wasn't exactly Tithonus' choice to become
an atrophied immortal; rather, it was Aurora who "stole him away" and
pleaded with Jupiter to grant him this immortality. This prompts the
question: had Tithonus had a choice in the matter, would he have complied
with the prospect of immortality? Another question prompted by this
particular myth is this: if Aurora had such an immense fascination with
mortality and immortality, why didn't she simply choose another mortal to
make immortal --this time with eternal youth?
>Many of the other anti-hubris stories aren't really about the futility
>of hubris, but rather of the form "look out for the Powers That Be,
>they don't like competition", i.e. hubris works perfectly well, but be
>prepared that some people will try to stop you.

This is wholly indicative of the mindset of the cultures which
created and conveyed these myths...that is why it is important to look at
the figures in question before their ultimate demise --the focus on "what
could have been" as opposed to what was.

>Prometheus, for example, clearly knew that the gods would punish him for
>his deed but accepted that and still went along with his plan (besides, to
>an immortal titan a few millennia of agony before a remote relative
>(Hercules) frees him might be a rather small piece to pay for giving
>fire to the humans).

Another perspective that can be taken on the Prometheus myth is a
focus on why Zeus felt it necessary to punish Prometheus. Was Zeus just a
greedy god, or did he want the human race to find the fire on their own...
without divine intervention? I think that this is an important way of
looking at the myth. Perhaps Zeus felt that if Prometheus was to give the
fire to humanity, humans would constantly be thanking the gods for the gift
rather than finding things on their own. Needless to say, reason plays an
immensely important part in mythology; however, as the "crackpot" scale
indicates, the pure mutability of mythology makes it impossible for anyone
to treat myth as though it were simply makes one think about the
reasons and consequences for one's actions.

E. Shaun Russell Poet, Musician, Atheist, Extropic Artist
==============================> Transhumanities editor for Homo Excelsior
Kineticize your potential.