Saturday, July 30, 2011
Immortality and Meaning
Immortality and loneliness usually go hand in hand. I'm reading a manga series called Immortal Rain by Kaori Ozaki. In the story, a character named Rain cannot die, no matter what happens to him. This fact makes thousands of bounty hunters put a price on his head, and many people become envious of his condition. How Rain feels about this life style is a different story. He hates how people pass through his life and how no matter how hard he tries, he cannot stop other people from slipping away. This dilemma has been explored in many other novels, including Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. Stories that contain this internal conflict often discuss what it means to truly live. Rain feels trapped by his fate to live forever. Instead of a powerful characteristic, eternal life is a prison to him. The one thing he will never lose faith in, is people. As an archetypal wanderer, Rain is an interesting protagonist. His immortality was forced on him and he becomes a pawn in a dangerous game. It's one of those deep questions, how would a person handle living like a god? Immortality seems a scary way to live life, especially if you are the only one who lives forever. Characters that do live forever, or who have abnormally long lives, possess a strange wisdom and constant sadness. It is the opposite of an unpredictable and limited life. An immortal character will think and wander for many years, focusing on the personal issues he or she will face. Maybe this is why the Greek and Roman gods grow bored and interfere in mortals' lives. When someone has a very long life, without fear and without obstacles, they question their purpose. This is a human trait, and in a way immortals are even more human than mortal characters. The real meaning in an immortal's life is defined through the choices they make and the perspective they have during eternal life. I still don't know how Immortal Rain will end, but the main character is a rare person who does what he can with his gift and curse of immortality.
So what would the meaning of life be to someone that will live forever?