Discussion, The Last Mortician: Sein, oder nicht Sein? / by David Anderson

This is a discussion of themes from the comic The Last Mortician.
Though not entirely necessary, if you would like to put it in context, check out Dave’s review of The Last Moritican here.

Middle school was the first time I encountered the notion that immortality might not be all it's cracked up to be.

We were to write an essay answer to the question: "Which would you rather have: immortality or infinite money?"

Back then I said immortality, because like a good Sunday school attendant I thought money's corrupting influence wasn't worth the advantage. My neighbor down the street, who also writes for this website, argued that immortality was the worst because not only did you get to see your loved ones die, but also you'd be left to watch the sun explode and later still the heat death of the universe.

I could see the part about loved ones dying being bad, but I still thought immortality was a better bargain. I mean, you have forever to get rich, for one thing. For another, well--eh, I guess there wasn't much more to it than that.

Throughout the years, whenever the subject of immortality approached me, the answer was typically the same--people would rather not have immortality, acknowledging first that this would apply only to them and not people they loved. Even the old, or rather especially the old, didn't care for it, because as the years wore on it is assumed that life would grow more tedious. When you were a kid, an hour took forever to pass, but now that you're an adult, years disappear as if they were days. Imagine how a year would feel to a man who has lived for a million of them.

Hall does an interesting thing that I didn't catch at first, and it's that the opposition to immortality in the comic springs from the realization that immortality demands sterility. People can't reproduce sexually if they get the treatment. Population growth stops. I thought that was interesting because in biology it's posited that the reason we have such short life spans is because it's a trade-off for early reproductive advantages. In order that we might reach sexual maturity at 13 and reproduce much sooner and faster, we trade a few decades' worth of existence. Galapagos turtles reproduce at a slow rate but can live to be 250 years old or more.

Me, I don't know. I've had some time to think. If it were up to me, I'd like to live for about 250 years too. That's usually enough time to see some really good stuff, and to see a civilization visibly change. Also make sure that my aging is proportional so I look like I'm middle aged when I reach 100 or so. I wouldn't want to look like a senior citizen at 60 and then live another 190 years.

Anyway, what about you? Do you want immortality or is the psychological cost too much? What would you do with it?