Avoiding both Death and Immortality
Finally I come to the point just as this essay too comes to an end. I decided that the way to avoid both horns of this dilemma was to believe in nothing and to realise this belief by at least attempting the impossible by vanishing and being forgotten. If I vanished in this way I would not die, would not be trapped in an afterlife, or be reincarnated for another round in the never-ending cycle of birth and death, and would not be remembered by future generations as an outdated joke or yet another well intentioned idiot. Nothing is perfect.
The Universal Levitational Force
Realising that any human being attempting to achieve nothing by dematerialising will be regarded by most people as either completely mad or utterly stupid, how could I even manage to make the attempt. I have long been puzzled by the fact that reductionists are content to believe that the only great force in physics which has no reciprocal equal and opposite is the Universal Gravitational Force. Since this apparently structures the physical universe then it seems that by successfully breaking through the homoeostatic state and evolving, living systems can be described as examples of the Universal Levitational Force at work. Alan McGlashan’s delightful little book Gravity and Levity makes the same point.
In 1972 I was given the temporary use of an unwanted lecture theatre at the University of Melbourne to give lectures and workshops on the process cosmology I had just created. I named this The Department of Levity. I had previously pioneered a new university reform movement making use of wit, practical jokes and self-ridicule which I called The Fun Revolution. At this very time the physicist Prigogine produced a proof that thermo-dynamics is not homeostatic except in closed systems and the physical universe is not a closed system!
Another analogy from the insect world can be used here and may help to explain my strategy. Many underwater larvae climb up the stalks of reeds to reach the air before they form a cocoon prior to emerging as a flying insect. Any attempt I might make to use the Universal Levitational Force in order to evolve into a higher form by rising in the air and vanishing might lead to my being ostracised or even incarcerated as insane. What would a larva do if all the others were content to die in their present form and would regard any larva that started to climb up a stalk as mad and dangerous since it was threatening their cherished understanding of reality? Its best strategy would be to pretend it was doing so as a practical joke to amuse the others. After all I have been “sending myself up” for almost fifty years and since the attempt to vanish would create a storm of mirth it would generate the much needed levity. Since my chance of success was extremely remote nothing would be lost except my life which was certain otherwise.
My efforts to realise my dream took many years but failed utterly and are recorded in my essay “The Hunting of the Boojum.” My failed attempt to rise in the air vanish might even make my name as immortal as that of the author of “The Hunting of the Snark” but I will never know.
I can draw only one certain conclusion from all this. Human beings must not believe in the absolute inevitability of death. Doing so stops all further potential for further evolutionary transcendence and we then behave in destructive and completely irrational ways.