Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Immortality and infinite fatness

Today's PrintCulture reviews Harold Bloom's recent book. It mentions, among other things, Bloom's "potentially violent endomorphic bond with Falstaff" and Bloom's belief that the tragic view of life is justified by the fact that we will all die.

Like most people, I've wondered for a long time whether there's any logical reason that mortality must, necessarily, be sad. When I think about it, it seems to me that we are forms in four-dimensional space-time, and we are finite in all four of those dimensions. I cannot find any logical reason to believe that the finite duration of our being is necessarily any more tragic than the finite height, width, or depth of our being. Or, in other words: why do people wish to be immortal, but not infinitely fat?

Of course, when we're talking about Harold Bloom... nah, too easy.


  1. Bad analogy. People don't want to live in all periods of time at once. Many people do have a wanderlust and want to visit every place on the planet and exploration of the universe is a popular theme in fiction world wide

  2. I believe your answer begs the question. By introducing the qualifier "at once", your argument assumes the special status of time, which is the very thing you're arguing.

    The notion of "at once" has no more meaning in four-dimensional space-time than "at location X" does in three-dimensional space. Saying "people don't want to live in all periods of time at once" is like saying "people don't want to be infinitely tall while living on one planet".

  3. If you were infinitely fat, you couldn’t pay attention to the particular place you were in because you were not somewhere particular at all.

    Here in central California we can have more than a hundred perfect days in a row. I think this has damaged my enjoyment of good weather. There are some advantages to things being in limited supply.