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David Wen
Entrepreneur, software developer, management consultant. As a kid, he tried to train himself in the ways of the force.
Immortality book
Immortality

Reviewed by David Wen

Yes please. I mean, who wouldn't want it? Before you get excited, let me spoil everything for you. This book is not about how to attain immortality; instead, it is about how immortality is not possible. Which sucks. The author might be wrong, but he's fairly convincing

The author Cave breaks immortality down into four main streams: literally living forever, living forever as a spirit, reincarnation, and living forever through your descendants and your deeds. Systematically, Cave goes through each narrative and proves with science and philosophy that each is impossible. It's sort of a shame - a part of me believed a little bit that each might, however unlikely, be possible. Cave goes a little further and talks about why someone might not want to live forever either. Infinity is something we cannot fathom, and hence we do not really perceive what it is really like. If we really lived to infinity, we could potentially have done every possible thing on earth. And we could do that infinite times. And so if you say that you want to live forever so you can experience everything, well you literally can. At some point, boredom will probably kick in.

Most people who don't believe in religion would at least believe that you live forever through your offspring and the memory of you. But is that really living? Am I really the one breathing fresh, crisp, morning air when my great grandchild takes a breath of air? Do I really feel alive if 100 years from now a hospital is named in my honour? What truly makes immortality appealing is the ability to keep my thoughts, my experiences, and my mind. Unless I have that, then I feel no more immortal than the earth that I'm on (which will also one day be no longer).

Cave mentions that at the end of it all there is a silver lining, but honestly I can't remember what it was. All I remember from the book is that there is no immortality, and I am sad. Maybe it's something around focusing our pursuits on enriching the lives that we are so lucky to have. That, and enriching the lives of others so that they can do the same, and we can all experience the fleeting awesomeness that is life.

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David wen avatar
David Wen
Entrepreneur, software developer, management consultant. He collects business cards and makes them into flashcards for Korean vocab.