Friday, 22 July 2016

Eschatological Fictions

In recent posts, we have compared the Epilogue of Poul Anderson's The Merman's Children to:

the concluding chapter of Anderson's War Of The Gods;

his Harvest Of Stars tetralogy;

James Blish's The Day After Judgment.

We should also mention Anderson's Tau Zero and Olaf Stapledon's future and cosmic histories. See here.

These are works of eschatological fiction, addressing the question of the ultimate fates of the cosmos and consciousness. Will consciousness end? If not, will we as individuals be somehow resurrected or reconstructed? I doubt it. However, it is at least theoretically possible. Meanwhile, Buddhism teaches us to let go of such hopes. Impermanence is one of the marks of existence, confirmed by experience.

If there is an unborn and undying, then it is:

outside time;
beyond process;
neither past nor future but atemporally present;
apprehended, if at all, in our fleeting present;
changeless but ever new;
dynamic yet static;
the complete synthesis between energy (change) and inertia (resistance to change);
usually overlooked because of our preoccupation with reminiscence and anticipation.

(I suggest that inanimate matter, animate matter, animal consciousness and human consciousness are four increasingly dynamic but nevertheless incomplete energy-inertia syntheses.)

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