In 1895 H.G. Wells published a science fiction novel titled The Time Machine. It became a literary classic, eventually adapted into multiple film versions. It has also been heavily analyzed for its political, sociological, and philosophical ideas. Wells tells the story of a Victorian inventor, simply named The Time Traveler, who constructs a machine which can transport him in any direction through time. The Traveler then journeys far into the future and, on arrival, finds that earth is now inhabited by a race of small, gentle people called the Eloi. They seem to somehow have an environment fully meeting their needs, thus allowing them to focus on simple pleasures, without having to plan and work to support themselves—an idyllic society. Perhaps, he thinks, humans have finally solved the problems of competition and domination. However, when night falls, the Eloi retreat into shelters for sleep but are frightened and huddle together. The Traveler soon learns that each night a few of the Eloi go missing. Yet, the next day there are no searches, indeed, no mention of the missing. Their attention returns to enjoyment of the moment.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2017/08/31/eloi-risk
Towards the end his thought provoking essay, Rich Hannon states that:. ”It takes non-trivial faith to believe that story, both that it literally happened and that it portends a full restoration, with death conquered.” Conquering death seems to be a Western obsession that is elusive. William Bryant, said it best when he wrote the great poem ‘Thanatopsis’. It is written as an encouragement for mankind. The title is composed of two words: ‘thanatos,’ which means ‘death,’ and ‘opsis,’ which means ‘view,’ so ‘Thanatopsis’ actually means ‘a view of death.’ The poem is just that, a view of death; in this case, from the viewpoint of optimism. Bryant tells us we should consider what nature has to say about death and dying and then proceeds to discuss how death is experienced by everyone, regardless of status, and should therefore be seen as something to be embraced rather than feared.
The poet tells us we should consider what nature has to say about death and dying and then proceeds to discuss how death is experienced by everyone, regardless of status, and should therefore be seen as something to be embraced rather than feared. Let’s look a bit deeper. The last lines of the poem ‘Thanatopsis’ are so eloquent:
“So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams”
Thank you, Rich. This hits me where I live, and speaks to what I have struggled with on so many levels. Denial mixed with religious, magical thinking is what I’ve been having to sort through. This has happened through the onset of health crises, and the realization that there is more road in my rear view mirror than what lies ahead. It has left me dealing with a crisis of personal faith in God that I’ve had to confront. It has been painful, but I know and can see that it’s been necessary.
Thanks for bringing a word of perspective and hope.
This is a most enlightening article Rich. Many thanks for the broad range of ideas about the great human mystery of death. I believe that Various civilisations and religious cultures have claimed knowledge of this Mystery and they deserve our respect and study if we deem them credible. For example, the earliest experts on parts of the death process of which I am aware were the Priests of the so-called Egyptian Mysteries’ religious/ educational system. It was the greatest educational system of the ancient world , and even today one iconic image of that system(The Eye of Horus) is on the US dollar bill. The major Greek Philosophers were trained there and Pythagoras sacrificed a bull when he was shown the iteration and proof of the theorem :Square on the Hypotenuse . This is the Educational System in which Moses was educated after being rescued by the Egyptian Princess. I believe God allowed him to be trained there because he would be taught many skills and also high spiritual knowledge. Moses , of course had to drop out bybthe time he reached half-way , in order to answer the call of God to lead his people from slavery. Both these Priests and the Buddhist priests of the Chakpori Lamasery understood /understand spects of death almost as experts in the process. The Egyptians proposed (as does the Dalai Lama, for instance) That God created man with a physical body . and an innerbody and related motivating forces which are connected to the physical by what is known as the Silver Cord, so called because its very rapidly rotating molecules appear silvderish. The Bible speaks about this , indicating that when thephysical body becomes too frail , for one reason or another, to support the inner body the silver cord will break, that is detach itself, and then head for the birth path into the spiritual realms. David calls this reverse pathway" the valley of the shadow of death". In Egypt a procedure was widely practiced known as" transmigration of the soul" whereby the wise adepts could(with the hosts permission) detach the silver cord of one person, and then attach the silver cord of another , that is the soul of the new entrant would take over the physical body of the former owner ,whose “spirit” would then be inhabiting the spiritual, or astral realms , wyh full consciousness. In fact thatv is how a High Buddhist Lamd went to England to teach the Western World about spiritual nmatters AFTER WW2. His own body was too frail after being severely tortured during the war. His former teacher Lama mingar Dondup who was dead informed him, during consultations in the astral realms, that he had met the spirit of an English doctor wanderiong around in the astral reals who wanted to commit suicide. ALL humans release their inner spirit when asleep and some remember parts of their experiences as dreams. The dead lamas saidx they persuaded the doctor that suicide was a great sin and that he should instead allow his body bto be taken over for a good purpose , Briefly this was done, But when the Lama went to England and wrote his biography and teachings on death and many other things the English press went intpo a frenzy of disdain. Of course the Lama, in the body of Dr Hoskins lived in the same house as Mrs Hoskins, a trained nurse . Living close to the new personality . The press went wild with “the celebate monk living with a married woman”, ironically of course since no one freally believed in this aspect of the death process was possible, EXCEPT Mrs Hoiskins who did belive after a considerable. Eventually the revelations of the death process was believed by many English and millions of his books were sold. The Monk said that his life in England illustrated just why he had to tyravel to Europe todo his “missionary work” as it were because Christianity hardly teaches its members about such things in proper detail, and some even believe it may well be sacreligous to do so. There may well be very much more to cover but I’ll just leavethings there for now lest I stray off topic and become banned, or my blog removed. Except to say that all this is verifiable.