Intimations Of Immortalityby Gerald Leinwand
My grandfather died when he was sixty-five, my father died at seventy. At eighty-eight, I am the eldest of three brothers all of us older than our father was at his death. Given a reasonable degree of vitality, however, I would like to live to forever. Wouldn't you? I would like to be at my grandchildren and great-grand children's weddings. Wouldn't you? I would like to see how it all comes out in the end of time, for my family, my country, for the world. Wouldn't you?
Wouldn't it be great if the intellectual giants of centuries past could be with us yet. Many of them achieved their best work in literature, art, philosophy, science or mathematics at advanced ages. Wouldn't the world be a better place if the accumulated wisdo111 of these talented people could still be around to set us straight? The poet, William Wordsworth thought so when he eulogized John Milton: "Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee: she is a fen /Of stagnant waters." With England traumatized by Napoleon, Wordsworth sought Milton's help. Surely, these greats of yesteryear could contribute to our own trauma of global terrorism.
It is asserted by some that the search for immortality is pornographic. Yet, it will be remembered of the twenty-first century that a conscious effort was made to confront and perhaps conquer death. Wasserman (helped conquer sexually transmitted diseases) Salk(the anti-polio vaccine." Pornographers? Nonsense? "Death be not proud," wrote the poet, John Donne. He was right.
While searching for immortality we are baffled by age. My first wife for forty-three years died of rampaging breast cancer, my second wife for six years died of virulent brain cancer. How does one make sense as to why we are attacked by Parkinson's and Alzheimers, by heart disease and cancer? Why the Holocaust? Why the terror of 9/11 ?Thus, the young may see things as they are and ask, "Why?" while the old may still dream of things that never were and ask, "Why not?"
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