Category Archives: Literature

J.K. Rowling and the Quest for Everlasting Life

“Nicolas Flamel,” she whispered dramatically, “is the only known maker of the Philosopher’s Stone” she pushed the book towards them, and Harry and Ron read: The ancient study of alchemy is concerned with making the philosopher’s stone, a legendary substance with astonishing powers. The stone will transform any metal into pure gold. It also produces the elixir of life, which will make the drinker immortal.
“A stone that makes gold and stops you ever dying!”  said Harry “No wonder Snape’s after it! Anyone would want it”
                                                                                                                      – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, pg. 237

Let me just think about that for a second. A stone that both produces the elixir of life and enough money to chase my every dream and follow my every whim. But really, how long would I expect that to last before I ultimately fulfill all my life-long ambitions and have nothing else to do.

When started to ponder immortality, it took me a while to decide what to write.  Usually when I get stuck I revert back to my inner geek, and what materialised there in front of me was a vision of J.K. Rowling and all the references to eternal life in her famed series. But it makes you wonder, if the only certainty in life is that death is inevitable, would I really want to

Nicholas Flamel (1330-1418) - That we know of... Sourced from http://www.crystalinks.com/flamel.html
Nicholas Flamel (1330-1418) – That we know of…
Sourced from http://www.crystalinks.com/flamel.html

prolong it? Because even Albus Dumbledore only decided to live till he was about 115. And if so, how many people could I bring along on this journey – or would it actually be a solo mission? It has been pondered that we may be living in a world, where individuals may reach the age of 200 years, or even 1000 years of age. Though we may not have found the stone that produces the exilir of life, due to scientific advancements in the way we live our lives, life expectancies have increased from around 40 years of age in the 16th century to an estimated average of 68.1 years in 2013.

This got me thinking, besides the Philosopher’s stone, what other incidents did J.K. divulge in her novel, and the next aging-related apparatus was the time-turner. Inscribed with the phrase “I mark the hours, every one, nor have I yet outrun the Sun. My use and value, unto you, are gauged by what you have to do.” Though not exactly extending an individual’s life

Sourced from http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Time-Turner
If I Could Turn Back Time…
Sourced from http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Time-Turner

span, the time-turner did allow Hermione to relive her days so she could get more done. But what if by going back and changing a moment in my day, ultimately affects how my life turns out. I strongly believe that each moment I have lived through has sculpted me into who I am today, and would I want to change any of it? It makes me wonder though, if we could go back in time, would we want to change the way we have lived on this planet? With individuals living to an older age and hence retirement ages increasing, would education systems change to teach the youth other means of finding jobs, instead of working to an already established career, create a new job in a field already existing. Or instead, put more effort into sustaining an environment where future generations may not suffer a resource restriction in the availability of biologically obtainable products.

A final instance of life-extension that I would like to briefly mention would be He Who Must Not Be Named ever pursuit to live forever, even going so far as to leaving his life essence in inanimate objects. A horcrux as described in Magick Moste Evile is the wickedest of magical inventions. In a conversation with then Tom Riddle, Horace Slughorn explains “Well, you split your soul, you see, and hide a part of it in an object outside the body. Then, even if one’s body is attacked or destroyed, one cannot die, for part of the soul remains earthbound and undamaged.” Therefore, even though an individual’s physical form may pass on, they have the possibility of still living on and impacting the way people live their lives. The idea of horcruxes does seem quite possible, with Moore’s law and the rapid advancement in computers; it may be possible in our lifetime to download our entire memory bank onto computer

Moore's Law Sourced from University Lecture Slides
Moore’s Law
Sourced from University Lecture Slides

chips, where we would theoretically then be immortal. Because, what truly is immortality except having our minds be constantly active, in one manifestation or another. If an individual may have the aging capability of a 10 year old child, no matter how old they actually are, whether it be 200 or 1000 years, the act of aging would theoretically become obsolete.

Though he who must not be named was ultimately unable to reach true immortality, he may have been onto something with his horcruxes. Ultimately, isn’t it most people’s wishes to leave something behind when they pass on. No, I don’t literally mean a piece of their soul, because from what I have read, splitting your soul can be quite difficult, but a piece of our individual left behind for future generations.

I haven’t yet made up my mind If I would like to possess the Philosopher’s stone (though an endless supply of gold would be quite handy), nor would I want to relive events in my day, if to ever change them so slightly. However, though I may not be here forever, I know that through words on a page, pictures on a wall or even through memories of loved ones, all of us do, in one way or another live forever.

 

– Written by Rakshet Sachdev
Find more of my in-cohesive ramblings on twitter @rakshet

Advertisements