Monday, 20 April 2009

On Immortality

“In our present time, one feels somewhat embarrassed when speaking or writing of immortality, in particular the immortality of individual. You feel you have to explain how on earth you came up with such an odd – even kitsch- topic. Today the individual’s immortality seems a more appropriate theme for a Hollywood B movie than for a seriously wrought philosophical lecture. This was not always the case. In the past, it wasn’t considered uncomfortable to talk about immortality because people believed that the soul would outlive the body. Therefore, it was considered absolutely appropriate and reasonable to give thought, while still on earth, as to where your soul would end up when you died. But above all, our ancestors would pose the question of which part of the soul is potentially immortal and which mortal.
Philosophy, as it was initiated by plato, has been for a long period of history other than an attempt to anticipate the further life of the soul after death. In other words, to carry out a metanoia, that is, a transition from an innerwordly to an otherwordly perspective, from the perspective of the mortal body to that of the eternal soul. Metanoia is namely a necessary starting point from which to become metaphysical, to attain a meta-position in relation to the world and thus to regard and think of the world as a whole.
Today though, as modern, post-enlightenment individuals, we hold that God is dead and that the soul cannot outlive the body. Or to be more precise, we dont believe that such a thing as a soul can actually be differentiated from the body, separated – made independent. Correspondingly, we also don’t believe that a change of perspective, a metanoia – that is achievement of a meta-position in relation to the world – is possible. Of anyone who speaks today it is first asked where he is from and from which perspective he speaks. Race, class, and gender serve as coordinates whereby the positioning of every voice is located. The concept of cultural identity, which stands at the centre of today’s Cultural studies, also serves this same initial positioning. Even though the relevant parameters and identities are interpreted as social constructs rather than ‘natural’ determinants , this hardly invalidates their effect. It may perhaps be possible to deconstruct social constructions, but they cannot be abolished or deliberately replaced.”
Boris Groys, Immortal Bodies

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