Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Syllabus for Death and Spiritual Aetheism in Contemporary Fiction

One of my favorite parts about flying is that you get an excuse to watch lots of crappy movies. On my flight back from hong kong, I watched Aronsky's (Pi guy) The Fountain. Something I've wanted to watch despite tepid reviews. I'll concur with those tepid reviews. Highish concept (a love story between the same two people that plays out over thousands of years,starting with the spanish inquisition), pretty visuals, boring execution.

But its main message struck a chord, as I've seen it repeated often recently. Basically, a spirtual aethistic view of death. That death is something we should accept at the end of a good life, instead of dreaming/clinging to the idea of an afterlife, or using science to prolong misery.

While I personally intend on living forever (through a brain upload perhaps), I do like the message espoused by Albom's Tuesday's with Morrie that death is best accepted rather than dreaded (though I am somewhat put off by how Albom shifted from sports writer to spiritual guru).

The message was also echoed in the children's book trilogy His Dark Materials. Billed as the atheists' Harry Potter (though I never thought Harry Potter was especially Deist), His Dark Materials was a smart fantasy, with little girls and armored polar bears and alternative universes and human souls that manifest as pet familiars (in the D&D sense). It preached the same message (more subtlely and engagingly than The Fountain or Tuesday's) and should be coming to theaters soon.

If I ever somehow find myself teaching a course in this topic, I now have the beginnings of a syllabus.
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