Thursday, August 02, 2012

Decade-old documentary looks at our need to believe in immortality

What happens to us when we pass?  It will happen to every single one of us.  The subject was covered in a recent ABC 20-20 documentary on Heaven (July 7, TV Blog).

An earlier film (2003) by Patrick Shen, written with Greg Bennick, from Transcendental Media, titled “Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality” takes a more down-to-earth view of the subject, particularly the cultural pressure to prolong life absolutely as long as possible.

A frequent speaker in the documentary is Professor Sheldon Solomon at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY – although he speaks near the Golden Gate Bridge, which may seem ironic.

Much of the material in the film comes from the book “The Denial of Death” (1973) by Ernest Becker, with link here

The film presents research in which subjects behave less kindly when reminded of their own mortality. 

In some cases, after major catastrophes, people become interested in having more children in order to achieve "vicarious immortality."

The film also presents the concept of “social death”, where people, destitute or homeless, become powerless to affect others and become helplessly dependent on them.  Social equality becomes a relevant concept.  For example, sometimes unmarried and childless people are expected to stick around and become “family slaves”. 

The film can be rented at Youtube for $2.99. The official site is here
The trailer from Orchard Films is on YouTube.

Remember that Wordsworth poem from high school?

How about a film on the physics of individual consciousness and what happens to it in the afterlife.  Does individual identity survive entropy after all?  I think "I" never go away completely.

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