Borges' view on eternity and death

Topics: Afterlife, Life, Immortality Pages: 6 (1711 words) Published: May 17, 2014

Being forever: happy vs suffering
The word forever is tossed around a lot nowadays. I hear it constantly from couples and friends and family that they will love you “forever”, which no one really thinks much of. Do they mean until death? Or do they mean above and beyond death? And then if someone can love you forever, then the opposite must be true and eternal hatred and suffering must exist in similar forms of either until death, or beyond death. Basically it raises the question, what does it mean to be forever and what does it mean to be happy and loved forever or be suffering and hated forever? Borges delves into these topics in two of his stories titled The Immortal, and The Gospel according to Mark. In Jorge Luis Borges’ two stories The Immortal, and the Gospel according to Mark, both stories focus heavily on the subject and meaning of everlasting life and eternal suffering. Both these stories share similar outlooks on immortality, humanity’s everlasting pursuit after it, and their willingness to do anything to achieve it, but though both stories agree on immortality and humanity’s pursuit after it, they are complete opposites on the subject of eternal suffering, because The Immortal shows that eternal suffering exists and we unknowingly experience it every day, whereas the Gospel according to Mark sees eternal suffering as something we know exists and we are constantly trying to avoid it.

Both stories touch on the thoughts of everlasting life but in two different senses. In the immortal everlasting life obviously refers to the main character that travels across the entire Southern Mediterranean region in order to find this mystical stream that he had only heard about from a dying soldier. After being separated from his mutinous group of men and nearly killed in a sandstorm, he finds and drinks from a mystical stream giving him eternal life as well as an entire race of men that had already lived near the stream and had being surviving for over a thousand years before from the stream alone. These promises of immortality from a dying soldier was enough for one person to mount an entire expedition, get nearly mutinied, almost killed in a sandstorm and barely survive in order to drink from this very improbably existing stream. In the Gospel according to Mark, the head of the Gutres family asks Espinosa if the men who nailed Jesus to the cross got eternal salvation and everlasting life instead of eternal damnation and Espinosa assured him that indeed the men who nailed Jesus did in fact receive eternal salvation and everlasting life in a sense of the afterlife and achieving ascension into heaven. Gutres was following the story of the bible and thought crucifying a Jesus like figure, like Espinosa, would allow them eternal salvation and everlasting life because to the Gutres, the offer of having everlasting life and ascension into this glorious heaven that was promised to them was worth crucifying a man over, which is why the Gutres did what they did. Both stories features desperate and deliberate, grim acts in order to obtain what’s very sought after and usually thought unattainable; immortality. Obviously in the Immortal, the character is willing to risk time, colleagues, and even his own life in order to obtain this immortality he seeks. This fixation on risking everything to find the immortal waters, is when the character awakens to find himself bound in rope and crawls over to the dirty stream to drink, not knowing at first that it is the immortal water stream. He then frees himself from his constraints and further risks his life by entering the labyrinth to enter the City of the Immortals to find more Immortals and see, learn, and experience what is more than just human. He couldn’t accept his freedom and leave; instead he was still so infuriatingly intrigued by the thought of immortals and immortality that he kept pushing it and risking it to find out more. He was willing to risk his life yet again for...
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