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Full Online Book HomeEssaysWe Long For Immortal Imperfection--we Can't Have It
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We Long For Immortal Imperfection--we Can't Have It Post by :holipsism Category :Essays Author :Arthur Brisbane Date :June 2011 Read :3429

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We Long For Immortal Imperfection--we Can't Have It

All our longings for immortality, all our plans for immortal life are based on the hope that Divine Providence will condescend to let us live in another world as we live here.

Each of us wants to be himself in the future life, and to see his friends as he knew them.

We want to preserve individuality forever and ever, when the stars shall have faded away and the days of matter ended.

But what is individuality except imperfection? You are different from Smith, Smith is different from Jones. But it is simply a difference of imperfect construction. One is more foolish than another, one is more irresponsibly moved to laughter or anger--that constitutes his personality.

Remove our imperfections and we should all be alike--smooth off all agglomerations of matter on all sides and everything would be spherical.

What would be the use of keeping so many of us if we were all perfect, and therefore all alike? One talks through his nose, one has a deep voice. But shall kind Providence provide two sets of wings for nose talkers and chest talkers? Why not make the two into one good talker and save one pair of wings?

Why not, in fact, keep just one perfect sample, and let all the rest placidly drift back to nothingness? Or, better, why not take all the goodness that there is in all the men and women that ever were and melt it all down into one cosmic human being? ----

The rain drops, the mist and the sprays of Niagara all go back to the ocean in time. Possibly we all go back at the end to the sea of divine wisdom, whence we were sent forth to do, well or badly, our little work down here:

Future punishment? We think not.

One drop of water revives the wounded hero--another helps to give wet feet and consumption to a little child. It all depends on circumstances.

Both drops go back to the ocean. There is no rule that sends the good drop to heaven and the other to boil forever and ever in a sulphur pit. ----

Troubles beset us when we think of a future state and our reason quarrels always with our longings. We all want--in heaven--to meet Voltaire with his very thin legs. But we cannot believe that those skinny shanks are to be immortal. We shall miss the snuff and the grease on Sam Johnson's collar. If an angel comes up neat and smiling and says "Permit me to introduce myself --I am the great lexicographer," we shall say "Tell that to some other angel. The great Samuel was dirty and wheezy, and I liked him that way."

And children. The idea of children in heaven flying about with their little fluffy wings is fascinating. But would eternal childhood be fair to them? If a babe dies while teething, shall it remain forever toothless? How shall its mother know it if it is allowed to grow up?

Listen to Heine--that marvellous genius of the Jewish race:

"Yes, yes! You talk of reunion in a transfigured shape. What would that be to me? I knew him in his old brown surtout, and so I would see him again. Thus he sat at table, the salt cellar and pepper caster on either hand. And if the pepper was on the right and the salt on the left hand he shifted them over. I knew him in a brown surtout, and so I would see him again."

Thus he spoke of his dead father. Thus many of us think and speak of those that are gone. How foolish to hope for the preservation of what is imperfect!

How important to have FAITH, and to feel that reality will surpass anticipation, and that whatever IS will be the best thing for us and satisfy us utterly.


(The end)
Arthur Brisbane's essay: We Long For Immortal Imperfection--We Can't Have It

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