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Immortality is the Right Answer: What’s Your Superpower?

Has anyone ever asked you what your favorite superpower is? Sitting around at a bar, stoned maybe, just after watching The Avengers or something. Then a friend asks the big question.

“If you could have any super power … what would it be?”

Without hesitation I give the same answer every time. Immediately and without thought I blurt out the same thing. There’s really only one answer. The right answer. Immortality.

Immortality is the greatest super power by far, no contest. It transcends all other super powers in some respects. It succeeds where all other super powers fail. It allows you to accomplish any goal that other super powers fail at, but also every goal that other super powers succeed at. I’ll explain what I mean rather than blurting out random shit.

  • What?

Immortality comes in several forms, degrees, or levels really. They essentially vary on 2 levels: aging, where there are essentially two types of this level, and invincibility, where there are essentially 3 types. In total then there are 6 types of invincibility.

Boner Horse Aging No Aging
Can’t naturally die Grail Knight (Indiana Jones) Peter Pan (Peter Pan)
Healing Wolverine (X-Men) Highlanders (Highlander)
Invincibility Captain Jack Harkness (Doctor Who) Doctor Manhattan (Watchmen)

When it comes to aging you can either age or not age. Obviously there’s an infinite amount of speeds at which to age but we’ll lump them together as aging since it’s eventually going to suck either way. You might age at a normal rate but just never die. So you have about 100 years of a decent life and then you’re just this immobile doofus who people come to for council or whatever. That’s your only role. Or if they really need to find out what’s at the bottom of a volcano, then just chuck you in. Then there’s aging really really slowly, which is how it’s usually done. Captain Jack Harkness eventually ages until his head swells up into a giant stone like mass connect to tubes with no body.

The other option, and the superior one obviously, is to never age. Typically this is done where a person either stays the age they were when they acquired the power or they reach adulthood and stop. This is obviously superior to aging. You can run, and jump, and hit on the friends of your great great great grandkids.

The other factor is your degree of invincibility to non-natural ways to die. Take Peter Pan for instance. Peter Pan can fly and never age, but if he got stabbed with a sword he would die. Captain Hook never ages either, but when his hand got cut off it didn’t grow back. They can’t heal themselves from mortal or maiming injuries. The next level up is a guy who can heal.

The next level up is some healing power. Wolverine is a good example of this. Wolverine can take all sorts of stabbings and shootings. He can bounce back from a lot, but not everything. If you were able to rip his head off, he wouldn’t grow a new head. At least there’s nothing to suggest that. He can live a long time and take a lot of punishment but if you threw him into the sun he would die. I’m not saying he’s a wuss or anything, but he’d fucking die.

The top level on the invincibility is actual invincibility. You cannot ever die. You will be around until the end of the universe and then you will float through an infinite blackness forever. Hell ya. You can be blown up by a nuclear bomb, cut into tiny pieces, poisoned, shot, stabbed, decapitated, set on fire, melted, and drowned. It doesn’t matter. You will not be harmed by anything that could happen.

I consider aging and invincibility the primary variables because they are the primary reasons for choosing immortality and that’s the angle from which we approach this. There are also several other variables however.

First, there’s the on and off switch. The on and off switch means you can become mortal again under certain conditions. For example, when Peter Pan returns from Neverland, he starts aging again. Obviously there are two types, on and off, but there are two types of off. There’s Peter Pan off, where you just start aging normally from where you left off. And then there’s Adam Monroe from the show Heroes, where once you’re not immortal, all the years you’ve lived immediately catch up with you. Obviously the latter option is crap.

Another factor is what I call rounding up. This is where a person is so invincible to harm, and ages so slowly, that people call them immortal, but if you came back in a million years they’d have grey hair. Wolverine is one example like this. Captain Jack Harkness is another, despite being immortal and not aging in a hundred year span, eventually he aged into a big swollen head with no body and died of old age. So not technically immortal, but close enough.

The next factor is secret weakness. The secret weakness is when someone is immortal except for one thing or situation where they can be killed. Superman can’t be killed or crushed or shot or set on fire or anything. But … he’s allergic to a specific rock and too much exposure to it will kill him.

Finally, the last factor is side effects.  What else it affects other than you’re vulnerability to harm and aging is an important consideration. Does it make you a blue person? Does it give you a distaste for clothing? Are you a total fucking weirdo? Dr. Manhattan is the obvious example. If you’re immortal, but you also have a different appearance and personality, then are you immortal or is some weird naked blue guy standing in your place immortal?

So, we started with a choice of superpower. Of course, you would choose the best form of immortal. For me, I would argue, the best form of immortal is clear. When you’re completely invincible and do not age is tops. No secret weaknesses, no rounding up, no off switch, and no giant blue penis, or uh side effects. Just pure living forever no matter what, that’s the choice.

  • Why?

When I say immortality there are detractors. The top objection I hear is “Oh, but you’d have to watch everyone you ever loved die.” And yes, you’re right. That would suck. But here’s the thing, I’d be fucking immortal!

You realize they’re not dying because you’re immortal right? You dying too is not going to save them. They’re still going to die, you just won’t have to know when. It’s cowardice. You’re dying to spare yourself the knowledge of when a person you love dies. You know they will die, there’s no if; we all die. It’s not that you can’t bear to know they died, because you already know they will, you just can’t bear to know whether it was on a Monday or a Friday. That’s the information you’re sparing yourself from.

You know why it sucks to see everyone you ever loved die, well not see but be aware of it, you know why? Because dying sucks. So why would you want to do it too? We all know someone who has passed away, my reaction has never been “wow, that seems great, I can’t wait until I do that.” When people break their arms or go bankrupt, it does not make you want to do the same thing. If someone loses their left arm I don’t tell myself I can’t keep living … below my left shoulder. You sympathize, empathize, and you live.

And really, by that logic, by me being immortal, I’m doing you a favor. Oh no, please, let me carry that burden. Let me carry that cross of watching you all die while I live. No, no, don’t sweat it. You just go ahead and die within a relatively insignificant amount of time after your birth whilst taking solace in the fact I am never going anywhere.

Don’t thank me or anything. You just go ahead you lucky bastard and disappear from existence in your peaceful death because you can take comfort from the fact that I will never, ever join you, in dying, poor me.

So what is the point of a superpower anyway? The point is to, in a vague sense, help you accomplish what you want and to not fail. For a super hero that’s beating that bad guy and saving the day, while not dying and not saving the day. Whether it’s flying or teleporting or whatever, when people choose a power it’s based the idea that the power they’ve chosen will make them better able to be who they want to be, and experience what they want to experience, and accomplish what they want to accomplish.

Immortality is better suited to that than any other power. It is better suited to accomplishing what you want, not just what I want, because it’s better at getting you to your goals and keeping your from defeat. Let’s talk about defeat first.

The ultimate defeat is death. It’s the defeat of your living breathing essence. You know the saying ‘Live to fight another day’? No you won’t, not if you’re dead asshole. If you can’t die then you can’t lose. You’ll always come back. Even if your enemy or your goal is far too great for you, if a monkey swings at every pitch it’s eventually going to hit the ball. These mortal people get 1 swing, 1. You can blindfold me and make me swing left, doesn’t matter, if I keep swinging I’m catching something. Give Barry Bonds 1 swing though and his odds are thirty percentish at best, mine are 100%. It’s impossible that with infinite swings I’d never hit the ball, no matter how terrible I am.

Take teleporting for example. It’s so you’re never late for work. It’s so you can travel. It’s so you can save time. So why don’t you want to be late for work? So you don’t get fired, so you can have money, so you don’t starve and … die. If you’re immortal, who cares if you’re fired? You’ll have a million more jobs.

Why do you want to teleport across the globe then? Because you want to see everything and its time consuming and expensive. Time matters because there’s only so much of it. You see where I’m going with that one. And expense matters because it’s a limited, finite thing. There is no finite thing when you’re immortal. You don’t need to eat or be housed. You walk across the bottom of the damn ocean and you’re looking at Big Ben.

Why do you want to save time? Teleportation allows you to better ration your time. Well with immortality time is infinite. You’re requesting quick book pro and I’m asking for a tree that grows money.

Ultimately, all these powers are some attempt to get in front of as much defeat as possible, to find ways to avoid the types of defeat you most fear. You can run from defeat, fly away, punch it in the face, shoot it with your laser hands, and on and on. Immortality is going right to the source and making it so defeat does not exist. All the other powers are really just fighting something that immortality makes irrelevant.

So, I’ve told you why the big con of being immortal (everybody else dying) is ridiculous and is based much more in cowardice and deliberate delusion than anything logical or reasonable. Plus I’ve also mentioned why you can never be defeated because when you’re immortal you can take a punch, all punches, infinite punches, and keep trying.

It’s one thing to not lose, it’s another to win. It doesn’t matter what power you choose. Through the simple reality of me living forever, I will eventually accumulate all of your powers.

Here’s what I mean. Imagine it’s the early 20th century and some genie pops up and asks me and my friend what superpower we want. I choose immortality, naturally, and he chooses flight.

Fast forward 20 or 30 years. He’s been flying around like a fucker for a decades. I’ve just been living your life like a normal person. No different than anyone else. I’m sitting at breakfast, reading the paper.

“Hey hunny, you know that flying asshole?”

“Ya”

“Well apparently, he’s dead. Shithead was flying around and had a heart attack. Hit the ground so hard it was nothing but a puddle of blood with teeth floating in it.”

“Oh, that’s terrible.”

“Yep, it’s too bad.”

Flips page and reads more.

“Hey hunny.”

“Ya?”

“Says here, turns out a couple of guys from Ohio went down to Carolina there and invented flight, could be fun.”

Then I buy a plane ticket and treat his dream like cheap hooker. The dream he loved, and I just throw cash on the floor with disdain and say thanks for the ride, less clouds next time. If he asked to breath under water I’d just eventually by scuba gear. And they’ll eventually invent teleportation. Then who’s laughing? Me, at dead people. Skipping through the graveyard and in a few centuries moonwalking on the graveyard on the moon.

Not only will I accumulate all the powers through human invention but as with the swinging at pitches metaphor, I’ll never stop coming. If I punched a mountain it wouldn’t do anything. But if I punched it every 5 seconds for a thousand years I’d make a pretty big dent. With super strength you can level a mountain. With immortality you can level a mountain and also never die. You could lock me up in a cell or bury me underground. I’ll outlive the cell. I’ll outlive the damn ground.

So what do you do with all that time though? Won’t you eventually get bored? No. You won’t. If you were a cave person who got immortal, you could still be excited for that stupid apple watch because its new. Humans are constantly making new things.

But as far as a master plan, what would I do with all that time? I’ll tell you what. Everything, including saving the world constantly. I would engage in what I call the century plan. The century plan is where I would spend each century 100% immersed in something. Just to have the experience, the knowledge, to have lived that.

So for like 100 years I would study physics and be a great physicist. I would contribute to that and improve the world and our knowledge that way. Then I’d be a doctor, invent a cure for some disease. Then, I’d spend 100 years shooting up heroine, just to see what it’s like. There’s no risk in it.

Immortality is the way to go because all the other powers seek to make life better. This is useless, life is already great. The mere privilege to exist is fantastic, it’s the greatest thing there is. The only real flaw is that it ends. No need to improve life. It’s death that needs improved, by eliminating it. If you remove death, life is perfect, and ultimately, all yours.

by Zack Goncz

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2 Comments

  1. Enjoyable fantasy. In literature, every immortal eventually regrets the inability to die, because even though technologies improve, people stay completely stuck with the same set of emotions and desires as their ancestors in caves.

    No matter how long you live or how many centuries you devote to learning about each problem, you will fail to eradicate war, poverty, and all the stupid things people do because humans are animals and refuse to accept it. At some future point the other humans will poison the planet permanently, blow it up or cause eternal weather destabilization. Then you will be the only thing alive on a dead rock. You’ll have to spend a few centuries building an escape vehicle. What fun. You had better hope there’s another habitable planet to get to, otherwise you get to be alone floating through beautiful empty galaxies. Immortality doesn’t prevent insanity from the effects of isolation either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ya, I like asking people what super power they would choose, always interesting answers. I would hesitate to rely on fiction as an accurate portrayal of how it would be being immortal. The reason is because they need some sort of drama or conflict, what fun would a novel or comic book be about an immortal who loved it and fixed the world of many ills.
      Take Hiro from Heroes for example, he wasn’t immortal but he could control all of time and space. It’s too great of a power. They had to distract him with nosebleeds and ancient Japan because he could solve anything in an instant. What I’m saying with that is that fiction writers are primarily looking to explore a conflict more than a reality, or a hypothetical reality.
      I don’t believe you would maintain the same desires etc. I’ve changed many times in my short life as far as my wants and worldview. Even in fiction, lots of fictional immortals evolve throughout their immortality. Even if the desires were the same you could constantly find new ways to meet those desires.
      I also don’t believe there’s no point in trying to solve problems. It’s an empirical fact that humans have become steadily less violent during our time on earth. We hear about it more now because of the news, and we’re more sensitive to it because we are better people. For example, the Holocaust was not even close to the first genocide, its just the first one anybody gave a shit about you know? We’re more sensitive to it now, and more aware, which causes us to be better, but ironically to think we are worse or the same.
      I don’t think humans will destroy themselves either. I do however agree they will eventually be destroyed, inevitably of course. Then yes, I could be floating through space alone forever and losing my mind. In light of that perhaps the Captain Jack Harkness style of immortality is best rather than Dr. Manhattan. However if it was Dr. Manhattan (minus the big blue ding-a-ling of course) or nothing I would take that risk. I concede that I may end up alone in an endless nothing forever, totally insane. All I can say is I would take that risk. To me, it would be worth it to get to that point. Just in my own subjective opinion, I would still do it. Plus, with millions or billions of years of knowledge and time I’d give a real college try to avoiding that fate.

      Like

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