I love the last two lines in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18,
“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and gives life to thee.”
This sort of immortality is something I sort of aspire to, an eternity living as literature or some other kind of media. That is an afterlife I would like. Living on in media is the only sort of life after death I can find myself able to believe in, actually. This poem may be about the beauty of a woman, but I find this idea of memetic immortality to be a really awesome one. Maybe I’m using memetic wrong, but the persistence of an idea of a person, through media or just rhetoric is just too fantastic.
This woman, real or fictional, now has a life in words. Historical figures have legacies that outlive them, but in a way, they continue to live in their legacies. Though it may be a couple simple lines in a poem by a man who’s now long dead and probably returned to the earth, something more ethereal than a body does live on in his words. Shakespeare gave more than just this woman immortality, he acquired it himself. I’m fairly sure most people have been excited by this prospect of life after death. I know it’s something I have struggled with before. The finality of the grave is something that is undoubtedly real, but this idea of something after is a satisfying one. It speaks to us and our fear of the end. It’s a good thing to have some sort of way to bypass the big sleep, if only as a sort of comfort measure. Morbid as all this talk of death may seem, for me it’s actually a sort of hopeful thing. I get a chance at an eternal life through other people so I want to do everything I can to make sure they’re good people.