There’s a recurring theme in fantasy and science-fiction: there is something sacred about death. Blurring the line between life and death, usurping and dethroning death, will lead to Bad Things. The hallmark of evil is the defying of death. I once read someone describe Darth Vader as a walking coma patient, and what happens when he turns back to the light? He accepts the ‘natural’ death he’s been denying for so long.
It’s odd, really. Defying death is an obsession for our culture. Not just CAT scans and laser keyhole surgery, but even down to central heating and surgically sterile food. All to make sure we can live safe, comfortable, long lives. We cling to life with the rabid obsession of Gollum and his precious.
I’m not sure what the word is for my worldview, but I despise the notion of ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’. There are fundamental laws which describe how the universe works. These laws apply to every single thing in the universe. Everything, from bunny rabbits living in a woodland paradise, to smog-filled cities of broken-backed worker-slaves, obeys the same rules. The process of childbirth and genetic engineering, the movements of the tides and nuclear bombs, a mother’s love and genocide. All the same rules. If something is possible, it is natural. If something is not possible, it’s entirely academic because it’s never going to happen. And if it does happen? Then our understanding of the universe is clearly wrong and we need to change it.
So why should death, and the ‘cheating’ of death, be a hallmark of evil? Cheating death is possible, so it’s natural. The universe doesn’t give a shit. Karma is not going to appear from no where to deliver Terrible Consequences if you’re a walking coma patient, or if you make sure you take your vitamins every day. Poke death in the eyes–sell your soul, splice your DNA, drink the alien goo. It’s all natural.
Of course, when you accept that nuclear bombs are as natural as bunny rabbits, you’ve got to accept a few other things. Like Plant Earth really doesn’t give a crap about us. We can cover the whole planet in thick clouds of smog, boil ourselves in our skins and turn Earth into a second Venus. Mother Earth will be all like, ‘meh, it took you thousands of years to find the slight bruise the K-T ‘extinction event’ left on me’. But the human race… well, we may be given a few last moments for regret. Whether defying death will help to produce the kind of environment and society we want to live in is another matter.
I guess I’m just sick of the ‘defying death must lead to Terrible Consequences’ trope. It’s overplayed, and it’s just plain wrong. And considering the obsession we have with defying death ourselves, it’s incredibly hypocritical. Let’s have a little truth in our fiction, eh?