One of my favorite little books is G. H. Palmer’s “Intimations of Immortality in the Sonnets of Shakspere” (his spelling )–This was a lecture in 1912 as part of Harvard University’s “Ingersol Lectures on Immortality,” which began in 1896, but seems to have not been continued much lately. Perhaps no one has put-up any more money to fund it. Whatever, Palmer found that Shakespeare approached the domain, but did not enter it with both feet, as it were…just intimations .I’ve been thinking of approaching Harvard and offering my “updated” presentation on the subject. (No honorarium required.)
Surely, I’d make reference to this movie. I watched it because Robert Redford was a main character and the subject was immortality. Redford doesn’t need money or exposure, so I thought, since he’s getting older, he may offer insights to the subject. In brief: He is a famous scientist who has told the world, with great PR, that he has found that there is an afterlife –for sure for real. His pronouncements caused multitudes, worldwide, of suicides: folks who had had it here and wanted to get to the other side to live again there. This caused the scientist to withdraw from the public. What he’d seen from electroding the brain, and whatever else his machines were doing, was only on lab monitors. The time had come to do the Frankenstein-Lazarus Project and try to resurrect a corpse– to come back and describe the afterlife with the aid of all this technology. The project failed. Still, there were these scenes coming from the brain showing on monitors….even from live people like himself and others.
So what was happening on the monitors, but could not be made manifest in any other way? Had millions of people killed themselves on Fake News? The movie doesn’t play it out in real simple terms at the ending, but this is the bottom line: the technology was manifesting areas of memory in the brain which held on to things the person visualized doing to change things if they had a chance to live again in an afterlife. The scientist would have brought his wife back to dinner from her having gone upstairs and committing suicide in real life. (This was a compelling factor in his motivation-interpretation-use of his data.) The corpse would have made the family hospital visit. The scientist’s son would have saved the child from drowning and thus the life of the woman he loved.
These things: there is no data from an afterlife and no returns — so pretty much a fake-news discovery for many and a Faith-Need for others regardless; also very insufficient intimations in this real life to cause mass suicides to reach the other side. And, most significantly human in this life — is the wish we could sometimes go back make things better and also, with this insight-wish, we are motivated to do the best we can with our life now, which is a kinda afterlife. (I’m currently on my ninth life, by some calculations. I’ve a few poems and comments on this site that indicate how my presentation would go once Harvard requests my “intimations” and monitor-memory visitations. See the poem “Living Forever In Forevering,” for a preview.) Alas, is Redford making a case for the effect of Fake-False-Fraudulent News? He did two movies in 2017, the other “Our Souls at Night,” is also about older people: he a widower and she, Jane Fonda, a widow. Alas it is she who goes to him to suggest they start sleeping together platonically (prior to the romance part) so as to have someone beside as always before. (How I would like that. But that, too, was Fake News of a sort. In real life no woman makes such an advance. I’ll be a widower for ten years, May 25, 2019. No knocks on my door or emails. And try my memory as I may, I can’t return to love’s intimacies — a kiss, holding hands, a laugh together — or recall them now as experienced-felt then.)
Seems there are happenings we just can’t go back and change. Such as random terrorist acts, suicides, bad choices, school shootings, climate changes, etc. Depending on where any person is with their existence — they and all who’ve been around awhile — are in an afterlife … to make things work best&better&beautifully. That’s the real discovery in this life’s odyssey to be at home. — mdok- 1/2019 –