Monday, 13 July 2015
Heinlein, Anderson And Stirling On Death
(i) Stirling describes a young man's death from the young man's pov, then writes one more sentence.
(ii) Anderson's Dominic Flandry asks his dead fiancee for a sign of the hereafter in which she believed.
(iii) Heinlein's Lazarus Long states that soon each of us will know whether there is a hereafter (emphasis in the original).
(i) "...as the young man began to bring up his rifle something struck him a massive blow beneath the chin. He never saw the tomahawk that split his throat, only felt a huge wetness when he tried to draw breath, saw darkness, heard a distant fusillade of shots and the stuttering rattle of a machine gun.
"Then nothing, ever again."
-SM Stirling, Conquistador (New York, 2004), p. 481.
This dying young man is successively aware of:
machine gun fire;
"Then nothing..." is an abbreviation for "Then he heard nothing...," but does this in turn imply "Then he (existed and) heard nothing..."? If so, then the implication is wrong. Thus, the concluding sentence is not narrated from the young man's point of view.
(ii) Flandry does not believe that he receives a sign but others believe that they do. Spiritualist phenomena need to be investigated.
(iii) Long is wrong. If there is no hereafter, then we will not know whether there is a hereafter. I have spoken with people who initially thought that Long was right, then were reluctant to acknowledge that, by writing "...know...," he begs the very question at issue.