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Is "immortal glory" still possible?
February 4, 2011 12:22 AM   Subscribe

Who's Going to Live Forever?
posted by crossoverman (47 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
As the great philosopher and astrophysicist Brian Harold May wrote, who wants to live forever?
posted by kmz at 12:34 AM on February 4, 2011


Of course, Freddie will live forever, as long as music is still around.
posted by kmz at 12:35 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fame!

Stuck in my head now. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

Fame! Who want's to live for-e-e-ver? Who want's to learn how to fly? Fame!"
posted by From Bklyn at 12:55 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Probably a few of the ultra-rich.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:00 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tantalizing article.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:05 AM on February 4, 2011


Interestingly, Borgia had the same motto as Reese Bobby.
posted by mhum at 1:11 AM on February 4, 2011


If I don't live forever, it's going to be because I died trying...
posted by DataPacRat at 1:14 AM on February 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I kinda regret going with the article's title now, since it's not about living forever but about who will be remembered forever.
posted by crossoverman at 1:19 AM on February 4, 2011


Yeah, sorry about that. I jumped the gun with my first comment. Then tried to cover my mistake with the second. Oh well.
posted by kmz at 1:47 AM on February 4, 2011


he even provided a formula for predicting who might be famous in, say, 500 years' time. The first rank of glory belonged to those "who have played the chief part in founding a religion."

L. Ron Hubbard?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:56 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I imagine that this sort of fame is very dependent on whether you're considering the general public, the highly educated, or a specialized field.

For the "ignorant" masses, it would be surprising, for example, if they knew anything about Borges, Leonardo, or Machiavelli. You would hope (perhaps futilely) that university graduates would at least be vaguely familiar with those figures and a number more besides. You would expect an Astronomer to know a number of figures in his field still remembered hundreds of years after their contributions.

There is a "top tier" of historical figures that almost anyone (in the west, and perhaps the rest of the world) can at least take a fairly decent stab at identifying or coming up with a general statement which is mildly accurate: Jesus, Buddha, Mohamed, Cleopatra, Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Montezuma, Shakespeare, Columbus, Washington, Polo, Rembrandt...and, of course, apocryphal characters like Arthur, Robin Hood and the like.

From the 20th Century, I think Henry Ford and (assuredly) Hitler may make the cut. Churchill or Stalin?

Have no idea who is alive right now who seems like they might possess that quality.
posted by maxwelton at 2:26 AM on February 4, 2011


James Watson is alive now and will still be known in 500 years.

Not that well, but he'll still be known.
posted by sien at 2:31 AM on February 4, 2011


But with lateral thinking we could consider other kinds of religions and empires: business empires, for instance, or cults of ideology. The latter immediately brings to mind Osama Bin Laden, probably the only person alive today who is a dead certain to be remembered in 2511

Aren't both these claims - that Osama is alive, and that he'll be remembered in 2511, somewhat dubious? A "dead certain" to be remembered in 500 years? Hm.
posted by iotic at 2:37 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's probably an illusion, but it's hard to shake the feeling that everything produced these days is relatively ephemeral, compared to the classic works of the past.

But then it feels as if our grasp of the past is shrinking too. I would once have felt able to mention Machiavelli or the Borgias in conversation: now, in most company I assume no-one would know what I'm talking about. In twenty years I'm not sure most people will know who Leonardo was.

So maybe nobody 'lives forever' any more - but I would appreciate it if in the meantime you'd consider stepping off my lawn.
posted by Segundus at 2:38 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The curse of immortality is not an easy one to bear. Leonardo Da Vinci himself was just one of a number of manifestations of a single immortal being - manifestations that included Shakespeare and Mozart - a being not entirely happy with his immortality. This was completely explained in the Star Trek episode Requiem for Methuselah (full episode).
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:40 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


maxwelton: For the "ignorant" masses, it would be surprising, for example, if they knew anything about Borges, Leonardo, or Machiavelli.

Anything at all? Well, all three appear as characters in the recent Assassin's Creed video game series, so there's that. Also, there was this awful thing called The Da Vinci Code, right?
posted by mhum at 3:12 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you guys talking about the dude who deciphers your Codex Pages in Florence? He's an actual guy?
posted by Justinian at 3:15 AM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


More seriously, the claim I found most dubious in that article was the confident assertion that the days of founding religions and empires is over. Haven't we learned to stopped declaring the End of History?
posted by Justinian at 3:16 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the 20th Century, I think Henry Ford and (assuredly) Hitler may make the cut. Churchill or Stalin?

I wouldn't be sure of any of those except Hitler. Though in point of fact I think the person most certain to be remember is Albert Einstein. We know Newton, after all.
posted by Justinian at 3:18 AM on February 4, 2011


Fame! Who want's to live for-e-e-ver? Who want's to learn how to fly? Fame!"

In my head that sounded like Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend's Wedding.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:50 AM on February 4, 2011


Just to be clear, I am not the real Dread Pirate Roberts. My name is Ryan; I inherited the ship from the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from is not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His real name was Cumberbund. The real Roberts has been retired for fifteen years and living like a king in Patagonia.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:18 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've already outlived my fame.
posted by tommasz at 5:52 AM on February 4, 2011


I'd like to put a long odds bet on Jedward.
posted by rhymer at 5:53 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get something named after you like Madame Guillotine. By this standard, Rick Santorum will live forever.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:09 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


maxwelton: For the "ignorant" masses, it would be surprising, for example, if they knew anything about Borges, Leonardo, or Machiavelli.

Pffft. Leonardo was the ninja turtle leader and used dual katanas to fight shredder.

Flippant sure, but AFAIK they did do an origin story of sorts and mentioned the renaissance dudes in an episode. I don't know how much glory there is in being a plot point in an animated cartoon, but I guess immortality isn't always glamorous.

(Wasn't borges the mutated rhino?)
posted by anti social order at 6:10 AM on February 4, 2011


Haven't we learned to stopped declaring the End of History?

Well, we haven't learned to stop declaring the Start of History. The Jews did it, setting the point 5770 years ago; the Christians did it, settng the point 2011 years ago; the Moslems did it, setting the point 1432 years ago; Mussolini did it, setting the point 89 years ago. (But then, of course, that one lasted only XX years.)
posted by aqsakal at 6:24 AM on February 4, 2011


Some people can't tell their Borges from their Borgias.
posted by Segundus at 6:25 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Get something named after you like Madame Guillotine

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was a monsieur, and it was Antoine Louis that actually invented the thing. Or did you mean that "Madame Guillotine" was the thing named after Guillotin?
posted by jedicus at 6:47 AM on February 4, 2011


Pffft. Leonardo was the ninja turtle leader and used dual katanas to fight shredder.

Flippant sure, but AFAIK they did do an origin story of sorts and mentioned the renaissance dudes in an episode. I don't know how much glory there is in being a plot point in an animated cartoon, but I guess immortality isn't always glamorous.


TMNT is the best thing that ever happened to Leonardo Da Vinci. Why? Because it suddenly transformed him into only the second most overrated Leonardo in world history.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:02 AM on February 4, 2011


jedicus, thanks. I guess that means with my string of errors Rick Santorum must be a woman.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:12 AM on February 4, 2011


Can't believe the article didn't mention Herostratus, who is probably the patron demon of the anyone who commits evil for a shot at history.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 7:20 AM on February 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mr. T
posted by stormpooper at 8:17 AM on February 4, 2011


Haha, Jedward. I'm digging that, not even two years into their explosion into (British) popular consciousness, their Wikipedia page contains the warning "This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience".
posted by iotic at 8:38 AM on February 4, 2011


When the strands of time have worn thin and bare, and even the brightest stars have turned to dust, when heaven itself has shut the gates and the angels all gone forever, this name and this name only still will blaze across the sky with the fury of ten million suns:

Justin Bieber
posted by briank at 9:29 AM on February 4, 2011


I was hoping for an article on the social inequalities inherent in our transhuman future.
posted by tybeet at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2011


It seems strange to think that some of the most famous people around today—the sports or movie stars—will be totally forgotten.

No it doesn't. It doesn't at all. Life is impermanence. People who were famous two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago, are complete ciphers now. It will only become more so as technological change advances. Who remembers Richard Heene? Elian Gonzalez? Taylor Hicks? Mandisa? Frankie Muniz?

Jesus H on a popsicle stick, does Slate always have to go straight for the most dully banal observations imaginable?
posted by blucevalo at 10:19 AM on February 4, 2011


The answer is thou. Thou shalt.
posted by Flunkie at 10:29 AM on February 4, 2011


maxwelton: For the "ignorant" masses, it would be surprising, for example, if they knew anything about Borges, Leonardo, or Machiavelli.

For what it is worth, the only time I have heard either Leonardo or Machiavelli mentioned in the past five years (and probably since I graduated college) in conversation is by street kids and urban artists.

As far as Machiavelli goes, there is this theme of "well, Machiavelli said 'x' and..." and then drawing in the black power politics of Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan with him. It was interesting to listen to their interpretations of Il Principe; of which some of them knew the more quotable things pretty well and I was in for a really good debate.

The thing I noticed wasn't that that they knew who the man was, but rather that they didn't know about The Discourses, so I loaned them my copy.

I can't speak to the Borgias - Lucrezia and her family may indeed be lost.
posted by Tchad at 10:45 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who is more famous: Jesus vs The Beatles (graph)

Celebrity Deathmatch (graph)
posted by stbalbach at 11:30 AM on February 4, 2011


The Most Famous People of All Time, from Who Is More Famous

Who is the most famous person of all time?

..and don't forget Famous people from Poland
posted by stbalbach at 11:35 AM on February 4, 2011


We've all been here since the beginning of time, and we'll all be here at the end of it.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


what a weak article. I am more than confident that I could dedicate an hour or two and write one on the same topic which is vastly more interesting.

Here is the opening P:

Who, alive today, will still be famous in 500 years? It's the kind of question people might ask at dinner parties during a lull in conversation. But it's one I've been pondering for the past couple of years, while writing a novel about three men who were together for a six-month period of bloody battles and lavish parties in central Italy. The story, set in 1502, is almost entirely a true one. The names of the men? Cesare Borgia, Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo da Vinci.

The reason this article exists is to begin hype for this guys new book. metafilter? publicityfilter! All in all I would have rather learned more about his book/those 6 months, but given the shoddy writing it would probably be a waste of time.

It is moments like now that I realize how much of a abysmal time sink metafilter can be =(
posted by Shit Parade at 12:37 PM on February 4, 2011


Fame lasts fifteen minutes, telomeres are forever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 PM on February 4, 2011


I don't want to achieve immortality through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying. (Woody Allen)
posted by phliar at 2:22 PM on February 4, 2011


You know who will be remembered in 500 years? The guy who finally blows up the moon.

I guess what I'm saying is that I plan on sticking around in people's memories.
posted by quin at 3:13 PM on February 4, 2011


All these years, I thought it was me and Liam who was gonna live forever.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 3:17 PM on February 4, 2011


In 2000 years Mein Kampf - long known for its limited vocabulary and simple syntax - will be the standard 2nd year textbook for Classical German. The name Hitler will still be remembered and hated, but mostly just because he overuses the accusative absolute.
posted by dd42 at 8:27 PM on February 4, 2011


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