Was Fergus Urvill anywhere, still? Apart from the body - whatever was left of him physically, down there in that dark, cold pressure - was there anything else? Was his personality intact somehow, somewhere?
I found that I couldn't believe that it was. Neither was dad's, neither was Rory's, nor Aunt Fiona's, nor Darren Watt's. There was no such continuation; it just didn't work that way, and there should even be a sort of relief in the comprehension that it didn't. We continue in our children, and in our works and in the memories of others; we continue in our dust and ash. To want more was not just childish, but cowardly, and somehow constipatory, too. Death was change; it led to new chances, new vacancies, new niches and opportunities; it was not all loss.
The belief that we somehow moved on to something else - whether still recognisably ourselves, or quite thoroughly changed - might be a tribute to our evolutionary tenacity and our animal thirst for life, but not to our wisdom. That saw a value beyond itself; in intelligence, knowledge and wit as concepts - wherever and by whoever expressed - not just in its own personal manifestation of those qualities, and so could contemplate its own annihilation with equanimity, and suffer it with grace; it was only a sort of sad selfishness that demanded the continuation of the individual spirit in the vanity and frivolity of a heaven.
Iain Banks, The Crow Road
2 weeks ago