“Everyone has grown accustomed to this world” says Asuna in Sword Art Online. Ain’t that the truth.
The closer we come to the end of our life in this world, the more accustomed we are to it.
Philosophy and religion occur in the strangest places. This season unveils the anime Sword Art Online, a story with a rather dark beginning. In 2022, ten thousand people have signed up for the new online role playing game “Sword Art Online”, which is the first that uses a brain scanning helmet to fully control the in-game character by using the same type of signals used to control one’s real body. Unfortunately for them, the creator of the game is a madman who has coded the game interface to electrocute them in real life if they die in the game. Also, you can’t log out.
The story is moderately interesting, but the premise struck me as being a kind of metaphor for materialism. It is this way with most people, after all: We think, at some level at least, that if we die in this world, everything ends. Although various religions claim this is not the case, we habitually act on the assumption that death is the end of all things
However, Sword Art Online is not entirely without hope. There is a giant tower of supposedly 100 levels, each progressively harder than the one below it. If the inhabitants of the game manage to clear them all, they will supposedly be free. Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure whether this is the case until it is done, just like nobody knows for sure whether they will really die in real life if they die in the game. They only have the word of the game creator for it. And so, people are hesitant to risk their hide to help clear the higher levels. After all, they have a life of sorts in the virtual world. After a while, they have gotten used to it, and have carved out their niche in this world.
In my Master of Magic fiction story resumed from 2008, the main character is a 18 year old boy from our world (or one indistinguishable from ours). He is drowning after driving into the sea, when his soul is pulled into a body in the magical world of Arcanus during an attempted resurrection of a young boy there. Probably. Or he may be in a coma in the hospital and imagining it all. He is somewhat undecided at first. But after seeing magic used first hand, he realizes that it is similar to programming, something he is very skilled at. It may take a lot of time and unreasonable effort, but he has decided to learn magic until he can figure out how it works, the very nature of the world he is trapped in. He intends to bypass the operating system of the world, writing his code directly into its registers, to slip through the laws that holds him in this world and ascend to the real world.
I think it is a very fascinating concept. But in my own life, I am not actually making this great effort to clear the enemies in my own nature, or to understand the laws of the mind that keep me trapped. It is more like a hobby, really. It would be nice to think that some outward event, some circumstance, would convince me if it is really possible to survive death. But I don’t think such a circumstance would actually make the big difference I imagine. After all, it was Jesus Christ who once said: “If they don’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe if someone rises from the dead.” History kind of proves him right on that, doesn’t it?
It is a disturbing observation that the closer we come to the end of our life in this temporary world, the more accustomed we have become to it. And in the end, we only have stories from long ago that there is a way out, that the end of this life may not necessarily be the end of everything. Everything pales in comparison to that – in theory. In practice, even the smallest coin at arm’s length will completely block the sun.