With a few provisions. First and foremost is of course that the contract option of eternal afterlife remains in force, subject to the usual conditions. In addition, the choice does not preclude the ability at some future point to learn or discover how to read minds either directly or indirectly, or to profit from either choice. The assumption is that the two options are mutually exclusive only at the time the offer is made and accepted. Re-licensing issues would need to be agreed upon as well.
However, before taking that leap, and signing on, we must pause, ever so briefly, to contemplate the conditions and consequences of each choice in the light of history. Having watched just about every episode of the Twilight Zone (and that includes the hour long ones) growing up, I am instinctively, almost neurotically paranoid when it comes to accepting offers of supernatural powers. Sure, I would like to assume the best of others, but in these cases, the odds are stacked significantly against it. Look at literature throughout the ages as well. In almost every case, you know, just know, who is backing the deal and even if by some miracle the person thus granted such abilities does not lose his or her eternal soul, involved in that process of repentance is a heavy dose of contrition and pain. No thanks! Most of the time, though, the signee loses big. Remember that episode of the Twilight Zone where the guy signed over his soul so that he couldn’t be killed. How long was it until he wound up in jail for murder? And guess what, he got a life sentence (this was back in the day when it really was more of a life sentence than what is meant by the term as used today). Not Good. Game Over. Dr. Faustus, though refusing to drag his love down with him, did not make it himself, but was only to be consoled that she, in her death had gained heaven.
Now, in the past few decades, there has been a trend toward adapting this deal with the devil in order to downplay the impending doom. It is a dead cert in these modern stories that the main character is going to have a change of heart and be given an out at the last gasp so that everything works out OK, and everyone gets to remain alive and in improved circumstances! In Bedazzled, for example, at the end God and the devil are sitting down together and discussing how things worked out with the implication that they were both on the same side just helping this guy grow into a more successful and well-adjusted person. Theological implications aside, I am getting tired of the ‘nothing bad ever really happens, and everything can be made just like it was’ genre. That isn’t to say that we don’t grow through adversity, or that God can’t use the poor and/or evil choices of others for good–far from it. But these “negative” consequences don’t just go away.
So what is to be done? I mean, if we are going to choose the live forever option, we certainly do not wish to be subjected to an infinitude of sappy movies and books, right? Just look what happened to those poor crew members in “Mystery Science Theatre 3000.” No! We shall not have it! Go back and read the old stories, find the new movies or remakes that pull no punches. As one wit recalled, in Shakespeare it is easy to differentiate his comedies and tragedies–in the comedies, not as many people die. And what kind of blogger would I be, were I not to offer some starting points upon this grand adventure? N.B. the mind reading option, though usually not in the eternally-damned category of Bad Things that Happen, still turn out pretty bad.
Sucker Punch. Live Action. Not for the young, nor the faint of heart, those easily confused by the blurring of realities or the squeamish. Lots of action, great choreography, some great lines and loads of symbolism–most of which I am sure sped by me. There is a lot of humor for those acquainted with a large genre of movies and literature. It is not, not, not, a comedy. But it is well done. A more in-depth review is in the works, but I will need to watch it again. There is also a Kindle version for significantly less, and a blu-ray extended edition.
The Three Musketeers. Dumas trans. Pevear. Excellent book, but you must get Pevear’s translation. I have an in-depth review of the Three Musketeers elsewhere with reasons for preferring this translation. This is no sappy-movie remake with airships, this is the original. And while events fall on the for-the-better side of things by the end of the story, it is certainly not of the happily ever after variety.
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Marlowe. Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare. No punches pulled in this play. Suffering, bad choices and the corruption of morals abound. It is all the more poignant and ironic, in that Faustus was truly more aware of the enormity of the consequences, but thought he could handle it on his own, make the deal, get the power and remain unaffected by it. Excellent play and not very long, and Marlowe isn’t much given to judging the characters for his audience and injecting “here’s the moral of the story”–he has a much higher opinion of his audience. The edition I read it from was an excellent, older paperback borrowed from the university library. The book pictured is I believe the same, but looks like a decent edition in any event (check out the book images), has several other plays as well, and the necessary end notes to render the plays comprehensible. There is also a free edition of the play for Kindle owners and another print version, too.
Enjoy, and share in the comments any other movies or books that pull no punches, and why you think they are great.