A Brief EternityThe Philosophy of Longevity
A Brief Eternity
The Philosophy of Longevity
Translated by Steven Rendall

There is one fundamental thing that has changed in our societies since 1950: life has got longer. Over the last few generations, 20 or 30 years have been added to the duration of our lives. But after the age of 50, human beings experience a kind of suspension: no longer young, not really old, they are, as it were, weightless. It is a reprieve that leaves life open like a swinging door. The increase in life expectancy is a tremendous step forward that upsets everything: relations between generations, patterns of family life, the very meaning of our identity and our destiny. This reprieve is both exciting and frightening. The deadlines are getting shorter, the possibilities are shrinking, but there are still discoveries, surprises and upsetting love affairs. Time has become a paradoxical ally: instead of killing us, it carries us forward. What to do with this ambiguous gift? Is it only a question of living longer or living more intensely? To continue along the same path or to branch out and start again? What about remarriage, a new career? How to avoid the weariness of living, the melancholy of the twilight years, how to get through great joys and great pains? Nourished by both reflections and statistics, drawing on the sources of literature, the arts and history, this book proposes a philosophy of longevity based not on resignation but on resolution. In short, an art of living this life to the full. Is there not a profound joy in being alive at the age when our ancestors already had one foot in the grave?

This book is dedicated to all those who dream of a new spring in the autumn of life, and want to put off winter as long as they can.

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  • January 2021
  • 180 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $19.95
  • 9781509544325
  • Open eBook $19.95
  • 9781509544349
Table of Contents
A Note on the Text
Chapter 1. Giving Up on Giving Up
The swinging door - Cold shower - Wisdom or resignation?
Chapter 2. Staying in the Dynamics of Desire
Retreat or disaster? - The philosophical age - What shall we do with our twenty years (of additional life)?
Chapter 3. The Saving Routine
"It is enough to be" - The splendour of the trivial - Here begins the new life - The two natures of repetition - The eternal renaissance - Swan song or dawn?
Chapter 4. The Interweaving of Time
Live as if you were to die at any moment? - The old boudoir of the past - It's always the first time - Become like children again? - Our phantom selves
Chapter 5. Desire Late in Life
Asymmetries and expiry dates - The yoke of concupiscence - Indecent requests
Chapter 6. Eros and Agape in the Shadow of Thanatos
Devotees of the Twilight - The tragedy of the last love - The chaste, the tender, and the voluptuous
Chapter 7. Never Again, Too Late, Still!
Lost opportunities - The Round of Regrets - Kairos, the god of timeliness - On the blank page of your future lives
Chapter 8. Make a Success of One's Life, and Then What?
The three faces of freedom - A door opening on the unknown - Succeed, but not entirely - Not everything is possible
Chapter 9. Death, Where Is Thy Victory?
Monsieur Seguin's goat - Eternity in love with time - The luck to die some day? - "Love what will never be seen twice?"- The martyrs of endurance - The zombie in us
Chapter 10. The Immortality of Mortals
What do bodily ills teach us? - The hierarchy of pains - Poor consolations - Just another moment, Mr Executioner - Eternity is here and now
Conclusion. Love, Celebrate, Serve
About the Author
Pascal Bruckner is the best-selling author of many books including The Tyranny of Guilt, Perpetual Euphoria and The Fanaticism of the Apocalyse.
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"In this excellent essay Pascal Bruckner does not limit himself to exploring the multiple existential questions raised by the recent lengthening of human life or to showing how, in the course of modernity, the third age has become 'the philosophical age par excellence': he constantly and rightly emphasizes the ambiguities, equivocations and ambivalences of this new situation."
Le Monde

"A Brief Eternity is an ode to desire, to the passion for life, to the warm glow of human discoveries, immense or small."

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