Don’t ask “What if Jesus was aborted?”
Ask, rather, “What if Osamu Tezuka was aborted?”
I pick his name out of the many who have lived full lives on Earth, for those of you who have not even heard of him have seen his works. He is called the God of Manga in Japan, the defining author who set the standards of Japanese cartooning and defined an entire genre of genres, opening the gates to thousands upon thousands of future creations following in his style. His works even lead outside of Japan, to those who have been inspired them across the world.
Had he been killed before birth, none of this would have happened.
I hear the objections already, and I will deal with the two non-objections first.
First is by those who do not like manga, anime, or anything animated originating in Japan, or homages thereof. So what? Others have. I have yet to hear the argument seriously advanced that because someone in the future won’t like your art, you yourself should stop, and should in fact die now. (Actually, I have, but I hope that those who say these things do not truly mean murder by their words.)
Second is by those who say that I had no reason to think Osamu Tezuka was in danger of abortion before his birth in the first place. So what? Our generation’s Osamu Tezuka, this moment in the womb, is in such danger. I ask if these people truly believe that anyone who has ever been threatened with the possibility of death before birth is therefore barred from any future success or ability to change the world for the better in the future. I hope they do not. Such beliefs lead to a form of hell in this life.
But, now, three arguments that, prima facie, appear to have merit.
Someone else would have invented this stuff!
Possibly, or possibly not, depending on what you mean by “stuff.”
Purely technical idea, such as drawing in perspective and Djisktra’s Algorithm, are inherent to nature, and therefore would occur to anyone as surely as the numbers four and five do. In this sense, are we not indebted to those who did discover these things? Possibly, though I don’t see why anyone would go to college if one was honored for reinventing the wheel in every generation.
But perhaps we mean that technical gifts are all there is to the world? The world would be as empty as a cathedral without ornament or stained glass, then. The moment the first brush is set to the first canvas, and the first drip of paint touches its surface, we have seen someone new and never-re-creatable enter the world.
More particularly, even the technical aspects of an artist’s work, or that of any figure throughout history, are contingent. Have you ever gone to a bookstore and seen a fantasy book? What we call “fantasy” in its modern form, with elves and dwarves and dragons, is mostly a series of homages to homages to homages to Tolkien. Had Tolkien not written of multiple races living together, I doubt we would have anything like our standard ensemble of heroic parties containing members of multiple cultures and races united against one dark lord.
OK, but what technical aspects are there to fantasy of all genres? I hear the shouted question from the back of the gallery. Many. Have you ever complained that a fantasy world’s fictional history is unbelievable, its languages clearly made-up nonsense, its quests and prophecies and riddles easily seen through, and its magic self-contradictory? Those very objects presuppose there is a nature of fantastic literature that must be obeyed. Theses technical aspects are not only unique to fantasy qua fantasy, but other genres, such as westerns and mysteries and romances all have their own unique technical aspects, which their progenitors decreed and its modern ancestors disobey at their peril.
But someone else would have made something just as good!
No. This is purely false. This is what Christians call a heresy and moderns call a delusion.
There are multiple forms of this, which are only facets of the same shard of glass proclaiming itself a diamond. “Some other idea would come, replacing this, replacing it so well we would have never noticed!” “See, this would happen again somewhere else, for your soul would arrive somewhere else on the Wheel of Life should you die too soon in this world!” “God would not let this gift go to waste–it would go to someone else!” All these voices are but the many whispers of the devil.
Exaggeration? Hardly. Let’s go one by one.
“But some other idea–”
Consider the genre of giant robots fighting other giant robots. There are western giant robot battle films. The idea of giant robots is not limited to the cartoons of Japan, stylized by Osamu Tezuka as they are. Surely those great artists who thought of giant robots and their violence against one another would have thought of it anyway.
Suppose they did. Where then, would be Mobile Suit Gundam, and its children of realistic space combat? Where RahXephon and Evangelion’s strange mix of mythic symbolism and monster battle? Where all the variations on these themes of themes, harkening back to the aching call of the past, that idea which we see and so desperately try to save a glimpse of before the abyss: proud machines like walking giants standing in a ruined city, fighting to the death.
They wouldn’t be anywhere. By definition, these ideas could not have come to be, just as much as you would not should one ancestor not have begotten another of your ancestors.
Here the second heresy, the more enjoyable, the more comforting: that we are as eternal as God. That even if we should not have lived, some idea, some spark of our essence, would be preserved, for it was never perishable.
The logistical problems of reincarnation aside, it is false because it proposes a view of the world which is contradictory with that which we have. Of all the people you have heard of who believed, however sincerely, to be Napoleon reborn, how many have conquered France and declared themselves Emperor? You would think that Napoleon’s infamous abilities of leadership would be present in all of his other lives. If they do not, then how is it supposed to be Napoleon? Some faint memory of power, while everything else about this claimant to the throne of the Emperor of the French is different? Or is it simply false memories and wishful thinking.
But rejecting simple reincarnation is not enough. Some hint comes to us, the third claim, that these things are granted are simply granted to us because we are there to receive it. This is demonic on many levels, but I will only examine one.
Take any famous book or show. The Hunger Games. Star Wars. Sword Art Online. Each of them, had I been Director or Author or both, would be entirely different, starting from the same premises! In fact, The Hunger Games shares most its premise with Battle Royale, any space opera (and many other genres beside) could claim similarity with Star Wars, and the super-serious-online-game genre of Sword Art Online is shared by many other works, including one called Log Horizon which at the moment of writing is neck-and-neck in popularity on Crunchyroll, where both are available.
Yet, every single work I’ve cited is different from all the others.
Even, for a more “scientific” comparison, use Batman from depiction and Batman from another. In fact, the very fact I can phrase this sentence shows their differentiation, though we all agree exactly on the concept of Batman.
So what? God can then give the same idea to multiple people? It’s not the same idea. My vision of any premise is different from your premise, and even giving us the same things to work from we will make different works. To deny this is to deny causality, for it would mean that two different causes cannot lead to different effects.
Okay, but it doesn’t matter. The woman is more important than whatever art, because more art can always be made, if the art mattered in the first place.
And here we get to the meat of the matter.
In the womb, Osamu Tezuka could not be distinguished from any other child. Am I claiming that every child will effect the world as much as Osamu Tezuka. Yes, in some way.
To believe otherwise is infinitely more absurd. To believe that we can judge the value of all the life of a person we have never met, and all their unknown deeds spiraling forever into eternity, is to claim the prerogatives of God with none of His Attributes.
The variations on this theme are equally insane. This child will grow up in poverty, and therefore will do nothing of note, we are told. This child will grow up without a father, and therefore will do nothing of note, we are told. This child will grow up unwanted, and therefore do nothing of note, we are told. This child will have terrible quality of life, and therefore will do nothing of note, we are told.This child will grow up to live outside the womb only for a moment, and therefore do nothing of note, we are told.
We are told these lies by the Devil, the father of lies.
Go on, now. Find the poverty-stricken, the fatherless, the unwanted, the sickly, even the parents of the child who lived but a few seconds in their arms. Tell them they are worthless. You cannot? Then those words are pure lies.
And this is the truth: that all are wanted, all are needed, all are irreplaceable, never to be seen again in this world the moment of their death.
This is the truth: That all life is worth it.
An update on what’s been happening behind the scenes, and where the heck have I been all this time?
A meditation on the controversial topic of trigger warnings.
Matthew P. Schmidt My BlogThe World of Wishes is out! Last time I mentioned I had another novel in the works. This is it. The radio silence was more to do with the unexpected amount of work involved, but in any case, more than that later. The World of Wishes is an...