“Time and craving,” said Mr. Propter, “craving and time—two aspects of the same thing; and that thing is the raw material of evil. So you see Pete,” he added in another tone, “you see what a queer sort of present you’ll be making us, if you’re successful in your work.* Another century or so of time and craving. A couple of extra life-times of potential evil.”
“And potential good,” the young man insisted with a note of protest in his voice.
“And potential good,” Mr. Propter agreed. “But only at a far remove from that extra time you’re giving us.”
“Why do you say that?” Pete asked.
“Because potential evil is in time; potential good isn’t. The longer you live, the more evil you automatically come into contact with. Nobody comes automatically into contact with good. Men don’t find more good by merely existing longer. It’s curious,” he went on reflectively, “that people should always have concentrated on the problem of evil. Exclusively. As though the nature of good were something self-evident. But it isn’t self-evident. There’s a problem of good at least as difficult as the problem of evil.”
“And what’s the solution?” Pete asked.
“The solution is very simple and profoundly unacceptable. Actual good is outside time.”
*Pete’s work is focused upon life extension.
After Many a Summer Dies the Swan
Aldous Huxley 1939