On death.

It is very clear, when one examines it, that everyone has to die in the end. We do indeed have a creation, though we cannot remember it, and thus we must also have an end. But why is it that we love it so?

The purpose of every major religion has been to tell us that we will live on after we die. This seems unlikely, to my mind, as it preaches exactly what we wish to hear. Anyone who tells you what you want to hear likely wants something from you, even if it is simply your affection and fratitude. The problem is that this also cheapens the effect of living. If your greater rewards are to come next, then this life must be ignored. But if there is no life after this, what then? What possible purpose could we have for wasting this life in service of the next? And, more importantly, if the next life is the kind of one that we would enjoy, why would it do something so stupid as require that we sacrifice our first one?

I have been considering death, lately, as you can probably see. I have an admission to make. I hate it, and it terrifies me more than anything else in the world, for it is the exact negation of this world, it is the void of both nothingness and non-existence, the place in which everything that I have ever attempted will come crashing down. Death wipes clean the slate, a slate that myself, and every other self-respecting human being, has been struggling to build.

It is true, you can prolong your influence. Plato is still alive, thousands of years after his death. But if one member of a race is impermanent, than they all are. If a race is impermanent, then it tends to reason that it will end one day, on the slightest chance. Billions of years from now, the sun will explode. Unless we manage to escape our present solar system by that time, which I have heavy doubts as to, we will all be gone. That also fails to take into account human error. One maniac with a nuclear weapon in his hands could level the entire planet, were he given the chance. There are numerous scenarios like this, each of them with impeccably small odds. Yet, in the face of infinity, every odd will be tested. On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. We will all die.

What then? Plato will cease to exist, even if we manage to faithfully keep him in our minds until doomsday. So will the rest of us. Some of us, the lesser ones, we will have already been dead and forgotten before then. Others, the great men who have left their impressions behind, will be leveled in the end, along with the rest. You can delay the complete and utter demolition of your being by making it worthwhile for others to know. But when the whole race ceases to exist, so will you, and this is an inevitability.

Schopenhauer says that, having existed for an eternity as inert matter, life is some sort of mistake, and in the end we will return to this matter. We can't really fear this, not without being in the right mind, because we will be just as happy after our lives as we were before; that is, not to have a consciousness. Yet, Schopenhauer was decidedly pessimistic. His view of life is negative. Mine is positive.

There are some who claim that living forever would be a burden, a bore. They feel that life only has meaning as long as this meaning is threatened, and that once it ceases to be, then so will their meaning. the only thing I have to say to these people, is that they had no meaning in their lives to begin with. Yet, there are some who have meaning in their lives, without the threat of death. There are some who live for things other than gratification, who create their own meaning, a world from their fingertips.

I am more bored by a life that ends than by one that continues. If I lived forever, I would be satisfied. I would seek constantly, to always understand, to always learn and push myself constantly further. My only regret is that I was not born at the beginning of time, and allowed to live until its very end. This would be the perfect life for me. Yet, it is not true. I was cursed with being born in a constant present, rather than allowed to transcend time altogether. If I could not have been born immortal, then at least I would have wished to be born nearer the end of time than this. This is certainly no end time, nor is it a beginning time. It is no golden age, but nor is it a dark age. It is worlds better than the past; it is nowhere near as interesting as the future will be. With history recorded, at least for the most part, the man in the future can relive the past. for this reason, existing in the future is always preferable.

Yet, I must face the fact that I will die. It is true, and inevitable. Perhaps I will take the easy road, and accept what religion has taught me. More likely, I will take the hard road, and make every attempt to transcend death and time altogether. I must begin by desensitizing myself to the concept of my own death.

As a concept, it scares me, to the pit of my stomach. I become physically sick when I truly consider that I will die, and utterly cease to exist. There will not even be a consciousness to consider that I am dead. There will be inert matter, and I will be gone. I must think about this, I must face it, in order to move past it. I must learn to both accept and reject death, and when I am done, I will live forever, regardless of what happens to my body in sixty or so years when I likely die. I must meditate on death, and learn not to fear it.

I think I will begin when I start my second vow of silence, within the next few weeks. I have planned it for winter quarter this year, as it seems more fitting, and less obtrusive into my social life. Here's to hoping that it will treat me as well as last year's.



Christ, how long has it been since I updated this thing? Too long. I intended to write at least two blogs over break. Instead, I watched all of Fringe and wrote a lot. Now I'm back in school all over again. At least one thing of grand importance has happened to me. I've had a breakthrough, and a major one.

I'm over Ayn Rand. Not that I really mean this, so let me explain. Atlas Shrugged was the best thing to happen to high-school me. It was singlehandedly responsible for giving me hope for humanity, for pulling me out of the muck of my childhood, for destroying the liberal in me, for creating in me a new and better identity. But that's over.

I have spent the last couple years worshiping Ayn, although I would never admit it, and I didn't even believe it. It's true that in the very least I kept her ideas out of every argument, and managed to maintain a somewhat objective stance when talking about her. But hiding under this was the fact that I worshiped her, no matter how hard I denied it. Many of my ideas were hers, though I claimed that they were mine. Even where we did differ on opinions, mine were somehow based in the foundation that her work had laid for me.

Last quarter, I tried to get a fuller understanding of her philosophy, so that I could finally have a completely objective opinion on her work. What resulted was a realization of every bias that I have been secretly carrying. Her fiction work is fiction; it carries heavy philosophical themes, but it is far from any kind of proof or real evidence for the power of her ideas. Her philosophical work is almost disgusting to me, now. There is little proof, no evidence. It holds the ideas that it tries to prove as self-evident, and spends the rest of the time getting itself off.

Then, I picked up a text about her life, told through the eyes of Nathaniel Branden, a close colleague and sometimes lover. This opened my eyes. Ayn was essentially a terribly harsh, repressed, and biased person. She was violent in upholding her beliefs, and as her life went on, she degraded, coming to become everything that she denounces in her books. The whole time she holds herself as some sort of deity, ignoring every flaw in herself and believing that it must be some kind of strength. In short, she did not bear the characteristics of a competent philosopher.

The idea that I had most relied upon, as a result of my worship of her, was the notion that emotion is antithesis to reason. Her heroes are often coldly emotional, purely rational. It was not something that she specifically upheld, but it was one of the consequences regardless, and one that she suffered in her own life. I say suffer, because an understanding of her life proved that the separation of a being from his emotion may seem temporarily effective, yet it is far more damaging in the long run, and as any dedicated mind understands, it is the long run that is more important.

In my philosophy, there are three kinds of men. There are rational men, there are irrational men, and then there are sheep that have no real force of character, or personality of their own, they are only to be led by the previous two classes. My love of cold rationality and my championing of the rational man as the best kind of life naturally led to my attempts to emulate this life.

But I have realized now that there is a fourth class of man, the true ruler. He is the man who is both completely rational and completely irrational, the man who is superficially similar to the sheep, but only because he has transcended mankind altogether. The man who balances his emotions and reasons, while at the same time encouraging both; this is the best kind of man.

My own life has been hampered by my hatred for my emotions. Most notably is my love life, which has been troubled and confusing. My lack of emotion also hindered my writing, though at the time I believed that it was the only thing that permitted it. But this is all over now. I've come to this grand revelation, and it has fixed everything.

I am allowed to be emotional, and still be rational. This fact has just changed my life. Within the past couple of weeks, I have written better, and been more satisfied, than I have in most of my life. I have reached some sort of balance, and it has fueled me further in great force. I have been more open and real with people, and it has helped my plans as well. Everything is good.

I've arrived back at college, with a fresh outlook and far better force of will under my belt. other things have happened as well, less important ones. Romantic connections are being made, and friendships are finally developing the way I want them to. I'm reading well, writing well, working hard, and best of all, I'm happy about it.

Maybe I'll discuss a few of the things I meant to earlier, later. We'll see.