Famous Last Words
Italian artist Raphael’s last word was simply, “Happy.” and Frank Sinatra dying, simply said, “I’m losing it.” We are fascinated by those final moments of lucidity because we hope that, somehow, in those moments we may just catch glimpse of a greater truth, an inkling of something that lies beyond us and is greater than us which somehow allows us to rationalize the finite timeline we are currently running on.
Famous last words are collected (http://goo.gl/lNqtK0
) poured over, analyzed: http://goo.gl/AH7lgM
, rationalized and our brains then compute a way for us to retain our sanity, deal with something inevitable and still go on.
I know, kind of a dumper reading this on a Sunday but there is a real point to it that’s actually a little more uplifting so bear with me. The Buddhist view on death and the afterlife involves Karma (http://goo.gl/TGyKj
) and consciousness, both of which have found fertile ground of late in theoretical physics. John Wheeler, in particular, the same man who coined the term “Black Hole” (https://goo.gl/w9YFmD
) has also floated the notion of the digital universe: http://goo.gl/TGyKj
which, at a stretch, makes a sentient program of each of us.
Energy that cannot be created or destroyed (http://goo.gl/69z3Fs
) which suggests that it comes from somewhere prior and it goes somewhere at some point - https://goo.gl/poCEWD
. That point many agree (amongst them Stephen Wolfram - https://goo.gl/lkrmpR
, the man who created the semantic search engine Wolfram Alpha - https://goo.gl/rtRllG
) is one that, perversely enough, is not that far away from what many of the world’s main religions actually preach: http://goo.gl/648CYl
Here’s the interesting noodle-twisting moment you’ve been expecting: Does, syllogistic thought, despite its apparent rigor, simply replace the narratives we tell ourselves when we use mythology (http://goo.gl/DfuaCU
) or legends (http://goo.gl/RzTJqF
) and is doomed to eventually lead us to the exact same place albeit via a higher path?
We are, after all, much smarter these days, but no less afraid of dying. The tools we use to think with have hardly changed over the last 100,000 years (http://goo.gl/aEn5pY
). So is there a real point in worrying about it? The fact that more of us perhaps are examining this part of our lives (http://goo.gl/fgnYV7
) is not necessarily a bad sign.
We focus so much on dying because we seek to understand its opposite. We know that dying, irrespective of what really happens to us, is indeed “…an awful big adventure” - http://goo.gl/p3bDcG
. Stephen Cave, points out that our awareness of death and our attempts to deal with it are a great leveler: https://goo.gl/ztYWUB
. They form a tendril of commonality that unites us all through our humanity.
It is actually these two things: increased and increasing awareness and the commonality of our humanity that actually begin to make a difference. Our sense of our passing has gone through stages. We used to think that the afterlife was some kind of reward for our current behavior: https://goo.gl/xZIO0i
. A sensible ploy, if you like, that made perfect sense when we needed a quick means of establishing a common framework of values in a growing social setting: https://goo.gl/06TGa8
which would allow us to “just get along” (https://goo.gl/DfXDxX
It then became a means of comforting us against the horrific or the unknown. (https://goo.gl/lHKzub
). It now has become the means through which we actually experience the full richness of life: http://goo.gl/gxt2VZ
. It allows us to form social constructs that are complex and continue to build upon their complexity because we constantly invest time and effort in their elaboration. Even more scarily we seem to be able to do all this, acting as discreet entities without really being even that: http://goo.gl/s2sZdP
So, here we are. Sugar flowing through our veins, caffeine exciting our synapses, reading not just how we rationalize the moment of our ending, and thinking about it, but beginning to understand the complexity of our being and enjoy the miracle of our lives. Whether we are religious or not, whether we believe in an afterlife that stems from an organized belief system or not, whether we believe that things just end or that we go on, the truth of it is that, in the moment there is an undeniable power in our connections and an incredibly elegant beauty in our perceptions.
So, with cookies, croissants, donuts and chocolate cake close to hand I can only raise a cup of double espresso and say: Have a great Sunday, wherever you are.