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Does it matter if our soul* is eternal?

Leaving religion with its heavens and hells and golden-paved avenues and abiding virgins and doting angels and disinterested saints and other high-ranking, hifalutin gods and demigods aside, is there an actual evolutionary and/or functioning purpose for an eternal soul?

In other words, does the fact that our souls are eternal matter to our day-to-day struggle to survive?

Or is this concept just a necessary illusion, one that provides us with a false sense of immortality to help us deal with our debilitating fear of death?

Anyway…

I guess we won’t know until we know, you know?

And in case you’re wondering, I just read a click-bate article about the ‘Orch-OR’ theory, so it got me to wondering…


*If the word soul is a bit too new-agey and metaphysical for you, replace it with consciousness

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Death is my co-pilot

Well, at least my fear of death is…

Well, at least according to the late great interdisciplinarian philosopher Ernest Becker.

Yes, according to Becker, it is this death anxiety of mine – and of yours too so you might want to pay attention – that really drives much of my life’s behavior.

I guess I should have titled this entry, “Death is my pilot,” or better yet, “I am Death’s co-pilot.”

It seems that this mostly unrealized, or at least unacknowledged fear of our eventual turn into worm food is fed mostly by our desire for immortality, which then feeds into our pursuit of it by other and any means possible: by our offspring, by our profession, by whatever means that allows us to achieve some sense of our being being realized long after the worms that fed upon us have passed.

But few of us are able to achieve even this, this immortality by other or any means possible because of our fear of life itself, by our not having the courage to engage it, life, to the magnitude required for us to transcend our mortality by other and any means possible.

From Becker’s monumental book The Denial of Death, one which I cannot recommend highly enough:

Man is literally split in two: he has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever. It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and to have to live with. The lower animals are, of course, spared this painful contradiction, as they lack a symbolic identity and the self-consciousness that goes with it. They merely act and move reflexively as they are driven by their instincts. If they pause at all, it is only a physical pause; inside they are anonymous, and even their faces have no name. They live in a world without time, pulsating, as it were, in a state of dumb being. This is what has made it so simple to shoot down whole herds of buffalo or elephants. The animals don’t know that death is happening and continue grazing placidly while others drop alongside them. The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are spared it. They live and they disappear with the same thoughtlessness: a few minutes of fear, a few seconds of anguish, and it is over. But to live a whole lifetime with the fate of death haunting one’s dreams and even the most sun-filled days—that’s something else.

Yeah…

Actually, this whole death anxiety thing is something of a theme of my soon to be finished work in progress.

But that is not what prompted this entry today.

What prompted it was the PsyPost article New psychology research indicates hatred toward collective entities inspires meaning in life.

Heck of a lede, no? I hardly have to quote from the article because the author seems to have crammed the gist of it into the title.

But reading the article, we find that its title is actually as much a mouthful as is the title of the study upon which the article is based: Hate and meaning in life: How collective, but not personal, hate quells threat and spurs meaning in life.

Now, I haven’t actually read the study – I don’t feel like shelling out the $35.00 it would take to do so.

But I kind of want to because I would like to know if Becker is referenced in the study seeing that he was telling us pretty much the same thing way back in the Swingin’ Seventies.

However, according to Becker, this hate (as manifested by racism, sexism, homophobia… you get the picture) that brings us together in collective and harmonious accord is driven by, you guessed it, our collective fear of death.

It was this theory – that our fear of death feeds our hate – that led a mixed group of researchers and huge Becker disciples to put it to the test/studies to see if it could be proved.

Which it could, at least according to them, and which led them to develop the Terror Management Theory (I wish I could come up with such a cool-sounding theory) and which they discuss in detail in their fantastic book The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life.

In one early [Terror Management Theory] study assessing the [Mortality Salience] hypothesis, Greenberg et al. (1990)[4] had Christian participants evaluate other Christian and Jewish students that were similar demographically, but differed in their religious affiliation. After being reminded of their death (experimental MS induction), Christian participants evaluated fellow Christians more positively, and Jewish participants more negatively, relative to the control condition.[26] Conversely, bolstering self-esteem in these scenarios leads to less worldview defense and derogation of dissimilar others.

Wikipedia

Must be legit because even the National Institutes of Health published a death anxiety study called Terror Management Theory and the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Well, they also published a study called Why Most Published Research Findings Are False, so… there’s that.

Anyway, long story short…

We all should be doing those memento mori meditations like the Stoics and other ancient smarties told us we should be doing long ago and then, hey, we would have absolutely nothing to fear…

Don’t look down on death, but welcome it. It too is one of the things required by nature. Like youth and old age. Like growth and maturity. Like a new set of teeth, a beard, the first gray hair. Like sex and pregnancy and childbirth. Like all the other physical changes at each stage of life, our dissolution is no different.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Except, maybe, fear itself.

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A Pebble is a Rock is a Mountain is Me

I look at the little pebble at my feet and can’t help but think

But for the grace of god go I

And then laugh

Not out of humor

But of fear

Because he’s nowhere

But within the magic of my mind

The madness

For, but for the grace of chance goes that pebble at my feet

No more purposefully than the patient rock at the corner of my lot

Having had waited a million years for me to move it there

Or the mountain I’ll never climb

Or the moon, or the sun

Or the boundless galaxies in the sky

That are as real to me as the oxygen molecules I breathe

I just have to take your word for it

And yet you admonish me over and over

Essence before Existence!

An a priori on high

And I want to take your word for it

Like I do for the oxygen molecules I breathe

And many times I almost convinced myself I had

But then comes the horrible news

Relentlessly so

To remind me that

Nope

You got the order all wrong

That the only a priori meaning there is

First and foremost and forever more

Is only that of my mind’s making

Of its madness

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Memories Like a Dream

My father and I are struggling to mount his just purchased used dirt bike to the back of our black VW bug and I’m giddy as a child because I am a child and then as a family we’re out in the field that runs past the yard with scythes hacking out trails that run past and around the old sagging barn and then beyond into and out of the wood as we sweat under the intense mid-summer sun but I don’t care because I know the reason why we’re all out there and I had never worked so hard and with such purpose and then finally I’m on the back of that bike with my arms tight around my mother’s waist as we fly through and around those trails that I had helped to lay as spiteful thorn bushes strive futilely to slow us down and thick burrs glom onto our pants and socks and hang on for their own lives as I hang on for mine and when we finish the ride that seemed to have lasted only seconds and mom powers the down the motorcycle in the driveway and I holler out jeez that sure was fun! she whips her helmeted head around and fires off one of her patented scolding looks at me thinking that I had just taken the lord’s name in vain…

#fromoutoftheblue
#amdreaming

 
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Piddling Over An Abstraction

Have you got five minutes to spare?

No?

No time, you say?

Okay, if you had the time, what would you do with it?

Take your time and think.

I’m in no rush for I, personally, have all the time in the world.

Please stop looking at your watch phone.

Try to judge time’s movement without mechanics.

When was the last time you considered what time even means?

Or time as more than a deadline?

Is a five-minute wait a waste of time for you?

Depends on the situation, you say?

Why?
Continue reading Piddling Over An Abstraction

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Why does it seem stars from my generation* have such a hard time staying alive?

What gives, yo?

I mean, life’s a bitch and all but come on Gen Xers, don’t let all that depressing music from the Nineties go to your head…

Or your heart.

Man**…

I tell ya, last year we lost such notable Gen Xers as Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell*** and, before them, Scott Weiland a couple years ago, not to mention all those Gen Xer stars we lost early in their prime: Kurt Cobain, Tupac, Biggie, Layne Staley, Shannon Hoon, Bradley Nowell, and god knows how many others I’ve failed to mention.

And now this year we continue the tragic Gen X endings with the tragic death of Dolores O’Riordan.

By the time my generation gets in its natural zone of death, it seems all the stars from it will be long gone with no big names left for me to pay tribute.

But, as is evident by Delores’ recent passing, it’s painfully obvious the premature dying off of famous Gen Xers will continue unabated and I sincerely would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to the life of Dolores, for hers was a unique and beautiful voice that defined my generation*.

Sadly, like the death of Scott Weiland, I kind of saw it coming
Continue reading Why does it seem stars from my generation* have such a hard time staying alive?

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I Killed Scott Weiland?

Scott Weiland
 

I killed him?
You killed him?
We all killed him?
It’s what we do?
It’s what we think?
It’s our expectations?
It’s what you expect of me?
It’s what I expect of you?
Your expectations are killing me?
My expectations are killing you?

Continue reading I Killed Scott Weiland?

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Remember the Nineties…

Back when both music and movies were awesome.

I saw an oh-so-true meme (or whatever those little poster-thingies are that mostly gush with quirky sayings…and cats) bouncing around the internet the other day that said something to the effect:

I still think the Nineties were a decade ago

What the heck?

And they aren’t?

Anyway…

It was the Cranberries.

The group just popped into my head a couple of minutes ago for whatever reason and got me to thinking about all this Nineties stuff.

They were there – killing it – and then they were gone.

I remember they broke up over something as seriously silly (and a bit redundant when put into the context of this sentence) as a break up…

Something like the lead singer’s boyfriend dumped her and she became unraveled?

I guess I could activate the google side of my brain for the real truth.

But I’m more content with the less-accurate but comfortably fuzzy memories right now.

Anyway, here’s one of their hits from, oh I don’t know, a year or two ago maybe…