A Writer’s Book of Days – 27 June 2016

“What will die with me when I die…” (After Jorge Luis Borges)

What will die with me when I die?

Is it worlds? A hundred thousand imaginary realms populated by yet-unmet characters and powered by yet-unmade magic dancing through a million yet-untold stories.

No. For even those that make the trip from my head to the page will still be unrealized. Nothing ever turns out as we expect, even when we are the makers, seemingly in control of all our actions.

And even still, we craft imperfect representatives to carry our visions to other minds.

What will die with me when I die?

Is it community? The dozens of connections I have formed, serving as a bridge for social gaps where otherwise there would be none.

No. I introduced a friend to her fiancé, but their love does not rely on my persistence. Whether those in my circle include themselves in the circles of others is a matter of their own decisions, and not dependent on me.

I can no more force others to get along with one another than others can sway me to do the same. All I do is introduce them.

What will die with me when I die?

Is it knowledge? My personal collection of calculating prowess, encyclopedic knowledge of fictional realms, and depth of insight on the world’s problems. No one thinks quite like me.

No. But there are hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands who think in a similar manner. Who hold to equivalent beliefs. And the loss of knowledge is itself growing more and more extinct every day as the Internet steadily gathers every written word or recorded thought in human history into one, easily-navigable location.

The human mind is a poor substitute for gigabytes of hardware when it comes to cataloging data. Yet we are all so proud of what we think we know.

What will die with me when I die?

Is it muscle? The flesh-and-blood machine that so crudely manipulates the world around it and tries to make something out of the chaotic nothing that would otherwise exist.

No. Manual labor is inefficient. There is a reason we invented tools. There is a reason we continue to refine tools. There is a reason that the ultimate tools we can conceive will soon operate without the application of human muscle whatsoever.

At this point, the majority of us develop our bodies solely to preserve our bodies. Its natural decay makes the body a poor tool for even fueling the mind.

What will die with me when I die?

Is it fiction? Some imaginary, intangible component that makes me distinct and individual, more than flesh and blood and bone and neuron. A soul, a spark, a magical energy. Something non-chemical, non-biological, non-physical. Something more than we can see and taste and touch and feel and hear. Something we can sense with more than what we have been given.

I don’t know. It is a comforting notion. By the law of the masses, it is the true one. Nearly every religion on earth has some notion of the divine – that is, something beyond ourselves and what we can see and know. Surely the weight of ongoing opinion should be considered, even in the face of the weight of present evidence. At least until such a time as present evidence gives us a way to perceive such an intangible.

But that is just a comforting notion. One that, as always, must be taken on faith alone.

And that is a frightening reality.


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