Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Maybe...


...everything humanity has ever accomplished beyond basic survival is motivated by a fundamental and irreducible fear of non-existence. Our conception of self and self-esteem generally is simply a buffer against the anxiety that comes with recognizing that someday we will cease to be. Culture is just a massive shared delusion to mitigate our fear of the unknown and ultimately of death. Thus we want to imagine certain works of art as timeless or to place value in family lines and offspring, to project ourselves beyond death. We take comfort in our value systems and the structures that arise from them, whether that’s through conceptions of biological kinship, national/ political identity, religious faith, etc. This includes belief in the inherent value of ensuring the future of humanity through scientific progress. Indeed much of modern western life is devoted to the avoidance of death, the various euphemisms and stock phrases in mourning, the entire funeral home industry that serves to remove death from the ordinary course of life, from the home and onto the embalming table or into the crematorium. We build up the artifice to avoid the brutal reality. In short, everything we’ve ever done and will ever do is motivated by little more than our existential terror in confronting death. Woody Allen did not write this, although he could have.

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