Infinite Minds In Finite Bodies

Humans are a tragic race. By which I mean our lives are deeply significant and almost all end in or suffer a major unhappy event.

Jordan Peterson said not to be jealous of anyone, because in the end everyone suffers. Something like that. I’d never thought about it, but lately it’s much on my mind, particularly as my friends and relatives age. There is always,even in the most blessed of old ages, significant loss of self-ownership, of pride, of ability. And then there are those who die young.

But the true tragedy of humans is something else, and if anyone really wants to pinpoint what was “the apple in the garden” this makes a far better candidate than sex, a pasttime we share with all animals and truth be told most of life on Earth.

The true tragedy of humans is that we can think the infinite and imagine the forever, while stuck in definitely mortality-bounded bodies with puny lifespans.

Even when I was eight, I liked history, but history was two thousand years and more ago. Fifty years ago? A hundred years ago? That is merely slightly older news and somewhat yellowed newspapers, the significance of which we haven’t yet fully seen.

And yet, against that compare a mortal life span which is at most a hundred and some years.

Better writers than myself have compared us to flickers in the night or actors who “strut and fret our brief time upon the stage.”

But our minds, our inner selves, want the infinite. We want to see the past and the future.

For this the traditional paliative is knowing we are part of something greater. In the simplest sense: we came from our parents, and we pass on to our children and grandchildren. Or perhaps: we are part of this great organization, this great purpose, be it a nationality, a church, a work.

This is how the monks of old found purpose and peace in their service. And how kings started Cathedrals their grandchildren would follow and build on.

So, what do we make of it, we people of the twenty first century, many of whom never married, and even more of whom never had children, or whose children never had children. We in a culture that changes so fast, we can’t guess what great work will help the future, and which hinder it? Or even if some great invention will change things so much that our lives and works make no sense to anyone?

Me? I am religious, though not conventionally so (no, trust me, it might be impossible for me to be conventionally anything) and have made my peace with the idea my self is just the present expression of something greater that might or might not go on forever, but if it does will be in such a form I don’t fully comprehend it. And I have a mission. Well, several, but one of them I can try for though I’m utterly inadequate to it: I want humanity to go to the stars, as I think that will allow us to grow more. (I could be totally wrong, but at any rate my pushing and shoving will hurt no one, and it’s largely ineffectual.)

But at this threshold, where I can sense life narrowing to the end (not yet. Hopefully not for a long time, though you know, we can all be recalled, like defective products, at any time) I am vaguely alarmed at the vast multitudes older than I who are already in that narrowing path, and who have nothing to send into the future.

A lot of them try to breach that distance with art or self expression, and if it works for them, I’m all for it. Me? I have no delusions. My scribblings at best will outlast me for half a day. And that’s if they’re not gone and forgotten before I am.

A lot more of them, alas, are trying to create their legacy by making others slaves to their delusions. Witness our geriatric left, or the ossified members of WEF, trying to make all humans slaves to their visions that they think are utopian, but which are in fact the worst of dystopias.

Worse, a lot of them seem to have a sense this work is already in vain, and so to their mad designs is added a not inconsiderable amount of hatred and loathing for all those who will survive them, and for the species itself. They aim at nothing less than the extinction of all humans, as though they were gods who could replace us with something better. They do truly aim to reign in hell, even after death, leaving the Earth scoured of humans or maybe of all life.

So what do we do? We need that connection, to our past and to our future. It is part of how we’re built. And the future is such a long time. And none of us can be sure we will have our blood there, a lot of us know we won’t, and the howling infinity of nothing comes upon us in the dark hours of the night, when we stare at the ceiling and ask if we matter, if we ever mattered.

First, dispose of the idea that leaving descendants is the best thing. Those of us who are on 23andme can tell you that a great grandmother has about as much in common with her great grandkids as a second cousin.

Yes, it’s instinctive and we all want children. I, myself, want biological granchildren and would love to see them grow. But in the end? Bah. We came from that vast ocean of human genetics. We’re unique to ourselves but made of common parts. And maybe somewhere in the future there will be someone who has almost the same deck of cards (unlikely, but the future is a long time.) That’s all any of us can know.

Second, raising children is not that, of course. It’s both a shout of hope into the future, saying “You have no defeated me. I live!” and something not entirely rational. (It is also the most exhilarating task I, at least, have ever put my mind and hands to. And the most humbling, because children have free will and will never be what you mold them to be. For better or worse, their totality will elude you. And your mark on them will not be what you expect.)

Third, your works of art might or might not significant. Yes, Master Shakespeare, or for that matter Robert A. Heinlein, left behind work that far outstrips any descendants they might have had (and they had none, RAH immediately, and Shakespeare having only one granddaughter who died childless.) It is something to hope for, to be sure, but like children, both something you can’t count on, and something that might turn out very differently from what you expect. (Seriously. What would poor RAH think if he’d been vouchsafed the knowledge he’d been the major formative influence on a little girl in Portugal? Or that she’d come to disagree with him on as much as she agreed, while still respecting his influence and ideas?)

Fourth… It doesn’t matter. None of it matters.

There is a perversion and an evil in trying to control the future after you’re gone. I think it’s that whole “trying to be like gods.”

There is a perversion and an evil too in falling in despair and wailing “But then why do I matter?” It also looks fairly ridiculous. Or at least it does when I do it. And trust me, flailing your arms and legs about doesn’t help. It only looks cute on two year olds. I know this from experience.

We have to accept that though we can dream of forever and infinite, our minds are really almost as limited as our bodies. The futures we foresee are rarely correct, because our minds are bounded by what we were taught as children, and can only reach as far as our limited perceptions. You don’t know how the words you said today affect someone who affects someone, who affects someone. Now multiply that by the entire population of the world. We can’t know and we can’t see.

The idea we’ll vanish utterly and never matter is as much a delusion as the idea that we can control what the future looks like and encompass forever.

Neither is possible.

Every contact lives a trace. By living, you affect all those around you. Heck, there are children stillborn or miscarried who affected the destiny of the world in measurable ways, and not just those of royal blood. Their almost-existence changed those around them.

And this doesn’t mean you should be in the corner, shivering with fear of doing wrong.

Live your life as best and as joyfully as you can. If it’s all going to, in the personal front, end in tears, so to put it, make it as joyous and as …. large as you can, so the tears are cathartic and not just despair.

Forgive yourself for what you can’t.

And be sure that things you’ve said and done will resonate long after you’re gone. No, they might not be the things you expect to have an effect. Heaven knows, even what my own kids took from what I tried to impart often makes me tilt my head sideways and go “uh, what?” but it will be pieces of you, going forth into the future.

We live in a uniquely dangerous moment, in which rootless and seemingly futureless people, armed with a cult like certainty in the omnipotence of their delusions, try to shape the future in their own, limited image, corrupted by an anti-human philosophy.

All we have to counter it is joy, love, charity. Living life as fully as we can. Loving as fully as we can.

And yeah, as you’ve been expecting, in the end we win they lose. Because in the long run, joy and love trump a sterile “planned future” any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Be not afraid. Go and do the best you can, and trust the future to take the best of you, and shine it forever into eternity, like pieces of a beautiful stained glass window that become part of an infinite mural and shine to inspire ages yet unborn.


87 thoughts on “Infinite Minds In Finite Bodies

  1. This is why Christ’s cry of, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” is resonating with me lately. Some of the people on the Left don’t know what they’re doing. But some of them think they know exactly what they’re doing….except they’re wrong. The think they know the immediate goals they’re seeking, just like Caiaphas thought he knew the goals he was seeking (getting rid of a troublemaker and keeping the Romans happy). But neither Caiaphas nor our letftists can see everything their deeds will bring.

  2. Dance with me to the future,
    Sing with me to the past.
    Weave them deftly together
    So eternity shall last.

    The present is but a flicker
    The Past a looming storm,
    But in that moment of brightness,
    Eternity is born.

    A word, a smile, a gesture,
    What its reach we can’t know.
    When any heart be uplifted,
    And any the future show.

    So sing the joy of the moment,
    And sing till the sorrow is past.
    The future in shadows is written,
    Yet the future, in brilliance be cast.

          1. It’s fine. There are others who’ve saved other poems I’ve posted here. 🙂

            Some of those have been asking me for a collection, so it’s in the works but hasn’t come out anywhere yet. (The ones posted here tend to be around 30 seconds old when they hit the comments section.)

              1. I’m hoping to get the collection out in the next week sometime. (Yes, I’ll be sending a link to our hostess.) It will have all the poems I could find that I’d posted in the comments here back to 2016, and about a dozen new ones.

                  1. Ditto; Aside from most of Kipling and a fair amount of Whitman and Tennyson, I’m not really “in to” poetry, but Wyrdbard’s are, as you say, an exception.

    1. One of your best!!
      Thank you for that uplifting poem (though in my head, as I read it, sounded like a song)

  3. We’ll reach the stars. On the long voyage, they’ll be putting on plays to entertain themselves. Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet, and the Nutcracker. They’ll read Tarzan to their kids, and Tunnel in the Sky, and Tom Sawyer, and Harry Potter. Maybe our own novels will be sparks in the fire, flaring and then gone, but the fire will keep burning. The evil that stalks the world seeks to put an end to happiness, and stories, and life. But he always fails.

  4. We will reach the stars. Nothing can stop us, not even us. Maybe not in my lifetime, or our grandchildren. But we are going. No one can stop the dream.

  5. This is what cancel culture is trying to stamp out.

    How very dare we try to hold on to anything that doesn’t conform with exactness to the current dogma! And worse yet, we want teach these heresies to our children in the hopes they learn from the mistakes of the past!!!

    We should bow to the arc of history which bends forward only from current progressive thought. Obviously.

    There is nothing the past can teach us. The Titans of the future will have the exact same thoughts as the enlightened of today.

    Or they would if it weren’t for you meddling kids.

        1. And Pepper wonders why the most the cats won’t play with her. The one that does runs and bats at her. She was 5 weeks old when brought into a household with 4 cats. Pepper thinks she is the cat that has to mind. She’s not much bigger than the cats. Pepper is the dog.

    1. How very dare we try to hold on to anything that doesn’t conform with exactness to the current dogma!

      How very dare we try to hold on to anything that doesn’t conform with exactness to the ever-shifting protean current dogma!

      FIFY. 😉

  6. Luk 11:34 KJV The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

    Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

    The bible often likens man to a breath, a puff of wind that is quickly gone. This is true and it is more noticeable as we age. When I was a boy, hours and days seemed like forever. Now weeks and months whirl around, transient and dizzying.

    A few weeks ago, I turned 57. Surrounded by my wife, kids, and grandkids my thoughts turned to what I should focus on in these twilight years. So much I want to do, but what must I do? An instant of despair flashed but was quenched by joy. I am a child of the most high God. He has watched over me my whole life. Carrying me, letting me go, pushing me, restraining me, all the while loving and teaching me. There is no one closer to me. He is my father, the only one I have known. My days here are numbered and counting down, that is bittersweet but not depressing. He will walk with me and keep me on the path. No doubt sorrows, even horrors, may lie ahead. Let them come. I will weep. I will cry out. But through all I will laugh and rejoice. I will persevere, keep faith and overcome. Because he has given me life eternal, the Spirit of Christ, and one day he will call me to to step into a vision of eternal wonders.

    1Pe 5:6-7 KJV 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

  7. “A pessimist is somebody who is waiting for the rain. Me, I’m already wet.” , -Leonard Cohen

    Shucky darn, me too & I’m comfortable with that.

    “…tragedy of humans is that we can think the infinite and imagine the forever, while stuck in definitely mortality-bounded bodies with puny lifespans.” Maybe so but I see that as one of the great wonders and joys of being human.

    I think there are two things that get us through our lives or at least the day anyway; that we can appreciate beauty and we can laugh, especially at ourselves.

  8. With apologies to Hilaire Belloc:

    When I am gone, I hope it may be said:
    Her sins were scarlet, but her books were read.

  9. Thank you for this one, Sarah. Made me think of this from the blind poet:

    Out ride the sons of Terra,
    Far drives the thundering jet,
    Up leaps the race of Earthmen
    Out, far, and onward yet—

    1. We pray for one last landing
      On the globe that gave us birth
      Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skies
      And the cool, green hills of Earth.

  10. To quote Aslan from C.S Lewis’ “Prince Caspian”

    “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content.”

    Sometime Jack Lewis hit it right on the head…

  11. Since you bring up Heinlein….

    Google “Brin on Heinlein on guns is dead wrong.” Read the article ( by Eric S. Raymond).

    Then consider that this well-sourced article has been completely ignored by Brin, and he has in fact REPEATED his false claims, without even acknowledging Raymond’s different views.

    Having facts on your side does no good if the powerful, in this case Brin, shout you down.

    1. I think RAH stated his views pretty clearly in Red Planet:

      Sir, it is not the natural limitations of this globe that I object to; it is the pantywaist nincompoops who rule it — These ridiculous regulations offend me. That a free citizen should have to go before a committee, hat in hand, and pray for the right to bear arms — fantastic! Arm your daughter, sir, and pay no attention to petty bureaucrats.

  12. Live your life as best you can ‘should’ be what we aspire to! And on good days, we probably do… The key is to make as many days ‘good’ days as we can.

  13. So… this comment, much like my whole life, is a minor whisper into the ether but yet – here goes.

    This spring I hit the big 7 Oh and will be looking back on seventy years of me doing/being lots of stuff. Marriage and failure, try and try again and finally getting that ‘right’ for example. There are strands of my DNA out there in the wild and while I am currently the only known “family” of my name alive, I know there are some cousins and even a lost nephew out there and they too have DNA floating around. The genetic line is likely secure for the future it may be in. Ah but what about my “impact” on what is to come?

    I spent some time as a teacher (high school type, one each) and eventually was a “trainer” in the government and corporate sense where I was charged to impart knowledge and/or propaganda (current policy and what not) to many other humans in lots of different places and times. I worked in criminal justice in lots of ways from cop to ‘other’ elements which all went into my effort to pass on ideas, information, knowledge and the ability to (hopefully) have others use.

    It goes back to a conversation I had long ago (but here in this galaxy) where I declared that if I could get just one student for just one time to really THINK – I would all be a success. I hope I did that – and when I leave this mortal plain I believe that some where, some time, some how I DID make a difference and that difference was to the good and was in support of light and not dark, was helpful and not hateful and will serve to, in a tiny way, make tomorrow better. With that, the future may come and I will hopefully be able to ‘see’ it from what is beyond my present life.

  14. “First, dispose of the idea that leaving descendants is the best thing.”
    Perhaps not, but it does help one with motivation. Tom Clancy frequently wrote of the effect that having grandchildren has on decision-making.

    I would add that none of us can tell precisely how much of an impact we will have on the future…and sometimes, the greatest hammer-strokes go unnoticed. I may be one of the few people who realize just how much impact Dr. Pournelle had on winning the Cold War.

    So…Go forth. Do your duty the best you can, and trust to the all-seeing eye of Divine Providence for your reward.

    1. …just how much impact Dr. Pournelle had on winning the Cold War…

      Yes, this; and no mistake.

      If anyone wants to read the book (he mentions himself, somewhere or other, that it’s not such an easy read, but it’s actually well and understandably written) involved, it’s The Strategy of Technology by Jerry Pournelle, Stefan Possony, and (IIRC) one other author. And its core idea / recommendation is basically that driving technological advancement can let one win such a ‘cold’ war without, ideally, firing a shot; that the economic and military ascendancy so gained can make you all but unbeatable.

      See “fall of the Berlin Wall” and “end of the Soviet empire” and “fall of the Soviet Union” in your history books, for a real-life example and (very very possibly) specific application.

      1. BINGO! We have a winner!

        Possony & Pournelle’s basic argument was that the United States, from the Civil War through the Second World War, had relied on superior industrial output to win. Against the Soviet Empire’s slave economy, this would not work. However, the (then) new microprocessor technology was developing at a rate that the Soviet’s Five Year Plans could not deal with…offering the opportunity to field a generation of vastly superior weapons that the Soviets could not copy.

        Rumsfeld started with this, Harold Brown (Carter’s SECDEF, and a far better man than credited) ran with it – gutting the operations & maintenance accounts to protect the R&D money in the late 1970s.

        At the same time, there was a renaissance in military thought in the U.S. A return to the study of the classics, rather than a continual obsession with the Second World War. What emerged was AirLand Battle on the Army and USAF side, the Maritime Strategy for the Navy. The military machine that Reagan took over in 1981 was starvation-weak, but sound in the bone and sharp in the mind…ready to fill out to titanic strength as soon as given proper nourishment.

        And Reagan opened the floodgates wide. I started working for the Navy in 1980, got to see it happen. Watched the Berlin Wall come down live on TV. And that magic night in January of 1991 when we smashed the fourth largest military machine in the world as if it was an empty beer can.

        Tom Clancy put it best…it was War of the Worlds. And WE were the Martians.

        1. I sometimes wonder if President Reagan effectively bluffed with 2 jacks(Missile defense) and the Soviets who didn’t even themselves know how screwed up their system was spent themselves into oblivion and had to fold. Their hand likely wasn’t any better but we’ll never know thank the Author.

          1. I think mostly he observed that our economy was 20 times larger than theirs, and if we spent 2% of our GNP on our military, they’d have to spend 40% of theirs to keep up. That was unsustainable.
            “Ehh, on second thought let’s not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.”

  15. As one who has Not inflicted the thousands (literal) poems from God, I have 3 goals every day:
    1 That everyone who meets me is made more joyful.
    2 To make people think.
    3 To reflect God perfectly to everyone i meet.
    It is amazing the number of strangers i meet who tell me they think i succeeded. Sharing paradoxes is useful for helping make people think. All 3 goals are paradoxes, since they are both impossible and possible.

    As one on bonus time, (anything over 70), who continues to hear God, it is interesting to go back and read a years old poem, and realize i did not write it, only took dictation. I never wrote poetry before i turned 50. I pryed for a gift of the spirit. (I don’t speak in tongues worth a damn), and He gave this Gift of hearing Him in poetic words. (This explains Presbypoet).

    I just take dictation, a very good practice for all of us. When I listen to a sermon, I condense it into a poem from God. What is scary is when I hear a poem during the looonnng “praise” time, prior to a sermon, that turns out to be about the sermon, that from our perspective has not happened. Our pastor has told me it does not surprise, because we both heard the same voice.

    1. Not sure if my poetry is quite the same (there’s a lot of me involved in there) but there have been several I posted here that were definitely under the influence of the Divine Cattle Prod. (I’m stubborn, what can I say.)

      1. As was this post. I call it the Divine Pointy Boot, but hey, same thing.
        And there’s a book of essays I would do if it didn’t sound sacrilegious: The Lord Our G-d Wears Pointy Shoes.

        1. You know, given how much humor is in other works about Him, and the fact He gave us the Platypus just because, He might get a kick out of such a book.

        2. Well, I sort of liked the book “Many Are Called (But Most Leave the Phone off the Hook)” about evangelism, and all the reasons people give for not doing it. (Or the Catholic parish in Idaho that had the annual “St. Joan of Arc BBQ” fund raiser. Their bishop made sure to assign his most understanding and/or good humored priests to that parish.)

          1. Actual words from God to me:
            “Don’t be impressed I speak to you. I speak to all. Only a few listen.”
            Coupled to:
            “I’ve told you what to do. Now you need to get out of the boat.”
            I heard those words. Did not say them. Just attempt to live them.

            This is my poetic description of myself:
            I am a poet.
            Who doesn’t trust poets.
            I am a prophet.
            Who doesn’t trust prophets.
            I am a cynic.
            Who knows God speaks.

            God likes those who argue with him.
            God likes to wrestle with us.
            To understand reality, understand both quantum mechanics and theology.
            However, both are paradoxes. Thus the more you understand, the more mysterious they become.

            My take on us: We are a 3 dimensional outcrop of an at least 5 dimensional being. So what we see is only a tiny fraction of who/what we are.

            When I stretch my brain to the limits, i can contemplate 5 dimensions in space and 3 in time. On this scale the universe is a single point. God is greater than that 5 and three, but anything beyond breaks my mind. (Who shares “my” brain, with several other entities).

  16. All I can say is that your posts always have interesting timing even though I can’t see how it applies to where I am right now…

  17. As usual your post and the responses are very thought-provoking. Thank you once again. May you, family and friends have a very Merry Christmas.

  18. Better writers than myself have compared us to flickers in the night or actors who “strut and fret our brief time upon the stage.”

    Or better tale-tellers (if maybe not yet writers) to a bird flying right though a barnlike Saxon “longhouse” (open at both ends, at least up around the ridgeline) — no doubt a fairly well known thing, back in the day, yet at least once much worth noticing. (Some of us have had the merry chase of a bird inside the house quite recently, actually; though at least with a happy ending for the bird.) From out of the cold and dark, through a narrow place into strangeness and warmth and light and feasting and laughter, then out into the familiar cold and dark again.

    Note the implication: the bird was there before, will be there after, was there all along. Right there in the image and event, inherently; though any further interpretation is (of course and necessarily) entirely our own.

    (One source seems to be the Venerable Bede telling the story of one of the counsellors of King Edwin of Northumbria making such a comparison… but again, doubly-open long house, winter night; it’s not the Saxon-era thing itself but the interpretation that’s notable.)

  19. I want humanity to go to the stars, as I think that will allow us to grow more.

    Yes — and it will quite likely both drive and allow us to grow more than we would otherwise, or maybe could otherwise, even far in advance of our actually getting there, either personally or only through mechanical advance scouts.

    “A man’s reach should always exceed his grasp — or what’s a heaven for?”

  20. Whether one believes the Genesis story of Creation, the garden, the fall… there is an interesting reflection on human nature contained there.

    Eve’s answer to the serpent showed she was paying too much attention to the one tree she could not eat fruit from instead of the possibly hundreds or thousands of other trees.

    We’re all like that. “Glass half full/empty.” Not seeing the potential for growth. Time to realize the glass is bigger than what we have now in anticipation of what we can have later. If we’re ready to receive it.

  21. This sort of thing always makes me think of Akira Kurosawa’s (arguably) greatest film, Ikiru.

    It starts with an X-ray of the main character’s chest, and a narrator telling you that the character will be dead in six months due to cancer.

    That character, Kanji Watanabe (played by the great Takashi Shimura), is a mindless bureaucrat who, when he learns that the doctors have lied to him and he is dying, realized he has never lived, just gone through the motions.

    The first two thirds of the film, you see him flailing about, trying to find some meaning in his life, never telling anyone he’s terminal. His son and daughter in law find him inconvenient an irritating. He tries to find joy with a young female coworker, because she is so joyous herself, but she is shallow, and his own melancholy pushes her away from him. The last you see of him, he is sitting on a swingset in a park in the middle of the night, as it snows, and he is singing a heart-wrenching song about how fleeting and beautiful life is.

    It feels like the ultimate defeat, or surrender.

    The last third of the film is his funeral, as his co-workers reflect on the end of his life, trying to figure out why he changed so much in the last few months when he “couldn’t” have known he was dying. And as they wrestle to create narratives that conform the memory of the man to what they each wanted him to be, you learn, piece by piece, bit by bit, that he did find meaning, and left a small, but lasting, mark upon the world, which only he could have done.

    The film ends with the same scene of Watanabe on the swingset, in the snow at night, singing the still painfully sad song, but the meaning of it is profoundly different. It is neither defeat nor surrender, but acceptance of the inevitable end after having achieved at least one real victory in his life.

    Kurosawa made a most profound film asking what is the meaning of life. And he didn’t spoil it even a little, despite putting his answer in the title.

    Because ikiru means “to live.”

    1. I think Ikiru is a great film. And like many of AK’s films, it owes inspiration to a Western classic: In this case, Goethe’s Faust, where Faust dies at the very moment when he says, “O moment, stay, you are so lovely!”

      1. The Faust influence hadn’t occurred to me (partly because there’s no “bargain” in Kurosawa’s film, I guess), but certainly his western influences are legion, starting with John Ford’s visual influence over, at least, half of his movies. Then there’s the fact that he adapted everyone from Shakespeare to Dostoevsky to Dashiell Hammett to Ed McBain.

        1. It’s true that there’s no explicit bargain, but Watanabe’s conversation with the novelist seems akin to Faust’s discussion with Mephisto. And it’s accompanied by his temptation in the nightclub. Then there’s his interest in Toyo, which seems analogous to Faust’s involvement with Gretchen, and ultimately she inspired him to find his salvation, rather as Gretchen does with Faust (“the ever-womanly leads us to perfection”).

          I don’t think any of this is a literal equivalent of Goethe’s story, but the configuration of events seems parallel enough to be more than chance.

          1. I wasn’t questioning your assessment, just explaining why it had never occurred to me. That Kurosawa would follow in the footsteps of D.W. Griffith only makes sense. That he would take influence from Goethe, more so. If I seemed dismissive of your point, that was not my intent, and I’m sorry.

            1. I’m sorry to have misunderstood your intent. The ability to think of the wrong way to parse a statement is professionally useful to me, but it sometimes hinders actual conversation. But thank you for having the patience to make it clear.

  22. “First, dispose of the idea that leaving descendants is the best thing. ”

    Just read Man’s Search for Meaning. He discussed treating a rabbi whose first wife and their children died in the Holocaust, and whose second wife was sterile. He pointed out that procreation could not be the meaning of life, because it just was one life without inherent meaning making more lives without inherent meaning.

  23. The only things missing from the folks running the WEF are the glowing eyes and double toned voices when they speak.

  24. Musk has promised the Twitter Files, describing censorship at Twitter, and apparently he’s using Matt Taibbi to deliver.

    There’s roughly thirty or so tweets there, and this appears to be just a “Part 1”. Roughly the second half or so talks about the Hunter Biden laptop mess.

    1. James Woods, who was suspended from Twitter after a direct request by the Democratic National Committee, has already said he is going to sue the DNC.

      1. I hope he takes those wankers to the cleaners! Best of all, the money will come out of their coffers of graft and taxpayers won’t be stuck with paying the bill.

        Political parties are not part of the government. They’re like extra heads that have grown on the nation, and are now fighting the true head for control. Meanwhile, the nation blunders around running into and tripping over things because of all the random conflicting nerve impulses.
        The Democrats are willing to burn America to the ground, so long as they wind up squatting on top of the ashes.

      2. I’m not sure whether there’s grounds to sue the DNC. They’re not a government entity, so whether they can be sued for requesting the censorship of someone else is open to question.

        1. They pressured Twatter to suspend him. They slandered him, and ruined his career. How is that not grounds to sue for the damages caused by their actions?

  25. I’ve had the theory for some time that one of science fiction’s central themes is the imaginative attempt to transcend mortality within the physical universe.

        1. I’m not sure about that. Lazarus Long might be the exception, for values of “ends well”.

  26. I’ve always suspected the louder and louder shrieks about “protect my legacy!” from Pelosi, Obama, Clinton et al is because even those who do have children only believe in the material world. There is no afterlife, nothing greater than physical existence, except for forcing the next generation to continue to do their will. As if having their policies enacted for decades and decades will allow them to continue to live, somehow.

    In a way, that’s more monstrous than Dracula, Tiamat, and Cthulu rolled together.

    1. One of the reasons that Walt Disney was pushing for EPCOT was that he didn’t want his legacy to be a cartoonist/children’s stories. But fortunately for his legacy, he died before he could actually get EPCOT off the ground. Otherwise, he’d be known as a crazy tyrant.

    2. I wonder if that may be an overgeneralization. I am completely convinced that nothing exists except the physical universe and what it contains and that death is just the end. And yet I have been a libertarian all my life; I actively resist having the power to coerce other people. I think the difference of premises may lie somewhere else.

      1. It probably is. You’re not a politician (as far as I know), and your ego is centered on different things. I was looking at a piece that uses Thulsa Doom’s “Riddle of Steel” speech from Conan the Barbarian (the film) as an example of the power of ideology over material things – in that case, swords and steel. Your ideology focuses on something other than holding power over others, even though you [might] share the same belief that there is nothing other than the material world.

        I’m not a philosopher, and I oversimplify things a lot. That’s what happens when I try not to ramble too much when sitting on other people’s porches. 🙂

        1. I gained a sense of caution about that after reading Lenin’s “Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.” I had read Ayn Rand’s philosophical arguments against the ideas of Kant and the logical positivists, and thought they made excellent sense. Then I read closely parallel arguments from Lenin! Need I say that the two of them went from that starting point to deeply different political and economic conclusions?

        1. I’m going to say it probably wasn’t “smart” but “temperamentally hostile.”

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