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March-May, 1849. Immortality. I notice that as soon as writers broach this question they begin to quote. I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.
The one before it is:
April 4, 1849. Imbecility & Energy. The key to the age is this thing, & that thing, & that other, as the young orators describe. I will tell you the key to all ages, Imbecility: imbecility in the vast majority of men at all times & in every man, even heroes, in all but certain eminent moments victims of mere gravitation, custom, fear, sense. This gives force to the strong, that the others have no habit of selfreliance or original action.
A collection of anecdotes and maxims is the greatest treasure for a man of the world, as long as he knows how th weave the former into apposite points of the course of the conversation, and to recall the latter on fitting occasions.
Goethe, after Schiller had bred the arse off him over a couple of beers.
I had to rush off to work, but thought that as far as I got in my thinking this morning was worth adding to the discussion. That people quote this sentence of Emerson's out of context seems interesting, and that it is more often misquoted, tailored, seems interesting as well.
But the idea that people tend to look to quote someone else when asked about immortality, is an indication that the question is striking close to a mystery. How does one formulate into words whether there is mortality or not, or that one doesn't know. Religions can grow out of this question.
When I was a life skills instructor, the residents or clients that I would work with had both mental and physical disabilities. With two such diagnoses, a person could get into this skilled nursing facility. These mental illnesses could dramatically change a person, the personality–head injuries, schizophrenia, and so forth. Alzheimers is a common illness, that can seem to alter who the person is. So on one hand, we can wonder whether one's being can even make it through this one full lifetime–never mind into immortality.
On the other hand, there are the reincarnation religions, which can lead to the idea that we are all each other, only going through our different earthly existences together, simply entering at different space-time points. We might all be the same immortal "I".
And then there's every belief that's in between. We could ask if each moment is entered into immortality, or maybe each moment with certain aspects. The question really brings religious beliefs home, and into the moment. As it relates to AI, we might ask if we could ever create a machine that would take its place alongside us humans, to ask if it too just might be immortal.
Bedford Park In 1889 Calhoun Kidd, a spoilt rich son of a tyrannical father arrives in London. In love, alone and baffled by the life of the cleverest city in the world, he finds a strange kind of refuge in the 'enchanted suburb' of Bedford Park. Read an extract Buy this book
The Brain is Wider than Sky Do we love our machines so much that we risk becoming more like them? What will we lose if we do? Read an extract