January 13, 2021•467 words
“Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily.”
― La Rochefoucauld
To look death in the eyes is to face the fact that one day I will not matter.
This is incredibly frustrating to me. It is a fact that I do not have the courage to open myself to, nor the enlightenment to accept. I desperately want to have some semblance of permanence, to be remembered, to matter, and the prospect of death ensures that none of that will happen. Not just the prospect of my individual death, or that of humanity, but of the universe itself; one day, everything will simply be gone, or so far apart and stagnant that it is effectively so. One solace that I used to remind myself of is that while my life may not matter much, my contributions to humanity's collective knowledge will hopefully have a ripple effect, but that doesn't matter much when the universe is dead, does it?
I read a paper today (from which I stole the quote you see at the top of the page). The author proposes various incredible solutions to these deaths - the nature of which I will have to re-read the article a few times to completely comprehend - except that of the universe. He suggests that we may be able to "[leave] a cosmic progeny," and that "[c]osmological immortality via cosmological artificial selection is analogous to biological immortality through a chain of reproducing universes instead of a chain of living entities." Additionally, he notes that, according to one theory, "it is more efficient to invest energy in reproduction than in indefinite upkeep of the organism."
Let's take a step back. Rather than continuing our own universe, our own lineage, the best 'solution' (at least, according to this paper) to our universe's death is to create more fucking universes. There is no way to guarantee, or currently even to make more likely the possibility of any of life mattering at all. It will most likely all just disappear in 5 billion years (or something along those lines) and it is up to some generation of far-future humans to try to do something about it. And that's if we don't destroy ourselves first, something that is seeming more and more likely. Mom, I'm scared.
I guess this all puts things into perspective, though I don't know if the fact that I am almost certainly one day not going to matter is liberating or simply saddening. Thinking on a universal scale (kinda) makes the ordinary pains of life seem less severe, but then again it makes me more depressed, so I'm not sure if that's a net happiness gain or loss. This type of shit makes me wish I was religious. Things would be way less terrifying that way.