Saturday, March 22, 2014

Things to regret about being dead

People point to a pleasing symmetry about life. No one cares that billions of years of eventful history occurred before they were born - why care about the billions of years following our relatively-imminent deaths?

An obvious difference: asymmetry of information. I used to think about how sad it would be to die without knowing how the unification of quantum physics and general relativity would eventually be accomplished. But on that happy day only about 500 people in the world will actually understand it - everyone else will be wandering around in the illusory swamps of metaphor  (B-mode polarisation and primordial gravitational waves, anyone?).

Another popular hankering is to see if humankind gets off this planet and colonises the universe. Of course we know a lot about the universe - its galaxies, stars and planets and frankly it's not that exciting unless you're a scientist in a relevant specialisation. And don't get me started about exciting future civilizations amongst the stars. What we know about the 'drama of everyday life' - in any time or place - is that it's bland, banal and boring. That's why we always prefer to watch drama - contrived scenarios which stimulate our hyper-developed limbic systems.

So much for the worldview of a misanthropic curmudgeon, you say. In my jaded way I reply: "So surprise me then."