Thursday, September 27, 2018

Memory of Death

This one recently referenced a fear of "death" being, in truth, a fear of memory deletion.


People will willingly die for all sorts of reasons, many of which can be explained by pop evolution. Sacrificing yourself for a child is easy, since you're preserving your (one?) chance at perpetuating your genes. For a different type of relative, less impressive rationale but can still be done. Man on the street? Comrade at arms? Pop evolution begins to break down here, but you can still rationalize it to sociological honor systems having some bearing on group genetic survivability, ergo it can make sense to Terran pop evo, though how the overlapping, interdependent layers of why destroying your genes to potentially help another group member's is related to the randomized struggle for survival becomes a desperately tenuous explanation at best. This is so particularly when concepts of "honor" or "obligation" et cetera are easily justifiable as human traits, less so some hypothetical great ape predecessor, much less so some rat-like mammal from the dinosaur era, even less so unicellular organism predecessors. But still, under the local evolution faith, you can still justify those mental processes, by arguing that "culture" evolves so rapidly that it all makes sense, or that kinship bonds are actually these primal, longer-lasting things than we might imagine.

(It's tenuous, it's rickety, but that's the way so much of our local dogma produces harebrained explanations for all the behavior we see [well, you always mix in a little "random," the "works in mysterious ways" tool for the Bang-god]. "Desire to fuck" and "desire to not be crushed by a cement mixer" are easy, but so much else is left to these cobbled messes of peeling onion-skin layers, like, "why do some septuagenarians get really into radio controlled airplanes?" The attempts to tie every unique and weird character trait back to some version of the struggle for survival in the jungle of random mutation are terrible, weak attempts, and watching our society do them is like watching some sad devotee of a terrible canceled TV show try to explain why a character acting completely out of character during this one episode actually makes sense because the Nova Reactor has been known to adjust space and time in ways incomprehensible to mortal man.)

(This is one of the ways that stupid, Europeoid-influenced Christianity is superior to modern Bang, because the concept of the individuality and non-material-nature of the soul stands in defiance of so much current social stupidity. Even the neo-Christians who accept all science and Bang but just as a version of Yahweh-God having worked that way retain concepts of the non-material nature of the soul, ergo despite many other stupidities are far ahead of the Bangists on this point.)

Another of the places where pop evo begins to break down is in the human's individual choice. Say you are a man, and you have two choices in life: down one path, you are sterile but get an easy high-paying job and are promised lots of great random desserts and or sex, enduring happiness, and cultural celebration and minor wealth for inventing some important industrial lubricant that makes everyone think you're really smart. Down another, you'll die of painful cancer in a year, but during that last year, impregnate a naughty fat nurse in the palliative care unit where you're staying, and then die, and your son goes on to live as a shiftless street-dweller but one who himself has seventeen children by mothers he knows for only one night. Which do you choose? Ms. Fate wants to know.

You can adjust the example however you like, making the "pleasure and success" life include negotiating a lasting peace in Wartorn Country, or releasing twelve platinum albums in a row and getting more famous and more groupies, or whatever the hell else, as well as adding negative consequences to the final terminal year, such as you suffer terribly every waking moment, or like you're in a coma the whole time but the naughty nurse inseminates herself using a weird surgery. Or change the "you" to female, and assume some dude-nurse uses some cool machines on you so your otherwise comatose body can carry your baby to term and it turns out really healthy.

Which choice? Make the examples really extreme and personal, and ask yourself which option you'd choose. Even if you'd choose the pain-racked birth one, though, if you'd even consider at all choosing the other option, we have something of a problem, because under the mandate of locally popular evolution, it shouldn't even be a feasible alternative. The option to have a genetic payload versus not having one should not even be a choice that merits consideration. It should be like if this one asked you, "Would you like to smash yourself in the face with a hammer, or not smash yourself in the face with a hammer?" Genetic success or genetic failure? The fact that we could contemplate it at all--let alone however many of us could craft great v. terrible, sterile but otherwise wonderful life v. horrible, brief, reproductive life--gives the lie to the local faith. How in the world could this absolutely essential trait not be hardwired so powerfully into the brain of every single evolved thing on this planet? If you give the wolf a choice between saving its young and dying, versus a hole through which to escape leaving its young with the predator, it's plausible because the wolf might reproduce again later. Pose it to the human who can understand sterility, and there is no such savings clause.


Regardless of playing offspring-games with the current mainstream belief in the way all these things appeared here suitable for Terra, though, the more important question in this essay was that of physical death versus memory deletion. Quoting this one:
One of the great human fears is the fear of "death," which as this one previously referenced, is actually more of a fear of memory loss, or of the individual's total recalled and assumed experiences being utterly deleted from reality forever due to the expiration of her or his local physical form.
Let's try that out. Posit your foot aches weirdly for a few weeks, so you finally go in. They scan you and you've got a small tumor in your foot, at first it seems it's not that big a deal but it's the kind that sends out parts of itself to other regions of the body, so oh shit, they gotta do something fast, and it might be too late anyway. So you have two choices: first choice is a powerful new drug that will completely eliminate all cancer cells in the body and make you immune to future cancers, but its side effect is that, when you take it, it wipes your brain, so you're perfectly healthy, but total memory loss, all your memories and functions, all the character and ideas you hold true. You, gone. When you wake up from the procedure, there's a little pamphlet that you helped prepare beforehand, introducing you to little quirks of the body (they advise you not to write down character stuff because it'll be irrelevant by the time you read it) and the staff cheers the cancer survivor as you walk out to find your car by keyfob location and then figure out where you live and what the place is like. All your hobbies are meaningless start-overs, all your social relationships are the same, if you're dating someone or married there's a court order for people who've had your procedure freeing you from all of the past, and so forth.

Second choice is to have your brain transplanted into an identical new body, and the old one dumped into an incinerator somewhere. Life goes on exactly the same, you wake up as a perfectly healthy you remembering everything, no one else ever knows it happens unless you feel like telling them, and life is whatever it was before, but with you at least remembering your friends and that time Gramma gave you a special treat and your favorite places to park and what shows you like.

So, which one? In answering the question, you gotta contemplate, with the first option, every single aspect of your memory of life being wiped--not just freed from some bad situation, but forgetting everything, like then you have to take a coping class to learn how to use the common household toilet, not remembering how to do your job or how to manage money and person in this world, and every other little thing that would be a minor problem about losing your complete memories, like forgetting all your passwords, and every other big thing that would be a fundamental problem, like losing all the accumulated thoughts and realizations about yourself and about the world that you've had since birth. So, which one? Being inserted into clone-you is completely the same, fresh as a daisy, nice and clean and ready to go with no minor nor major changes.

That's why fear of death is really fear of memory loss. We're not afraid if some body we're not using any more falls into a giant blender or gets run over repeatedly by monster trucks, and that's why we're able to cope just fine with apoptosis and all of our cells dying at least once, actually probably way more times, during our lives. Our consciousness, sense of self, and memory of whom we like and whom we don't like and why, stay generally intact, contiguous, even with the complete change-out of all our cells. So being perfectly healthy and perfectly you in a different container is just fine, since your body is programmed to replace itself, and it's constantly doing so; you've gone through it, are going through it as you read, and will fully go through it again, and you're not particularly bothered by that, nor should you be. Material is just material. Memories, experiences, are different.

If you're teleported out of your body, to an EM chamber or some other holding clone, and then your body, on remote control, goes and has great food and great sex and wins some tournament and travels a bunch to all these exotic places, you're not happy that "you" did all that stuff, you're pissed off, because the experience--the honing of character and the accumulation of memories--is what's important. And, if you download a memory pack and suddenly remember the hotels in Morocco and the little museums in Spain, like a student's shortcut book on life, it isn't the same as having done those things, even if you can more rapidly recall key parts of the memories to give better party anecdotes or sound smarter in trivia. Even if the EM chamber you're put into gives you constant orgasms or includes unending lectures on interesting scientific concepts that you always wanted to learn, or whatever else, you will value, you will believe more in, the things you actually did, versus the things your body did.

Play with it a little. Would you rather wake up a quadriplegic and live in your body in a wheelchair, or be flashed into some idealized body that's your clone, or that's your modified clone with you-chosen augments (like, can't add body fat beyond whatever ratio you'd picked, except bigger tits, or if you're male bigger dick and more muscle mass, or taller or more slender to start or perpetually, better looking, whatever), and then the "real" collection of cells you're using can just sit in storage for 70 years, or hit the fuel plant, or do whatever; you won't care, or you might get a little emotional like you're moving to a way better house that somehow costs lots less, but you're not going to preserve that old body and sob emotionally over it every year or day.

There're a lot of potential Twilight Zones or Black Mirrors in there, and it could be really cool or witty to watch them and chat about what a certain episode means and how brilliant is whatever named screenwriter it had on the case. And their commonality would be that, like we don't care about the constant cellular death inside us right now as you're on the internet, we wouldn't care about whatever they did with the hunk of stuff once we weren't occupying it anymore. That's not in us, since we know we're not it; we're not from it. We'd prefer not to experience negative feedback from it, like pain or sorrow that our foot just got cut off, anything like that, but if we're not in it, and have a reliable (more reliable, if we're dressing up our examples) place to stay in the meantime, there's no more concern about what happens to it than to a hunk of inedible meat in the butcher's backroom.

And so it is with our fear of "death." This misapprehension is caused by the stupid, rather backward belief that we are somehow generated by, or inextricably bound to, the matter we inhabit. With our instinct to use it well and make it last, but moreso our desire not to add shitty memories, we feel this; even more so, with what we're taught, we come to believe that we're materially generated, and completely reliant on the "body," which starts to look stupid once we have really good microscopes and have figured out that all the cells are dying and switching out all the time, even though we think we're still "alive."

As a counter to pop evo, our thought, or our much-experienced through our association with others' thought, shows us a complete lack of concern with the body as separate from our minds. If you could die tomorrow from some super cancer, would you want to be flashed into a great new blank brain in a certified-immune body, or would you want to valiantly go down with the ship in the original one? A fixation on the original body--if anything still remained of it after years of cycles of cells dying and being replaced--would be an inherent, mandatory part of being a Terran who'd evolved in only that way and knew of the cellular body as the only source of existential achievement. That's not us, though, for we can tell that our memories are important on a far different level than the bodies they use.

This will be even easier to tell once we learn brain transplants, EM pattern flashing, and find out the way that something like 90% of the time the right preparation causes the original soul, sorry, "EM pattern," to just slip into the prepared slot. And then when you can get it done in a mall storefront, and a lot of people are spending many thousands on brutal credit in order to buy a body with upgrades, we wouldn't be able to pretend anymore that there was some kind of integral connection to the cells. It's easy for us, perhaps, to stubbornly insist that despite cell-replacement, it doesn't all happen at once, so the ones who stay behind are constantly preserving the slipping consciousness. Once it's consumerized, no more excuses will serve, even to the private body-fundamentalist. We'll ignore the weirdos protesting outside the stores (until one of them kills someone and it's a huge trial about the hypocritical respecters of life, and it becomes illegal to proselytize people going into the mall for body transfers, and the protesters all just drift away to the neuroweb, and then life goes on like normal), do what we do, and have to accept the fact that there isn't a deep meiemotic connection to this material; these cells. And what then? It won't seem so dumbass-spiritual anymore that a mind is a little sub-sub part of light, and over the centuries we'll change, and society will change, and on it goes.

Not as a petty counter to their stupid local faith, though, but as an opportunity for individual growth, we don't need all those patents for us to realize it's not the body, not the genes, that we're using, about which we care. You can make way better examples of self and memory against the genetic confabulation, than this one did above to illustrate the point about you caring more about the self than about the body it's in. Move on from that to recognizing the body as something that you use, not as what you are. It's a short step from that to seeing all material, in the sense of "this one planet by this one star," as similarly used, and more importantly, to see the failure of one piece or all pieces of that to have any impact on the mind except being inside a part of it while it happened, and compiling memories out of all the sensory data.

No comments:

Post a Comment