Thursday, May 22, 2008

Life After Death

I'm not high or anything, but think about this.

I'm not a religious person, but I have been known to use the word "soul." Sometimes it's in a sarcastic way, but other times it's a metaphor for identity; a quick way of summing up the core of what makes a person a person in one word.

In a non-religious sense, then, a soul is simply a pattern of matter. It's our bodies and physical appearance, combined with a brain that is wired to send signals that give rise to certain subjective experiences and cause certain behaviours that constitute "personality." It's all just stuff arranged in a certain way.

Is a person's identity - their soul - confined within the boundaries of their skin? I would argue no. And not just because clothing and hairstyle can convey identity (sometimes a little too much, if you ask me). I would argue that whenever somebody creates something - whether it's a painting, a scientific paper, a poem, a doodle, a piece of music, a delicious meal, a blog post, etc. - anything that causes matter to be rearranged - they have put a piece of their identity into that creation. Why not? Is there a fundamental difference between changing the layout of a few neurons, and changing the layout of a few blobs of paint? Both can be a direct result of, and become incorporated into, what we'd call a person's identity. The fact that one is written in neurons and one is written in paint is an arbitrary distinction.

Furthermore, affecting another person's thoughts is just rearranging their neuron patterns. Thus, making a big difference in another person's life means putting a big piece of one's soul into their physical brain. Something one has created can even affect other people. Which isn't surprising, given that creations are also a part of one's soul. It's all just soul affecting soul.

In sum, as we go through our lives creating things and affecting people, we put pieces of our souls in these things, and they are just as real as the pieces in our bodies and brains.

So when we die, and only the pieces in our brain cease to exist, with our bodies soon following, are we really dead? Well, if our soul - the thing that makes us us - is still existing in patterns of matter all over the place, including in other people, then no. We are less alive, sure, but we are not completely dead.

Even if all the religious folks are wrong - and no offense, but I think most of them are - there is still room for life after death in some sense. A very real sense.


Weird coincidence: This morning I downloaded Islands' album Return to the Sea, not paying attention to the track list. I put it on just now. The first track is called "Swans (Life After Death)".

Screw everything I just wrote, IT'S A SIGN FROM GOD.


Anonymous said...

Stop making me effing think!

I want to just cruise the web, floating along, la-di-la... then you post a thought provoking piece and have given me something to really think about.

Phronk said...

Sorry! My next post will be about celebrity gossip and boobies.

Jardo said...

Dude, Islands are playing at CTO on the 30th, the very same day we are leaving for Montreal....

Phronk said...

Haha Jared commented.

In response to said comment: FUCK!

And they're friggin FROM Montreal.

Dead Robot said...

Much like a computer, I would suggest that it's functionality is only enhanced by non-physical, non-tethered data. Like storage on Gmail.

When we die, that data may be lost but still accessible at a later time.

Or it's like a big ball of cheese. melty goodness when it gets hot, great on chips and burgers and not exactly real when you open a box of velveeta.

Wait. What?

Mitzzee said...

i love: "it's a sign from God" after the long liturgy...niuk niuk niuk...ok i TRULY believe in life after death, not heaven and hell and all that shit, but a spiritual realm, of energy, our spiritual energy....and the only thing that freaks me out is, do we still know who we were? or is it totally random?

Yvette Lombardi said...

Extremely well said! Author, J. Coughlin believes we are composed of 3 aspects: the physical, intellectual, and spiritual, and it is the interaction where all 3 overlap you find the "self" (ego), the word Carl Jung used to describe our creative center. This is the remnant energy we leave behind.

Phronk said...

DR: Totally! With our identities spread over multiple media, we're more human than ever these days.

Mmmm cheese.

Mitzzee: Personally, I don't think we can currently survive death in a way that preserves our consciousness...whatever allows us to be aware of reality and of ourselves. But I really hope I'm wrong. And since there is no way of knowing for sure until we get there, I very well might be.

Questioner: Thanks! Sounds interesting. I bet similar ways of dividing the self have come up in many religions and theories. I'd argue that such divisions are metaphors for a deeper reality that we can only vaguely grasp and have yet to fully understand.

sarah said...

sounds good to me. that's why people can be psychic, because you can sense the moving around of neutrons or whatever. Some more than others.