My books are BETTER than I am!

Here is my side of a chat in IRC Undernet #philosophy:

I have absolutely no desire for some eternal life or existence… I am perfectly content with the notion that I shall simply cease to be

I feel that in a sense, Shakespeare and Plato and Homer, and all the great minds, still live on in the sense that their words and ideas are alive through us
like memes, the ideas have a life of their own, and each individuals mind is a cell in that meta-mind of culture in which such memes dwell

They last as long as our planet and sun, which has about another 5 billion years, until it becomes a white dwarf

Ideas stop when thoughtful creatures become extinct

When there is no longer a human-like creature with language to say those words
If the human race becomes extinct, then who will think those thoughts?
I know I can never be a Shakespeare or a Plato,… and I hardly think I could be a Hemingway or Vonnegut,… but I would be pleased if a few of the paragraphs I have written are plagiarized and continue to be read somewhere on the internet after my death

People cut and paste, and even steal ideas…

Once I am dead, I will not know what happens to what I have written,.. but I would like to think, hope, that a few ideas of mine life on

The only reason I continue to think, read, write, is the notion that I might hit upon something unique, and change one or more readers in some way

I enjoy the things I do, and the way I use my time… I just hope that some other will enjoy it also

It seems to me like hoping is better than crabbing

I do have a choice… I might choose to have no hope, and to crab to everyone that might have a glimmer of hope, and tell them they are wasting their time…

If I see someone with a glimmer of hope, I would like to encourage it, with the thought that the person will gain some comfort from that hope
for me, the best thing is to escape being a crab

If, as you say, nothing matters, there is no difference, then there is no reason in the world for me to be any different than I am

If everyone is doomed to be foolish, then I chose to be an optimistic fool, a cheerful fool

and I am optimistic and cheerful in the sense that I think it is worthwhile to study, write, nd hold discourse with serious people, and hope to one day add a sentence or two to human culture

In all seriousness, I will explain to you my belief, that the only real “proof of the pudding” for thinkers, is their body of writing. If someone asks me, I can show them what I have written over the past 10 years. It may be rubbish, or it may have some value…

But, it is proof positive that I did something for 10 years

BUT. if someone comes to me and tells me how clever they are, and how they know better than many others, I will simply say… Show me your body of writing…

Now, it seems to me that a very clever and creative person would most certainly write down their findings, so that others might benefit

In the 1960s, there was a famous man whom many admired. One day someone traveled a great distance hoping to see this famous man. They entered his office, and saw him reading one of his own books. They were startled and asked him why he would study his own book, since having written it, he must know what it says.

The famous man explained that “my books are BETTER than me, in the simple sense that what I have written is a great effort of distillation and arrangement, that has taken months or even years. And what I have produced is something BEYOND, what I am capable of at any given hour of the day.”
so, if you study my book, you will gain far more, than if you simply visit with me for an hour

aha,… well, I prefer not to say who he was, because, certain people here will be displeased.

but what he said applies to many authors and books
worse even than Timothy Leary (I could not say in IRC that the author was Prabhupad, because they detest anything that hints of religion).

But, it is not important who he was… what he said applies for example to Plato, or James Joyce, or any author
If you could have lunch with James Joyce, it would be a great honor, but would it be the same as studying all his books
or if you could have lunch with Plato,… would it be the same as studying all the dialogues carefully
Yes, precisely,… an author sometimes studies what he is written because it grows into something BIGGER than his own individuality
think of the tiny termites, who build towering structures that grow to 10 or 20 feet in height

Now, it is true that the termites constructed the termite hill over a long period of time…
but,… each termite is dwarfed by the entirety of the termite hill…

Well, think of someone like Gibbon writing “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” over a 20 year period
he is like one little termite, gradually building up something much larger than himself

Although he is the author, the creator, he cannot in a single meeting convey to you the essence of that writing
and, perhaps he even forgets some things himself, and must therefore read and reread and study his own writings

I really like that explanation, “my books are BETTER than I am”, which the author gave to the admiring fan, anxious for a brief audience

One modern author in India made a parable of all the cells in the body, personified, having a meeting, a discussion, and each of them thought of themselves as autonomous individuals; none of them realized that they were an integral part of a much larger organism

I saw a nice example once, which pointed out that, in a container of gas, if you examine and individual molecule, it seems totally random and erratic in its behavior, but if you look at the container as a whole, then all those seemingly random molecules obey very precise and predictable laws of temperature/pressure

As individuals, it seems to us that we are totally free, that we can be random in our actions, if we choose,… but, people in large bodies, such as a city or nation, seem to exhibit certain predictable patterns of behavior

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