20 February 2015

Longevity in people, books, particles . . .

I awoke with the idea of making my own version of René Magritte’s painting Le musee d'une nuit (The Museum of a Night). Below is the result, which conforms to the latest artistic fad of half-arranging magazine fragments over a background. It is currently on sale for 50% off of its retail price of fourteen million euros:

LONGEVITY, etc. . . .

I like knowing that my roommate is at the dentist getting her teeth cleaned while I am at home typing this blog & sipping straight syrup.

There’s that ancient question about whether the stuff of our world is infinitely divisible. And why is death even to be avoided or dreaded? The reason I want to forestall pain and death is that I am in love with pleasure and life. By thinking these thoughts, I’m just treading over paths worn ages ago – that’s OK: repetition is a form of continuance, which is what I desire. I myself am a reiteration of many who have preceded me. Maybe every creature’s lifespan from birth to death is like the crest of a continuing wave.

I think of books as being blessed with the potential of longevity because some of them have managed to last for thousands of years – and this is one of the reasons I’m attracted to the medium of writing: I want more life. Since my body cannot have the duration it desires, I think that maybe my words will have a shot at it. But then I remember that even those longest-lived scriptures have had to endure translation into new tongues, at the very least; and this is a type of dying. Plus, eventually, even the most easily translatable aspects of the clearest and most beloved books will grow obsolete.

That last thought makes me want to assert something broad and sweeping, like: Everything that exists must eventually expire. But the word ‘everything’ seems too hasty a choice, because: what do I know about subatomic particles, for instance?

The smallest particle known to any particular age will, by some future age, be found to be divisible after all – that’s my hypothesis. So I’ll use the word ‘quark’ in my last couple questions below; but I ask the readership of futurity (especially those living in 9,000 A.D. – that is: nine thousand years After Duchamp) to substitute whatever latest particle fits the description of ‘smallest yet’; which implies, I groundlessly assume, ‘impervious to decay’:

  1. Can everlasting quarks endure change to the extent that we should say that they also expire?
  2. If these immortal, almighty, invincible quarks can suffer death, does it follow from this that they absolutely must suffer death? (I’m just wondering if there’s a spell that we can all chant.)

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