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exercises in being according to an existential hedonist

Life (III) / Notes on the Life of Artificial Life

I want to be when I die
I wish to see the whole process.

If dying is indeed a loss,
I wish to see how much to lose I have,
how much to lose I am.

If dying is a gain,
I shall write again.

I recall this as being the very first thoughts I concentrated on – enough to write a composition of words about it – dealing with the process of dying. It seems as though there is no livelier process than to die – for those dying and for those looking onto those dying. Many who had the so called near death experience attest to this and observers of those dying, repeatedly watch close or refuse to look. Thus, which are better moments to be awake?

Some express, as wish of wishes, to die in their sleep. I strongly suspect that a key in life is elevation through knowledge. Thus, if I were to die, I wish to be wide awake through it.

If we thought of dying as just a phase within life and we could experience the dying process and subsequently, just days later, arise with a new experience of states and feelings, we would know less fright in life. If we were given concise instructions that, not reincarnation, but reinsoulation or reinconsciousness is available to us all and death were literally nonexistent, but rather we were submerged in an explosive and satisfying transition onto another state, what would there be to be afraid of?

I consider myself very lucky to have been in the same room at the same time with my father, as he inhaled for the last time, before a nurse pronounced his “passing”. There was no sadness, no joy. I was awake, observing, questioning through a myriad of phrases without question marks, inhaling with him, accepting, wondering, concluding, wanting. And still, after eleven Marches since that ante meridiem at 6:01, I do not see death.

In the last couple of weeks the dying have been screaming around me in body moves – nothing my ears hear. We often do interpret screaming as pain, but I have seen screaming moves which I cannot call pain. They are not very different to the screaming moves many of us know during overpowering ecstasy, especially if love uniquely unites us with the love of another, while body and spirit come together.

One of the screaming bodies I saw was that of a raccoon. A dog passing by, which usually barked by each confrontation with another animal in the park, did not bark. It gave a short look, then continued, quiet. The raccoon turned its head repeatedly, screaming – what a policeman and I kept calling agony, while we spoke. We waited more than an hour, until it ceased to move.

Raccoon

‘Juice’ from Raccoon

I saw a bird, fallen from a tree – so the appearance. The body screamed. Paused. Screamed. Stretched. Screamed and screamed, quiet to my ears. Two days later I returned and saw it again. No moves.

Newly a cat showed an expressive last move. It laid  near lines which clearly said they ought not be crossed. Another one looked on, dared to stride to the middle of the street, slowly, wondering, wanting, aware, solemnly. It stopped at the line and did not cross. The second cat – similar to the dog – knew, and knew what to do.

Cat looking at another Cat

Humans, like no other animal, have managed to combine life and death through unique levels of artificiality. Dogs, cats, squirrels, surely racoons and many other animals, have also their moments dedicated to play, which is often the temporary transformation of real life activities, into make-believe, into artificiality. Humans, however, take it beyond play. Two times now I have seen an older couple walking hand in hand around an artificial pond that has been categorized as a conservation spot for wild life. And there they walk, while carrying a stuffed dog.

Couple on artificial pond for conserved wild life, carrying a stuffed dog

We have now seen millions of Marches and Christianity has seen over 2000 of them, but we have yet to avoid a life without being afraid of it being too short, too long, too painful. We are still afraid that it means ‘to end’ and afraid of being awake. We believe in a truth and call it belief, based on which we die and kill for. We willingly asphyxiate with it. We have created what we call artificial life and artificial intelligence, but we continue to scream.

That classic “to be or not to be” might have helped starting this whole dilemma. Not even to move or not to move seems relevant, nor to scream or not to scream, nor to perceive or not to perceive. We do know, we call it life. Some are sure it must end. Some are sure it must not. Clear is our confusion, and we proceed with glorification, one of the most expressive forms of artificiality, often used in this transition process we die for. We glorify based on religions and cultures or through individually personified acts, like signs of friendship, like the hundreds dedicated to a store owner last month. The store was much to dirty for me to ever enter it, but after he was stabbed to death, days and nights saw customers and passersby glorifying him in notes and symbols, what is often called paying respects, the respect we like to see in the face of those that have died, much more than to the face of those alive.

‘paying respect’

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