Closing Time


It has occurred to me that an individual post often may be my last statement on a given topic. I thought this when I finished my recent post on abortion, a subject I am unlikely to revisit since it bears little relationship with my main concerns—evolution, transhumanism, and the meaning of life. But how do I feel about the fact that I will never revisit a topic?

My first feeling is sadness. It is often sad when things come to an end. I will never read and think about some topic again, just like I may have heard a song on the radio for the last time or caught my last baseball. But for a thinker, to know that your thought time is up pierces heart. Why is there not enough time to find our answers? Second I feel inadequate. A lifetime is insufficient to probe the depth of some topics, and others will not be thought about at all. In the ocean of thoughts, our minds explore areas the size of atoms; from an infinite smorgasbord of ideas, we sample only a few.

So my visceral responses to endings and finitude are sadness and inadequacy. Yet the stirring words of Tennyson best capture the proper attitude:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,

To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!

I will probe the issue further in my next post with a discussion of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

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