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Squid #516
(published December 9, 2010)
Ask The Giant Squid: It Depends On What Your Definition of "Die" is
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
Dear Giant Squid,

Will I die?

Anonymous Internet Query

My Dear Anonymous I. Query,

Have we met before? Have we crossed our paths upon the street, or in the shipping lanes, or up in the terrible Upspace of the "surface" world? I feel certain that I have, through some manner, heard some little hints of your exploits and adventures.

Well, it is no great matter, Mr. Query. To answer your query directly; Will you die?

Let us consider these answers in their proper order.

First: No, you shall not die.

As you know, material life is premised on the semi-ordered recombination of elements present. Certain amino acids combine and break apart proteins such that water and nitrogen may be trapped and released.

As this process is ongoing, and appears to be perpetual, the individual constituents of the process are irrelevant. This process will continue. Death is precisely defined as its end. It does not appear to be ending. Ergo, there is no death. Ergo, you will not die. (Though in this reasoning note also that there is no "you" either. You will never die because you are not you. You are a collection of atoms that will still be atoms for many thousands upon thousands of years.)

Perhaps there shall be that strange aeon when life ends, and then, when death arrives, it too shall die. But that is a long way away, and thus difficult to plan for, in terms of decorations, seating arrangements, and preordering beverages.

You will go to sleep, and simply not be burdened with learning how to use any future remote controls.

Second: Yes, you will die.

If instead of defining death as the ending of life, which does not appear to be happening, we instead define death as the ending of your conscious awareness of things, then I say, yes, you shall die. A thousand times. You die every day when your mind wanders, grows vacant. When you allow the televisual device to flatten your conscious brain waves, when you watch of the GLEEs and of the BUFFY reruns. You die in your bourbon, and in your saki. You die in your sex acts, and in your cuddling. You die in your slumber.

You die in your mind numbing work, and in your distracted dinner times with family, they all mindlessly chewing and digesting, you staring out your window at the snow.

You die every moment that you forget yourself.

So don't worry about it. When this ultimate lapse of concentrated consciousness arrives you shall not be around to suffer or worry about such questions. You die all the time. You live all the time. Try to focus on the living part of the equation to maximize your coefficient of happiness.

Third: The empirical answer.

The human body is 61.8 percent water by weight. Protein accounts for 16.6 percent; fat, 14.9 percent; and nitrogen, 3.3 percent of human body weight. Other elements constitute such smaller percentages of body weight to be of little merit. Thus, I invite you to combine in your bathing tub one gallon of water, 2.2 pounds of prime ground sirloin meat, 2 pounds of suet, 1.75 pounds of high-quality nitrogen-bearing 26-4-12 fertilizer (or 8.8 fluid ounces liquid nitrogen and 1.25 pounds garden soil), the contents of your wallet, your Facebook-ed password, a pair of COOGI denim trousers, and one or several Jersey Shore DVDs. Do you call that melange in the tub "living"? Mortality, such as it is, should seem the least of your worries, my tub-dwelling friend.

In any event, these remarks may seem brief, but bear in mind that they are simply prefatory, in and of themselves. In these guttering hours of the final candle of this latest Festival of Lights, I am reminded of an occasion when I was obliged to point out, "Death is limit, and the universe is infinite, Parmenides, thus—"


I Remain,
Your Giant Squid

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see other pieces by this author | Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid? Read his blog posts and enjoy his anthem (and the post-ironic mid-1990s Japanese cover of same)

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