E.O. Wilson on the Ephemerality of Life

In discussing the human advantage of long-term memory [in the book I’ll post notes about shortly], enabling us to plan and imagine possible futures, he reflects that, with every death, an entire library of experience is lost.

He recalls his childhood and his family in Mobile, Alabama.

They existed in what must have seemed to them to be the center of the world and the center of time. They lived as though Mobile as it was then would never change by much. Everything mattered, every detail, at least for a while. Somehow, in one form or another everything collectively remembered was important to someone. Now these people are all gone.

We will all be gone, eventually. Does it matter? What can we do to leave a legacy — or, what should we do, or not do, to promote a greater cause? Just starting the second Harari book, which raises these big issues.

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