The Life After Death

Samuel Butler

That there is such a life is as palpable as that there is a life before death. See the influence that the dead have over us. But this life is no more eternal than our present life. Shakespeare and Homer may live long, but they will die, that is to say, become unknown as direct and efficient causes—some day.

Even so God himself dies, for to die is to change and to change is to die to what has gone before. If the units change the total must do so also.

As no one can say which egg or seed shall come to visible life and in its turn leave issue, so no one can say which of the millions of now visible lives shall enter into the afterlife on death, and which have but so little lifeas practically not to count. For most seeds end as seeds or as food for some alien being, and so with lives, by far the greater number are sterile, except in so far as they can be devoured as the food of some stronger life. The Handels and Shakespeares are the few seeds that grow—and even these die.

And the same uncertainty attaches to posthumous life as to pre-lethal. As no one can say how long another shall live, so no one can say how long or how short a reputation shall live. The most unpromising weakly-looking creatures sometimes live to ninety while strong robust men are carried off in their prime. And no one can say what a man shall enter into life for having done. Roughly, there is a sort of moral government whereby those who have done the best work live most enduringly, but it is subject to such exceptions that no one can say whether or no there shall not be an exception in his own case either in his favour or against him.—Samuel Butler, Notebooks

Welcome to Loserland

Cage ’em up and let ’em ride outside the minivan—on top!

A scant two weeks ago, I still had some qualms about the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election. Now that all is over but the shouting—and that primarily from the losers and their diehard followers—it’s interesting to see how Obama’s two victims, McCain and Romney, have fared since then.

Romney showed us that he was not about to give “gifts” to anyone but members of his rarefied socio-economic class. He blamed Obama for promising gifts to Hurricane victims, students loaded down with debt, and Hispanic families. In other words, he blamed the President for trying to help out Americans who did not own a string of polo ponies, enjoy firing people or sending their jobs to China, or installing car elevators in their La Jolla McMansions.

McCain, on the other hand, has continued to show himself to be a mercurial old sod in trying to turn the Benghazi affair into a major Democratic liability. Now this Libya fracas occurred on the first day of my vacation this year; so Martine and I didn’t follow the media frenzy that usually accompanies this sort of thing. Two things are pretty clear, however: First, it was a terrorist act; and second, the Republicans had previously cut the budget for the protection of our embassies abroad. (That second thing was the real scandal, if there can be said to be one.)

If McCain or Romney were elected President, that would indeed have been a scandal. Thankfully, even if only by the skinniest of margins, the American voters are still better than that.