A Substitute for Permanence

People die. The idea of death is one of the few thoughts which permeates every level of the human experience, from the day-to-day to high philosophy. Finalities drive us forward, and death is the ultimate finality. Reality is a perception of the mind and the mind a construct of the brain. Death ends reality. Humans have always known this to be true, and in response to this bleak inevitability, designed constructs to soften the blow. Art, religion, culture — these are all attempts at immortalizing ourselves. Although our physical forms will perish, we can hope that through these artifacts our intellectual contributions will live on. Love is one such artifact. We can express all relationships which spawn this notion we call love as attempts to create permanence. People pass on their values, learnings, ideologies to their children, and intertwine their futures with their spouse’s. We allow these people, those we “love,” to satisfy our moral, intellectual, emotional and spiritual desires. By doing so, we share with them the elements of our lives which we find able to endure our physical demise.

Of course, this is an effort in vain. Just as art forms, belief systems and societies, those whom we love are destined to perish. Yet, I believe the attempt has a similar psychological origin. This is the desire to believe in a meaning external to our physical selves. Humans are generally quite arrogant, in that we act with conviction that the arbitrary set of particles which compose us have a greater purpose. This delusion is unsubstantiated by the natural world, therefore we create abstractions to feed it. We ascribe meaning, and by extension permanence to external objects. When these objects are inanimate, we call this process art. When these objects are people, we call the process love.