So Dad passed away a little after midnight, on Wednesday (the 14th). He was the best Dad ever, and his passing was as gentle and as undemanding on his loved ones as one would have expected. I was there, down in Florida with him and Stepmom. I think maybe he was waiting for me to show up; one of the last things he said to me (along with some discussion of Linda Ronstadt and Alan Watts) was “you got here just in time”.
And now I am back home, and while my usual witty and ironic commentary here might be a bit subdued for awhile, I figure Dad is the one who gave me at least the good parts of the wit and irony, and I shouldn’t let it be suppressed on his behalf. I have been remembering all sorts of things about him (pretty much unreservedly positive, because I am the luckiest son ever), and some of them may get written down here eventually, but probably not right now.
It makes you think, in a more serious and concrete way, about consciousness and death and what might happen to the one after the other. (I’m listening to a course that touches on the subject, but I think it’s going to stay pretty abstract and theoretical.)
As far as I know there’s no particular reason to think that the usual suspects have it at all correct; they are just, layers of complication aside, taking a bunch of very old guesses far too seriously. Those guesses might be right, but they’re no more likely to be than any of millions of similar guesses that didn’t happen to get written down.
It could be that nothing happens, that consciousness just goes out at death. That would be awfully boring, though, and it’s not clear there’s much more to say about it.
There’s a theory, which somewhat hearteningly I can’t find on the Interwebs at the moment, that consciousness, mysterious and amorphous as it is, quantum-tunnels among the available possible world-lines, and always finds one in which life continues. So although other people may experience a world in which one dies, one’s own consciousness avoids those, and one is always, in one’s own world-line, immortal.
It’s not clear what it would mean for that to be true or false; it’s not obviously falsifiable, at least from here. But that’s okay.
Dad lives, in various senses and to various degrees, in the state-spaces of various brains, mine and Stepmom’s and lots of others. Does that mean anything about his consciousness? No idea; consciousness is hard.
A friend told me, a week or two ago, that when her father died, a friend had a dream that he was waiting in line, all excited because he was waiting to find out what he was going to do next.
I like that thought.
I know Dad would want to be doing something interesting. I’ll be sure to arrange that at least the parts of him here enriching my own state-space are.
Thanks, Dad, for everything.