Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

12 Feb 2002, 9:07 a.m.

Every year I try not to pay attention to Valentine's…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Every year I try not to pay attention to Valentine's Day or the Academy Awards, and every year I kinda do. Hey, Lagaan is up for Best Foreign Film! Adam, it'll be a deathmatch between your Am�lie and my Lagaan, eh?

I finished Wobegon Boy by Garrison Keillor last night, er, early this morning. And then I basically cried myself to sleep because Keillor is particularly gifted at arousing yearning and sorrow and the impulse to find someone to love to stave off death. I'm really glad I've found all these friends and a few readers, people in whose memories I'll live on, but they'll die too, all of them, everyone on every bus I've ever taken, everyone in every class I've ever taken, everyone I've liked and everyone I've hated (a short list), and every thought experiment of teleportation and prosthetics and the nature of the self just counterpoints my inevitable winking-out.

As I see it, there are a few main schools of thought with regard to the afterlife. One is the reincarnation or heaven/hell/purgatory-style belief system. I don't believe this; I see no good reason to believe it.

Another is the Rent paradigm:

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love.
Seasons of love,
seasons of love.
-"Seasons of Love"

Certainly I wish to experience much love before I die, but that's only a way to maximize the years I have on Earth (or Mars, or whatever), and to influence the memories people have of me after I die. They'll die, too.

And then there's the legacy system. This strikes more of a chord with me. I want to create works that will continue after everyone I know and have ever known dies. I've always had a heightened sense of the ephemeral -- comes from my family moving around so much when I was a kid, perhaps -- maybe this is why I'm such a packrat, to keep a simalcrum of continuity about me -- so this is less rampant arrogance than rampant fear of death, although I suppose they're two sides of the same coin.