—–People like to talk about other people becoming aware of their own mortality. But they never acknowledge what happens to themselves when such a consideration occurs. And the reason for this is that each case it seems is a very obscure and special case. And, each person knows, it is not for themsevles they become concerned–but for the world. What occurs when a person becomes aware of their own mortality is they become concerned about what will happen to the world, without them in it.
—–And this is rather too difficult for a person to express, and admit to others without– sounding like they are just denying they have a fear of personal extinction. No, that is not what happens when the shift in perspective is forced upon one, due, say, to the logical perception that one is becoming, irreversibly!, older, and therefore is, logically, doomed to say, wear out their welcome, and die. No, what the most consuming thought becomes is: what will happen to the world?
—–Or more precisely, won’t reality itself collapse without my perilous and tentative grasp on it? It is not that one thinks they have been holding the world together themselves, for obviously they haven’t; but that one is forced to realise they NOT been holding the world together, and have no fundamental idea what the world really is. Yet they know nothing else! And therefore, without them at least studying it, offhand as their studies have been, this world just might fly, apart or become something else entirely. One thing it will not do is simply go on in the same old way. And the implications of that are terrible for the person, because that means all the other people in the world will no longer really exist, in the same old way, if AT ALL. One’s first thought upon considering death is that death means the end of the world as one has known it. One does not imagine they are going to go into another, transcendent realm and leave the world spinning in time and history like they learned (in school).
—–It is more like they will go into a lesser realm of their own half-baked impressions of life, like taking up residence in some Afterlife Hotel. And the world, freed from their misperception, no longer bruised, as it were, by their continuosly injuring it with their judgements. will resume being what it really always has been. Which, incredibly and unfortuately, even after having been alive for so long (one’s whole life in fact!), has now possiblly become a thing that never will be comprehended. An experience unresolved, a philosophic dream unfulfilled, a poetic universe largely unwritten.
—–I repeat: It is therefore not the fear of death, for that is impossible, death being completely unknown, but the fear of not really having lived; that is what a person faces with the prospect of their life ever ending. It is that whatever they have been doing, while alive, may not actually be what life actually is–that they themselves were always a stranger, and never really got to know anyone, deeply enough to, say, guarantee them anything like . . . salvation. They were here, and that is about all that can be said about it. All the coherence of their assumptions upon which they based the grid of their actions is really challenged as possibly entirely provisional, a construct of their own making.
—–What now, if this temporary world could vanish, and the central figure in it demonstrate, by irresponsibly, selfishly!, just dying; as if they wish to release any responsibility for it? This is the prospect. A person cannot actually say, for instance, that they believe the past as they learned about it ever really happened that way. But not just the past as half-learned about, but all other possible pasts are gone too. It is not like they got it slightly, or massively, wrong; but that they didn’t even begin to get it. And if they can’t be sure any of the people they know in life will still be there, in that exact same life, they certainly can’t say they expect to see them in another life. Thus people are choked off from speaking about their own death, because of the enormous complication in their own thoughts, in regards to the experience of life itself.
—–I know this is the case with everyone; the idea of death occurs as a reflection on the state of the world and the reality of one’s own grasp of the world; it does not occur as in a moment of self-concern, or studied reflection about the facts of one’s personal existence. What happens is these facts crowd into the picture as to make it futile to ever finish the great unfinished project of understanding reality, that all one’s life one more or less secretly has been engaged in. And then what happens is other people start making assumptions about your status, so to speak, your condition and age, and they are making statements to you that indicate they think you must be, exactly, concerned about your own mortality.
—–But! In each case, they themselves, younger or older, never faced this concern themselves–since they, younger or older, are still confused by the real sequence, which is like I have been saying, anxiety over the implications for the world without its central figure waking and even sleeping, in the midst of it. The real issue is panic, cold panic, over what will happen to the world, to everyone else, the world that one lived in and is all one ever knew. The thought of the world existing without me ? This panic is severe, and unanswered, because that world is uncentered without the person whom it has, in fact, always revolved around. It is a senseless, nightmare world. This is the fear of the death of the subjective world. A much greater worry than ever beset you over your own, so-called, mortality.