Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Death of the “N” Word

“Narcissus” by Caravaggio
Let’s entertain for a moment the theory of parallel universes, the doctrine of eternal occurrence articulated in varying forms by both Poincare and Nietzsche. The substance would be that within the infinity of time and space, everything will recur with all its infinite possible mutations. In other words you could climb into a wormhole or other exotic device and find a parallel universe in space/time where you existed along with infinite forms of yourself, the self that was a teetotaler as well as a drunk, the self that was a lothario as well as an anhedonist--who finds no pleasure in sex or anything else. In theory, it’s actually possible though not probable that you could find your exact present self in this world. Infinity like a Pandora’s Box unleashes all possible combinations and permutations. Another formulation of the same idea is the example of the monkey sitting in front of a typewriter and producing Hamlet. But let’s take poetic license and envision a parallel universe over the infinity of space and time where an even more unlikely possibility occurs, say a universe filled with exact genomic replicas of yourself, and not one but thousands of monkeys merrily pecking away at typewriters that all come up with not Hamlet this time, but the play within a play in Hamlet, The Murder of Gonzago. What if? At the very least there would be no such thing as identity theft in a place where identity was so easily shared and uniqueness was useless to cultivate. Of course there is no way to speculate about what life would be like in such a dystopia. One thing is certain, however. The much overused “N” word, narcissism,” would surely become extinct.

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