Monday, 29 July 2013
One More Detail in "Earthman, Beware!"
"...the solipsistic loneliness in which humans wandered from their births to the end of their brief meaningless lives."
(Poul Anderson, "Earthman, Beware!" IN Alight In The Void, New York, pp. 29-60 AT p. 56)
This is not Poul Anderson speaking. It is his stranded alien, Joel Weatherfield, momentarily disparaging humanity. In his better moments, Joel does see value, eg, in the life of his human friend, Peggy.
More importantly, we are not "solipsistic" because we genuinely communicate, and would not otherwise become self-conscious. Our lives require no external authority to bestow meaning on them. We value our existence and only conscious beings can value anything.
So our lives are brief - "brief" is a comparative term but, in comparison with many things, yes, they are brief - but they are far from meaningless and this should be affirmed because too casual a use of the term "meaningless" can only demoralize.