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4-21-99

The essence of a person is the culmination of his or her memories. I am who I am because I remember myself, while if I had no memory of an event, it, in my mind, and hence in my perception of reality, did not happen to me. For instance, a nightmare that you have no memory of, including the memory of any fright you experience upon waking, will never affect a person. Five minutes ago I was scared, but now it's as if it never happened. This leads me to three conclusions, and three questions.

First, life is a pure question of the now. Former happiness and future happiness never factor into the moment (Except in how they affect current happiness), and hence envy for a future or past acquisition is futile. If I die this moment, and I am the happiest man alive, for that moment I am also the luckiest. Never mind that I had a mere sixteen years of life, in that moment I'm happy. The next moment I'm gone. So, in the end I'm ecstatic, even if before that I was miserable. However, why is the end moment worth any more than the first, the middle, or any other? It seems as though all should be equal. However, and this is probably just a subconscious grasp at immortality, there seems to be something eternal about one's final moments, as though that's what the universe will remember. My first question, then, is: Is it better to live miserably and die happy, or live happily and die miserable?

My second conclusion, is reasoned thus: If I lose my memory, what has happened to me beforehand does not affect who I am now. If I kill a man, go amnesiac, then get the death penalty, I'll never regret the killing because I won't remember it. I, I will declare, cannot be held accountable for something I do not remember, as the memory makes me a fundamentally different person. In my perception, I never committed the crime, so how can I be held responsible for it? Presuming I've never murdered before, is the man who receives the death penalty a killer or a victim?

Finally, I conclude that I cannot and do not fear what will happen to me in the future if I will have no memory of what has happened to me in the past. I don't care if I burn in Hell if I don't remember living on Earth when I get there, because the man I was will be destroyed. However, a major component of Hell has always been the mass confusion that precludes any sentient thought, thus inhibiting reason and anything more than complete torture. So, if this conception of Hell is to be believed, then we have no conscious memory of ourselves, and thus no regrets. Thus we have no fear of it on Earth. My last question: Does this mean, speaking from a viewpoint in which one's morality is defined by the fear of the consequences (Which I personally don't believe in, if only because it is the lowest, if most common, level of morality), can we do whatever the Hell we want?

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