The Space Burial Bill

When the Space Burial Bill was passed, cryogenic suspension became a passing fad. The wealthy filled and invigorated Wallops Island and its outlying municipalities. Paying respect to the dead became a celebration where mourners screamed shrilly in space themed amusement parks and gorged themselves during private bacchanals inside world class hotels. The mourning period, if it could be called that anymore, culminated with the remains being blasted into space.

The options were almost endless. Body parts could be distributed into different tracts of sky for exorbitant prices.  Ashes were blasted into the stratosphere to be caught up and scattered by the jetstream. Or a combination thereof could be employed. One poet philosopher had his skull sent in a collision course with Halley’s Comet. A professional basketball player, who has yet to die, has willed his hands be sent towards the sun. The fact it had governmental funding made it weirder.

But there wasn’t a lack of competition. Houston, the original coffin slinger, was bought out by corporate conglomerates who revamped its infrastructure. It soon became a hotbed of neon sizzle decadence which earned it the nickname “The Vegas away from Vegas.” Corpses were ejected from the earthly body in a ten kilometer long rail gun. The rags to riches story of rock star Axon Storm, the macguffin of which was enough wealth to be launched alive into space, culminated in a live video feed that broke the world record of most viewers of a live televised event.

Eventually it became affordable, even feasible, for the middle class. The satellites of Earth orbit mingled with coffins, urns, ashes, and in some macabre cases, whole body parts. There were three competitors in the industry. Chain locations sprang across the world. Houston became seedy like Reno, and Wallops Island absorbed the ambience of Coney Island during its last days.

The first visitors to the solar system paused at the Kuiper Belt. They were a race of near immortals for whom death was the apogee of life; a combination of half-forgotten nanotechnology and natural biology made them impervious to the various forms of death. During the youth of their species they experimented relentlessly and recklessly with their life and were rewarded with near eternity. They danced within stars, their bodies repairing themselves from the abundance of hydrogen. It wasn’t a painless enterprise. They tried long epochs in vacuum, immersion in exotic compounds, centuries of starvation, and just about anything they could imagine. It took them a long time to come to terms with their mode of existence and they began to cultivate their lives as the Japanese did their bonsai. They trained to master skill sets. They hoarded experiences in all its minutiae, so they could be freed from the sheer baggage of accumulated existence when death did come.

Imagine their astonishment upon observing a culture flaunting death as freely as did the homo sapiens. The visitors came bearing gifts of faster than light travel, portal ships, quantum particle printers, and near-immortality, all the things that mankind would need to arrest starvation and death and gradually transcend the solar system. The otherworlders were repulsed and quietly left.

The residents of that little blue planet were none the less wiser, and went on with their old ways of living, loving, hurting, and forgetting.

Inspired by: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-mulls-tax-space-burials.html

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I am a Map Maker, and So Are You

Reality exists, as we can plainly see.

It is just there, a waiting vessel for our proclivities. It is a realm without rules save those of natural ones governed by molecular behavior en masse. An intricate webwork of electromagnetic conversation, we spring squalling from the loam of flesh into a gallery of light and sound and sensation. The world, consisting of new and frightening apparitions, whirl past us as wild static. The barrage of confusion soon coalesces into meaning as we gain mastery of our sensory apparatuses and locomotive capability; we quickly start to effortlessly process and respond to the packets of information received from the environment.

We exist in a world where information is alive, carried by points of information called individuals. Our early experience, quite often under the guidance of biological providers of our particular genetic code, are encoded into our psyche. The language of these teachers more than not involve specific religious and political cues which imprint themselves strongly on our neural framework, and these imprints are long lasting.

In short, we do not have total control of our own mental development during our younger years, but soon enough we are able to realize that we create the world we live in. It does not create us, and if it does, if we let it, or we simply don’t know it, we are just code following a higher social paradigm perpetuated by society itself. Tick-tock. Cogs. Robots. Trapped in our own belief system as provided by our parents and our particular range of experience.

Let’s say our friend, ah, Bob, is sitting at a cafe reading his Bible. As he munches at his lunch sandwich and sips at his iced tea, around him at various tables are seated a devout Christian, a Catholic, an atheist, and an agnostic. The Christian smiles indulgently at Bob’s proud public display of faith. The atheist may think thoughts ranging from the angrily derisive to the pitying at such self delusion. The agnostic looks on curiously, possibly with a slow, confused smile growing on his face, and wonders how one could determine which is true in a world where everyone claims their belief is not a lie. The Catholic, tossing down his napkin, snorts disapproval upon his departure to confession. An Muslim, by chance, passes by and feels deep-seated frustration and anger at the perusal of the man reading  the Bible. The crackhead across the street chewing at a week old chicken bone salvaged from the garbage, with gleaming eyes sizes up Bob, from his clothes and that nice shiny watch, as a possibility towards illicitly supplementing his drug habit. Bob gets up, Bible in hand, and checks his watch as he hastens to the nearest Satanist covent, wondering how the hell the devil got such a bad rap; fruits are excellent sources of vitamin C.  No one world through no one set of eyes is the same. That is the magic and curse of the Umwelt.

What we often do not realize… you can erase the damn map. Understand what you see is only the superimposition of your thoughts, beliefs, and values onto this shared reality. You attribute the objects and events with your own intrinsic meaning and emotion. Because of this, the world is wracked with pain, irrationality, hate, anger, and craziness in general, but it also accounts for the love, imagination, wonder, and spirit of Mankind.

Semanticist Alfred Korzybski has this bit o’ wisdom that will do us well to remember: The map is not the territory.