Almost every town on this floating sphere we call home has a graveyard full to the brim of folk who once thought thoughts.
Dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people who are now no more than just names on decaying graves lie in their coffins as the Earth reclaims them to the soil.
But as they lie there in their state of eternal death – where is their consciousness? More interestingly, perhaps, where was it before they were born – when they were nothing, less than dead, not even yet alive.
That is one of the questions I often find myself trying to answer on the walk to work most days when I pass the graveyard.
Did they find the meaning of life or did they just float through life oblivious before passing on with nothing more than a handful of dormant memories and a gravestone to mark their momentary existence?
Arthur Rimbaud once said: ‘I was not born to become a skeleton’, but what else is there to become? No answer. Then again, it was Socrates who roared: ‘All I know is that I know nothing’.
And it’s not only Socrates that struggled to win the battle over existentialism, Reddit has tried too – with users posting the questions that have royally fucked them in the head to the front page of the Internet.
Posting to a thread aptly named ‘What existential question fucks you up the most?‘, over 2,000 Redditors replied in less than 24 hours.
Here’s a few of our favourites to get you thinking:
That we are just a cluster of uncountable atoms which interact with each other in a specific way. What is the meaning of dying? Our atoms will be still there and they will be re-utilized by nature for something else.
Think of it like a battery-operated “He-Man” sword: At first, the shining blade and sound effects appear exactly as you’d expect.
As time goes on, though, the internal circuitry starts to struggle with the amount of power it’s receiving, resulting in a sickly glow and an eerie electronic moan that only serves to terrify small children (regardless of how deep in their closet they try to bury the damned thing).
When the battery finally dies, both it and the sword are left behind, but the “life” of the whole system has gone.
Your mom had a mom, who had a mom, who had Mom, who had a mom, who had a mom…etc… Blows my mind.
And if you are a woman who dies without giving birth to a daughter, you are the person who broke a streak of having daughters in your family going back to the beginning of life.
Any time I start to contemplate what consciousness actually is, I get a headache. It’s just so weird using our Brain to study our Brain.
It’s like googling Google.
Never mind asking what happens to us after we die. What the hell happened to us before we were born? I’m not so concerned about where my consciousness will go afterwards as I am confused about where the fuck it came from in the first place. There was no me ever before in history then one day there just was.
My first conscious memory was when I was about 3. I woke up from my bed went downstairs. There was a woman in the kitchen and I said, “are you my mom” and she said yes sweetie. She then took me to preschool where I seemed to naturally know the names of my toddler friends.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Or why does anything exist at all for us to even question? This one bothers me a lot.
Is everything I perceive just a figment of my imagination?
The point of existing in the first place. It seems like such a pointless waste of resources and energy if we’re all just going to die and the memories of us will be gone at some point anyway. Shit, on the same vein, why is reality itself a thing? And why the hell am I so goddamn driven to secure the perpetuation of my genetic information through the raising of my child if it will eventually fade as well?
If the universe is constantly expanding… What is it expanding in to? And what’s on the very outer edge as it expands? Like, if we could be at the edge right now, could we see past the edge?
Is the way I see a color the same way a different person sees the same color?
Head fucked yet? Good. That was the point. Now to eternally think about eternally unanswerable questions.
To think and to live may just be the purpose of life – but then again, who knows?
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.