When you get to be my age (70 years, 11 months), you begin to wonder how well or even if you’ll be remembered after the physiology quits working, and you’re no longer around to remind others of your existence. That is a thought that I have intermittently pondered over the past couple of years. My family situation frankly isn’t that reliable. I have one brother and two sisters, none of whom have I heard from in the last 10 years, plus a daughter with whom I might exchange greetings and news twice to three times a year. The only time my wife’s family has any interest in me is when they need a loan, so that’s no solace. The relationships I established with customers over the years was at one time pretty robust, but time and the obsolescence of the systems I worked on and their inevitable replacement tends to result in a slow erasure of those memories as well, more likely for them than me (I have a memory which, while not eidetic, is still pretty long).
While I like to think of myself as a pretty decent writer, I can’t rely on what I’ve put down on the internet to cement any kind of permanent record of myself. I spent four years on the Experience Project before my disgust with their site management caused me to pull my entire contribution and terminate my participation there, not long before the site itself ceased to exist. Atheist Nexus was more long lived, but after 11 years, the plug was unceremoniously pulled there, though I was lucky enough to have most of my input stored locally on my laptop, so at least that wasn’t lost. Atheist Universe has been a great home, but it has no more guaranteed permanence than the other two websites mentioned here, or any other such venue. People talk about the internet being forever, but it really isn’t, at least not in some sometimes-glaring ways.
While there is nothing on this planet that has an ironclad lock on longevity, one thing that can come close is a book, especially a hardback book. Keep your eBooks; all they need is one hiccup in a transistor or two and they become blurred at best and unreadable at worst. I’ll take paper and hard binding every day of the week, and I won’t apologize. My favorite author said it well:
...a book need never die and should not be killed; books were the immortal part of man.
— Robert A. Heinlein, Farnham's Freehold
And now, because of the good offices of our fellow member, Terence Meaden, I and a good couple others of us have had our words relatively immortalized in his book, Q. It’s just possible that, somewhere down the road, someone will pick up a copy, open it, and give some thought to the thoughts I’ve expressed about atheism between 2009 and whenever, or those of Joan Denoo or Terry’s. Maybe they’ll agree with what we’ve said; maybe they won’t. Still, the words are THERE, and words on a page are a robust multi-thousand-year-old tradition, which is why I’m glad to now be invested in it.
And for that, Professor Meaden, I say with all sincerity: thank you.