I didn’t do much last weekend, but I did have some deep thoughts. They were about death. I wanted to talk to someone about them so I texted a friend and said, “I got some deep thoughts with your name on ‘em.” When he didn’t write back, I said “Don’t worry, they’re about death.” When he still didn’t write back, I re-read those texts and realized they sounded kind of weird. I texted him as much but he didn’t write back to that, either. Turns out his phone was out of juice.
I would write about the deep thoughts here, but they would take a while to explain and they’re not really that funny. They’re not really that original, either. Instead, they are just riffs on stuff people have been saying since humans could say stuff, as well as stuff I’ve been thinking about and hearing people say since I was a kid. The only difference between these thoughts about death and the thoughts I was having about death at age 17 is that I understand the world better now and am less impressed by how clever I am for having thought deep thoughts. Less, but not not. I don’t understand why even thinking has to be embarrassing.
As I thought these thoughts, I thought about how easy it was to think them. Then I thought about all the times I’d heard them said before, and wondered how so many people were allowed to use up so many words to say the exact same things about death. When I finally found a friend to talk about my deep thoughts with, I realized three things: a) you need a good segueway to talk about death; b) things that make perfect sense in your head make exponentially less sense out loud; c) figuring out how to say them is 90% of the point of saying them at all.
For example, lots of the stuff I thought about was a variation on stuff I’d read in Being and Time. My edition of Being and Time is 488 pages long. I think you could probably summarize the whole shebang in about 20 pages. The other 468 pages are not that fun to read, but they help you to understand the 20 pages that actually make points and aren’t just Heidegger explaining how he’s going to make his points. That’s a pretty simple reading of Being and Time, so it may not surprise you to learn that I haven’t actually read all 488 pages.
But if Heidegger had just written 20 pages of maxims like, “things are the sum of their parts,” not many readers would understand him the way he wanted to be understood. They’d understand him however they wanted to understand him. Those 468 pages are 468 pages of insistence that you see things Heidegger’s way. I wish Heidegger had seen things in a funnier way, and I also wish he hadn’t been a Nazi, but neither wish changes the fact that he was a lot smarter than I am on matters unrelated to genocide. So it was worth the trouble to read however many pages of Being and Time I read.
When I think about Being and Time, I feel a lot like the way I felt this weekend when I stopped thinking my deep thoughts and decided to get some eggs. I had thought through some points and probably understood the world a little better for having done so, but understanding is a very small part of what you have to do to get through life. Furthermore, every point anyone has ever made has been made 50 prillion times in the history of human civilization, in 50 prillion different ways. I say “prillion” because I don’t know the word for that many. Louis CK has probably made points that Heidegger made in Being and Time. He probably made them through jokes about his kids, which makes sense, because kids have made points that Heidegger made in Being and Time.
My point is that having a point is important, but not that important. The way you get to the point is probably more important. That’s kind of one of the points I had about death, and I think it’s one of the points that Heidegger had about death as well, except that he was a serious German who understood Greek and I am a silly Canadian who watches a lot of Louis CK. Unfortunately I am neither as smart as Heidegger nor as funny as Louis CK, which is why I’m not going into my deep thoughts.