The Egg
September 1, 2019 9:10 PM   Subscribe

 
This was very gentle and sweet with a beautiful aesthetic and a smooth execution (eggsecution??), thanks for sharing it.

Back when I was around ten and having a religious crisis I hit upon this idea. Something about reincarnation is really comforting, and I especially liked the idea of nonlinear reincarnation. I definitely mused to myself small self about how often people with the same souls had probably interacted with each other all the time. I brought this up at the dinner table with my dad (who was indulgent in a paternal Jewish sort of way) and he asked me what I thought the purpose of reincarnation would be, if I didn't think it was punishment or reward for past lives and they couldn't recognize one another or anything. Evidently (according to future recounts by my parents) I responded with all the great confidence of a precocious ten year old inventing her own cosmology, "life has no purpose, Dad."

This video is much nicer.
posted by Mizu at 9:36 PM on September 1, 2019 [4 favorites]


My own 10 year old really liked it.
posted by k8t at 9:37 PM on September 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


I remember that I first read this on 4chan while I was a little shithead in high school. It was kind of a viral copypasta/short story sort of thing that I always really liked, in the same vein as Cuil Theory or Today You, Tomorrow Me. It's interesting to realize that it's been about a decade now. I'm glad that so many more people are making their acquaintance with The Egg for the first time.
posted by weewooweewoo at 9:54 PM on September 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


My own 10 year old really liked it.

This might be a good suggestion for tonight's AskMe about SF for a very particular set of students in Japan--and/or folks who liked this might have further ideas.
posted by Wobbuffet at 10:00 PM on September 1, 2019


I read this short story ages ago, and had no idea it was by Andy Weir. It's stuck with me. Thanks!
posted by zardoz at 10:22 PM on September 1, 2019


Words fail me.

So much loathing.
posted by flabdablet at 10:24 PM on September 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


My son (6 years old) loves the videos this channel puts out. He's recently started showing me little references and Easter eggs he finds in them, like the Homer Simpson in the one about nuclear power.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:12 AM on September 2, 2019


If you're going to pop in to shit on it, flabdablet, at least be less enigmatic.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:41 AM on September 2, 2019 [12 favorites]


Why do you loathe it, flabdablet? Is it because you don't believe in reincarnation or religion in general, or something is it else?
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 8:08 AM on September 2, 2019


Gotta say if words are failing you maybe commenting anyway is not the right thing to do.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:53 AM on September 2, 2019 [8 favorites]


Because the impulse to tie reality up in a tidy little personal-reproduction-centric conceptual bow strikes me as grossly, offensively point-missing to the point of being fundamentally disrespectful.

Because I have an exceedingly strong aversion to being patronized by other people's Gods. Fuck hierarchy.

Because as eggs go, this one is just so insufferably beige.

Sorry. Normally I don't indulge in Your Favourite Band Sucks, but this one pushed a bunch of Oh FFS buttons I didn't know I still had sticking out.
posted by flabdablet at 9:40 AM on September 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'm interested in your thoughts, flabdablet.

It read a bit anthrocentric to me. But I've been heavily influenced by Daniel Quinn's work.
posted by captain afab at 11:56 AM on September 2, 2019


Close your eyes. Count to one. That's how long forever feels.

That hit me so strongly I decided to send money their way.
posted by flamewise at 1:23 PM on September 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's a nice little story, for sure. But if it was me the narrator was talking to, I'd ask, "But wait, what counts as a human? What about pre-human? Post-human? What about primates, and mammals, and plants? Do they get reincarnated? What's so special about modern homo sapiens that only we get this treatment?"
posted by Acey at 1:29 PM on September 2, 2019


Whatever poor soul got reincarnated into me: So sorry, I imagine you expected more sex and fewer M&Ms, eh? On the flip, you could have brought some initiative with you.
posted by maxwelton at 3:13 PM on September 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


I never understood the acclaim for this story, either. There's the bland flatness of style characteristic of Weir's work, which doesn't help matters. The fact that it's basically an exposition dump with no room for suspense or interpretation, which undercuts its power as a story. But the biggest flaw IMHO is that the big reveal not only rings hollow -- if this same "you" has radically different personalities and no shared memory, what does it even mean to call them the same? -- but it feels offensive to suggest that, say, a cruel abuser and their victim (or Hitler and Holocaust victims) are actually the same people, with the implication that empathy should run both ways. At a stretch, you could call it a metaphor for our shared humanity, but it's just so trite and clumsily delivered. I don't hate it, exactly, but I am baffled when people talk about it like it's one of the most deeply significant things they've ever read.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:43 PM on September 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I think I'm with flabdablet on this one. It's a cozy little hug of a story that tells you that:

(1) You're the most important being in the world, because really, you're the only being in the world;
(2) Everything else in the world exists solely for your benefit;
(3) All of the crappy thing you have ever done or will ever do are just part of you education;
(4) All of the crappy things you have ever done or will ever do, you actually did/will do to yourself, so there are no real victims; and
(5) You will never truly die, and in fact, you are destined to become a god.

The more I think about this, the more poisonous I find it.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:29 PM on September 2, 2019 [8 favorites]


Just making a fairly neutral observation, but I think the story concept is a common trope, presumably arrived at independently but probably most similar to the quotes there from The Alchemist. I wouldn't call that a defense of the idea. At the same time, it's close enough to, say, Neoplatonist world soul + reincarnation combos for Acey's comments about where the story could have gone instead to be partially anticipated in figures like Giordano Bruno ("Even the thinkable smallest has in the universe the highest destiny," etc.). So I don't know that the implications are much worse than that either--Weir doesn't really give a lot to go on, and it's probably as easy to read it as a tiny allegory about unfairness, free will, posthumanism, or, like, whatever rather than a system of metaphysics, because it's too brief a statement.
posted by Wobbuffet at 7:05 PM on September 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also FWIW, the story (just the text, not a video like this) was posted and nixed here back in 2011 after catching much of the same criticisms.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:29 PM on September 2, 2019


>(1) You're the most important being in the world, because really, you're the only being in the world;

Each of us experiences consciousness only alone. We only believe that other people are conscious. The idea that all other people are us is actually a powerful way to develop empathy. To put other people's consciousness on the same level as ours.

(2) Everything else in the world exists solely for your benefit;

Except, of course, if you consume something in the world you take it away from yourself, and if you poison the environment you're putting your future self in huge danger, even though your present self may never experience the problem. Imagine how you'd operate in a world where you truly know you will experience the eternal repercussions of your actions. Would you really use all that plastic?

(3) All of the crappy thing you have ever done or will ever do are just part of you education;

Except, of course, for the crappy things that destroy the environment which are now a form of self-harm. Other things... yeah, I guess if you think of them as part of your education, you can tap into the radical power of forgiveness. Or maybe you believe people deserve punishment and should wallow in their mistakes instead?

(4) All of the crappy things you have ever done or will ever do, you actually did/will do to yourself, so there are no real victims; and

Except that self-harm fucking sucks. Harming others is now self-harm. Cool.

(5) You will never truly die, and in fact, you are destined to become a god.

So basically it's on the same level as every religion in the world that proposes an afterlife through salvation.

My argument is basically that most people would do a lot more harm to others and to the world if they truly believed that their life was explicitly time-limited and that other people were entirely "other". A powerful nihilism would free you from being pleasant and just in like 99% of cases.
posted by sixohsix at 11:14 PM on September 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


My argument is basically that most people would do a lot more harm to others and to the world if they truly believed that their life was explicitly time-limited and that other people were entirely "other".

That ... kind of horrifies me. Most people, in your view, are so self-centered that they'll only act for the common good if they expressly believe that others are extensions or iterations of themselves? I don't dispute it because I don't live in any skin but my own, but...damn. That is unspeakably depressing.


yeah, I guess if you think of them as part of your education, you can tap into the radical power of forgiveness. Or maybe you believe people deserve punishment and should wallow in their mistakes instead

IME, it's bad practice to get into extended debates on the internet with folks who want to tell me what me words mean (i.e., or perhaps you believe...) but just to be clear: I don't believe in "wallowing," As you put it. I believe in conscious, clear-eyed accountability. That requires (among other things) recognizing the full humanity and independent agency of the individual who has been wronged, and acknowledging their unqualified right to chose when, and whether, to forgive.

I confess that I have no idea what 'the radical power of forgiveness' is.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 11:44 PM on September 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


My own 10 year old really liked it.

This does look a bit like something from I'm 14 And This Is Deep, only with more professional execution. The music was rather nice, though.
posted by acb at 3:04 AM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


Except that self-harm fucking sucks. Harming others is now self-harm. Cool.

This reminds me of a quote from the Illuminatus! Trilogy.

If all are one, does that mean all violence is masochism?
If all are one, all sex is masturbation. Let's have no more mehum metaphysics.
posted by acb at 3:13 AM on September 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


My argument is basically that most people would do a lot more harm to others and to the world if they truly believed that their life was explicitly time-limited and that other people were entirely "other". A powerful nihilism would free you from being pleasant and just in like 99% of cases.

I'm totally with palmcorder_yajna in finding this point of view distressing; and for me, the most distressing part involves a keen awareness of just how many people seem to base their entire moral framework on it.

JESUS IS COMING
LOOK BUSY

For what it's worth, I am myself a person who truly believes that our lives are explicitly time-limited and that other people are entirely "other", and the idea that these beliefs must necessarily reduce the value I put on kindness or gentleness or justice is utterly alien to my own way of thinking.

A principle I've tried to inculcate in my own kids is that we don't do the right thing to get praise and/or avoid blame; we do the right thing because it works better. And the reason it works better is not that we're all the same person, but that we're all in the same boat.

Life is not a Prisoner's Dilemma. Life is an iterated Prisoner's Dilemma.

It's a strange game. The only winning move is not to cheat.
posted by flabdablet at 4:55 AM on September 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


Exactly, flabdablet.

I don't know why I treat others like I do. I don't think anyone is keeping score, and I don't believe in multiple lifetimes. I just don't want other people to suffer. Period. Because of me, or because of anyone.

If it was all me, I might even be more ok with it. I already strategically suffer things in order to survive. If I could rob somebody else to solve a problem in my life, and I thought that the only real consequence was that I'd just have to deal with getting robbed by myself at some point, I could easily calculate that it was a morally neutral option.
posted by captain afab at 11:44 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


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