Re: Yehuda Yudkowsky, 1985-2004

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Fri Nov 19 2004 - 19:16:11 MST

I am sorry to hear this. Such a short life.
Nineteen years is a blink, not enough time to
learn much more than the rudiments of life. My
daughter Heidi is a year older than he was.

George Gurdjieff, a very great Russian
philosopher, said the human race needed a new
organ, which he whimsically named the
kundabuffer, and the purpose of this organ would
be to remind us each minute of every day that we
would die, that we had not time to squander.

Eliezer, find and read Edgar Lee Masters' slim
book of poetry Spoon River Anthology. A friend
gave me a copy with the inscription "What do you
know of loss, that makes you different from other
men?" I was in a very low place, and that book
gave me perspective (and it is the least boring
book of poetry ever written, I think).

My parents and grandparents are all gone. Almost
all the optimism I once had for the human race is
gone. I have told my daughter that I am likely to
die a political prisoner. At present, I see only
one bright spot on the horizon. It is your work
and that of the others in this community (I am
only a kibitzer).

re: Your statement "What would it be like to be a
rational atheist in the fifteenth century, and
know beyond all hope of rescue that everyone you
loved would be annihilated, one after another,
unless you yourself died first? That is still
the fate of humans today; the ongoing horror has
not changed, for all that we have hope."
In a commencement speech of last year, Lewis
Lapham mentioned a "French noblewoman, a duchess
in her 80s, who, on seeing the first ascent of
Montgolfier's balloon from the palace of the
Tuilleries in 1783, fell back upon the cushions
of her carriage and wept. "Oh yes," she said,
"Now it's certain. One day they'll learn how to
keep people alive forever, but I shall already be

It is not only our selves who die when our bodies
die, but even the selves we might have been who
die when we reject choices, as we must, every
day. Believe me, this is something I know about.
I admire you tremendously for not wasting your
life on trivial things, as so many others seem
happy to do. With Death on the other side of the
chessboard, I am glad you are on our side.

Tom Buckner

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