Although I moved to Washington D.C. a year ago, I'm still on the mailing list of ENIGMA, the UCLA Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror/Furry Filking (1) club. Several times a day I recieve email about some zany science-related topic. Last week, among the various bigfoot sightings and satellite launchings there was the following piece: Ashes turned into Diamonds. Basically, it is about turning someone's cremated remains into diamonds. It's no longer very difficult to turn carbon into synthetic diamonds, so they'll take your ashes (wonderfully high in carbon!) and for between four and twenty-two thousand dollars, turn them into a diamond.
Now, this is quite cool, but I was very disgruntled to receive this email, insamuch as I had quite independently come up with the same idea. As a matter of fact, I had the idea the week before, watching a Discovery channel show about diamonds, so obviously I didn't have it "first". But I did come up with it on my own. Thus, I was grumpy to discover that not only had someone else thought of it, but they had done so somewhat earlier and were actually engaged in using the idea I had thought so fresh.
It is a cool idea. Regular readers of this column will recall that I have rather strong opinions about funeral arrangements, so it should come as no surprise that the idea of dead people becoming jewelry should intrigue me. Not for me personally, mind you - I'm gonna be frozen in case the Future might need my tremendous wisdom, knowledge, or the means of turning off the Core Detonator - but as a corpse disposal method in general. A gemstone takes up a lot less space than a coffin, less even than an urn on the mantel does. And mantel urns always lead to zany hijinks, somehow, where great-grandfather Roy winds up in the bread dough or all over the dog or, most commonly, mingling with the ashes of fine North Carolina tobacco. If he's a diamond, the worst that's gonna happen is he gets stolen. And, since engraving microscopic text on the edges of diamonds is now commonplace, even in that case someone in the future will discover that their earrings are the mortal remains of two people they had never heard of, doubtlessly causing them to pause and say "Huh."
"Your relatives are forever" aside, though, as I observed I was quite grumpy to discover that someone else had beaten me to the punch as regards an idea I had independently. So I wanted to air the following random ideas, all of which I've had in the last two weeks, before anyone else can air them first (2). If I can remember the damn things.
Nope, it's no good. The ol' brain has locked up harder than Sing Sing on Cake Day. Which is always the way it goes, isn't it? Come up with an interesting thought, and sure enough your brain will blow it out the exhaust vent as fast as possible. You have maybe a five minute window where you can recall it - if you are not actively thinking about it for any longer than that, forget it. It's gone back into the Idea Ether. Of course, any embarrassing incident, no matter when in life it happened or whether there was ever anything you could do about it, is in your head in perfect detail forever. Memory is a bitch sometimes, isn't it? God only knows why evolution (3) left us with brains that jettison potentially useful new ideas ("Hmm. No-fish water taste bad. Danger?") but remember any agonizing screw-up we ever made, forever. ("Zak, why you miss deer?" "Leaping deer remind Zak of time Zak hit head on cave roof in front of all tribe!")
What I should do is carry around a notepad, upon which to jot down these ideas as they spin in from outer space and get tangled momentarily in my synapses. I mean, that's why we invented writing in the first place. (Actually, the first people to invent writing were accountants, and the oldest writing in any given culture is inventory lists. But let's keep a little romance in our historical souls.) Unfortunately, having a pen and paper in your shirt pocket is the universal symbol for "dweeb", even amongst New Guinea tribesmen who have never seen paper, and this is of course why I haven't done so. I suppose now that PDA's are portable enough to clip on your belt I don't have that excuse anymore. Perhaps I'll change my Luddite ways and get one of the darn things, not to schedule meetings but to fill up with clever but often useless wit.
Hey, here's one I just remembered:
Not bad, eh? Sure, it's not funny enough to induce milk into your sinuses, but it gave you a chuckle. At least I can pretend it did. Perhaps if I executed it better, gave it a toothy smile or something. At any rate, that's what I'm talking about - I just happened to think of it. Were I, say, at the gym, the idea would even now be leaving my mind forever. But because I had Photoshop *right here* I could jot it down and save it for when I am old and all jokes are refreshingly new, every day. Or even every couple of hours.
I bet I'll think of that diamond idea a lot at that point. And it'll be an original idea every time.
- Sun Ra
(1) That last entry is a total lie. The ENIGMAns, like most morally upright humans, fear and mock Furry Filkers. In fact, by virtue of being Genre Media Geeks, the need to draw that all important "loser" line is even stronger, so the loathing of Furry Filkers is particularly strong. Except, of course, for those who have crossed that line and stepped into the furry, sticky world of humanoid squirrel fetishism. But in public even those people toe the party line. Like some sort of pervert fifth-columnists. Maybe we should conduct a purge...
(2) I am an adherent of the philosophy of "referentialism" (4), which embraces the principle that although the world does not actually revolve around me, it revolves around me for all practical purposes, and should be approached accordingly. It is useful for the purposes of understanding things and dealing with other people to accept that they have points of view and that things happen when I am not there. But, since my point of view is the only one that I'm ever going to have, it is infinitely more important than any other point of view. Hence, if I expound a certain idea to someone, the fact that they may have already heard that idea somewhere else is irrelevant. In my world, given that my only goal is credit for thinking of the idea, I got there first. It's like being a teenager, only with better logical justification.
(3) Ironic turn of phrase, eh?.
(4) A philosophy created by me. As far as I know, I'm the only adherent (just yet).
Columns by Sun Ra