The Analogy Between Papers and Souls

You’ve got to get rid of all those papers,” Baggy told me one evening while we were sitting down for dinner.

What papers?” I asked him.

Those papers which you have accumulated for the last twelve years,” he replied. He was referring to the piles of papers I’ve kept all these years, and are still awaiting Judgement Day in the boxes which we had used when we moved out of our old place.

“Oh, that.” I sighed. I’m an avid collector of memorabilia and other mundane stuffs. And that includes anything and everything. I love to go over old stashes of papers and reminisce the events associated with each one. Like that brochure we got from the hotel when we stayed in Narita, or Singapore, or wherever. Or the handouts I got from my first six months of Japanese intensive course in Tohoku U, complete with my doodles and notes. You get the picture.

But this is Japan – where space is precious, and we don’t have the luxury of spacious storage space in our house. We have to take the “minimalist” approach: retain only what is essential, trash the inessentials.

But for the life of me I couldn’t part with those itsy-bitsy pieces of my past. If it were up to me I’d collect them all, and maybe someday when I’m famous I could make money out of them. Or even if I’m dead but famous, someone would put everything in a museum and make money out of people who come to visit. Hey look, this is the piece of tissue paper where she wrote her famous equation. 😉

Now there’s the teeny-weeny problem of space. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could just have a digital file of each of those papers? That way, I can get rid of the original paper, but would still be able to see it if I want to. Maybe even print out a hardcopy. Digitize everything, and get rid of the clutter. Forever. Bingo!

Anyway, this got me thinking. Thirty years ago or so, nobody has ever heard of a “digital” form for anything. There were no digital cameras, no scanners, and definitely no PCs (I’m referring to the ones we now use at home of course, not the dinosaur computers in some obscure labs). There is no PDF form of document to speak of. Everything was on hardcopy. If the original document was destroyed, it was hopelessly irretrievable.

If I were to be time-warped into the past, the people existing in those times would never believe me if I were to tell them that there is a different form for papers and documents, a form that cannot be destroyed by the usual elements (like fire, wind, whatever). They would probably think I’m crazy. No matter how hard I tried to convince them, I would most likely fail unless I show them some kind of evidence. (And of course I couldn’t because time-warping things from the future is forbidden, at least in my story. :)). It would take an enormous leap of faith for them to believe in something that they have never seen before, and which runs counter to their normal thinking and experience. Their context is simply different from the present one. The difference in context is precisely due to the 30-year gap.

I thought this would be a perfect analogy for our physical bodies and well, souls. For skeptics, it is hard to believe that something like a soul could exist. Does it have form? Where does it reside exactly? It is hard to believe that there may exist another form of ourselves that cannot be destroyed by physical death. Like papers, our bodies become brittle with age and will not last forever. Once destroyed, our bodies are irrecoverable. But like digitized copies of papers existing in our PCs, our souls can exist in another dimension. An entirely different dimension that runs counter to our normal thinking and experience. What dimension? A fifth, sixth, or seventh dimension? Who knows? Unless a soul would actually come back and tell us these things, how are we to know for sure? And just because we haven’t seen one yet, how do we know for sure that they do not exist?

I better start scanning before I end up philosophizing too much. 😉

Postscript: I just realized, after posting this entry, that the correct title would have been: The Analogy Between Digital Form of Papers and Souls, or alternatively, The Analogy Between Papers and People. But, who cares. You got the point, didn’t ya? 😛

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10 Responses to The Analogy Between Papers and Souls

  1. Gypsy says:

    I did a little bit of scanning before I came to the UK since I am a paper (and other stuff) hoarder myself and guess what, I gave up, there was too much to scan! So they are still in a box somewhere…Hope you will fare better than me! Cheers!

  2. bing says:

    that is too tiresome – to be scanning everything. :-( i keep papers like in a kanban system. i classify them and determine how many more years a particular set would last til i dispose them – that sort of thing. but definitely they have to be disposed of one day. but there must be some papers that have to be retained for knowledge retention and legal purposes of course.

  3. chiara says:

    nice post. i like the analogy. 😀

  4. kathy says:

    Gypsy: LOL.
    Sure sounds like a feat. But as they say, if there’s a will, there’s a way! :) I’ll do my best, but if I get tired of it, in the box they’ll stay, come what may.

  5. kathy says:

    bing:
    Wow, you seem like a very organized person, unlike me! :) At least I have been able to separate the important ones from the relatively unimportant ones. My problem is basically how to dispose the latter. But perhaps it is unnecessary to scan *everything* – just the ones I want to keep for posterity’s sake, I guess.

  6. kathy says:

    Chiara:
    Thanks for dropping by! :)

  7. bw says:

    I’m in the same predicament as you Kathy. I accumulate lots of documents and gave up on preserving those that have no legal relevance. It’s an annual ritual of purging the house with junk and my wife is notorious with it and she even throws away my clothes she doesn’t like :)

    As for the soul, what do you think of the many worlds universe theory that says we have many versions of ourselves in a multitude of universes that supposedly continues the all possible probabilities of our actions ?

    THe discussion about the existence of the sould is kinda touchy because it does conflict tremendously with faith :)

  8. ligaya says:

    hi kats,
    I am dropping by. It’s always nice to read your blogs. Last month, I met Al Detalla at Manila Domestic Airport. He’s still the same… and not balding 😉 like you… hehhehe. or me… hahahaha..
    Take care and do visit us here in Munich.
    The Schulte’s of Freising

  9. kathy says:

    BW: I’m actually tempted to throw away some of my hubby’s clothes, you know. If I were notorious for keeping papers and docs, he’s the same with his old clothes (all the way back from college, duh!).

    Interesting that you’d bring up the Many-Worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. Truly it’s mind-boggling to think of “parallel universes;” it sounds like something straight out of science fiction books. But for me belief in this “theory” would require almost the same scale of faith as involved in religion. :)

  10. kathy says:

    Ligaya: Howdy! It’s almost hard to believe that it has already been a year since we got together in Berlin! :) We’d love to visit you someday. Great to hear you bumped into Al.

    Hey, you should teach me how to do that turban of yours during your bad hair days! LOL

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