Anyone who wants to make themselves immortal makes themselves ridiculous

Vladimir Putin is afraid. Not from going down in history as the greatest villain of the century – that doesn’t seem to bother him much – but from not to go down in history. Just to die like a plant.

Fame is fleeting

Fame is far more fleeting than proud Vladimir imagines. 10 minutes ago I walked through Sepp-Ebinger-Gasse here in Lucerne. With all due respect: Sepp Ebinger is as well known today among people who still have their own teeth as Kimberly Loaiza is among those taking dental supplements.

Every era has its heroes, but they are not nearly as important as we think. For example, I adore the philosopher Susan Sontag. But how much would I really miss if she never existed? Then I would listen to Susan Tedeschi in my free time, she’s good too.

No request concert

Anyone who wants to make themselves immortal makes themselves ridiculous. But before we mock Putin, we have to admit that we often make the same mistake in reasoning. We all want to leave something behind: a child, a book, a nice black money account. Of course, in order to create something lasting, for example a well-kept allotment garden, you don’t have to plow through entire cities with tens of thousands of innocent people. Gardening is clearly more likeable than warmongering. But the misconception remains.

In fact, there are three misconceptions. Firstly, immortalizing yourself is technically difficult. “All desire wants eternity,” sang Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, but: “Life is not a request concert,” pop singer Leonard replied. Even those who believe in a Jewish, Christian or Muslim heaven without population limits, or, like the Hindus and Buddhists, in rebirth as a tiger, elephant cow or earthworm, will be at the end of their wisdom in five billion years at the latest: That is when the sun will go out, and then there is definitely peace in the box. The box, if someone picks it up, goes to the galactic collection point and there is hardly any sorting by performance record.

The Theory of the Great Men

But well, that’s still a while away. Therefore, secondly: Who should enjoy our posthumous fame? Not us ourselves, because we are no longer there – or at most still as earthworms, with limited understanding of the merits of earlier forms of existence of itself. Our children probably not either: At best, they will stand in our shadow for a while and get upset about it. Posterity as a whole? Get along without us. Even then, only the self-proclaimed believed in the “Theory of the Great Men” popular in the 19th century. Whether invented by Edison or anyone else, the lightbulb doesn’t care.

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Even one of the greatest ambitions of the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway, must have suspected that eternal fame would never come to pass. In his final years, he settled for rum instead, eventually shooting himself with the double barrel. That’s the third point: celebrity and wealth don’t make life any better – not even as long as we still have it.

Money makes you unhappy

I recently saw a study from the British Medical Journal. It shows that particularly rich people commit suicide particularly often. Each of them only once, of course. But it is clear where the study is headed: Money in large quantities actually makes people unhappy. The fact that you can buy a 1st class ticket at Exit instead of a rope at Landi is probably small consolation.

By the way, I just looked up who this Sepp Ebinger was: the “forefather of Guggen music”! It’s good for him that he doesn’t have to live with this heavy guilt forever.