Destiny lottery

In All-saints 2012 I stated that every human life would deserve a biography, and I even amused myself imagining a “Museum” containing the biographies of all the people that we estimate have existed, around 107.000 million.

I find more appealing the idea of billions of concrete lives rather than an abstract definition of a human being. We may wonder about what kind of life we have, compared with all the others. In his “Anatomy of Melancholy”, Robert Burton asks whether we would share alike the part of the sum of all human miseries, diseases, beggary, imprisonment, or rather take our actual part.

In the myth of Er in the Republic, Plato presents the souls about to choose their next life, reincarnating after death. The order is decided by a lottery. What if our life, among the 107.000 million, were decided by a lottery? I’ve attempted a simple simulation in javascript.

The first draw decides between 8 time lapses, starting 50.000 years ago to the time present. The second draw determines where we are going to be born, which geographical zone. These time-space coordinates establish which civilization we would live in, what kind of social organization it has, what is the situation of women in it. This is what is going to be decided in the next two draws, which social layer we belong to (King or slave?), and our gender.

The model, obviously, is oversimplified. However, it illustrates that in this lottery, the most probable destiny is to be a farmer or a slave in an agricultural society and, if we happen to be a woman, we will suffer an extra submission, based on gender.  As Scheler said in “Man’s Place in Nature”, rare and short are the periods when culture blossoms in the history of mankind. Rare and short is beauty in its delicacy and fragility.

enter the destiny lottery!