(Not to be confused with morality :-p)
The standard process by which one may attain a certain measure of immortality (in a metaphorical sense) is through procreation - passing on one's genes. But while I'm not interested in procreation, for a number of reasons, I am nonetheless not immune to the very human desire for some part of me to outlast my limited time as a conscious being on this plane of existence. The next alternative is to create some great work that will be passed down through the ages, and talked about for generations to come. People like Shakespeare, Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Socrates - these are people who are still remembered because, during their lives, they contributed to human culture and understanding in profound and lasting ways. Granted, geniuses of this level are few and far between, and the chances of me attaining that kind of status are much slimmer than the chance that one of my sperm might fertilize an ovum (given the opportunity). I'm ambitious, but I'm not delusional.
Then again, the cult of celebrity seems (at least) to be growing in modern civilization, particularly with the advent of more convenient recording technologies, and diversified forms of entertainment. Art moguls, movie directors, authors, innovators, philanthropists - these are people who have made a name for themselves by their contributions to modern society (such as they are). And it seems as though there are more famous people now than ever before. Of course, it could be because they're all still recent, and we haven't had a chance to forget them yet. Nobody can say how many of them will be remembered far into the future, and it could be said that when everybody's famous, no one is famous, because fewer of them will stand out. But, at least on a localized scale, it seems as if anyone can attain a little bit of fame these days, especially through viral marketing.
What I want, though, isn't so much fame, as respect. I want to contribute something worthwhile to our culture. Not through celebrity endorsement, but conceptual innovation. I'd love to do that through art, even though I don't consider myself on the level of a world class artist. But even though I'm not the best, if my voice is unique enough, and if I can fill an important niche that nobody else is filling, or be some kind of visionary pioneer of a new and valuable way of thinking, demonstrated or communicated through my art - well, maybe I could be remembered for that someday.
I think about my artistic instinct. From the beginning of this journey, I've been inspired by the profound impact that beauty has on me. In my personal experience, nothing in life is quite like it. It stops me in my tracks. (And sometimes, in this erotophobic society, I have to hide my reaction to it - like John Preston in Equilibrium - which causes the anguish that informs much of my more scathing rants). It's a difficult thing to communicate, as it is so intensely personal, but all I want to do through my art is make other people feel that feeling that is so familiar to me - when you see a body, a person, that is so exquisite that you have to catch your breath. I want the rest of the world to know what that's like. (So they will understand how cruel it is to force others to suppress that feeling, until it morphs into self-loathing). I know that beauty is subjective, and there are countless artists already out there pursuing this muse, but in spite of that, I feel like I must have an outlet through which my own personal voice can be heard - to contribute my own personal understanding of what's beautiful, especially where that deviates from the mainstream.
Will it last? Will this expression of my voice and my vision endure the test of time? I obviously can't say. It wouldn't stop me if the answer were no, but I still hold out hope that maybe - even if I haven't hit on it yet, then someday - I might tap in to something universal. Something that isn't necessarily tied down to a certain place or a certain time, that doesn't require a highly specialized set of interests to appreciate. I know there are probably few people (relative to the human population) that appreciate eroticized portraits of feminized males (although I'd hope that my sex-positive, gender-bending approach could be appreciated from a more generalized, progressive viewpoint as it challenges conservative social standards, and not just as porn), but I am a human being with a body. And we all have bodies. And bodies - especially the beautiful ones, by whatever standards you're using - have been admired since time immemorial. Michelangelo's David is just a sculpture of a body, but we still admire it today.
Then again, there's a cynical voice in the back of my head that whispers to me about the transience of life, amidst the vast, lonely emptiness of space and time that constitutes our universe. Even if I could accomplish the impossible task of creating a work of art that every human being that will ever live would appreciate, it's not unreasonable to assume that some day mankind will become extinct. And even if there are (or will be) other intelligent life forms out there somewhere in the interstellar expanses, and even if they were to cross our path against all odds, like two goldfish in the deep blue sea, who's to say that they would be capable of appreciating any of what humans have created?
We send signals out into space, arrogantly assuming that alien races will be able to understand our symphonies, much less appreciate them. What if they don't hear sound the way we hear it? What if their eyes don't pick up the same frequencies of light that ours do? What if they don't even have eyes? Their bodies will almost certainly be different than ours (in spite of what Star Trek's limited fx budget insists), so even the most profound nude portrait of a human will be rendered meaningless to them - as meaningless as alien porn would be to us. There's a reason animals can walk around us naked without anybody throwing a fuss, and that hardcore photos of snails having sex don't require a mature filter on Flickr.
Furthermore, that alien race, too, will eventually die out. Like the great works of Ozymandias, all that will be left of life in the universe will be a great ruin, but with nobody left to remember what it once stood for. And in time, the universe, too, will collapse. If, by chance, a new universe emerges in its place, and, by astronomical odds, new life forms develop, there will be no evidence that we had ever existed - not even a footprint - and no way for us to communicate with them. And all our mortal toils will have definitively been for naught. Why, then, should any of us continue?
I'll tell you. Because we exist. Maybe just for a little while. But right now, you and I - we exist. And we can feel. We can feel joy, and we can feel sorrow. We cannot escape the sadness that will hound us and haunt us throughout our lives, but we can try our best to offset it with as much happiness as we can grab a hold of. And whatever foolish trick it was that evolution played on us to make us delight in the pleasures of the flesh, well, I derive a great joy from appreciating the aesthetic sensibilities of the human form. And I'm going to revel in that. I'm going to celebrate the things in life that make us feel good, and share that with anyone who cares to join me. Because pretty soon, we all have to give it up, and return to the eternal night of non-existence. But it doesn't have to be today. And in the meantime, I'm going to have some fun. While I still can.