Sunday 10 January 1999


Yes, I take acid almost every day. Ascorbic acid, that is, usually known as vitamin C. An antioxidant, it is also used in conserved foodstuffs to conserve them. I also take vitamin E on a daily basis, another antioxidant. It has been theorized that this group of chemicals can protect the body's cells from harmful by-effects of the metabolism, known as "free radicals". (This is not a political statement, but rather described the fact that they tend to carry around sharp edges in the form of dangling OH groups.) It's hard to say how effective the antioxidants are, but I've read that the researchers who work with aging all eat this stuff. Also, it's cheap, it's harmless even if you happen to swallow several times the recommended doses, and it doesn't accumulate in the body.

In addition, I've started to take ginseng extract. Ginseng is a herb that is said to strenghten the immune system, central nervous system and rebuilding of body tissue. It is also traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, meaning that it is supposed to make people more sexually active. I can't attest to this personally. I suspect that people who feel healthier and less tired tend to automatically be more inclined to sex. Unless they just happen to have some really good computer games and a great sound card, in which case there could be film stars going at it on the sofa behind you and you wouldn't notice. (I haven't actually tried the film star thing - any film stars who want to partake in such an experiment can send me an e-mail to the address below.)

Have you ever wondered how you became you? I have wondered how a (hypothetical) clone of me would develop. He would certainly be intelligent, almost certainly shy and with some kind of allergy. But he would not have my parents, my brothers, my teachers (unremarkable though they were, there are many worse and some better), my neighbors and my childhood enemies. How important was it to grow up in the countryside, with miles and miles of wilderness, forest and mountains? Would the same brain, growing up in a city, develop into something entirely different? And the times themselves. I grew up in a time when information was so scarce that I would read almost anything I could find, from the small local newspaper to the dictionary and the Bible.

Today the trickle of information has grown to a flood, a maelstrom. What effect does this have on children growing up today? I'm not sure, not sure at all. But I think the odds are small that anyone grow up to become a philosopher, that is: A person who asks useless questions even when not drunk. Children do this all the time, of course, but then again they are for all practical purposes drunk, too. Racing around, having fun, fighting, crying, sleeping, peeing with all their soul. And asking useless questions. How is it that some of us grow up to be normal, some to be drunk, and some to be philosophers?

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