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What if he could see this, his own skull, yellow and eroded? Two centuries old. Would he still speak? Would he speak, if he could see it, the grinning, aged skull? What would there be for him to say, to tell the people? What message could he bring? What action would not be futile, when a man could look upon his own aged, yellowed skull?
Philip K. Dick
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Endlessly foremost, the recollection of youth's fount flows deep in the psyche of an aged man. The loss of a first true love is never quite lost, for he sees her in the faces of passing strangers, is haunted in the quiet of his solitude as he waltzes with the 'what ifs' of every passing season. For what reason does an enchanted kiss endure like a cold mist leaving an aged man wintry in summer time?
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Time, we know, is relative. You can travel light years through the stars and back, and if you do it at the speed of light then, when you return, you may have aged mere seconds while your twin brother or sister will have aged twenty, thirty, forty or however many years it is, depending on how far you traveled. This will come to you as a profound shock, particularly if you didn't know you had a twin brother or sister.
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No Self stands alone. Behind it stretches an immense chain of physical and - as a special class within the whole - mental events, to which it belongs as a reacting member and which it carries on. Through the condition at any moment of its somatic, especially its cerebral system, and through education, and tradition, by word, by writing, by monument, by manners, by a way of life, by a newly shaped environment... by so much that a thousand words would not exhaust it, by all that, I say, the Self is not so much linked with what happened to its ancestors, it is not so much the product, and merely the product, of all that, but rather, in the strictest sense of the word, the SAME THING as all that: the strict, direct continuation of it, just as the Self aged fifty is the continuation of the Self aged forty.
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The old oak, utterly transformed, draped in a tent of sappy dark green, basked faintly, undulating in the rays of the evening sun. Of the knotted fingers, the gnarled excrecenses, the aged grief and mistrust- nothing was to be seen. Through the rough, century-old bark, where there were no twigs, leaves had burst out so sappy, so young, that is was hard to believe that the aged creature had borne them. "Yes, that is the same tree, " thought Prince Andrey, and all at once there came upon him an irrational, spring feeling of joy and renewal. All the best moments of his life rose to his memory at once. Austerlitz, with that lofty sky, and the dead, reproachful face of his wife, and Pierre on the ferry, and the girl, thrilled by the beauty of the night, and that night and that moon- it all rushed at once into his mind.
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