Cool photo. I do not know who took it (luckily it is licensed under Creative Commons Zero) and I don't know when or where it was taken. Unfortunately, it is true, that over the course of millennia everything in it will no longer exist in its present form. One day these horses, and even the photo itself, will vanish. The film will disappear, all reproductions will have disintegrated, the negatives will have been long destroyed, and the internet will eventually crash forever. With it, this picture will surely die. Some suggest that in the distant future, one billion years from now, even if this image were to hypothetically persist throughout space, the very means by which it could possibly be appreciated, viewership in general, will no longer exist.
So, in the grand scheme of things, why bother taking it? What's the point? It doesn't really matter in the deeper sense, right? In fact, it begs the broader question that if everything is eventually nothing, then what makes this photo worth anything at all?
I do not have the answer, unfortunately, but I think there is room to argue that it even this image may retain at least some degree of eternal value. And the reason has something to do with space, time, and... art. Allow me to explain.
First, it is important to understand that the more pessimistic of us are often dismissed as nihilists, not believing in anything. No higher dimension or reality, essentially rendering all life as we know it as meaningless. What is often overlooked, however, is the distinction between passive nihilism and active nihilism. A passive nihilist is not likely to be the funnest person to be around. To them, life is utterly devoid of any substantial purpose. And the noblest cause we as conscious beings can undertake is to disintegrate into obscurity (i.e. not take any photos whatsoever).
An active nihilist, on the other hand, will likely embrace this meaninglessness as an opportunity. For this group, it is a chance for us all to give our own meaning to existence. Because if everything is nothing, then it only follows that nothing is everything. In other words, without the prospect of emptiness, actual substance cannot occur. Basically, there can be no true meaning without the inevitability of meaninglessness.
But still, why make the effort, especially in the face of such inescapable doom?
Well, one idea is that by living, and aspiring to formulate our own meaning in life, we thereby take ownership of self. This self-realization, although perhaps meaningless to the universe, may at least give us some feeling of purpose. Whereas by succumbing to the vast darkness of eternal nothingness we are never able to attain self-identity, and life would truly be empty.
Another proposal is that because we are all creatures designed to react with nature and experience emotion, it is only by fully embracing our environment and experiencing emotion, rather than attempting autonomy in favor of the void, that we are able to live (at least what appears to us as) a meaningful life. The impression, then, is to choose to live and embrace life, and by doing so, you will have consequently found a meaning in it.
My thoughts: some or all of the above, perhaps, but most importantly, we should strive to find subjective meaning because life (or in this instance the captured image of horses above) is an anomaly. It's unique. It is an awe-inspiring photo in the absence of imagery. In fact, it is precisely by the brevity of our own existence that we experience the purest, most beautiful art form the universe will ever know. To me, a transient reality has "purpose" simply because it is the most exceptional irregularity that space and time will ever forget. Choosing to define our own meaning, in lieu of merely succumbing to the void, is to me the logical decision. It is the very emptiness that nihility provides, ironically, that also bestows significance and "meaning" upon us all.
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