Born Alone, Die Alone: What Does This Mean?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Oct 24 19:06:11 UTC 2011

>I'm living like there's no tomorrow....

Does anybody have any *practical* advice on how to do this?



On Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 2:06 PM, Garson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Garson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Born Alone, Die Alone: What Does This Mean?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> [Begin comment by Fred Shapiro]
> I apologize for my cluelessness, but there is a quote by Steven Jobs
> that is getting some publicity and that makes no sense to me.  He
> said, "You're born alone, you're going to die alone."  What does this
> mean?  Many people die alone, but many do not, and it is not clear to
> me that anyone is born alone.  Some babies are given birth by mothers
> in secretive circumstances and the mother dies in childbirth, but this
> is unusual and the baby may quickly die when this happens.
> [End comment by Fred Shapiro]
> Here is one guess for the meaning Jobs was trying to communicate:
> The subjective experience of dying is solitary: Jobs may have thought
> this proposition was true even if one was surrounded by loving
> individuals. Jobs expressed ambivalence and uncertainty about the
> possible existence of an "afterlife". He may have thought that if an
> afterlife existed then one would enter it alone.
> The subjective experience of birth is solitary: It is not clear how
> well developed the neural system is at birth. If it is well developed
> enough that it is possible to speak of a subjective experience then
> emerging through the birth canal would presumably be a solitary
> experience.
> Here are some quickly obtained unverified GB matches:
> 1847, The journey of life by Catherine Sinclair
> [Begin excerpt]
> Since, then, we are not only born alone, but must die alone, why
> should so much of our intermediate time be spent in avoiding to remain
> alone with our own thoughts?
> [End excerpt]
> 1861, Eighty sketches of sermons by Francis Close
> [Begin excerpt]
> We are born alone, must die alone, and must "every one of us give an
> account of himself to God." (Rom. xiv. 12.)
> [End excerpt]
> There is a GB match in 1853 that really seems to be from 1862, and
> some other possible matches in the 1860s. I didn't look in any other
> databases.
> The religious quotations seem to be connected to the belief that the
> moral evaluation of a life will be performed for each individual human
> life.
> In recent times a script writer for the television series Mad Men used
> the expression according to WikiQuote
> Smoke Gets in Your Eyes [1.1]
> Don Draper: The reason you haven't felt it is because it doesn't
> exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.
> You're born alone and you die alone and this world just drops a bunch
> of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never
> forget. >I'm living like there's no tomorrow, because there isn't one.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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