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What is the bane of an old man’s life? That’s obvious. Naturally, it is the body. But what is the bane of an old professor’s life? (No fair peeking ahead!)
Give up? I will tell you.
It’s his archive. Oy, what troubles it has caused me during this time of waiting for the end to come. Rumor has it that I will perish, but meanwhile I have been consumed with the effort to make sure that my archive survives my death. It’s paper immortality I am going for.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is an archive? In my case, it’s all the professional crap I had accumulated during my forty or so years as a professor and author that I had felt worth preserving in hopes that one day an enterprising biographer would find his or her delight in trawling through it. (If there are any takers out there, get in touch. I’m taking applications.) The contents of my particular archive consist mainly of records of my research, interview tapes with near-death experiencers, reprints of articles I’ve written, original copies of some of my books on NDEs, lecture and workshop notes, files of all the professional presentations I’ve given, professional correspondence, and tons of letters I’ve received from people of all sorts, mostly describing various kinds of unusual experiences they have had. In short, the paper...