For a guy who died in 1973, Alan Watts–currently an Upworthy sensation–is pretty savvy about the Internet. Could it be that this philosopher’s Zen-zapped world view somehow anticipated Al Gore’s invention? However he did it, the Watts e-footprint is surprisingly sasquatchian: there is, for instance, both alanwatts.net and alanwatts.com. By way of comparison, SteveJobs.com is a site featuring occasional posts about insurance, cooking and school fundraisers–the late computer guru apparently didn’t register the domain! (A Korean entrepreneur did.) Watts, a precocious English-born intellect who was once an Episcopalian priest, became a celebrity philosopher in the US during the 1960s-70s counterculture moment.
No one lives forever, of course. (The acknowledgement of one’s short earthly tenure is among the principal tenets of Watts’ teachings.) But thanks to the Internet, immortality–especially if you went to the trouble of recording your thoughts for easy digitizing–isn’t as rare as it used to be. And if you talked often about the right way to live–well there is always an audience for that. These days, lots of seekers visit upworthy.com, where among other heartening and instructive demonstrations, the ghost of Watts intones lapidary advice about spiritual fulfillment to far more people than ever heard his radio broadcasts out of Pacifica, CA. Recently it’s hard to avoid encountering a social media link to a Watts video on “Something Every Teacher Should Watch. And Student. And Person.” or “Why Living Solely For Money is a Crazy, Terrible Idea.” The lectures strike a chord in tough times, which is when actionable self-directed philosophy finds a lot of open doors. Even Watts’ strong Internet presence is less surprising when you consider the pervasive influence of Zen and the Esalen-type countercultural markers on the famed Silicon Valley ethos. Watts himself introduced any number of tuner-inners to Norbert Weiner, the great mathematician and philosopher who coined “cybernetics.” Watts’ son, Mark, burnishes the legacy. He does an excellent job. He clicked all the boxes, at least, when it came time to register the appropriate domain names, even nabbing alanwatts.org. It’s just too rich not to hope he secured the domains at GoDaddy.com.