time thoughts

I was recently thinking how to relate the way we see time to the fact that it is considered the fourth (or 12th? 13th? if you want to be precise) dimension. Like, if you think about it not as something that passes, but something that simply is in a sort of spatiality. What we perceive as time passing is in fact only our consciousness navigating through it. All things can be seen as 4 dimensional, but what we see of them is a cross-section of the time frame we're in. Everything that ever was still exists - we just don't have access to it anymore. Everything that ever will be already is, but again, we will only get to it later.

Of course in my vision of time (as I may have mentioned it before), it is not linear, but has more than one dimension and only our trajectory through it is linear. And just like in Anathem, the other dimensions consist in the space of possibilities, and of course, some alternative realities are more possible than others. The more possible a reality is, the easier it is to reach it, and the less energy it takes to get there, and the longer you can stay in it.

From there I got to thinking, what differentiates the time dimension of the other ones is the relationship of cause and effect that determines the way forward through it. Then I asked myself if we were to be presented a spatial dimension as linearly as we see time, is there any such relationship that we would find? What laws of physics would we discover or deduce if that was the case. Maybe I'll try to come up with concrete examples.

I guess I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately. Cause and effect.

post-apocalyptic thoughts

All these jokes about the rapture and tornadoes/earthquakes/disasters everywhere had me thinking of the end of the world lately, but maybe even more so the movie Priest that I just saw. As a side note, it was much better than the other similar recent movie with Paul Bettany but still full of cliches and big visible threads in the plot. Still, I enjoyed it.

What I was thinking of regarding this movie is that our culture seems obsessed with post-apocalyptic scenarios lately (or has it always been?) and I wonder why. The first thought was that it's because of fear. On one hand, many deny that global warming is a reality, but I'm sure most of them just don't want to admit it, and we're living with this idea of impending doom over our heads. The other thing is that a very big part of our economy right now is based on oil and that is a limited resource that will eventually run out sooner or later. If we don't find a replacement soon enough, and a sustainable one at that, our way of life will collapse. Everyone knows all this and people who deny it are just lying - to themselves or to others. It seems natural that our fearful minds become obsessed with the object of our fear.

But what I was wondering about today is if all this is maybe - maybe - also motivated by a completely different sentiment. The thing is that any complex biological system, one with a large enough number of components, can only function with a very well defined and very rigid structure. Look at an ant colony. Every ant ever born knows from the start what its whole life will be. The soldiers will never get laid. The queen will never have to lift a finger to feed or defend itself, but will also never stop laying eggs. It's the colony that matters. The same can be said about our own bodies. We are giant colonies of living things, cells, which function together because each of them has a very well defined and rigid function. Of course, there are some possibilities of shifting things around, but they are limited. You can't re-train your appendix to work as a kidney, should you need an extra one. Also, when something vital collapses, the whole thing collapses. Maybe that's also something that feeds our collective fear.

So, what I'm getting at is that with so many people on the planet, the only way society can survive is through a complex, well defined, and rigid system. As such, everyone has a place and a task, but most people are too small to make an impact individually. Two things come from this that weight on us and wear us out: the lack of options about what you can do and how you can do it, and the loss of individual relevance. I'm not arguing that this is right or wrong, only observing.

It's a good question, though, how you can keep giving people the impression of being relevant. In the scientific world, someone like me 100 years ago would have left a mark on history, a theorem with her name, an algorithm to be remembered. I won't say that what I do doesn't matter, but I'm just a little ant bringing a small piece of sand at a time to build a big thing along with thousands of other little ants. I'm not sure the world would miss me if I was gone. I should also say that we're the lucky ones because we get to do something creative and that we like.

What these post-apocalyptic scenarios give us is a world where an individual can still make a difference. When the world falls to pieces, the only thing standing between the last bastion of civilization and complete vampire take-over is these 5 people. Each of us could be one of them and we would matter again.

nature of dreams

I was wondering this morning about something related to the nature of dreams, starting from an interesting dream I had. Well, I'm not going to go into the actual dream, let's say that it was a combination of elements from Supernatural and Fringe and it featured someone's soul in the form of a duck (mine possibly). A rather cute duck at that.

Maybe I'll use a duck as a logo for something.

Anyway, even if I won't actually claim to believe any particular spiritual story, I am inclined to think that when we sleep, our souls leave the body and travel into other planes/worlds/realms, possibly in a shape that is very little material. Those worlds we go into are also most likely less material than the one we live in. I might have mentioned this before, come to think of it. For one thing, I don't buy it that my own subconscious has this much imagination. If it did, I should be a writer and tell great stories about colorful worlds and characters.

The other thing that I noticed lately, and I remember someone else saying the same thing, is that the worse I feel in real life before I fall asleep, the better the dreams seem to be, unless I'm worried about something very specific. I'm wondering what that means in terms of soul travel.

The general conception when you try to do anything extra-sensory is that it requires concentration and putting a lot of energy into it. But maybe what you need to succeed is the opposite. I'm sure that there are barriers between the worlds, whatever worlds we're talking about. It's possible that the less energy you have - and feeling down is a state of low energy, in fact - the easier it is to pass these barriers. Passing from one parallel universe to another seems to be a routine thing at a quantum level, for example.

Another possibility is that the less you are attached to this world, the easier it is to be attracted by other spheres, and that works both if explained as a state of mind or as a state of low energy.

heavy stuff

I've been thinking about abortion lately because I'm seeing the subject discussed everywhere these days. What with the Republicans coming to power, people probably feel that now is the time to bring it up again. It's a subject that I feel very strongly about and Collapse )


I've started to read a new series of comic books - Unwritten by Mike Carey and drawn by Peter Gross. I was introduced to Mike Carey on the Lucifer series which I believe was his starting point, or maybe the first thing he's written that was successful. Anyway, I was initially skeptical about Lucifer as a Sandman spin-off, especially that I was disappointed before by any other Gaiman spin-off (and after). I was caught up in Lucifer pretty quickly and I'm still looking forward to the next volume, 11 books later. In the beginning, of course, Carey stayed pretty close to Gaiman's style, which was a good way to start, but I felt that he got away from that to some extent as the series continued. Anyway, his name has stayed with me.

With Unwritten, he starts with a famous writer of children books in the style of Harry Potter. It's about a wizard boy with dark hair and glasses and an evil count after him, and he points out any chance he gets that the books are based on a lot of cliches of the genre. Harry Potter is only the most obvious reference, but it can also make reference to the Books of Magic started by Gaiman. And many other books. So, this writer has a boy with the same name as the character in his books, and claims that he was the inspiration for the character. As it turns out (this is a spoiler), it's the other way around - the boy was actually created based on the character in the books. Even as the grown-up he is now with his father dead, he has no idea of all this cos he was raised to think of himself as an ordinary person. The whole story is about him finding out his true nature and coming to terms with it and so on. Two volumes so far, and so far so good. Looking forward to more.

I like comics that are not about superheroes and whenever I find a good one I consider it a small victory - because when I was living in a French-speaking country, this kind of comics were very common and I liked them a lot, and everyone read them (you were not a weirdo for reading comics, you were cool) and I miss that very much for not being in that culture anymore. I am slowly warming up to the idea of superheroes - I just don't see why most comics have to be about them.

friends and such

I've been thinking of some of my friends recently, one in particular that I'm not sure what to do about. The thing is that I'm single and he's single and that doesn't mean that we should get involved, but if we socialize just the two of us, the question can linger in our minds. Even if neither of us takes any initiative. But then again, this is not someone I want to get involved with, but it also doesn't mean that I don't enjoy his company. I also think he can use a distraction from time to time like going to see a movie. Friends-based only.

What bothers me is - at least that's how I interpret it - that he seems not to want to date me either, and to be concerned that if he socializes with me I might get the wrong idea about his "intentions". I wouldn't. In some ways I can almost say that I couldn't care less except that I do care about him as a friend. So what I wonder is if I should make things clear, let him know that I have no romantic intentions whatsoever with respect to him, so that he can relax around me, or if that would make things even more awkward. Or if I should just give up on him altogether.

Another thing on my mind is that I've reached the conclusion that being good is too boring. I don't expect anything good to happen to me as a reward for being good in a karmic way. I don't expect any rewards in the afterlife either - that's not how I see things at all about that. I don't recognize the authority of people who might judge me (but I may not be aware that I do care about that in fact), nor of any higher power. I am only good by conviction and I am myself my ultimate judge - and quite a harsh one at that.

But lately I've been thinking that even if I do care about other people and I don't want to hurt or inconvenience anyone (except by giving them homework), I shouldn't always put other people's needs ahead of my own and I should not punish myself just to abide by my sense of non-wrong-doing.

In particular, I've been staying away from someone because for one reason or another I got convinced that it's what he wanted. I do feel rejected very easily, but in this case I think I didn't exactly have a good reason to feel so. But anyway, it's more complicated than that, I was convinced I was doing something right by keeping at a distance. But it got to the point where I am just too sad about it. So I decided to stop punishing myself and talk to him again - in person - and I don't care anymore if he wants it or not or couldn't care less either way. Once in a while I can allow things to be about me and what I want. (yeah and watch me lose all my nerve the next time it comes to it. tremble little lion woman, that's me)

Illinois fun

It must be because by the time I get to Illinois on the way back home from a long trip I am usually bored out of my mind and will pay attention to any distracting detail, but I always find the names of towns in this state more amusing than anywhere else. I always seem to build little stories in my head of how they came up with them.

Like, there was this guy who lived in Kentucky, then moved close to Chicago, but was still sort of nostalgic and wanted to name his town Kentucky. On the way to the town name registry office (let's assume there is one), he stopped at a bar and got into a fight with someone, and by the time he got there he had a couple of missing teeth and a swollen jaw. So he couldn't quite say the name right, and it came out Kankakee.

Well, another one was initially called Buckingham and somehow the B got turned into an F, but this was a town of polite people and they couldn't just say that, could they? So the name was turned into Effingham. This is a town of angry people but who are also very polite.

Then Champaigne, they couldn't decide between Campaign and Champagne, so they made a compromise. The same goes for Bourbonnais - I was told once that the French red wines are of two types, Bourbon, and Beaujolais. In this town they like both equally. Then for another one, half the town thought they should live for the Moment, and the other half thought that this was a new beginning and should be called Commence, so again, by compromise it became Mommence.

Seriously, isn't this a funny state?

karma again

I've been thinking of the concept of karma again and how it's supposed to be a perfectly balanced way for the universe to work: an eye for an eye (makes the whole world blind, right?) But the thing is, the mathematics of it doesn't (or don't?) work out when you look at the big picture.

Let's assume that the universe has a beginning (which everyone but the Raelians agrees on) and think of the first bad thing that anyone has done to someone else. Maybe Cain vs Abel. In that particular instance, both people had a clean slate, and one of them hurts the other one. The one who does the hurting now has a baggage of bad karma to be paid for later. But what about the other one? That one was an innocent that simply got hurt without deserving it.

Moving to a global scale now, when you think of all the human beings living in the world, the sum of bad things being done to to people and bad things happening to people doesn't seem fair either. Superficially it seems like the quantities are equal, but oftentimes a small number of people are hurting a lot of others. Take any recent genocide. Don't tell me all those people killed in whatever disaster you want to name, are all reincarnations of serial killers or who knows what else for them to deserve that fate. So necessarily in many cases, innocents are being hurt. That makes the universe unfair. Yes, of course, those who have done bad things will get their due, but how about the others? They will carry the burden of what they have lived into their next lives and maybe even hurt others in turn. Yes, there are people out there who have a "mean streak" and will hurt others just because they can, but I still believe that most people are mean because they have been hurt themselves or because there is something they are missing. So not only karma is not fair, but it also perpetuates a cycle of hurt.

So my point is that karma is not a good explanation for all the suffering in this world. And most importantly, one has to assume that bad things can happen to anyone at any time without them deserving those bad things. It comes with the territory. It comes with being part of this universe, being able to interact with it and to change things. It's more like a price to pay, but just because something bad happens to you, it doesn't necessarily mean you've been bad. Sometimes it's an educational thing: there is something you are meant to learn from it. Sometimes it's just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Beyonce and Cee-Lo

Well everyone's heard Cee-Lo Green's FU song. I like it, it's catchy, it's funny. But there is still something about it that sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. It's the fact that he still promotes the idea of the gold digger kind of woman while appearing to diss them. He's upset with this girl but she is still an object of intense desire for him and that makes her cool. The unattainable beauty that everyone should strive to get. That's his message to the young boys, make sure you make enough money to get a girl like that when you grow up.

It's particularly painful to remember how a friend of mine back from Switzerland went back to live in Bucharest for a while and he described the situation kind of like this. That you have to have that particular kind of car and make that much money a month, and have that kind of trophy girlfriend, or else you're nobody. His words, not mine. It's sad to see a number of generations grow up in this spirit. Maybe it's good for the country to have skilled business people, and I hope that their grandkids will be comfortable enough about their fortunes to start appreciating other things again.

So what I'd say to Cee-Lo is change your criteria. You could go for the "easy" girls instead for example - they are just as pretty and flashy, but for different reasons. It's because for them flirting is almost an art. They enjoy it for itself and they'll do it with everyone for pleasure. But of course, there is a problem there, as many men would not want to get serious with an easy woman - think of all the other guys she's seen! A catastrophe! Or if not, accept that your companion might be smart and independent and might not need you for anything but the company. I know that's scary - if she doesn't need you, why would she stay with you? Just think of it as a roller-coaster - no hands! Life is short anyway.

In the opposite corner, Beyonce's song Independent Woman. When it came out I was still sort of upset with her for that easy/cheesy I Need a Soldier song (whatever it's called) and at that time I took IW to be an "I don't need a man" song. I resented that, especially since I was living with one at that time and I didn't feel like asserting myself with respect to him. I didn't need to either, he was not that kind of guy. It seemed obvious to me that the clothes I wear I paid for myself, I didn't need to rub that in anyone's face. Now years later and alone, I can relate to it better. It's funny how your feelings about something can change so much with a few years in between and some experience.

Ok, so that's my little rant for tonight.