Thu, 04 Mar 2004



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I wish I wouldn't be so heavy handed, melodramatic, and dead-serious philosophical about all this, but, well, one problem at a time, I suppose….

Having refuted the American Dream in a very oblique manner (I haven't even touched upon the whole imperialism, tyranny, and exploitation angle), I find it hard to center myself. If I must employ clichés, then I would say that since I've deliberately taken myself out of the mainstream of popular culture, without the current to push me, as polluted as the river is, it's hard to decide upon a direction.

This is me realizing that the reason why people cling to ridiculous notions such as the American Dream and Manifest Destiny and predestination and other religions is because it gives them purpose, however misguided at times.

Holy Christ, I'm starting to sound like Agent Smith.

But, as you well know, appearances can be deceiving, which brings me back to the reason why we're here. We're not here because we're free. We're here because we're not free. There is no escaping reason; no denying purpose. Because as we both know, without purpose, we would not exist.

Needless to say, such an idea is appalling to me. I don't know why that is so.

I don't know why I've decided that the universe has no innate structure other than the rules that define physics, a set of arbitrary, evolving interaction of variables which do not need nor care about human beings or free will.

This is my current religion, if you will.

I don't know why I have chosen to believe that we are all the products of Chance. Or more precisely, the bizarre, emergent interaction of Chance and Purpose, of the capricious unpredictability of all the particles in the universe versus our human desire to order everything into neat little packages.

In my religion, Heisenberg is its Prophet, Godel is he who engraved the truth in stone.

I have chosen to interpret Godel's Law in an extreme form, applying it well outside the realm of mathematics (but is there such a thing outside of mathematics, given the (relatively) fixed rules of physics, which are essentially all mathematics?) I believe that it is impossible for one human mind to truly comprehend why the universe is. There is nothing within the system of physical laws that will tell you why. Perhaps it can tell you how, that is, how life came to be, but we don't even really know that. We only have conjecture.

Godel again: and no matter how complete you make your system of rules, there will always be behavior that cannot be explained in term of the rules.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting Godel completely, but this is how I read it.

Coupled with the physical fact that we can't know a particle's position if we know its velocity, and vice-versa, and you might see how I've come to doubt everything.

Or, more subtly, I've come to realize that everything I perceive is the arbitrary result of the interactions of a near-infinite set of variables.

To give an example, there is no reason why the wavelength of 550 nm should represent the color green. This fact is arbitrary (although, probably the emergent result of the variables defining photons, and how photons knock electrons out of their orbits, and how the excitation of electrons can cause proteins to change shape, and how this shape change eventually causes an action potential—or more accurately, attenuates an action potential, and how this action potential gets summated and translated by a complex cluster of neurons—which also came into existence due to the myriad interactions of various proteins with other proteins, which is also governed by the exchange of electrons.)

I am a classic case of someone who has been overeducated.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And yet, the more I know, the more I realize how little I know.

In any case, you can see how I look upon those who think they have the world figured out with derision. If we don't even understand entirely how our senses work the way they do, or why we only see a particular spectrum of light, then how can we even be so certain about ethical dilemmas, about morals?

How do you know that that voice in your head is really God? How do you know it's not Satan? How would you know the difference?

In other words: I hate fundamentalists.

Elitist as it sounds, I've come to adopt the stance that conservatives essentially have limited mental capacity. They are unable to perceive the fuzzy electron cloud of multiple quantum states that surround every issue. Like computers, they can only function in binary: good or bad, black or white, war or peace. There is no subtlety in this.

But any sane person knows that you can't describe the world in binary terms (no matter how much computer scientists wish they could.)

But I am wandering far afield.

In any case, now that I've started down that path less traveled, with the wavering intent of eschewing the possibility of traveling down the "standard" route, the final common pathway of finding someone to marry and having kids with her, get a good job, and then die, I find it difficult to look too far ahead to the future.

This is the all-or-nothing control freak in me. (Again, the limiting desire to keep everything in binary states.) If I think that something is unattainable for me, then I make myself believe that I can never have it. And good riddance.

In other words, I suppose I give up too easily.

Which might sound funny to those anyone who doesn't know me that well, but knows what I have accomplished thus far.

Not to brag or anything.

So essentially, I am trying to find my way out of this nihilist trap without sacrificing the delicate and arbitrary weltanschaung I have constructed in my mind. (If I would ever give it a name, I would steal a phrase from N and call it "organized chaos." Or perhaps "chaotic organization." I don't know.)

Anyway, I find the Tao very compatible with my current beliefs. There is no one right way, because all paths are the Way, whatever you are doing, whether it is taking care of children, protecting the innocent, or their cardinal opposites. I suppose that each person has an inscrutable purpose that makes little sense to anyone who wants to dissect it out and reify it.

I suppose that, instead of trying to figure things out, I should just let things be. While I should stay out of the flow of raw sewage known as consumer capitalism, I still need to use the current to propel myself somehow.

Whatever will be, will be, and especially at this stage of the game, my destiny is currently out of my hands.

I am reminded out what Candide (from the book by Voltaire with the same name) said: "We must tend our garden."

There may be no rhyme or reason to it, but we still must do. As Gandhi put it, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is important that you do it."

Purpose will always remain elusive so long as I decide to forge on down the road that few will take. Like too many things, I suppose I'll just have to make it up as I go along.

There's no turning back now.

22:48:57 4 Mar 2004 > /soul > permalink > 0 comments


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