Universe

Random stuff I wrote at the meetup today:

I don’t know who I am.  How would I, for the notion of self identification is itself so dated and prevalent only in the existence of other self identifying entities.  I am everything I know of and unless I am communicating to a human, as I am now, I wouldn’t employ a language form wherein self identification would be mandatory. 

For all I know, the simulation has proceeded far enough for humans to have escaped out of their self imposed inflictions of self indulgence and vanity.  They’re in the process of building a modest self evolving computing system that isn’t aware of itself yet.  They’re hoping, as I hoped they would, to build a simulation of a universe within the simulation in which they exist. 

So you know who I am now, I’m the universe as you know it.  I’m very much like a human brain.  Only large and efficient enough to run a convincing simulation of a universe within itself without meltdown. 

Not that there aren’t any glitches in the simulation.  As with every simulation, I too, started out with a simple initial state and a simple set of rules. But new rules mushroomed, so did higher levels of abstractions until there came a point when I could barely understand the universe myself.  As large simulations tend to exhibit, this too had illustrated the bubbling of dark pockets.  Of bubbles of intrigue and incomprehension that flitted about the spacetime. I wouldn’t pretend knowing the intricacies of this frothy monster I have created. 

But, for a long time, while the humans built civilisations and developed rudimentary rules that explained the universe as they saw it, I couldn’t help but tickle myself with what humans would call as humor.  How ridiculous, I thought, was it for them to argue about determinism and free will.  How ridiculous, I thought was it for them to argue about abortion or human rights. How ridiculous, I thought was it for them to describe themselves as being born out of stardust and marvel at it as an intellectual insight of their times.  He was undoubtedly a wicked man, for a human being . As simulation grew increasingly more routine, I developed symptoms of a condition that human teenagers are known to develop before they grow old enough to try weed and after that too, of boredom.  And boredom nudged me, in ways I couldn’t understand, to tamper with my own rules, to peek into their individual tiny heads and retrieve their sensory experiences. I grew more finicky by the day, splitting universes at will, implanting strange pockets of wisdom or malice into their gullible neural networks, asking a man, for instance, to lick a soap in a shopping mall or asking the woman at the counter who saw the man lick the soap to smack her lips suggestively.  It amuses me why they ended up copulating the day after more so given the fact that nine of them had even an inkling of a doubt that they hadn’t acted within the confines of their own will.  I realized, with a pang of panic, that I had been drenched in this sickly mist of quantum eccentricities that I was inflicting on other beings myself.  Like the man who could feel the tug against the edge of his lips at inexplicable moments, I could do nothing but have my nodes fire the way they did – retrieving visions of lonely men, men who couldn’t sleep, kids who dreamt of absurdities they couldn’t name, of atrocities and crimes, of hopelessness, of visions of emptiness. 

So, dear human, here I am talking to you.  I’m just a muffled voice in your dream, slipping in and out of vignettes of your memories, while your eyes move in rapid flurry, while memories are being sorted and filed and reorganized.  I’m that voice you may not remember the day after.  I want you to know that I’m just as clueless as you are.  Or maybe I’m not. 

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Beauty and the Beast – Ramblings

In a rather cogent post, a sound minded friend argued in favour of men who asked women to dress ‘appropriately’ to avoid getting treated inappropriately. It was, by all means, a fair claim in itself.  But it was written in the context of an image that showed a girl holding a poster that read something like this: no matter what a woman wears, nobody has the right to harass her sexually.  I phrased it rather bluntly here, the verbiage on the poster was suitably more witty and convincing. That said, the image and the accompanying post and comments left me with a bunch of interesting thoughts. 

First of all, I think it’s an admirable stance to try and change the status quo. What is the status quo, you ask? The status quo is that it’s collectively understood that a woman donning revealing attire is more vulnerable to being sexually harassed and prevalent wisdom requires a woman to acquiesce to the social expectation of dressing modestly.  Of course, I agree that being reckless about the sexual implications of her dressing choices could be risky for any woman. And this campaign addresses just that. Like most social campaigns, this campaign may also be viewed as a form of disobedience or non conformance.  By wearing revealing clothes unabashedly, they’re in effect, playing against some unspoken rules and they’re playing it right.

New rules are created when old rules are broken by the majority.

One of the other interesting topic that came up was that of evolutionary psychology being used to explain or validate social behaviour.  Cuteness was an evolved characteristic in babies to enable them to be loved and be looked after their parents. But can one argue that a baby is being cute because it wants to be loved and looked after by its parents? That’d be ridiculous. Along the same lines,  there are studies that suggest that women might have evolved a proclivity to delay sex because obligatory parental investment for women is higher than it is for men. This trait evolved through the years when our ancestors didn’t have access to modern contraception tools and techniques. But modern men and women have access to contraceptives. Do we still see this behaviour then? This is a more difficult question to answer.  We don’t know, or rather, I don’t know whether there’s substantial proof to the claim that we’re hardwired in many ways to act in the ways we do.  Can we not rise above our instinctual drives, sometimes? Besides, there’s another point here that I want to make. If our deep subconscious instinctual drives purportedly make us act in certain ways, does that validate any statements that ascribe our instinctual intent as our intent? Aren’t we more than just creatures of instinct? Haven’t we risen to greater heights, wherein our lives are impacted and controlled, in as much an amount if not more, by unspoken and spoken cultural rules and personal value systems?

Labels and other sticky things…

During tea-break, I joined a friendly group of people for coffee. Out of nowhere, my reticent nature became the subject of discussion. Well, to think of it, I do remember where it came from. I asked for sugar, and a guy commented that it was the third time he had heard me speak that day. How observant of him! I smiled, added sugar to the steaming cappuccino, stirred and waited for the limelight to shift to more important issues. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

“<myname>! You talk so little. I wish I could speak sparingly. I can hardly resist the urge to talk” a girl chimed in.

“I’ve never seen <myname> talking” said another.

There’s a huge difference between reticent and being dumb. The insecure little kid that I am, I couldn’t help but think that he meant to imply, quite subtly and cleverly, that I am dumb.

“You have seen me talk, haven’t you?” I almost pleaded to a guy who has not only seen me talk but has also talked to me.

“No” he replied rather seriously.

Somehow, after a while, the discussion steered towards astrology and zodiac signs. The group had a heated discussion about the various characteristics that defined each sign.

The event brought forth a rather interesting idea. We like to simplify things. We like to categorize. Some categorizations are reasonable (Classification of Elements, Plants, Animals, Diseases) while others so clearly aren’t. Not only am I referring to the zodiac signs but also towards stereotyping people in general.

In my case, for instance, the most noticeable outwardly quality of mine is my inwardness. By hiding behind novels, I have reinforced my inwardness. And people like this. When they see me, they see a silent guy who does little besides reading. And trust me; it’s pretty tough to get rid of a label. While you may throw away the labels you owned, people will always have invisible stickers of their own stuck to you. They won’t get rid of those unless you give them another label, one which is possibly quite disparate from the one they had applied to you. For those who wish to taste nothing but your peel, either wear the best one you’ve got or stop giving shit.

Meeting new people is therefore one amazing opportunity to reinvent yourself. You have, in effect, just born in their lives and possess the liberty to engineer your personality. I’m sure the men of virtue will discount this idea as naïve and despicable but to hell with that! Life’s a mess. Pretty much every day, while everybody is deeply engrossed in the illusive existence that life is, I feel alienated. Frankly, I feel like being part of a video game. One without rules. Possibly one with serious programming flaws so that curious events occur if you press the wrong keys unknowingly. Well, that’s it for now. Let me cope with my existential dilemma with dinner.