Reference Section

Without a reference, can something exist?

In certain forms of computer programming for example, once the references to an object are removed, the object is cleaned-up by the garbage collector — it’s gone and the memory is free to hold new objects. Because space in memory is finite, things have to be kept tidy or else the garbage piles up.

In programming, references are simply variable names — but in the physical world, references are not only names but visual references and thoughts and ideas and stories.

For example, my pencil exists because I can see it. If I put that pencil in a box and bury it underground, does my pencil cease to exist? As long as I remember that I buried it and where, the pencil will continue to exist because there’s a reference to it. Whereas if I leave no record and happen to forget, then perhaps the pencil ceases to exist.

Think of history: as you go back in time, the narrative degrades substantially. We don’t have a clear record of daily life from a thousand years ago. As we move forward, older things fade away. If we want to know how previous peoples lived, we have to piece it together like a puzzle and even then it’s just a guess.

Another aspect to consider is this: does inquiry itself cause things to come into being? In other words, does the act of observation and examination result in the formation of details that were previously absent? For example, did microscopic organisms come into being at the exact moment microscopes were invented?

If this world is a simulation, why would it bother rendering something unobservable? Not until we look in a particular direction would a scene manifest before our eyes. This line of thinking leads to the following conclusion: if we look for the worst, we’ll find it. Therefore, it would be foolish to create and maintain references to things we find unpleasant.

If references are the mechanism by which an object’s presence is maintained in the world, it would be in our best interest to nurture the references we prefer — the ones that evoke enjoyment. So forget the sad stories, refuse to retell and reinforce them. Memory is maintained through repetition — so repeat only what brings forth delight and know the goodness of life.