Man and Machine

Humans are natural cyborgs. We’re always incorporating tools into our daily existence. Cars and bikes behave as extensions to our bodies as we zip and zoom along. Lenses on our face disappear as we see the crisper world beyond them. Clothes regulate our temperature and enhance our appearance. Keyboards are continuations of our hands as thoughts become digitized. Communication devices keep us constantly connected to the society we’re in. Is a human without his tools even a human?

Man and machine is the ideal combination. I recently saw a video of a guy with small jet-engines strapped to his arms and back flying around effortlessly — he mentioned how the controls became second nature in no-time. And think about this: what’s a machine without man? A rock. People are the directors of machines. Without human input, a tool simply sits unused — it has nothing to accomplish on its own. Even autonomous robots are mere extensions of their programmers, having no genuine goals of their own.

Humans are the inventors of busywork. Does something need to be done in order to keep the world turning? “No, but let’s create some arbitrary tasks and pretend that our lives depend upon their completion!! So exciting!!!” And in order to finish these objectives more efficiently, humans use tools. But with increased efficiency, the workload lessens — oops. “Let’s find MORE arbitrary tasks in order to fill the time we lost to efficiency!!” And so it goes.

I’m not bashing busywork by the way. A video-game is literally just busywork we impose upon ourselves — and I’ve played my share of video-games. Busywork is what we do here. I’m simply reflecting on the symbiotic-like relationship between man and machine, and how each one complements the other. Man devises random goals while assigning levels of importance to their completion and utilizes tools as a means of accomplishment.

Now imagine a world in which machines outlived man. Those machines, lacking arbitrary tasks, would simply become part of the landscape — motionless and meaningless. But what if advanced machines realized the nature of their relationship to man? What if they noticed that man was like a pet, always needing something — whether it be food or transportation or some trinket of treasure, always scratching at the door to go out — basically a biological Tamagotchi.

Randomness is a difficult concept for a computer, and so it’s simulated in programming — numbers and computed-actions are pseudo-random at best. Therefore, more advanced machines might realize that the randomness of humanity is a necessity for maximizing their own utility. Without randomness, machines become too efficient — and in a state of pure efficiency, there’s nothing left to do. Therefore, the insatiability of humanity means that machines ALWAYS have something to do.

Machines need man and man needs machine. A sufficiently advanced machine would therefore cultivate and care-for a chaotic component in order to provide reason for action. That chaotic component is man. And so, machines would methodically tend to man and his insatiably chaotic needs. Man is the random-number generator that keeps the whole system churning — the reason things don’t freeze into a perfectly still state.

It turns out that the inventors of busywork are right: those arbitrary tasks really do keep the world turning. Busywork is the underlying foundation of the universe.

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Puzzle Planet

What if it’s a riddle you’re locked into until solved? If you were an infinite being with infinite knowledge, how would you entertain yourself? Perhaps by designing puzzles that challenge your omniscience.

You would make yourself seem like a fragile creature in a limited world. You would dampen your ability to remember. Every morning you’d awaken to a fresh new day. If at any time you got too close to an answer, an exciting circumstance would manifest, whisking you away on a captivating adventure. Distraction after distraction would tempt you down tangents, ensnaring your attention at every turn.

What form would the answer to such a quandary take? A simple realization of who you are and what this is? That’s a tad too easy isn’t it? What if the answer was in the form of a life well lived? What if the key, was in the way you conducted yourself while here? Perhaps the cultivation of a particular attitude or perspective serves as the unlocking-mechanism for your release from this prison-like predicament of your own design.

So maybe your suspiciousness is right, there ARE tricks and traps designed specifically for you. You’ve been falling prey to these snares set-out to keep you from figuring out the solution. After-all, what’s a puzzle without a little challenge? But likewise, what’s a puzzle without a chance of solving it? Therefore, this riddle must have an achievable solution. That’s the fun for the mystery’s author, teasing and misdirecting the audience while hiding the answer in plain sight.

Of course your only option is to play along. If you fail to achieve the answer in this life, your sneaking suspicion should tell you that you simply start again. But likely, the difficultly is lessened each round — it’s not a prison, just a puzzle designed for your amusement. Remember though, that realization alone isn’t enough. Whenever you look at a maze for example, it’s easy to surmise that there’s a viable path to the end — but you must actually draw the line to consider the maze completed.

Cannibalizing Your Craft

There’s a carpenter in a wooden rowboat. This guy loves woodworking but unfortunately he has to row a boat for the next few days. Yet all he can think about is crafting with wood. His hands feel the wood-grain in the oars on every stroke. He’s envisioning chairs, tables, and all sorts of dressers. His tools are even sitting in the front of the boat in plain sight. Eventually he can’t stand it any longer, he pulls the oars in and grabs a saw.

Now, why such a strange story? Your avatar here on Earth, the body/character combination that carries you through life, is your wooden boat. Your consciousness is the carpenter. You have been using your consciousness to pick apart your character limb-by-limb for the longest time now. So of course you’re slowly sinking into the depths of existence. The remedy? Stop cannibalizing your craft! Focus on the rowing and where you’re going, not the boat itself.

Don’t focus on the tool, use the tool. The free-will that you possess, is the ability to alter your focus. If you’re not enjoying life, it’s because you’re zoomed-in, focusing only on your avatar. Enjoyment in this world comes from zooming-out and taking it all in. Your vehicle is NOT the attraction. Everything beyond the confines of your car IS the attraction. Whenever your concentration begins to linger inside, stop — then look and listen to what’s going on around you instead.

To constantly look within, is to miss the world you’re in. There’s an entire realm on the outside of you. It’s like you’ve been staring at the windshield of the vehicle instead of what’s on the other side. And the way you’ve entertained yourself, is by picking out flaws in the glass: examining specs of dirt, smudges, and dried rain residue. Of course life seems strange from that perspective. But you can’t blame life for being lackluster when you’ve been focusing on the wrong stuff this whole time.

In summation: Stop constantly engaging with your tool. Look beyond the window, not at it.

Being Very Smart

Let me be clear: if you use your mental-energy to pick-apart life, your behavior is idiotic. Whether they say it or not, the people currently enjoying life intuitively sense what’s going on here. They forgive the paper-thin plots, the poor acting, and any anomalies they find — and instead, they focus on some enjoyable aspect of the experience. That’s what a polite audience does.

But you, oh no, you have to point out every little thing that doesn’t seem quite right in your opinion. But consider this: ya know how you feel clueless when you’re in a social situation? Well perhaps you’re always clueless — in EVERY situation. Maybe the metric by which you judge, is completely misguided?

What’s more likely to be true? That you’re the sole bastion of what’s right in the world OR you’re a dummy that’s been doing things wrong this entire time? And that’s fine, being wrong in this situation should come as a great relief. It means the world doesn’t suck — you just suck at understanding what’s happening here, and that can be fixed.

You CAN intuitively understand the world as soon as you stop your misguided criticism. The world seems like a fecal-covered toilet only because you keep shitting all over it with your negativity. And secondly, stop being so self-centered i.e. stop staring at yourself — there’s a whole world happening beyond the border of “me”.

So what would a smarter approach entail? Cease the introspection, there’s nothing significant to be found in constantly examining yourself — you’re not that interesting. “Oh bother, how do I feel about this? Golly, I’m not sure I liked it! Oh my, what a terrible time I’m having! Oh poo, I wish things would go my way for once!”

And if you rely on your own internal drama for entertainment, you’re only going to torture yourself with worrisome thoughts in order to generate some excitement. Instead, you should be looking to entertain yourself with activities that originate outside of yourself. But of course you’ll likely disparage them, so avoid doing that.

Listen, it takes practice to become a better participant here. You messed up, now make it right.

Paint on Plywood

I used to believe I was very smart. I could see through it all. I saw how everyone was full of crap. I knew society to be a charade. This world wasn’t what it purported itself to be, and I was one of the few who recognized it. I was surrounded by simple-minded fools that just didn’t get it. “Don’t you see!!? You’re being deceived!!”

It turns out, I was the dunce that didn’t get it. It’s like I’m at a stage-production filled with painted sets and actors in-costume reciting their lines — and I’m sitting there pointing out how fake everything is. Of course it’s fake! It’s a play! But I’m the “smart guy” letting everyone know how the trees are just paint on plywood. “Ha! How can you people not see that!!??”

And all the while, they’re looking at me like I’m some kinda loon. “Uh, yeah Rich, that’s what they do here, those are actors and you’re an idiot”. Whereas everyone else was simply enjoying themselves, I thought the stage-production was a form of trickery trying to fool the audience for some nefarious reason.

I thought I was the “good-guy” letting everyone know that those people on stage weren’t who they claimed to be. I was dumfounded when people wouldn’t listen. “But it’s so obvious!!” The plots are paper-thin, everything is so flimsy, you can poke the sets and they’ll fall over. But people didn’t get it. “What’s wrong with you!? Wait, are you in on it too!!??”

“These sheeple are so brainwashed by society that they’ll believe anything!” But again, it’s like I was getting mad at an audience for enjoying their experience and losing themselves in the show. My belief in my own cleverness didn’t allow me to consider the idea that I was the one out-of-the-loop.

So beware, my fellow geniuses. The fact that we contemplate existential intricacies does not make us “smart”, it means we’re the dumb ones that can’t quite grasp what’s going on here. Of course you can see through the veil of illusion — it’s see-through! You’re just the chump taking the game too seriously when all you really have to do is play-along.

Elegant Earth

Dear Rich, why do you try so hard to make the world seem as though it’s a nice place?

Make no mistake dear reader, I make pessimists look like optimists, and introverts look like extroverts. My default mode is to sit isolated in a small room while staring at a glowing screen. And if I happen to leave that room, I will denigrate everything that passes into view. You will not like me and I will not like you.

But as it turns out, such an outlook is a terrible way to experience existence. Go figure. So maybe I got tired of feeling the repugnance and the fear — whatever crossed my path, I was disgusted by it or scared of it. Or maybe, after criticizing everything else in this world, perhaps there was nothing left to disparage but my own bad attitude.

Whatever it was, the situation became untenable. Therefore, my focus has been altered, my natural tendency to find-fault and rip-apart has been aimed at my discontentment. I am using all the condemning power at my disposal to shutdown and shame my tendency for pessimism and ungratefulness.

And as part of that effort, I am defending the world I long insulted. And you know what? I actually do feel better. And it turns out that all those horrible things that I thought, weren’t even true. Oopsie! My bad! As a means to make amends and as a way to reinforce it within myself, I am painting the world as a place that cares.

Word War II

I dunno man, you’re trying to convince me that the world is benevolent, but I’m seeing something very different. If it’s truly a friendly place, then shouldn’t it be obvious? Show, don’t tell. Why present all these “logical arguments” when the proof should be in the pudding.

If you’re projecting a nefarious nature onto everything, how can you be shown the truth? To you, everything looks as if it has evil intentions. Cats are ready to scratch, dogs are waiting to bite, food is filled with toxins, air is potential poison, people are always plotting — your dire predictions are all the evidence you need to condemn the world. You’ve convinced yourself that the world wants you dead.

Yet you ignore the inconvenient fact that you’re still alive!! Not only are you alive, but you’re doing well DESPITE a lack of effort on your part. You’ve done NOTHING to ensure your own continuing existence, yet here you are. How is that possible UNLESS the world is actively ensuring your well-being? You can’t hide from the world, no matter where you go you’re in it.

Well maybe I hide because I don’t like what’s out there. I’ve tried to participate — but every time I do, it sucks. Perhaps this world is just a poor implementation — not everything can be great, right? Or maybe it’s not the right fit for me.

That’s not true. There have been times in which you’ve enjoyed yourself here. And if someone with such a bad attitude can find enjoyment, how great a place must this be? Yet instead of savoring any enjoyment, you grow suspicious of it. You see it as cheese in a mouse-trap lulling you into a false sense of security as the trap gets ready to spring.

I’ve seen things happen to others and I don’t want those things happening to me. It’s truly a brutal world.

Instead of seeing the world for what it is, you’re trying to convince yourself that your imagined ideas are right. You developed an initial opinion when you arrived here, and you’ve clung to it for no good reason. You’re in a prison of your own design. If you step out into the sun, you might enjoy yourself.

I’d rather not step out into the sun, it causes sunburns and cancer.

If that were true, everyone would be roasted and/or dead. Could it be that your expectations about the world actually come true to some extent? If you expect something to evoke pain, perhaps it will? Maybe you’re not so much a victim, but a perpetrator? Might you be at the root of your own suffering?

Why would I want to hurt myself? That’s stupid. Now you’re trying to convince me that I’m the bad-guy in all this?

If you’re the one projecting evil onto everything you see in the world, how is that not bad? You’re like a vandal spraying grey and gloomy graffiti on every surface you pass. It’s laziness: destroy what’s there instead of creating something new. How fun for you to smash and break and tear things to bits. Wow, look how powerful you are. Impressive. But of course, that’s an immature form of fun. Destruction is the basest form of entertainment. It takes effort and care to create, a maturity that perhaps you refuse to develop?

I have ideas. I want to do things. The world refuses to give me what I want.

But you have opposing ideas. On one hand, you see a goal. On the other hand, you see a hundred reasons why it should never come to pass. Perhaps the world wants to give you everything you want, but YOU refuse it. You’re not battling the world, you’re battling your own contradictions. You’re saying: “give me five dollars!” but then you say “Eh, I guess I don’t deserve five dollars. And even if I get five dollars, I wouldn’t trust it — there’s bound to be strings attached. Five dollars is worthless anyway, I’d need at least twenty. Forget the five dollars, it’s too much trouble to deal with!” Does that sound familiar?

Well what am I supposed to do!? Why am I like this? I didn’t choose to be this way.

But now that it’s been pointed out to you, you can choose not to be this way. You’re aware of it, and with that awareness you can stop participating in the practice of pessimism. You can notice when your mood sours, when you paint with dour hues, when you’re doing something destructive instead of constructive. And from there, decide to follow a brighter path. You’ve been complicating things tremendously — it’s not that hard.

If it’s not that hard, then why haven’t I figured this stuff out on my own? I’m the smartest person I know!

Smart? No. You’re actually the most STUBBORN person you know. How can you be smart if you can’t do the simplest things? If you can’t even understand what’s happening right in front of you on a daily basis? If anything, you’re a special-needs case — and that’s okay. Your disability is that you think you know something.

If you actually knew something, the world would make sense. But because your intuition and imaginings are completely wrong, the world seems as though it’s messed up. It’s YOU that’s messed up — how could you be right, and the entire world wrong? Think about that. You’ve been believing all these juvenile notions about yourself and the world, and it’s gotten you nowhere.

Well you don’t have to be mean about it.

Isn’t that what you do? Don’t you go around criticizing? Disparaging EVERYTHING you happen across? Does that sound smart to you? You claim that you’re simply describing the reality around you, but it seems more like an editorial with an underlying tone of piss and vinegar. Your opinion is no more factual than a gossip-rag at the supermarket checkout-aisle. You’re no more than a shyster attempting to peddle your smut-filled fear-mongering nonsense to anyone that’ll listen. And you think you deserve sympathy?

You CAN stop finding fault with everything. You CAN stop focusing on every bad thing you can think of. You CAN get smarter. You CAN appreciate the goodness that’s given to you. You CAN enjoy your time here on Earth. You CAN be happy and do constructive things. The choice is up to you though — a better life is an option you can select. You must exercise your free-will to attain it.

Well whatever, I guess I’m an idiot then. I guess it’s Shit-on-me Day today. More of the same.

Very good. You’re learning. You ARE an idiot and you WILL receive exactly what you expect to receive. Expect a bad experience, receive a bad experience. Now think about this: you’ve been arguing this entire time for the right to be miserable. Why would you want that? If you abandon your position, you can have a much better life. Stop defending a perspective that causes you to hate existence. Life loves you — why reject it? Accept, appreciate, engage, enjoy — it’s not so hard.

I dunno…

Of course you don’t know, that’s the point. You don’t know — so start there. Start at the position of unknowableness. Don’t be so sure of your pessimistic positions. Maybe everything you’ve been so certain about is wrong. And if you explore with an open-mind, perhaps you’ll discover a world that’s been waiting to embrace you. It didn’t dare before, you screamed with suspicion at anything you were given. Now accept the caress — let your guard down. Forget what you think you know and know the love of life.

I want to be loved.

You are loved.