Fat Head

If I threw a large piece of fat down on the table and told you that it contains the sum of your intelligence, you’d likely be incredulous. “WHAT?! That’s rude! Stop being an idiot Rich!” Yet for some reason, we tend to accept that the brain contains everything there is. A chunk of fat can somehow contain a complete personality, all the instincts we’re born with, as well as all the new knowledge we’ve gained over time. The fat stores facts? Hmm….

“Uhh, well if not the brain, then where’s all that stuff stored Rich!!??” Obviously these meat-machines are mere avatars, the real stuff is stored somewhere else — outside this virtual world. If you could dissect an avatar in any standard video-game, you wouldn’t see much inside of its head either — just some filler. And that’s exactly what happens inside our heads too: just some fat to fill it up. In other words: the lack of complexity inside the brain is a tell-tale sign that we’re in a simulation.

“Maybe you’re just an ignoramus that doesn’t understand anatomy!!” Well on one hand, we have the idea that a hunk of blubber contains an extensive framework capable of processing and storing large quantities of information — and on the other hand, we have the idea that meat is simply the place-holder for a source-of-knowledge far exceeding these fleshy confines. Which is the more plausible conclusion? Plus, we all know a little too much, more than our meat-laden body would imply.

And I know, I know, “Rich, you’re such a tool, everyone already gets it. You’re just pointing out the painfully obvious!” Well fine, I’m late to the party. I actually fell for it, I fully believed that the sum of who I am was contained in folded flab. I’m the big dummy, ha ha, have a good laugh at my expense. Yes, it was a ridiculously absurd belief. It’s like when your older sibling tricks you into believing something dumb and you go around repeating it like fact. Oh well, live and learn.

Advertisements

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.

Indignity of Existence

I think a lot of the problems we have with life are due to the perceived indignity we experience. In other words, what stifles our participation, is a stubbornness that’s driven by feeling humiliated, by thinking the world is somehow disrespecting us.

It’s as if we came into existence expecting the deference shown to a god, yet we’re treated as a mere mortal, a basic character. HOW DARE YOU!!! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!!?? I need to see a manager, Right Now!

And so we remain stubbornly stagnant, sitting there with a sourpuss, arms crossed. We refuse to participate without an apology, without receiving the proper respect.

BUT THIS IS WHAT WE SIGNED UP FOR!!! To actually experience mortal existence!!! If our body gets battered and beaten? GOOD! If we’re treated like a common earth-dwelling inhabitant? Great! THAT’S the game: EARTH!

You’re NOT a god here, not even a demi-god. In this world, the dream is to become a mild-mannered everyday-working-stiff like Clark Kent, NOT Superman. Getting disrespected is part of the fun!! This is a roast, and you’re getting roasted.

Step one: get over yourself. No, you don’t need to see a manager, everything is fine — you’re overreacting.
Step two: this place has dirt floors, expect things to get messy.
Step three: it’s like finger-painting, filthiness is part of the fun.
Step four: get in there and get dirty — there is absolutely no way you can maintain a sense of dignity or decorum in this world — IT’S NOT POSSIBLE. Poop literally comes out of your butt on a regular basis — if you take this world seriously, you’re an IDIOT.

In summation: if you’re having a problem with life, it’s likely that you’re taking things too seriously (even though it’s painfully obvious that existence is a comedic experience). Solution: lighten up.

Fond Remembrance

If you were at the end of your life, perhaps in your 80s or so, what would you like to look back at, and fondly remember? In other words, design an ideal life from that perspective — what do you want your experience of existence to have been?

I think first and foremost, my best-friend has always played a primary role in my life. Even before I met her, I could palpably sense her absence. For the first two decades, it felt like something was missing — and when she finally showed up, I felt relief. So I’d like to fondly look back at that friendship: the laughs and adventures, the places we went, our comical “struggles” to navigate life, our marriage, and our role as parents — all that stuff. I’d look back and smile at our silly antics.

I enjoy seeing my son succeed, so I’d like to look back and see him as a hyper-successful entrepreneur. With his competitive nature and intelligence, he’d enter a field in which he’d innovate and improve. Ever resourceful, he’d build up a business to the very heights of worldly achievement. And of course I’d like to see him have a loving family of his own — people his mom and I would have a great time with and delight in.

A bit indulgent perhaps, but I’d be amused to look back and see myself living in my childhood happy place. I always wanted to live in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. I imagined living in a camper, maybe switching campsites every once in awhile, riding my bike all-around, and visiting the theme-parks. Well, Disney actually built houses right down the street from the campground — it’s called Golden Oak and it feels like it was made just for me. But instead of a camper, I’d be living in a multi-million dollar house (sometimes compromises have to be made I suppose).

More indulgence: I’d like to look back and see myself with access to unlimited funds. For instance, I’d like to be an early-adopter of self-driving car technology. I might even like being an early-adopter of personal flying machines — who knows. Basically I’d like the option of becoming an early-adopter of any new technology that comes around. I don’t like being out of the loop on technology trends. To me, the most exciting things on Earth are technological innovations and I want to experience many of them firsthand. I’d have a robot-dog for sure — and yes, I would probably become a cyborg eventually.

And finally, I would like a small workshop for my tools. I’m slightly sentimental about them and think they deserve a home of their own. I’d like to look back and see that they were well-used and cared-for. I don’t think the actual projects are as important as putting the tools to good-use, and for that I need a space to readily store and access them.

I think that pretty much sums it up. Part of it, is that I want to look back and laugh at how I skated through life with relative ease. Yet internally, I’ve always made a big deal about everything — constantly blowing stuff out of proportion. The primary conflict of my life’s narrative is “Man versus Self”. I’m always struggling against my pessimistic nature — attempting to appreciate the goodness that surrounds. So I want to look back and see that I was able to do just that: appreciate and enjoy life.

Peek-a-boo

Dear Rich, why would you base your worldview on a late-90s action movie? That sounds kinda dumb.

Perhaps that’s backwards thinking. Perhaps The Matrix was designed as a subtle introduction to the underlying nature of reality for those that could only imagine in the images of action-movies. Even Neo had a hard time accepting the true nature of reality when he left the matrix. How can you explain to someone that grew up in the 80s and 90s that they’re living within a simulated world? Morpheus said regular people would typically fight against the truth while desperately clinging to the only reality they knew.

Therefore, you create a movie based in the modern-day using modern-day iconography and explanations. Those who see it, see it. And those that don’t want to see it, simply perceive a sci-fi movie. No harm, no foul. It’s a not-so-subtle clue for those seeking answers. And the movie’s theme is dank and dark because that’s the only way to draw in pessimists who will say: “I knew it!!! The world really IS a post-apocalyptic hell-scape filled with sheeple!!”.

But eventually, if you really take some time to think about it: what doesn’t work in The Matrix, what fails to be adequately explained, is the nefarious nature of the matrix. The enslavement of humanity doesn’t make sense and causes all sorts of debates. The so-called sequels don’t make sense either by the way. And that’s because life is NOT a nefarious affair. The Matrix itself demonstrates this, by failing to create a convincing villain.

And again, The Matrix was simply an introduction, it wasn’t meant to explain everything. It drew-in certain people that couldn’t be drawn-in by other means. God and spirituality and all that stuff makes no sense to pessimistic realists — so the only option to reach them was through sci-fi action flicks. Ultimately, the world wants its players to have a good time — but in order to have a good time, a player needs the right balance between fact and fiction.

A player must be invested enough to care about in-game outcomes, but not overly invested to the point of perpetual worry. If you only believe in a harsh and brutal world ruled by random-chance, then you’re going to have a bad time. You need some perspective, some distance, you need to see yourself as a player engaged in an enjoyable adventure. But when you’re too lost within the game, you can’t comprehend this. And so clues are provided, alarm clocks — The Matrix simply serves as one of the ways to help you wake up.

Masochistic Delight

So I’m sitting there in the War Robots lobby looking at the scrolling chat, and this guy is complaining about something not working right. And believe me, EVERY complaint about War Robots is probably legit — there’s so much to complain about –in fact, I do it all the time. Yet we all still show up to play the game. WHY!!?? The game literally abuses us in every way possible. So I contributed to the conversation and said, “well yeah, I think you gotta love some level of abuse to play this game.”

And then it hit me, I’m a freakin masochist!!! It’s like one of those M. Night Shyamalan moments when your life flashes before your eyes and all the clues were there, but you just couldn’t recognize them at the time. It’s dead-obvious now that I’m analyzing it — but I always thought it was such a dumb concept: who the heck would purposefully seek out pain? Uh, um, well, me I guess. Please hurt me!! Thank you, may I have another!!?

I’m always playing games in which I suffer frustrating losses. Even this blog frustrates me. My relationships frustrate me. Food frustrates me. It turns out, EVERYTHING frustrates me! YET, I keep going back for more.

So then I started thinking about memorable circumstances throughout my life. Would things have gone more smoothly if I had only trusted life and stopped trying to fight at every turn — if I had simply gone with the flow? And my conclusion was: no, not really. BUT, what readily and reliably explains the circumstances of my life: I’m a masochist! It’s as if the scenes I experienced were professionally designed to evoke maximum frustration!

If you think about it though, games are typically designed to introduce frustration, that’s their underlying nature. An obstacle prevents your progress — and until you overcome it, you’re frustrated by it. And the MORE frustrating a challenge is, the MORE it draws you in. That’s why the concept of “playing hard to get” can work in the realm of romance. If it’s easy, who cares. But if it’s difficult to attain, that’s a challenge that’ll keep you interested! That’s something you can dedicate yourself to!

If you quickly get through a game, it’s over — there’s nothing left to do. Whereas if challenges continually keep you from getting to the end, you literally might play for years. Sure you’re frustrated, but you keep going and going and going. You MUST reach the end no matter what it takes!!! So that’s life in a nutshell: a series of unconquerable tasks that string you along to the end. After all these years here, I haven’t mastered ANYTHING — and apparently, I’m not supposed to.

And if I did master life’s challenges, there’d be nothing left to accomplish. It’d be: “You Win!” followed by: “Game Over”.

So the question becomes: can I participate in this game-of-life while only experiencing minimal frustration? Must I always find myself maximally frustrated? Is pain simply my preference? I honestly don’t feel like it is, but ample evidence says otherwise. I would theorize that it’s possible to give up the pain-loving lifestyle if I develop an alternate means in which to appreciate life. For example, maybe I could develop a taste for winning.

As it is, I barely care if I win. But when I lose, oh boy, I can feel that frustration brewing. That’s something real. What a thrill it is to feel dominated and defeated!! In every path of life, I’ve felt that same frustration from my inabilities. I’m nothing but a weak and worthless moron that can’t do anything right. A loser. A loser lapping up frustration like it’s the tastiest cake on Earth. Sicko.

Therefore, having recognized my masochistic tendencies AND having recognized that I do not enjoy the level of pain produced by said tendencies, I hereby declare that I will work towards developing a new way to appreciate life. I will celebrate the victories and the revelry, the camaraderie and the creativity, the gentle and the loving — I am done delighting in despair and the not-fair.

Fountain of You

You’ll notice that we’re all different in particular ways. Our individual preferences vary quite a bit. For example, I despise the so-called dessert known as “cheesecake” — it’s gross. Our character has a dossier full of attributes that make it relatively unique. To play our character correctly then, is to honor those preferences and attributes.

If you’re playing Street Fighter II for example, you don’t play Guile the same way you play Chun Li — that’ll get you KO’d pretty quickly. You have to learn the abilities of your character and exploit those to the fullest. Special moves and abilities are there to be used, not ignored. You don’t want to play your character like it’s generic — that’s dumb.

That’s why striving to be “normal” is dumb. There is no normal, EVERYONE has an individualized dossier of attributes and abilities. And these abilities MUST be expressed by the character in order to fulfill that role. If you don’t express your individuality, it’s like holding in a poop — your bowels will ache and strain — you will suffer until you let “you” flow out.

How do you know what your character’s preferences and abilities are? Experiment! In Street Fighter II for example, you’ll find that keeping Guile in a low defensive position while utilizing leg-sweeps will prove devastating to many opponents. In other words, you won’t know what you can do until you do it — so do an assortment of things until you find what you’re good at.

Guile is a defensive character, he’s good when you wait for a chance to attack — if you play him aggressively you’ll likely get KO’d. In other words, there really are limitations on your character and you have to play according to his abilities. But that’s the fun part — all games impose limits — it’s a puzzle to solve, it’s attempting to accomplish something within a limited set of parameters.

And the best part is: the game-of-life wants you to win. The game is rigged in your favor. IF you play the character correctly, you WILL win. Whereas if you sabotage the character, trying to make him into something he’s not, you WILL suffer — you will get KO’d. In short, discover who your character is (explore and experiment), then play to his strengths. Result: “YOU WIN!”