Category Archives: Blog

Oh well, please bear with me. I don’t want to offend anyone, but see the category, this goes into “mythology”.

A big part of what I seem to do on this blog is about recognizing some recurring patterns about the most disparate things. The world is incredibly complex but sometimes I recognize these common patterns, and in the end there seem to be a smaller number of them. Whether “true” or not, these patterns have a significant explanatory power, so by using them I often understand other aspects I otherwise would miss. So, even if dealing with a rather complicate and sensible matter, I’ll naively describe another of these patterns.

Obviously, this specific one isn’t a novel problem. In fact I bet a common reaction about the recent news has been: “Oh shit! AGAIN?!” It’s more or less like parents that come back home and find that the kids are fighting again.

One of my basic intuitions, many years ago, was that the core of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict could have been represented by another type of conflict that is just far more widespread and common: mind/body dichotomy.

The pattern I’m describing here is that, rather often, large social structure, like organizations, nations, religions and so on, often exhibit general models of behavior that exist within a single human being. It’s as if a social body is indeed a conscious body, with all the shortcoming, conflicts and problems of an individual human being. As if parroting an actual person.

So it’s as if you can “project” on this larger social body the issues that usually belong to a single person. Having a metaphoric power. But, actually, from the original perspective of Kabbalah, it is curious to notice that what I described as a metaphor, for them it’s LITERAL. Since the physical world is strictly illusion, what you see reflected outside yourself depends solely on you. Literally, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict is YOUR FAULT. Really specifically yours (or mine), as a single individual being. If people are dying it’s because of what you’ve done today. It depends on you, you monster.

See this video and notice it’s from 2006:

Even this video presents its own dichotomy: Israel versus Nations. Explaining (since all Kabbalah terms are strictly symbolic) that Israel = desire for unity & spirituality, and Nations = striving for mere self satisfaction.

When I came to my own intuition about mind/body I didn’t know anything at all about Kabbalah, but the pattern is rather similar. Getting closer to the point, more than mind/body, this is a conflict of the more “rational” side of the mind, and it’s “emotional” side (because usually rationality = mind, and emotion = body, we’re just switching tools and shapes using the same pattern).

Now. Take Israel. Would you put it on the emotional or on the rational side of conflict? Israel represent rationality. It’s the modern nation. It’s recognized by the western world and legitimated as so. It has the military power. It’s more culturally “developed” (not a quality on itself). Israel represent the official institution that is clearly defined and recognized. Its forms are rational, overt forms. Explicit.

Take Hamas. Terrorism in general is emotional. Religious fundamentalism is especially symbolic and non-rational. It’s an emotional push, it’s less directed. Despite terrorism is really NOT tolerable and can’t be justified, it still has a form of legitimation: when people are so hopeless and feel crushed in a corner, they leash out, with blinding rage and despair. Terrorism comes out of desperation. It is never justifiable, but it can be understood. It just has very deep motives, buried down, away from the rational light of history. It’s the irrational beasts lurking in the dark. A monster. It broods and incubates, till it bubbles up. And explodes, apparently unjustified.

Another step forward: more than simply rational/emotional, I can describe this conflict as taking the form of another rather widespread condition: a panic attack. What’s the most obvious trait of a panic attack? That it is extremely counter-productive. And irrational. You literally can’t explain WHY it happens and WHY it ruins your life now. You just want it to STOP. The panic attack is indeed the result of a deep conflict between the rational and the emotional mind. Or: identity versus rational. Identity, in this definition, is what can’t change. It just can’t. It can’t be moved at all. It’s what you are deep down, regardless of all your struggles. Rationality instead is the part of the mind that goes “social”. It’s the part that wants to be included in the world, that bends under external demands, like the desire to be successful, popular and so on. That needs to achieve and perform. This side is also the only side the external world is interested in because, to reproduce itself, it needs vessels that are uniform. Alike. Society reproduces itself when it can conquer cells and make them like itself. Transformed into something usable. Reproducible. So society forces a conformity. Otherwise, if you don’t bend and conform, you are banished, a thread, become outcast. The rational side of a person STRIVES HARD to conform itself, to become as society demands. And this obviously puts the identity side on a very strong pressure. Because identity just won’t move. What happens then when you have two things, one that won’t move, and another that pushes and pushes hard? That this thing breaks apart. It literally comes to pieces. And it can take a lifetime, if you’re lucky, to bring those pieces back together. Hence all kinds of problems, from drugs to psychological meltdowns and everything else. People break because they are pulled apart in two different directions.

Back to the panic attack. A panic attack happens when the rational mind has pushed (and violated) the needs of the emotional mind so deep down that at some point the emotional mind just EXPLODES. A panic attack is literally the emotional mind sabotaging the activities (and needs) of the rational mind. It’s a bomb. It destroys what you want to do. It stops you. Obviously, it’s extremely counter productive. It arrives at the worst possible moment, as if your body HATES you with a passion. And you, because conscience is the rational mind, you HATE your body with a passion. Because your body doesn’t listen to you, doesn’t respond the way you want and keeps sabotaging what you need to do. The body is your enemy, as if it’s a stranger, that you don’t understand and works against you.

Now, back to Hamas you can notice that all they do is EXTREMELY counter productive to their own causes. If their demands are legitimate, in many ways, THEIR ACTIONS throw all that legitimacy to shit. They do the worst possible to their own cause. If this was a tactical battle, they handle it in the worst possible ways because they just keep making their own position worse and worse. Why so stupid? Because it’s irrational. It’s the emotional side that has been crushed so hard against the corner that it is only able to leash out with rage. Just blind irrational rage you’ll never be able to justify rationally. It doesn’t make any sense, and at some point you just wish you could erase them from existence so that they just fucking stop, and be done with it. And that’s Israel’s answer. Either you stop NOW, or I fucking obliterate you.

The other aspect about Hamas, if you listen to what they say, is that what they say is extremely… childish. They won’t stop launching their toy rockets that do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING if not justify Israel ACTUAL killings because it would be like “giving up”. Kids don’t give up. Ever. And then they say they’ll UNLEASH THE APOCALYPSE. Which is extremely serious and ominous. But also so childish again. Why? It’s irrational again. They speak through symbols because they are an emotional side. They are arrogant because kids are arrogant, especially if cornered.

And then it all seems to bog down to another: who started first? If you stop then I stop too. NOPE, YOU STOP FIRST! BUT IT WAS YOU WHO STARTED! And so on, like kids.

In Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace played explicitly with this pattern working on multiple levels. Buildings that become alive, conscious. Forms that are shaped-as, but that also become. Prosthetic bodies. The MIT thing from where Madame Psychosis plays her night drama is shaped like a brain. In “The Broom of the System” the town is shaped like a human profile, and by the end of the book it actually comes alive. Again in Infinite Jest the human double bind that is often described in various forms represent what I just described in the Israeli–Palestinian: a vicious circle. Which is the symbol that opens every chapter. “Annular”, is a keyword of the book. If in a single person the anxiety’s double bind is a vicious circle that seemingly goes on forever dispersing endless psychic and physical energy, this becomes the inspiration to create a kind of vicious circle that, based on trash (which also is a psychological projection), can produce actual energy to power the whole of United States. Forever. Annular Fusion. And “annular” is also the shape of the conscience in the mind. And annular is the structure of Infinite Jest, the book itself, looping on itself. Ending where it starts (but missing a year). It’s both parody and projection on the large of what happens instead “within”.

The same suggest the Kabbalah in that video, but literally (the spiritual self and its struggles projects the physical world and its struggles), and the same I described, more metaphorically, with the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Is the real annular fusion the ring of self-consciousness that leads us to feel trapped in our solipsistic cells?

Whether you believe in the hard form of projection (Kabbalah), or the weaker, merely metaphoric and symbolic one I described, I think the form of the pattern I just described can “explain” why this conflict goes on forever and seems at the same time completely ridiculous and yet so dramatic and unsolvable. Because it’s just so deep in all of us, and it’s out there, reminding us the way we are. No so different, or “better”, as we like to think. Nor stranger, or so far away, and “safe”, really.

This means that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict won’t be solved by just putting each in its own territory. That’s only fuel for the worst to surface again and again. The conflict will be solved when they’ll be able to be together (a mind can’t do without a body, go figure), realizing there’s no difference between them, and that to live in happiness they need each other. You know, brothers and sisters, and all that rhetorical banality.

This is a weird movie. A bit like Malick’s The Tree of Life, with a much narrower scope and ambition. But the themes that feed this movies are also the themes I tend to write about. All about consciousness, invisible hands that shape things, awareness and so on.

The movie is more about mood and atmosphere than plot, and it tries to wrongfoot the viewer by explaining very little and jumping between scenes as if following more an abstract association of ideas/stream of consciousness than cause/effect or the usual linear storytelling. So to understand most of it you need to actually work out these associations, while also recognizing the change of scene and different characters involved. Meaning that the actual experience can be VERY fleeting, making you wonder what the fuck just happened on screen. But beside this pretentious and slightly esoteric presentation, the director isn’t one to overshoot his ambition and only offer artsy art without substance. The movie is not a masterpiece but it succeeds at being interesting and deep enough, even if it doesn’t offer enough of a foothold to sustain everything it offers.

When I finished watching it I had only a vague idea of what actually happened, but the movie is not very complex and after reading online various comments I was able to give context to most of the scenes that left me baffled, trying to figure out a connection.

For example, one of the scenes that confused me and that I couldn’t place in the narrative is how toward the end the orchids are shown as white, losing their bluish color. I thought that if the pigs were still taken care of then the cycle would continue, but the message is actually the opposite. I guess that the movie just fails if you analyze it on one level only (for example literal plot opposed to only metaphoric), while it flourishes when you jump freely from one to the other without pretending things make absolutely perfect sense.

Going through the movie I was guessing the “Thief” character as some sort of villain, and then the “Sampler” as a sort of mysterious rescuer, but this latter character isn’t easy to pinpoint into a role and the 2nd half of the movie is already quite frantic and fragmented enough on its own, without the added difficulty of having no clue about what the characters are up to. So what is this about?

I think a cycle was being shown: the “Thief” harvest worms from bluish orchids, uses these worms to mind control people and steal their money, then the “Sampler” rescues the victims and transfers the worms to the pigs, and eventually the pigs are released into the river so that they feed the orchids, making them blue, orchids that then are then taken to feed the beginning of the cycle. This cycle being an “unseen hand”, becoming a whirlpool that captures the victims’ lives, transforming them radically but without them being aware of what is happening or why. The “Upstream Color” of the title could be seen as a sort of Bakker’s “before/after” analogue. The upstream color is the drug itself that creates the cycle, being upstream, in the usual deterministic argument, means that it “causes” everything happening “downstream”. It’s a root of the events. Human lives are then caught in this whirlpool, captured by it, but without any awareness of it. An occluded horizon. In this case the story of the movie is about this cycle being broken. Through obsession, the female protagonist is able to eventually track the Sampler, kill him, understand what he was up to. So the cycle is broken. The scene that shows the orchids being only white symbolizes that change, no more pigs thrown into the river, so no more worms for the Thief character to harvest. It’s only in this that the Sampler, even as a rescuer, is framed as a sort of accomplice for his own reasons. He rescues the victims, but for his own ends, and then he’s the one who actually feeds the cycle by knowingly throwing the pigs into the river. This creates the typical egg or chicken paradox, about how the Sampler and Thief acquired their respective roles, but the movie isn’t interested in exploring this connection.

That way the plot of the movie “mostly” makes sense. Mostly because it requires a bit more than suspension of disbelief to actually justify the mechanics of what is going on. The sharing of memories and feelings, especially at a distance, is definitely metaphysical and completely absurd. The movie is strong when it shows the sort of epiphany/revelation that happens when the characters actually “fish” for they removed memories. All the symbols there hold true value, as it’s a wholly psychological journey perfectly justified by previous experiences. But then it falls apart when the pig being killed causes the characters to completely freak out because of this metaphysical collective unconscious/emphatic link. This opposed to the sharing of memories, that in light of all this can be seen as merely happening through the same metaphysical connection, I had interpreted as far more subtle: they didn’t actually share those memories, they only “appropriated” them. So for example if I share a story of my childhood with you, at some later point you could tell again this story to me thinking it’s your own (this is what the movie shows), but it’s not. You just wrongly appropriated it and are unable to divide your own true experiences from those that are only stories you heard. It would be a completely plausible mental impairment, not a metaphysical super power. But sadly the movie clearly adopts the metaphysical option, instead of the stronger, plausible one. The confusion is not about the stories heard, but about the totality of the childhood, told and untold.

At that point the movie is better if taken metaphorically instead of literally. One might think that the cycle is broken thanks to the “power of love” (since the relationship has a role), but I think the message is actually the opposite: the relationship itself is merely “mechanical”. The two get together because of the hidden link, they are both victims and are brought together by this super natural force that now connects them. This connection that causes everything is out of their “will”. So once again the action that breaks the cycle isn’t outside the cycle itself, but merely part of it. Meant to happen (one could consider this a metaphorical Singularity). Love, as a feeling or connection, is merely reduced to something that can’t be explained because it can’t be seen, but in the end it’s the least metaphysical element of the whole movie. The love happens upstream, not downstream. The love is the worm, nothing else.

And finally there’s also this idea of having achieved something “more”. As if the connection becomes a connection outside the normal human experience. A connection with the flow of nature. There’s almost a transcendental kind of ending (without resorting to metaphysics again) where other people are also being “awakened”, taken out of their reality to change their life forever. The cycle is actually broken, obsession has paid off. Over here there’s enlightenment, over there is Aronofsky’s Pi (or even his more popular Black Swan, that also is about obsession).

For a more complete insight there’s The New Yorker.

Now some quotes without context:

The most visually imaginative American film since David Lynch’s Eraserhead.

It presents us with a glimpse of the vastness of existence, of our inner nature, and of nature without that is as equally dreadful, enveloping, and terrifying as it is beautiful.

What the movie points to is worth following until you’re left with an enormous map that you spend the rest of the drive trying to refold.

Not much to follow on. My favorite part is when the man chops the tree down. Other than that, you might as well check your refrigerator to see if you need to buy some groceries or look around your home to see of the house needs some home improvement.

Shane Carruth is justly famed in SF fandom for Primer, an ultra, super, hyper low-budget film shot in a storage locker with a cast of about 2.5 where you spend most of the movie wondering exactly what the heck is going on here. But, once you do, you can’t help but admire the cleverness of how you were set up for it.

It’s not quite a silent film, but don’t count on the dialog for help in figuring out what’s up.

He also stated that this movie is about tearing people down and their having to build their own narratives.

In many ways, Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” may be the key. First, the Thief has Kris copy Thoreau’s work as he prepares to wrench away all her material possession, an act which, despite its obvious malevolence, allows Kris to have a spiritual journey of sorts, to build her life up from the ground floor and truly seize life, as Thoreau sought to do in “Walden”. As we see Kris reciting lines from “Walden” while retrieving stones from the bottom of a pool, she is expressing not only that she is beginning to remember some of what happened to her, but also that she is becoming aware that her life is not her own and that she must take action to secure her agency, which one could argue is the core thesis of Thoreau’s novel. Finally, referencing “Walden” as an analogous narrative demonstrates that the Thief, Sampler and Orchid gatherers as a cycle represent Carruth taking advantage of that most elegant possibility offered by film to heighten and personify all of the inexplicable things that shape our lives

The title, then, is quite fitting. Most structurally, it refers to the blue chemical that flows downstream to affect the development of the orchids. Yet, in a metaphysical sense, it refers to the indistinguishable waves vastly divergent from actions taken far outside our perception, their ripples influencing the trajectory of our lives.

Carruth said in the Q&A that he included countless shots of hands gliding past physical objects without touching them to simulate that to his characters, the substance of the world was just out of reach.

This is the film equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes. Film critics and their pompous arrogant “lovies” couldn’t dare be seen not to understand and applaud this film, when the simple fact is its a badly written, no story, poorly filmed 90+ minutes of trash, that could easy be mistaken for a joke by a stoned teenager if it was not so bad.

0 out of 10.

Let me start by saying that if you are the type of person who likes going to art galleries and staring at abstract acrylic painted squares then this is probably the film for you.

If, like me and unlike hipsters, you’re squeamish about subcutaneous creepy-crawlies and the erosion of the self, exercise caution.

The Sampler isn’t meant to be necessarily God, but he represents that thing, whether that’s a good or bad thing or even real, and so to track him down and blame him and punish him — it’s one of the things that I think is subversive about the film.

Well, [the two characters are] being forced together by offscreen forces — the pigs are coming together — but there’s a real tension because it’s not happening organically. So we’re two people in a city meeting on a train: this is meant to go a certain way. But it’s not going that way for whatever reason and I just felt like there would be a lot of tension in that constant poking from offscreen that’s pushing you toward something.

It turns out that the Sampler is a connoisseur of the confusing human auras associated with his pigs. He’s able to tap into the auras by sitting near and touching the animals, and we see him eavesdrop on the lives of a number of other former worm hosts, rather after the manner of Whitman’s visitations of firemen, slaves, swimming youths, and women in labor in “Song of Myself.” The Sampler is also a connoisseur of sounds. He records roars, hums, ticks, and rattles on his farm, which seem to have echoes in the wheezing and grating of the printers, photocopiers, and other machinery that surround Kris and Jeff in daily life.

If animal and spiritual natures can be meaningfully separated, surely the spiritual is a parasite on the animal rather than the other way around.

It’s not a comfortable awareness to wake up to. Being conscious in a material world, his metaphors imply, is like being a human with a worm in his brain.

Provided without context:

“People can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is animated.”

“When freedom is practiced in a closed circle, it fades into a dream, becomes a mere image of itself.”

“the opposite direction: playing old footage, over and over, until a mythical structure declares itself.”

As the work of Claude Levi-Strauss perpetually reminds us, every myth never merely describes, but participates in the myth it narrates. Myths within myths, a continuous re-writing that is never separate from its putative foundations. There can be no “outside” to any myth.

I was watching the stream of a conference on quantuum mechanics to see if I could gleam some interesting patterns, something that caught my attention is “QBism”, or:

So QBism being one of the various models that are actively being considered as plausible explanations for the quantuum mechanics types of phenomena. “Ugliness” in Science measures the amount of unsettling change and perturbations a theory brings to the field. The ideal being “elegant complexity”, which I assume is a quality of god. Summed up in the Occam’s Razor principle, that wants the most amount of phenomenons explained by the smallest amounts of formulas.

In this case, while the technicalities escape me, it seems to me a reformulation of Von Foerster’s “constructivism” mixed with the most magical ideas revolving around the “collaborative universe” crackpot theory.

Since this particular theory seems limited to explain quantuum paradoxes then its confirmation might have a milder impact on “reality”, but the question is always the same: how can my “belief” actually affect the probabilistic outcome? How can the model itself transition from the unobservable magical “small”, to actual concrete and observable reality?

But in this case the interesting part is about fitting the problem into another. From an article I found, some of the suggestive quotes:

Danish physicist Niels Bohr, insisted in a 1929 essay that the purpose of science was not to reveal “the real essence of the phenomena” but only to find “relations between the manifold aspects of our experience”.

People argue to this day about whether wavefunctions are real entities, like stones or ripples on a pond, or mathematical abstractions that help us to organize our thinking, like the calculus of probabilities.

Fuchs and Schack adopt the latter view. They take a wavefunction to be associated with a physical system by an agent — me, for example, based on my past experience. I use the wavefunction, following rules laid down by quantum mechanics, to calculate the likelihood of what I might experience next, should I choose to probe further. Depending on what I then perceive, I can update the wavefunction on the basis of that experience, allowing me to better assess my subsequent expectations.

As another Viennese investigator even more famous than Schrödinger — Sigmund Freud — put it in 1927: “The problem of a world constitution that takes no account of the mental apparatus by which we perceive it is an empty abstraction.”

The actual papers sound even uglier:

QBism personalizes the famous dictum of Asher Peres. The outcome of an experiment is the experience it elicits in an agent. If an agent experiences no outcome, then for that agent there is no outcome. Experiments are not floating in the void, independent of human agency. They are actions taken by an agent to elicit an outcome. And an outcome does not become an outcome until it is experienced by the agent. That experience is the outcome.

I’ve recently finished watching a rather popular anime series called “Madoka Magica”, with an eye in particular to its symbolism. It basically is for the magical girls genre what Evangelion was for the big robots anime. A deconstruction of the medium spiced up with a spark of modern realism.

The ending of Madoka Magica is an ending self-aware of the existence of Evangelion. Actually the whole series is, and it can be seen as a: “what if Shinji was a magical girl?.” In many ways Madoka Magica is an answer to Evangelion. It is far less dense and pretentious. There are no sidetracks and this makes it quite straightforward and maybe simplistic. It can be quite heavy on symbolism, but whereas Evangelion draws its lifeblood from its metaphysical and metaphorical depth, in Madoka this level is subservient to the story and merely adding a rather shallow psychological layer. The symbols exist in a one to one relationship without some higher or elusive spiritual meaning. But that also means everything is self-contained and it isn’t more than what it appears to be. So, taken as a whole, the story is more coherent even if it ends again in the purely metaphysical.

You can notice this pattern I described in the use of symbolism. Where Evangelion didn’t shy away from overt Kabbalistic symbolism, Madoka Magica basically reproduces the exact same scenes, but without openly referencing them. So for example you still get the Tree of Life, but it looks different:

Compared to Evangelion’s own version, that doesn’t dissimulates its origin:

And you get Evangelion Sephirotic wings around the earth too, but they also look different (and are consistent with that mythological/psychological look and meaning that goes through the series):

Which is still only a very simplified and blander version of what Evangelion did:

But what made me write this post was this explanation of the ending (just the very first link I came across) that mentioned a typical time paradox:

If Madoka destroys her own witch , doesn’t that create a time paradox?

My good friend Catcher answers this marvelously well. “This is best answered in a reference to the ageless question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” The idea behind the question is of circular logic: the chicken lays the egg, but the egg houses the developing chicken. Madoka’s disappearance can be explained in a similar fashion. After Madoka gathers all the grief from the mahou shoujo, she literally has nothing else to do rather than to house this grief, which takes the form of a giant soul gem that we see take the form of a world-devouring witch. Her wish, however, mandates her to destroy herself in her witch form (which would be in her own immediate future), thus eliminating her from the plane of existence that Homura is in. She’s essentially created a paradox for herself, thus why she can’t take a material form.

This type of paradox is the standard in time travel sci-fi stories, but I remember I used it to give a scenario on consciousness. What if we reach a point where we truly know everything and so can control everything about conscious experience. The “singularity” so to speak. My idea is that “truth” ceases to exist. It’s truth itself to be made virtual. Meaning that the pattern that is created, is similar to the one described here about the time paradox.

Think for example to the hypothetical scenario where human beings continue to exist “forever”. Eventually they will be able to develop “total knowledge”. Meaning that their knowledge becomes equal to the totality of the system. Meaning, as explained in the previous posts, being equal to god (also known as the “Omega point”). So what if “god” isn’t the entity that was before the beginning and that created the world, but was instead an entity in the FUTURE, that got control and gave origin to a new cycle? The time paradox is repeated here: we need a “timeline” that leads humanity up to acquire total knowledge, but at that point total knowledge means that “reality” and “time” become relative and virtual. Meaning that the timeline that lead up to the singularity is cut away and sealed. It ceases to exist. Only a circular, independent virtuality is left.

And this was also my interpretation of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Quoting the actual end:

My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.)

He must surmount these propositions; then he sees the world rightly.

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

The idea of this ladder that you use to reach some elevated place and the idea that the ladder itself has to vanish after it has been used, is to me the same as the time paradox, where there’s a history that has to lead up to an event, an history that then is cut away and vanishes when a circularity is triggered and made independent from the rest.

While scrolling tat page I also noticed these two quotes:

The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world.

The philosophical I is not the man, not the human body or the human soul of which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit—not a part of the world.

That again seem to relate with my idea of Free Will as an occluded horizon. An imposed limit, as metaphorically described in Kabbalah, opposed to the “truth” of a continuous, undivided world.

Finally, both Madoka Magica and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest are founded on this idea of human emotions as an endless source of energy that can defy entropy, in DFW’s case especially as a self-feeding circularity (and also with obvious sense of humor).

Okay, to hell with boundaries. I make a sport of this blog confusing everything with everything else.

Reading Malazan book 6 I found a quote that is basically the Malazan formulation of the Kabbalah quote:

The gods, old or new, did not belong to her. Nor did she belong to them. They played their ascendancy games as if the outcome mattered, as if they could change the hue of the sun, the voice of the wind, as if they could make forests grow in deserts and mothers love their children enough to keep them. The rules of mortal flesh were all that mattered, the need to breathe, to eat, drink, to find warmth in the cold of night. And, beyond these struggles, when the last breath had been taken inside, well, she would be in no condition to care about anything, about what happened next, who died, who was born, the cries of starving children and the vicious tyrants who starved them – these were, she understood, the simple legacies of indifference, the consequences of the expedient, and this would go on in the mortal realm until the last spark winked out, gods or no gods.

Here’s again the quote from Kabbalah:

(about the question “What is the meaning of my life?”)

“It is indeed true that historians have grown weary contemplating it, and particularly in our generation. No one ever wishes to consider it. Yet the question stands as bitterly and vehemently as ever. Sometimes it meets us uninvited, pecks at our minds and humiliates us to the ground before we find the famous ploy of flowing mindlessly in the currents of life, as always.”

Then I happened on this page (with some interesting nice pictures), and I found this quote that metaphorically matches the previous posts on Free Will and being bound to a point of view:

The descent of the divine emanations concretized in cosmic creation is occurring at this moment, and the fact that the world is such or such a thing, for the modern mentality, or that in accord with our viewpoint we perceive this or that, is completely indifferent to the process of the universal creation, which is ongoing, even visualized from the horizontal viewpoint, and simultaneous, from the vertical projection.

The interesting part is the formulation of the system as “simultaneous, from the vertical projection”. Meaning deterministic. There’s no time scaling. Yet experience from within, our viewpoint, is bound to time and seen as becoming.

So this aspects of Kabbalah seems to retain (and explain away) the problem of compatibilism.

Related, but only if you are a particular type of crazy like I am, here’s a page of David Foster Wallace’s personal copy of Joyce’s Ulysses. Showing how a text with bi-dimensional perspective is given three-dimensionality because of 2nd level (recursive) observations:

Let’s sum the previous posts on Free Will into a system of overlapping patterns, and formulate god as a formal system.

God = origin of creation = totality (one and boundless) = pure light.

Light = information. Wholeness of creation = totality of information (knowledge).

Totality of information = omniscience = providence = nature.

Totality of information = god.

Partiality = Point of View (wedge, slice) = pain and suffering (lack of understanding).

Pain is the direct consequence of lack of wholeness. You are bound to your personal life and egoism, separate from the rest of nature. You versus the world. The inside of the point of view, versus the outside/alien. Egoism = partiality.

Partiality = partial information = concealed light/concealed god = can’t see/can’t understand.

Free Will = not-god.

Why Free Will is antithesis of god? Because total of information equals deterministic world (everything behaves following laws of nature). Science, as the external point of view (and so not partial), declares lack of Free Will. Hence god cannot give freedom of choice, unless through a partiality.

In order to FEEL and BELIEVE THE FEEL, you need to be like in a dream state: believing the dream. A dream like a veiled truth. Experiencing limits. Without limits = omniscience. No Free Will.

So formally this equals the religious formulation: in order to give freedom of choice and Free Will, god had to conceal himself (omniscience, total point of view, wholeness). The totality of god is opposed to the partiality of man. But it’s that closed, occluded perspective that grants us the CHOICE. God can’t interfere, we decide our morality, we decide our laws. WE HAVE TO. There’s no external system that tells us what’s absolutely right or wrong, being concealed from god/knowledge, we have the imposition to decide for ourselves. Otherwise, if we all had omniscience, we would all knew what was the right thing to do, and we would all agree on that. Because totality of knowledge = wholeness. There’s no discord in the totality, as there’s no discord in god. There’s one voice. Quoting Kabbalah: “He who knows all mysteries will testify that he will not turn back to folly.”

Being freed of pain means exiting the occluded perspective. Pain is always transitory if you know what it is meant to be, and if you can transcend from it. Leaving behind the misery of the lack of light (lack of knowledge, lack of motives and understanding). But it’s only the limited perspective that grants that freedom.

It’s as if god (or the formulation of the system as it is) is saying: there wasn’t any other way.

Free Will comes with pain because Free Will comes from partiality of information. Partiality is pain, but so is Free Will.

Free Will is the antithesis of god. It is only a mechanism of life that operates through partiality (or dichotomy from nature, as in “self” versus “nature”, or humanity versus hostile external world).

As science develops, we discover more and more that Free Will doesn’t exist in this system of nature. It’s just an illusion. Religion already anticipated this fact, because religion knew that the truth was the wholeness of nature, and this wholeness didn’t admit true, non-illusory partiality within.

So science only declares what can eventually happen: Free Will can only be lost, not achieved. Which is the ultimate destination declared by religion as well: reunion with god. Science reveals the truth: consciousness is the illusion. Exactly as religion declares mortal life as illusion. For science and religion both, we belong to the wholeness. The partiality of life is the illusion.

Hence science only defines the destination. It’s the voice beyond the veil of existence. Concealment. Hidden light.

If you want to put this in the most brutal way, then you can say that both religion and science have the exact same idea on “death”: transience. Not because you appear into some metaphysical afterworld, but because consciousness was always an illusion. Occluded horizon, like a soap bubble. You always were part of a bigger system, unite with it, and so you always were and always will be with it and part of it. What dies is only consciousness. And, again, that was mere illusion like a dream.

The religious “heaven” was always an image, a concrete formulation of an abstract idea: wholeness with god. Hence religion always told the truth, through metaphor.

Or: science is equal to religion without metaphor.