Thursday, June 14, 2018

Andrés has an existential crisis

So, today I finished Little Witch Academia. It was recommended to me as just pure fun, and it delivered. I recommend you watch it if you're tired of complex plot and serious questions and instead you just want to watch a bunch of witches fumbling their way into magic in the most entertaining way possible.

It's in this post-finale everything-is-wonderful mindset that I will write about my recent bout with existentialism. I'd heard about "existential crises" before, but I hadn't actually experienced one until two weeks ago. It was, I'm pretty sure, a Saturday, or maybe a Sunday. On that day my family and I were returning from a trip to Santa Fe. It happened while on a winding road through the Rocky Mountains, the four of us silent with our thoughts, half-listening to whatever music was softly coming out of the car speakers. There was greenery to all sides, hundreds of pines surrounding the road we were on, the afternoon sun touching all but the most secluded trees which stood crookedly along a river at the bottom of a ravine to our right. I could just make out the familiar shapes of birds flying around the top of the forest, traveling from treetop to treetop in search for whatever birds need at the tail end of spring. Some of those birds, I knew, were just now experiencing their first year of life, having been born and taken flight in just the few months since winter. Within this calming atmosphere, surrounded by all of this wondrous, splendorous life, I had a single, sudden question:

Why?

Why is any of this happening?

I looked at all of this complexity and beauty and I realized, as a fledging mathematician, an amateur physicist, an aspiring writer, an avid reader, and a tentative philosopher, that it would make way more sense for this to be not happening. It's hard to explain, really, but I'll try. From a mathematician's perspective, the world is needlessly complex, to the point where we aren't yet even sure what system describes it, if any. There are simpler laws, easier rules to follow. Why, then, is all of this here?

Here the physicist's perspective comes in: the world does seem to follow laws. Those laws are all expressed in mathematics, usually with mathematics that was invented well before those laws were  discovered. Why? Why should we be able to figure these things out? How exactly has it worked so well so far? Not only is the universe real, and beautiful, and complex, and alive; it is also understandable to us, even when it seems mysterious.

As a writer and a reader, then, I start to think of my other worlds, those that I have spent so much of my life experiencing and creating. Why aren't they with me? What do I have that they do not that makes me out here and them in there? Out of all on the narratives that there are, out of all the lives that have ever been lived and not been lived, why is mine being lived, right now?

The small amount of philosopher within me did not have the answers to my questions. I had of course seen these questions written before, and had them posed to me, but I had never really felt them in the way that I did at this moment, driving through the Rocky Mountains. My previous answer had been an anthropic one, which I now see as joking and dismissive. Why is there something rather than nothing? Why am I here to write these words right now? Well, if there was nothing rather than something, or if I was not here to write these words, then you wouldn't be reading this. But you are reading this. Therefore there is something rather than nothing, and therefore I am here to write these words.

While before this answer had satisfied me completely, and even made me feel smugly superior to those who did not accept the logical argument, now I could see why this circular reasoning was woefully incomplete. The question is not asking for a logical argument; the question is asking for some explanation for the fact that we are when we so clearly shouldn't be.

I don't remember if I managed to answer the question to my satisfaction at that point, but I think I probably did not. Eventually I got distracted by the music or some other thing and the urgent, all-consuming question simply fell out of my mind. It wasn't until the following Tuesday night that the question bared down on me again. But, before I get to that, I think I'll have a rest and a day of work to clear my head. It's 1:16, and I need to sleep, and this first half has taken too long already. See you tomorrow.

                         

It's tomorrow, as promised. 12:15 the next day, and not a second earlier. So, the second day. Tuesday night. I had arrived in Pittsburgh late on Sunday, and had spent Monday mainly being shown around the CMU campus. The next day, Tuesday, was also mostly about getting me settled in. There was one other thing that I did those two days, and on the entire plane ride over: read. I started and finished Annihilation on Sunday, and on Monday and Tuesday I almost completed my backlog of Scientific American articles about the far reaches of physics.

That night, as I lay in my bed with my sheets drawn closely around me (this was before I bought my blanket), I was hit by that same feeling again. Here I was, here, wrapped in an artificial fabric on top of an artificial mattress encaged in an artificial room within a building full of identical rooms and a city full of similar buildings on a tiny patch of land on a little blue ball hurtling around a star like any other in a galaxy like any other in the universe. The same question came to me a second time.

Why?

I had been reading about physics, about breakthroughs that had been just around the corner but had never come. Black holes and strings and extra dimensions just beyond our reach, all perhaps soon to be found by experiments in the next year, or five, or ten. But we didn't find any of them, and 15 years later we're still in the dark. But surely something is underlying it all, right? But then again, there's really no reason why anything we try has to work. And we seem to have run up against a wall, despite our best guesses and hopes.

And, yes, I kept thinking in this way. I wrote yesterday about how it felt, or at least I tried to. If you'll indulge your imagination a bit, let's pan away from my bed, zoom upwards and backwards in time to see where these thoughts might have come from. We zoom back in on Santa Fe, where I'm lying on a couch the Tuesday previous. The week preceding our ride through the Rockies was one in which I read a great deal, I'm happy to say. A Natural History of the Fantastic and Of Mice and Men were the two books that I spent the most time on.

The first book is about a slightly ramshackle world created by one Christopher Stoll, with just enough mistakes and contradictions to pull me away from the world, despite all its interesting contents. The second is about two friends in as real a life as they can find, chatting and getting along and dreaming just like real people. I know that Of Mice and Men isn't a happy story. That's why I didn't finish it before leaving. I stopped myself from getting to the end so that I could spend as much time as possible at the highest point yet, with everyone's lives taking turns for the better. I just want them to be happy.

In addition to reading these fictions—an act that I now associate entirely with experiencing other worlds—we went to Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return. It reminded me of a lot of things, like the Foundation and the pattern screamers and those shows that Nigel Marven used to do. It was a collage of thoughts and ideas and experiences, with one little puzzle thrown in if you happen to like puzzles. It also reminded me of what little I knew of Annihilation at that point, mostly in the visuals and the theme of reality breaking down, or becoming what it was always supposed to be.

And, as I said, I read Annihilation on the plane to Pittsburgh. I'll write more about it on the book blog, but I'll say a few words here. Epistemology. Ensuing. Erudite. Aplomb. Bickered. I'll also say some words that belong to sentences. Annihilation is about the breaking down of experience and reason and how humans deal with it. It's very much a Lovecraft-inspired work, but it's better than any Lovecraft story I've read. Like in the House of Eternal Return, and in the story of the pattern screamers, and in the many entries to the Doomsday Contest (which I also read over the week), and in my own still-private OK-Class Everything Is Fine stories, Annihilation focuses on reality being rewritten and replaced with something new.

Some people believe that reality gets rewritten on a regular basis. It's known as the Mandela Effect, and it apparently describes many thousands of people being yanked from their reality, in which things make sense, into this stranger reality in which things do not make sense. My mom and I chatted about The Mandela Effect on the way home from dinner one day during that week in Santa Fe. We had gotten to the subject in a sort of meandering way from the Bermuda Triangle, and were entering a large empty parking lot when one of us brought up an old assertion of mine. When I was little, I apparently believed in everything. This is not to say that I believed everything I was told, but rather that I actually claimed to believe in everything. I sort of grew out of it in time, and I believed less and less. There was the real world, and then the not-real worlds, and that was that.

Now, zoom back out of the darkened empty parking lot, out until Santa Fe is just a speck of light in the mountains, and turn back towards me in my bed the next Tuesday night, being assaulted by these thoughts about the incomprehensibility of everything. Suddenly I remembered that belief I'd had when I was very young, and I embraced it as hard as I could. This is my solution to the problem. This is my answer to the question. I believe in everything. Either everything is real or nothing is, and I'm certainly here, so therefore everything is real. I am here because I can be. The universe is the way it is because it is also other ways, just not right here and right now.

That was my answer, and I'm happy with it. It might not be the right answer for you, and that's okay. (I probably accepted it so completely in large part because my brain was so tired.) In fact, it might not even be the right question for you, yet. I know that I had never really understood what the question felt like until two weeks ago, coming back from Santa Fe. Until then, I had seen the question but scoffed at it. This might be your reaction as well right now, and that's fine. The question may hit you later on in your life, or it may never hit you. All this has been is my personal story, my experience grappling with the question.

With all that said and done, I'll leave you with this short essay about truth, philosophy, and flaming laser swords. I need to go to sleep, as it's 1:47. Good night.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Acceleration

A few days ago, I went to an amusement park with some of my friends. Leah, Maisie, Grant, Lili and I had tickets to Elitch's, which hadn't been used because rain had canceled the big Fairview field trip. We met up at Fairview, chatted a bit about the high school and our summers, and headed out.

I don't remember much about the ride out. I don't think I said much. I didn't even have a radio to hum along to. When we got there, it was really hot. Grant made a pun and none of us got it at first, but all except Lili got it at the same time.

We got on some thrill rides, and it was fun. The first we did was the Mind Eraser. It was really quick, and our faces looked wierd, as we found out with the help of a nice lady. Well, that's not actually true. The first we did was the spooktacular laser shooty one, which only allowed four people, so I stayed off. We did a couple other thrill rides, and one that went super high.

After cooling off at the splashy wave boat one, we went to eat lunch. Leah gave me her double burger, which I didn't quite finish, which probably made me look terrible. We had a straw shoot-off, and then went off to the river raft ride.

This was when the rain started. Or rather, when it threatened to start. We stayed in that river raft line for over two hours. Eventually, so many people quit and left that we were the second group in the line. We played some Soccer Physics, and partook of some leg-based illusions. Mostly, we just talked. At one point, Maisie and Lili went off to get us food, and came back with funnel cake and ice cream. I ate most of the ice cream, which I don't feel bad about, because they ate most of the funnel cake.

Then, the teacup ride. Oh, lord, the teacup ride. I need to be awake to tell that one. Let's continue writing this tomorrow.


                                                                                                        


July 25th, 2017. That's when I last edited this document. The "tomorrow" during which I planned to write the rest of the story never came. It's been so long that I honestly don't remember why I couldn't write it the next day, or the day after that, or by the time the week was out. I remember that the pun Grant made was about pillows. I do not, however, remember anything else about the pun. It is in this state, with my memory fogged over by almost a year of subsequent events, that I will attempt to recount the events of that fateful day.

So, the teacup ride. It all started out rather innocently, which makes sense because it was after all a teacup ride. You see, almost all of the rides had been closed due to the rain, and they were only just starting to reopen. We had gone down the river raft ride, and were looking around for something to do. The only operational attraction within sight was the teacup ride, a simple thing for kids. We got in line with the intention of passing the time and probably chatting peacefully while spinning a bit.

I suppose at this point I should explain the structure of the ride. In this particular teacup ride, you and your group of friends sit in what is effectively a teacup-shaped plastic couch with a little door on one side. There are nine teacups in all, with three groups of three. Each teacup is on a little platform that spins, slightly offset from the center so that you get a nice wobble. Each group of three teacups is on its own medium platform which spins in the opposite direction of the smaller platforms, and of course the entire ride is spinning in the opposite direction of the medium platforms.

There is, however, one level of spinning that I have so far left out. At the center of each teacup there is a metal wheel, which can be used to manually spin the teacup in its place within the smallest platform. As we waited in line, we witnessed another group of teens (only a couple years younger than us) spinning their teacup as fast as they could, notably faster than any of the other teacups. The five of us immediately resolved to spin even faster than these ridiculous strangers.

Soon it was our turn to step into the ring. Without hesitation, we pulled on the wheel, trying to spin ourselves as much as possible. As soon as the brakes were removed, we started spinning at a decent pace. With all five of us pulling at the wheel, it didn't take long for the spinning to get faster. And faster. Lili was the first to stop pulling, her small frame pushed against the walls of the teacup to the point that she could not reach out her arm to meet the wheel. Maisie and Leah soon followed, as the spinning got so fast that they could not bear to even lift their arms off of the seat. Our hair was flying directly outwards, the other cycles of the teacup ride all but lost within the power of our spinning. Leah began expressing doubts as to whether to continue our acceleration, but Grant and I pressed on... for a time. Grant, too, eventually succumbed to the relentless outwards force generated by our spinning of the wheel. I, however, pressed on for the entire ride, accelerating us more and more, bit by bit, even as my arms turned to rubber and my bones to paper, even as the spinning of our teacup managed to almost surpass the speed of my hands, even past the point where the other four told me that continuing was hopeless, I was driven on my a fire within my body that until that point I had never experienced, by a steely determination which kept me constantly in motion, which urged me to move despite my body's screams of agony. The other four were pressed against the edge of the teacup, occasionally reaching out an arm in an attempt to aid me, but usually being deflected by the sheer force of our inexorable rotation.

And just like that, it was over. The brakes came back on and our little teacup shuttered to a stop, roughly tossing us all in the direction of our motion. We opened the teacup door and staggered to our feet, laughing at the absurdity of what we had just experienced.

We went on more rides after that, of course, but it was almost as if they were only a formality. We all agreed that the teacup ride, which had at first glance seemed so tame and innocent, had given us by far the most intense experience of the day. There were some highlights in the last rides; one let me experience weightlessness and nerd out about parabolic arcs to Leah, while another had Lili and I ride with a cute little girl who was much braver than I probably would have been under the circumstances.

Looking over the map of Elitch's, we decided that we had gone on every ride we had any interest in riding, and we drove back to Boulder. By the time we returned to Fairview it was fully night, dark enough that a few lonely stars could be seen in the night sky. We took a few pictures, said our goodbyes, and headed our separate ways.

And that is, as best as I can recall it, the account of our trip to Elitch's on July 19th of last year. Flux informs me that I'm waking up in seven hours. One last thing before I go to sleep, then. Although, as I've said many times, I don't remember any of the details surrounding my first try at this post, one thing that I do remember is that the title was important. Somehow there is a lesson to be learned about this. Maybe that even a small amount of acceleration, as long as it's positive, can add up over time to become a powerful force. Or maybe the title was bringing into the spotlight that this day was the first time I truly felt shifting acceleration, and interpreted the twists of a rollercoaster not only as thrill-providing high-speed events but also as actual shifts in the direction of gravity, local alterations to what "downwards" meant for me. Or maybe it was something else entirely. One thing's for sure, though: it's 1:12 AM and I need to wake up at 8:00 today. See you all next time.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Animal facts!

I did it. I did all of the school and now I am done with school. I buried a hatchet yesterday, which felt emotionally and metaphysically fantastic. Today I accidentally dug up the hatchet again, and now I've kinda kicked some dirt over the hatchet and am staring at it warily. We'll see where this metaphor goes. Anyways, things are drawing to a close. So now, I'm going to do something that I've wanted to do since late in my first semester here.

It's time for some animal facts.



A Black Soldier Fly, Hermetia illucens.
Black soldier flies are neat. Their larvae are used for composting and then subsequently for feeding. The coolest bit about them, though, is their adult stage. Specifically, their abdomen. If you look right behind the back legs, you can see that there's a little bit of their abdomen that is see-through. No, it's not just colored green. That bit is genuinely clear. I know this because one of the students in my Terrestrial Arthropods lab last year (I can't remember her name, which is embarrassing because there were literally eight people in that class) collected one of them for her bug board and wrote a little thing about it. Apparently there's been almost no investigation as to why they have this clear bit, other than to say that it's probably to disguise the fly as a wasp.



A Strepsipteran. Note the evil emanating from the eyes.
Strepsiptera are terrible. They're an order in the family insecta, and they're sometimes called "spiral-wing flies" or "twisted-wing parasites." They engage in "hemocoelous viviparity." Viviparity is when an animal's young are formed within the body, as opposed to oviparity which is when animals lay eggs (this is of course simplified because nature be cray). The hemocoel is essentially the blood of an insect, but it is different from our blood in that it isn't confined to veins but instead freely floats within the organism's body, distributing nutrients via diffusion. Hemocoelous viviparity is viviparity but in the hemocoel. Instead of having anything analogous to a womb, Strepsiptera babies just float around inside their mother's body, crawling through her blood between her organs. Of course, then the babies have no nice way out when it's time to become adults. So the babies eat their way out of their own mothers. THESE THINGS PARASITIZE THEMSELVES! There is more to say about them, but I will have none of it because I have no respect for these creatures. If you'd like to learn more about these unholy abominations, click here.



A Lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae.
Lyrebirds are beautiful and are wonderful singers. There's only two species of them, together making up the genus Menura. They can imitate the songs of birds they hear around them. I'd say more, but really it's best if you just watch this video. Anyways, an interesting fact about lyrebirds, and all other songbirds that we know of, is that they have absolute pitch. They can sing back their calls at exactly the same frequencies every time, never drifting above or below the "key" they're in. More to the point, they do not have relative pitch. Relative pitch is the ability to distinguish between different intervals in frequency. It's how we can tell that the first two notes in Happy Birthday (a whole step) are a different jump than the first two notes in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (a fifth) but the same jump as the first two notes in Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (also a whole step). As far as we can tell, we humans are the only species who can do this. I might explain this more later, in another medium entirely. The point is, the Lyrebird is pretty, but humans are alright as well. Also lookit dem tail feathers. Pretty.



An adorable squid, Doryteuthis opalescens.
So, this semester I worked (and am still working I guess) at the Peabody Museum photographing slides for their digital collection. I'm all excited because I managed to finish my second box of slides (each box has 80 trays, each tray has 30 slides) pretty much exactly when my shift was up on Friday. Also, the last trays in that box were all parts of crustaceans, so I got to take some pretty rad photos (if I do say so myself). But before I had the pleasure of seeing all these rad crustaceans, I had the pleasure of seeing item 73992-1: a baby squid of the genus Doryteuthis. I named them Squoonchy. Squoonchy the Squid. According to Wikipedia, "In Dortteuthis the tentacular clubs are expanded and bear suckers in 4 series. The hectocotylus is on the left ventral arm IV with unmodified suckaers near the base, lack f a vntral crest while the reduced on elongated stalks form papillae on the dorsal series or on both dorsal and ventral series. The fins are situated in a posterior position. The spermatophore has a short, cement body cement body and they do not have any photophores." I'm not quite sure what "suckaers" are, nor what "f a vntral" signifies, nor can I hope to grasp the importance of repeating "cement body" twice in one sentence. I may never know.



Humans in their unnatural habitat.
Lastly but not leastly, humans! They're a neat species. They made me this computer! Now I can type things. Also, they've got a lot of neat stuff going for them, so they kinda took over the world. Which is great for me, because I am currently a human! Also they're kinda breaking the planet. It'll be fine. For some people. Probably. Anyways, I took a whole class about humans and animals and human infants and how the three relate in their mental states. I've already talked about the relative pitch thing, but there are also lots of other things that make humans unique. I might in the future expand on this list, but for now here they are without explanation: marathon running, generative and recursive language, desire to punish complete strangers, desire to aid complete strangers, desire to be like others, intentional teaching, complete alliance with in-group, creation of fiction. We're a strange bunch.

Well, that's enough for now. It is, after all, half an hour into tomorrow right now. And I do have things to do. But hey, at least this is not one of the things I have to do anymore. Anyways, midnight and all. Bye!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Things that made me happy this weekend

You can always do with a good list to cheer you up.
  • It's the weekend! Everybody loves the weekend.
  • I ran into Nash like three times just on the street by coincidence. They're rad.
  • I met with Savannah and Leo to chat about MathCounts, and got super pumped about my evil class-planning plan.
  • I started the Circle Fights document! It's progress.
  • Speaking of progress, I got like a third of the way to proposing a Doomsday Contest team with my friends.
  • Speaking of the Doomsday Contest, I have a rad idea that I super want to try but I need friends oh no.
  • Speaking of the Skippyverse, I finally read the entirety of this page on Pattern Screamers, and all the related links and everything.
  •  
  • I obtained this ^ reaction image, and I don't think it's ever going to be useful, but I'm still keeping it because it's somehow hilarious to me.
  • Watched an anime about a phychokinetic girl, and one about a megaloboxing man, and one about the war of the spacefuture. Rad times.
  • I finished the Physics homework hours before it was due.
  • Speaking of due dates, I learned today that the Math 230 and Music 115 psets were both pushed back to Wednesday! Which kinda sucks because I have a midterm Thursday. But still!
  • I made some progress on the math pset, and I think I can finish it on my own tomorrow if I can just focus. Which I can! FLAWLESS VICTORY IS IMMINENT!
  • I got to hand out with friends in the Math Lounge! We did some math, but mostly chatted about nonsense.
  • Also, in the Math Lounge, I got to do Sajan's arms. That was all sorts of fun. 
  • Here's ^ a picture of what that looked like. Courtesy of Nash.
  • And I got to see OM SHANTI OM!!!
  • Well, the first part of it. We still have an hour left.
  • And like a whole bunch of people came and they're all really nice and I want to be friends with them!
  • Also Grace and I provided snacks. We had fun.
  • There was bacon today at breakfast, which doesn't happen often.
  • Gabe, Ryan and I were given the opportunity to test some of the MathCounts questions during dinner, and I think we easily got over half of them right. (We're all in Math 230, and these questions are for middle schoolers.)
  • I'm waking up in seven hours! I feel very tired. But it makes me happy! It means I had a full weekend.
  • Oh, yeah! The Beethoven and Bernstein concert! That was super fun. Beethoven's Ninth is a bop.
  • I lost my backpack and later got it back from Devin. What a nice man.
  • I made a blog! With a list! I haven't done that in so long.
That's all for now. Honestly, it's more than enough. Also, it's 1:05 AM. As ever, I need to go to sleep.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Snaw Doy

I didn't even know you could have a snow day at a university. Makes sense, I suppose. I've been holed up in my room reading about Anabasis for most of the day, and it's been– nice, I guess. I still have things to do, but not nearly as many as before the announcement. Midterms were cancelled, you see. I found out yesterday right before my math volunteering thing, but it didn't really sink in until dinnertime. School is cancelled because of a snow day.

So, that was some pretty wonderful news. Amazing, actually. Without it, I'd have had four back-to-back midterms every day of the week, and Friday I'm leaving for Mexico. With it, I now have two finished midterms (which is equivalent to no midterms at all) and all the time in the world to pack and do things. In theory. In practice, I did just spend multiple hours reading and doing nothing else. Whoops.

Anyways, I was planning on using this post to talk about how good a day yesterday was. Then I kinda spent too much time on the internet and bled yesterday into today a bit and now it's all blugh. But that's okay! Because! I did really well on the Math 231 midterm. Like, optimally well. And I mananaged to finagle a few jokes into my answers. And then Pat said nice words to me and I was happy. I'm incredibly susceptible to surprise validation.

Is that... it? I think that's all I had to say. I feel like yesterday I just assumed this would take longer to write. I guess it would have if I'd have made it into a story. Eh. This is good.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

On the Destruction of Worlds

The Blogger app was removed from the App Store and replaced with a $2.99 version(which currently has two stars), but that won’t stop me. I’ll just write this in my notes, then email it to myself, then copy-paste it into my blog, then reverse timestamp it so that it’s like nothing ever happened. Genius!

Dangit, I was hoping to start writing the main body before January 6th. Ah, well. At least I got the little intro thing in. Anyways, lately I’ve been thinking about destroying the universe. Like, in principle. See, my sister and I just finished playing a few games. OneShot yesterday (the 5th) and Doki Doki Literature Club a few days earlier. Also been reading Soonish and a lotta skippy-related things. All in all, lots of world ending to go around. For example, I just realized that although the text editor prints a regal Times New Roman font, on the actual blog it's written in some sans-serif thing. My beautiful Timesy world has been shattered.

What's most recently messed me up (besides the font thing) is of course OneShot. We named ourselves Neveah, which worked really well. I did all the voices except Niko's and Silver's, and honestly I think I might be getting good at it. We did the "true ending" or whatever. I don't want to spoil anything, but I also kinda do. Let's just say that I liked it. Wish we coulda played it once more though. We missed a few achievements, and we even did all the work of cultivating the thing only to–.... Well. No going back now. If you do get the game (which I recommend) then try playing it through a few times. Like, at least three. Definitely not two though. I can confirm that two is a silly number.

Doki Doki Literature Club was alright. We named ourselves Bruh, which honestly worked almost as well as Neveah did in OneShot. It wasn't nearly as scary as most people claim. There was exactly one point where we screamed, and it wasn't really from fear. It was kinda fun slowly figuring out what was going on, though. We also did crazy voices for everyone, which was fun. I voiced Sayori (an ever-excited little girl), Natsuki (an angry Russian/Japanese/American/French/Mexican girl/man), and Yuri (a charming southern belle), while Lucia voiced Bruh (self-explanatory) and Monica (a no-nonsense drill sergeant). The ending was not as good as OneShot's, although it went better.

What kinda sticks with me is how we reacted to the conclusion of the games. After Doki Doki Literature Club ended, we put Monica's file back, as I sent it off with an "everything is as it should be." (Then the game deleted itself from our Steam library, which was freaky.) After OneShot ended, we sat silently for a moment. Then we both started up and said some variations of "that was nice" and "well, that's done" and we walked away. It kinda struck me as callous somehow. Like the ending of The Truman Show.

Woah dang, I didn't even notice, but the two old movies I watched for the first time this break (The Truman Show and Total Recall) both kinda relate to these ideas. They both pose questions as to what is real and what is only seems-to-be real. OneShot and Doki Doki are full of dips into reality, some things being marked "part of the game" and some being marked "real." They're all done now, of course—Doki Doki was destroyed, The Truman Show ended, OneShot is out of reach, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is still alive so I guess Total Recall went okay actually. The point is, they're all in some sense gone, but also in another sense they were never there in the first place.

That's really the source of my– let's call it a conundrum. Can a fictional world end? Is it rational to care about the characters and try to make their lives better? Is it okay to sacrifice a world so that a friend is happy? Is it wrong to destroy something that isn't there? TL;DR: no (kinda), yes, yes (sometimes), and yes. These things are real, in my opinion. Real as you (my potential future reader). Real as Heaven (and sure as Hell). Real as Borges. Real in that the folks inside are real. Real in that they think they're real, or at least they think they think they're real, or at least I think they think they think they're real, so they must be.

And they live on in my heart and in my head. Because that's where I keep them. A world destroyed and a world preserved are identical give or take a word. It's all the same to me, and the worlds i keep.

I'm reading Story Thieves by James Riley. I bought it today, right before going to an AR experience. (Fekkin hall, I just realized that the whole concept of AR also ties into these themes. Not to mention the game Super Hot. It's like the universe is trying to tell me something.) The book's not that good, but it's fun. It involves a girl who can jump into books, and a boy who she unwillingly brings along. One of the first things the boy asks, upon hiding from the aliens of War of the Worlds, is "For real? Martians?" After some deliberation, the girl responds with "It's real here, in the book." And, I mean, yeah. That fits.

Well, it's 11:54. I should publish this quickly if I want to get it in on the 6th. This might have all been a bit silly, I guess. I dunno. This kinda thing is important to me. Now, then, I need to get to sleep soon if I want any hope of waking up at a reasonable hour in Connecticut. Until next time!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

No More Lyrebirds (or some equally irrelevant title)

It's never over. Not in an absolute sense. Well, depending on what "over" means. Like, eventually there's not going to be any lack-of-entropy left to do things with. So things will be over in that sense. There will still be time-asymmetric phenomena, as I learned today watching this video, but like, those won't happen everywhere. It's kinda strange to think about, that time could be either a local or emergent phenomenon. It's like how the best definition of dimension I've seen makes it a local property of a specific point.

What I'm trying to get at is that I'm not done with finals yet, and even after I'm done with finals I'll have more to do. That's how life works. Not sure why I decided to start with that. Well, no going back now. It's not like I can erase what I've done and start over. That would be ridiculous.

I'm done with most of my classes now. The half-credit Patnam seminar ended quietly enough, with me sleeping through the first half of the Putnam. [I am informed that I am waking up in nine hours. That is false.] Then there was a quasi-party in which I played Werewolf and was the Private Investigator for four out of four games. Le sigh.

The half-credit Bio lab is also done. Biology of Terrestrial Arthropods, indeed. I am now super hyped and at the same time very intimidated by my impending quest to write about every family of every animal. There's a lot out there. But not an insurmountable lot. In other news, I worked for 18 hours straight and until 6:00 in the morning to finish the project for the bio lab. I've done the math, and I got at most a B. Welp. I did my best.

The full-credit freshman seminar (Cosmology in Literature) came to a nice exciting end. The last reading was "Tlön, Ukbar, Orbis Tertius" by Jorge Luis Borges, and it was a doozy. More than half of the class had not realized that the outer-text was just as false as the inner-text. It was incredibly entertaining to watch their brains explode. Then it was revealed that one of the folks mentioned in "Tlön..." was in real life the person who funded the library that became the foundation for Yale. So, in some ways, and to a lot of people, Yale is Tlön. That freaked us all out. I'm still not even sure if it's true. I proceeded to write my final essay about my second-favorite cosmogony: the reality-as-narrative themes in the work of Borges. It was good.

So yeah. Those are the endings that have happened so far. Been so busy these past weeks that I didn't even remember to call up my reps to not repeal net neutrality. Whoopsie daisies. This might be trouble. But hey, it's not over yet. I have breathing room now. I'll try my best. For now though I should get to sleep.

P.S.: One more thing. I've done it! Double triple digits!