Monday, August 29, 2016

An Account of Life's Journey: A Miniature, Paradoxical Candide

A HOPEFUL FEELING. You start out by feeling an indescribably hopeful feeling. It is a wonderful feeling, but it all seems to live somewhere in the far future... And this piques your curiosity to embark on the journey of life...

OTHER PLACE. You muse and wonder on this idea of some further place, which is different from any other place. Perhaps marvelous creatures live there... Perhaps they would teach you very amazing things... Perhaps you do not even understand how wonderful it could be... Something amazing awaits... If you could only remember all that has happened... For example, whatever just happened. That was amazing, whatever it was... Then you move on...

COLLECTIONS OF SMALL STONES. Stones seem to convey the essence of something... Something simple and yet reasonable. Something hyper-knowledgeable. Something hyper-intelligent, and perhaps infinitely interesting. If only there were infinite stones... But at this point you become confused... Maybe there are too many stones for you to see...?

SECOND THING. You have an idea. Maybe it is your first big idea. THE SECOND THING! There is a thing beyond the first thing, and this thing, whatever it is, is something more interesting, more advanced, more believable, more complex. The second thing is what the first thing could not be. The second thing solves the problem if there is one. The second thing is the answer to the first thing. With the second thing, life has a temporary explanation... If only we knew what the second thing was? Maybe it is evolution... or metaphysics? What specific ideas could ever capture the idea of the SECOND THING?

THE PERFECT WORLD. Then you discover the idea that the world once was very perfect. Everyone knew the right ideas of things. You... indeed, everyone, would know the best ideas and the best things. And that world was called the Classical World. Life would be indescribably great if you just lived in the Classical age, when the great philosophers lived.

THE PERFECT FORMULA. You come up with an idea you have trouble expressing. An idea no one else seems to understand when you tell it to them. An idea of the perfect formula. It concerns something important. It concerns the most interesting, most important thing, for which no one has heard a formula before. But over time, you realize that it is unworkable. Was the formula really necessary? But was it a stepping stone to something greater? Were you just supposed to feel better? Why was it necessary, if no one thinks it is useful? You decide it is helpful, but you become very lazy... Maybe now you can call yourself 'gifted'? What else could it be? What is the answer? Didn't you find the answer already?

CALCULUS. Math could hold some secret now. You have studied algebra. Some fine professors, some fine, very basic solutions to problems. You open your calculus book, and you do some problems. But you're not sure if the answers are correct.  You're not even sure that the answers given in the book are correct. So, you decide 'it must mean something less obvious'. And you think about the origin of the graph VERY HARD, and you think about infinity, and it dawns on you that the whole thing is a method of thinking. Suddenly, you feel that you are closer... much closer to thinking like a college professor.

HYPER-REALITY. Theoretically at this point, hyper-reality would dawn, and you would enter a profound cathartic journey in which you discover all the truths of nature. But this does not happen. Instead, you find yourself collecting small aspects of intellectual karma... indeed, a lot of it already happened, right? A few things click together, but basically, the dimensional world remains a fantasy. Calculus told you that fantasies really are fantasies.

REALIZING THE WORLD. Sometimes you feel you are walking in the Ivory Tower. You have seen a few rooms, or marvelled at the writing on the wall. You are not very high in the tower yet, perhaps. You sometimes journey outside, where you see statues and garden ornaments. Surely this is wonderful! Surely, this is the world! It is phenomenae frozen in a glass jar! It is a menagerie! It is the managier d' affairs! It is Porphyria, a wonderful story related to many others! But this world, although not quite a fantasy in your mind, is yet unreal! Even the real world is false! Have you become an intellectual?  What is next? More papers? More numbers? More jargon? A political fiasco? A new language? Existentialism?

OH, BUDDY. You find a friend in real life, who sort of identifies with your disaster. Oh, buddy he says. It is a moment of realization, that the world has become a small place, and there are two figures: yourself, the intellectual, and thus other guy, who has realized something else. He has realized 'Oh, buddy'. And that is great, it's a scratch on the wall, but it's not EVERYTHING. So, you move on, motivated by the idea that you're an intellectual, and you influenced someone.

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