Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lions and the civilized man


Looking back, I see all these mes. Some of them boasting with life, others with lots of self-confidence, others lost and confused, others trying to please. In all these mes it's hard to find a common ground. Something which connects all of them. It reall shows how the self is just a construction and a context.

But there are contexts in which I more frequently "fall to the ground" and, once there, it is almost impossible to come back up.

The opposite of that is when I'm doing lots of exercise and going to Kung Fu classes. Then my light shines. These are the times where I "own" my self, these are the days full of stars where I can, like a surfer, ride my own feelings and thoughts and penetrate, without falling on some inner recesses of my mind. Some of the mysteries of the world open up their frangrance and I can smell and live a little of their magic.

When I fall... my mind becomes the center of my attention. Specific things in my mind occupy me for hours and days without end. I loose the sense of the all. I get lost in details. Feelings that arise from an unconcious daily life start to dominate me. I loose control of myself, of who I am and where I am going. In deeper and deeper voyages I become less and less conscious of the journey. I become less and less like the surfer glinding in the wave, I become more and more like a fisherman swept by strong currents. I loose sight of the bigger picture, where things make more sense. Instead I focus more and more on the detail, until I loose it all.

Some people I'm with also inspire me more or less to go into the broader or shallower picture of what's happening. In a very specific case, some people seem to be incompatible with the broader vision, with the "lion" vision. When I'm the lion, they seem to want to tame me. They don't like the lion. I don't think they're afraid of it, they really don't like it. They think it's rude and ugly. Unproportionate to the occasion. Something is deeply wrong with the lion, in their view. It shouldn't roar, it shouldn't smile, it shouldn't tumble. It's a capricious lion. And they don't like that either.

They try to tame the lion,
to tame the lion,
to tame the lion...

But then the lion just dies.
In fact the lion never existed. It was just an expression of freedom. And freedom cannot die, it just disappears. It stands in waiting, until a new opportunity comes for its arousal.

You cannot tame freedom. But can you deal with the tamer? Can you be with the tamer, talk with him, spend the day with him, eat with him, spend the night with him, share your whole life with him, and still... be free?

Perhaps it would even help the tamer! Perhaps it would free the tamer. Knowing that such a happy lion was roaming about, has his friend. Would he become a lion too?

What divides the lion and the tamer might be this: both like the lion, but one of them like him better in a cage. So, to change, the tamer would have to see, not only the beauty of the lion, but the ugliness of the cage.

The problem is, probably the tamer loves more the cage than the lion. He also lives in a cage, he is a cage man, or, in other words, a modern man, a civilized man. He doesn't even exist without a cage!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bluefish in another language

Bluefish is an intelligent piece of software that automatically adjusts its interface to the language of the operating system. The problem is, it doesn't give you a choice. If you want to choose differently, the manual says something like: "change the language of your operating system" - which is kind of difficult / impossible in Windows. But there is an obvious solution. Just go to the program's folder, generally in:
c:\Program Files\BlueFish\share\locale\
and erase all the sub-folders that don't correspond to the language you want. Easy really!

How I love smart software!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Time travel and determinism in three 2014 movies

I know basically three theories about time travel:
1) it's impossible
2) you would go back but into a parallel universe
3) you would go back but your actions would have to be consistent with future events.

The first two are compatible with indeterminism the last one with determinism. The problem with movies that assume time travel is that, when they choose indeterminism they are very slack about how little changes in the chain of events would get amplified in the future. Even a movie called the "butterfly effect" doesn't take it seriously.

"The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier." Wikipedia

Which means that even if you appeared my just milliseconds in some desert location, perhaps in the middle of the ocean, no one has even seen you, that appearance would change the weather patterns significantly in such a way that it would change, after a few weeks, among many other things, the thought patterns of the entire human population (including news, etc). Which means that, just by going back in time a few years and appearing momentarily in a desert location, you would be creating a future where the self that made that trip would not exist. In fact, in a non-deterministic perspective of reality just making time run again, even if all the details were the same, would yield different futures. Because, in a non-determinist perspective, the exact same causes do give rise to different actual events (they do give rise to the same set of possible events, but then the one that gets chosen from that set is taken unpredictably).

Now, we have no idea whether the universe works deterministically or not, or even if there are parallel universes (like Everett, Deutsch and other physicists have argued). But if it doesn't it is impossible to predict what will happen from our actions. The future becomes so unpredictable that we can't go back to change the past and make it this or that without changing everything else (unless for tiny time travels, with just a few minutes perhaps).

So, in a story-telling perspective, determinism is much more appealing, but, so far, I had only seen the 1995, Terry Gilliam's "12 monkeys". But now I saw three movies that render time travel in a deterministic perspective, and so far as I can see, do it extremely well, they are:

Time Lapse

All from 2014! Now perhaps there are really lots of movies out there that I don't know of that deal with time travel well, but I was pleasantly surprised with these three. At least something coherent! Great! Let's have more like that!

From our human perspective determinism is not easily imagined, because we necessarily see ourselves as free. I think these movies (especially the last two) make it much easier to understand that there is no difficulty in compatibilizing our inner feelings of having free will within a deterministic world. Of course that does nothing to show that the world is in fact deterministic. But at least it opens up our imagination to what, as far as we know today, might be a real possibility (non-determinism is also a real possibility but it is much more difficult to depict in a movie, essentially because it does not apply only to human actions, everything would be happening slightly differently, you might "correct" something in your past, only to be overwhelmed by a huge set of unrelated differences regarding which you would have no control).

PS - as you might deduce from this text I don't expect the movie industry to just entertain me, I would also like that my conceptual abilities be expanded as well, when I go to the movies.