Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Toughest Ever

Logistical problems arise in Heaven. Maybe what you really, purely want is to be the toughest ever; when you're choosing your traits for your paradisical self, you prioritize strength or whatever else, and it doesn't work. Heaven has to be a lie, has to be false, because billions of people and counting have already made that wish and strength is relative. So if your fulfillment is to be the toughest, and everyone, or ten percent of people, wishes for that, there's a point when desires conflict and you have to be designed to lose fight after fight. Not even serious fights, like beating up intruding demons, but just demo fights for sporting, where you compete against a fellow denizen of Heaven. And lose. Awfully and undeniably. People who've been keeping track for 100 years share how your lack of technique is similar to John Smith in 40 A.D. And all you ever wanted was to be that ultimate rock that could definitely keep things safe and stand between good and evil and everything about you was pure but it was just impossible to make you better than an embarrasssing clunker.

Heaven can't pay off. The things we want are so relative that Heaven can't remake us as we'd desire. Whatever Heaven would be, it would have to set a new standard that would, of necessity, leave the majority of us at merely half the potential strength of the desired trait. There could only be one Batman, and Jesus already has all the points anyway, so Heaven would be much like Earth where whatever we judged each other on would be relative to time and place: strength, looks, influence, and so forth. It really would have to be all about God, praising the dude who wrote the code, since otherwise everyone (or too many people, or whatever number) would pick the best qualities of the same things and make it an utterly boring, depressing society where everyone was the toughest and coolest, and tough or cool et cetera would resultingly have no real meaning.

Things are more forgiving for the female choice, because there are perhaps infinite ways of being the hottest, but clever-requesters who wanted to be able to transmogrify themselves instantly to reflect the desired partner's peak desires at that instant would leave most women sex-wraiths who only adopted a firm form when meeting a new partner, so going to super-mass again would really be the only way to spend time there.

Deception is an option. Use omnipotence to make every single combat-mastery-desiring male Batman in his own Gotham, unaware that he is but one node in a Heaven of trillions and believing that he can, mano v mano, beat up any individual combatant in all creation, ignorant of the fact that he is duplicated many times over in other Heavens. So Heaven is hey Bruce we thought we lost you there and then every other fight is a stunning victory, but it's all a lie and if he ever finds out it was all fake everything he thought he learned about his victorious self was untrue. Heaven is a letdown, has to be a letdown, because you either have to make it a lie or else you admit that everyone wants to be tough so you leave it at Earth-levels and after a thousand years in Heaven you realize that nothing has improved, that it can't improve, because our very mindsets, and our numbers, make it impossible for all or most desires to be realized. We are our own worst enemy.

Making this discussion touch on physical prowess seems to make it a joke, or an easily solvable riddle, like maybe Jesus only makes you tough if you don't ask for it, but take it as a metaphor instead for any other positive trait which might legitimately interest a person. You could just want to be smart or nice or whatever else, and find that relative gifts have made you a cocktail bore despite all your efforts.

Combat is just an easy example. The smartest, the coolest, the most muscular, the most quietly suave--all relative, on Earth as in Heaven. Wherever we go, there we are, programmed in the deepest aspects of our characters to view achievement relatively and trapped in the corner by our desires to live forever and keep growing.

Some incomplete, milkwater Heaven is usually the result: you spend your time not getting what you want, but appreciating how great God is, because He sets the standard, and it's at least plausible that "appreciating infinity" can be done by everyone forever even if society keeps pumping out souls for another googol years. And if no one suffers debilitating physical conditions in Heaven, then the standards for "worst ever" change, and suddenly basic walking and talking and thinking lose points, and what're you gonna do then? No, seriously, everyone can't be the toughest ever and everyone can't have a faith-healed working body, because without sores and scabs what worth is beautiful skin? In ten thousand years of everyone having beautiful hale skin, it starts to seem pretty standard and dull, and we start to figure out why Earth was really nice for our broken competitive minds, because even if you're baseline normal you're not one of those freaks and there's something to appreciate and know you're better than. Does everyone lose their weight problem or adopt a healthier and aesthetically pleasing form when they come to Heaven? Does faith mean nullifying all the comparative benefits of the other faithful? Frank worked for 70 years to make sure his body was the best it could be, even getting up in the morning during retirement to do hard aquarobics until that last day, and then he finds out that the muffin stuffers will look just as good as him during eternity? Hey, you're here, you should be happy with it. Does God tweak his mind to make this make sense, or is the power of prayer supposed to point the way to conceiving of and resolving all these non-problems? Conversely, do we just let Eugene the muffin-stuffer go to Heaven as a fatso perpetually short of breath, after 70 years of serious worship? Either option is being an unfair jerk to someone, and just leaving things as-is but with perpetual youth to worship God only perpetuates the same problems with the edges of our imaginations ("dreams").

It's easy to dismiss such desires as petty, but look beyond the perceived pettiness of toughest ever. Who's willing to ask for that if it means getting hurt all day and being forgotten and feared (genuinely fear, not in some cool movie way) while everyone else has fun, and you fight the good fight, Paladin of God, keeping the badness away and smashing yourself to pieces again and again so the dining hall can remain inviolable? Lots of people; it's in the male code and the military does well manipulating it. Picking broken glass out of your side all night while everyone else has priceless pleasures is a boon to the right character, and wishing to be the toughest ever, who can win those fights and make the goodness possible, isn't really a joke. And not being able to be that is really a letdown when you were built for it.

Humans have dealt with this in an interesting way in video games. MMOs, or massive multiplayer online games, face a similar conundrum to God, in the sense of having an audience initially accustomed to single player games, where your character can be the toughest and most important in the world, transitioned to a venue where everyone's playing and everyone can't be the toughest or even witness any of the plot. And we see the Heaven-like problems arise there, where people achieve max level and can easily beat tough NPCs ("non-player characters"), but are worthless or only marginal in a duel against another player. All their character's incredible abilities are duplicated a thousandfold by other characters, and therefore become irrelevant; companies attempt to resolve this problem in tiny increments, by granting sub-marginal improvements to a character who puts in an extra thousand hours of play-time, but that only guarantees illusory dominance among a sub-class of computer nerds who spend way too much time learning the nuances of five digit decimal point strategies and how by-the-second changes can affect gameplay. One would hope God had done better with Heaven, but the profit motive hasn't managed to do so yet in any specialization. The prime conundrum of eternity, in this case, becomes that requiring the effort to gain the penultimate nothingness of some higher status puts the bulk of the experience itself out of the reach of the everyman, such that he'll stop playing. Jesus is such a good deal that, unlike most deities, you can accept him after a lifetime of nun-strangling and still win, but relativity makes any other pursuit of greatness equally futile.

Something in these problems, these unfairnesses, mirrors our fundamental wrongs; our self-deceit and self-harm, and in another way, reveals something of how we might get past them. It's in our nature to want to be the smartest ever, the toughest ever, and so forth, and it's mathematically impossible for that to be true more than once; it's similarly impossible to design hopeful entities and not have them pursue the ultimate fates. To be sure, there are many humans, perhaps a majority, that are fine being untermensch as long as they're respected, and there's something to be said for being inferior except that you pledge your service to someone whom you know is the ultimate best, and carrying their banner in your heart to be vicariously part of whatever that greatness is. This is one of the little reasons why our deistic and paradisical fantasies thus far have been fundamentally crippled, although the harsh Christian reality of being perpetual dung which proudly clings forever to Yahweh's boot, part of ultimate goodness because He owns your proud self, is at least a step in the right direction. Yet that has its own failing, because your devotion is either the toughest ever or is perpetually accepting inferiority, and besides most people (thankfully?) not being designed that way, it makes them more truly Yahweh's servant than you or anyone else can ever be. And if Yahweh's smart, He knows that, and the shame, the worthlessness, of not secretly wanting better, can never be erased.

Our salvation, as it were, lies in the fact that a human-like entity didn't plan all of this, and so us going on to new challenges (and delights, and fears, et cetera) is a natural process that doesn't stop at the boundaries of our current imaginations. It stops at some boundaries, but you'll be smarter then and understand what those are. And in higher maths, it is possible for a lot of people to be the toughest ever, and for it to be true, and whatever else you may build.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Payola

The existence of the payola, and its derivations, speak to a lot, and as with the peaks of so many underwater glaciers, indicate the many more things which we do not "see" but which have to exist to make the payola work. In this case, for it to work, people have to actually buy whatever crud is being sold. Think of paying some purveyor of goods to promote sales of your product, such as paying a radio station to play your song irrespective of how much the local community and/or the disc jockey(s) likes the song, placing a book prominently near a high-traffic area in a bookstore irrespective of what customer interaction or staff preferences say, or doing any other thing in which a greedy capitalist business changes its sales model in order to profit not on selling what it thinks will sell best, but on earning money from the purveyor of goods just for popularizing something by making it appear popular, e.g. playing or displaying it more. Here's a link about an Apple E-book price fixing scheme designed to accomplish a similar goal by a different method than the mid-twentieth-century radio payola, where the most effective advertising of a product is the assumed choices of other buyers, as opposed to what consumers generally imagine--and are, per the government, entitled to imagine--are their real choices for buying something.

The payola was cheating, in a way; a violation of the sacred agreement between merchant and customer. Everyone knows all the customer wants is to buy an impression of popularity; to buy as others have bought. And in a way, the payola was good, for it made this true before and after, making a song falsely appear popular even as it made the song actually popular by everyone falling for it simultaneously. And customers were mad when they figured out the payola, because it was the merchant admitting the customer wasn't actually making up his mind based on some independent set of intelligent criteria of what he actually might like, but only by popularity, which everyone knew is all he really wanted, but which the merchant, through an open payola, insulted and proved openly. "See, you didn't really have a set of criteria for what you like. You are, in fact, so hungry for conformity that you're too dumb to have criteria." It's a similar unspoken agreement to the one that democratic governments have with their voting cattle, where they make a show of running candidates, including the one who's going to win anyway, and the show of a "competition" flatters people that they have criteria when they actually don't and just follow the payola trend. Anecdotally, people coast-to-coast tell me they can't vote as they'd really prefer because you have to choose from a limited set of options; Americans' silly belief that having "more" parties would change things is like a fantasy that more stations and more disc jockeys would substantively change the music business. But it's a sacred bond; you're not supposed to admit the people are idiots and just appoint a dictator who would do the same things anyway. Not because policy would be adversely effected--if you were going to do something repressive or evil, your "elected" groups could and would do it anyway--but because it's insulting to people to admit that you know they don't have any character or criteria. You know they don't, they know you don't, but it's just incredibly rude to admit that you know that they know. You can't go one step further on the line of reasoning, so it's okay if you know they know and it's okay if they know you know, but it's extremely taboo to have a situation portraying how they know that you know that they know or vice versa.

All products, not just politics. In mid-twentieth century radio, the payola told people what they were supposed to like, both individually and en masse, and without that, confused music fans would have "liked" all sorts of different things and it would've caused confusion in what music to play at gatherings, but the payola got them all on the same page. Or if we're all going to agree to feel magical, and we're each reading one of fifty books that year involving magical boarding school education, all the funny or heartwarming or thoughtful scenes can hardly be shared with anyone else, so all the literary agents and publishing companies have done their job, and people can be brought together by learning what it is they like today. Payola worked not only because of this type of aggregating effect, but because people's characters were really so empty that they needed this guidance to know what it was they actually liked. Which means that, in a sense, what humans like is not really their own decision, it's sort of a gradual mass vote, where smarter people decide for them and they're glad for it. Similar in politics, where "liberals" in Great Britain and the United States thought they were antiwar until the next generation of leaders decided that they wanted to be all about military occupations, and they agreed. So if you're a critic in a magazine, it's very important for your job that you claim some sort of independence or realism in regard to your choice what to review this week, and not just admit that you're reviewing what everyone is supposed to be reading, because that's as good as admitting that the morons don't really know what they like, and that even hyper-simplified tag lines on the backs of books aren't enough to clue them in--and of course they're not, because the taglines give no indication of how popular the book is or will be, whereas certain tones and locations for critical reviews can indicate that. Kind of a hilarious and good representation of this can be found in the pop history book reviews that often pop up in places like The Atlantic, where a bunch of people coincidentally, in say 2021, want to out of seeming nowhere read about the forgotten Taft's famous diplomatic river cruise to the Congo, where not only what you read but what you talk about at cocktail parties can be created from scratch. So our culture, whatever it is, is not so much "good" or "bad" as it is "choreographed," and our desire to have people independently make choices is childish and wrong and impossible and unrealistic, representing a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is that people need out of their lives; out of all forms of entertainment and pastime during their time here. No one talks about the growing security threat in Congo, let alone Taft's voyage, unless they've been choreographed to think or care about it; they don't comb the stacks of new releases and pick which historical event/unevent catches their honest interest, but rather, are guided to discover their honest interest by a payola review. It is not that we're in search of lost time, but lost selves, in how cravenly we beg professional knowers for keeping us aware of what should be up to date. Ergo Taft's heroic journey is not forgotten, and besides perfectly demonstrating a lot of things that are in vogue today, it guides us to timeless principles that can benefit us anytime, hey did you read the new one about Taft?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Cairns

A sadness, a hope, of the world around us is the presence of evidence of not being alone; of something else being out there. That moment of existential fear we may experience upon one of our births, a newness of any sort, is not fun, because realistically contemplating being the only thing that exists, has ever existed, is terrible, even if it only lasts for far less than a second. And we tend to forget that kind of thing, because even remembering what it was like can shatter anything we've built.

A great part of our flirtation with the Random god, specifically our inversely wishful feartasy of evolution by chance, is likely related to our respective experiences with this terrifying moment, when we explore the possibility of believing that we are alone forever. It can seem too good to be true that we are not, and on Terra, our fantasies of not being alone are themselves often as broken and error laced as our fears of actually being alone (e.g. All Powerful Sky Man created me because he thinks I'm great versus the world is Void).

If we're out hiking, all the original dilemmas are still there, in the sense that we can't conclusively prove that we existed before beginning the hike or before the most recent step, nor that anyone else has ever walked here before and that this is actually a hiking trail. Perhaps roadside restaurants or marker signs or trail names can assuage us, though they might well be furnished by the overactive imaginations of the one terrified to further insanity. Barring that, though, or perhaps considering and rejecting it, the old wildman's cairn is our truer marker, where if one finds a pile of stones, one can speculate that although they may have piled themselves there geologically or via the wind, it is far more likely that someone else placed them there, that someone has come this way before, and that the chance of the stones having randomly arranged themselves that way is, like human-market-based theories of random evolution, too ridiculously impossible to seriously contemplate, ergo there are other hikers out there, or were within the past 100 years, because even a violent windstorm's chance of upsetting the heavy cairn in the past 100 years is of infinitesimal merit next to the monumentally (sic) greater chance that they were placed by a human at some point, probably somewhat recently.

Real evolution is like a cairn, where we can find ourselves on a planet with an atmosphere of a certain mix of chemicals and creatures perfectly suited to breathing those chemicals and conclude that there is no way this relationship occurred randomly, but, like the cairn, was most likely set up to look like that. There are 3, and also 500, and also thirty million more likely explanations than that a dude like us came up with it all 5K or 80 billion years ago, though that's a more mathematically sound conclusion than that it just happened, though quite vulnerable to accusations of wishfulness and more specific analysis of local antiquities. What seems to miss us on this planet is the possibility of accusations not of wishfulness, but of inverse wishfulness, where our own potency is validated not by believing in a sky-man, but by believing that we are so incredible that we could not possibly have been planned. The reaction is similar to the ultimate racism of our (over-) expressly non-racist universalism, where truest understanding means understanding that everyone is equally capable as we define capable pursuant to an extremely limited set of outcomes. E.g., African non-patriarchy and the use of physical violence instead of the development of nuclear bombs can't be due to the expression of philosophies deeper than abstract thought, but must merely be a repression of the African's natural abilities and desires to develop nuclear bombs. It is a horrible indictment of Nu Euros, their cherished belief that everyone is and must be and has always been just like them: and in its own way, our insistence upon the random appearance of these planetary cairns is similarly arrogant and stupid. "We're so incredible no one could have ever thought us up!" In local parlance, we might say such an attitude is equally childish to deciding that a sky man who looks like us made this all to see how cool we were or weren't. I'm taking my toys and going home.

And of course, the Nu Euro insistence that Africans were nuclear bombers in their heart of hearts reveals not only how great we think we are for developing what passes for our technology, but how worthless we think of what the African has developed on his own. We're so interested in racism now, in haughty defiance of the truth that being "liberal" is significantly more racist than being "conservative"--but not in the way that conservatives use when they try to argue that Congoid businesses don't need extra tax credits. Rather, truly recognizing the racism inherent in today's liberalism is less flattering to Europeoids than it is to other peoples, because yes white people were smarter than other races and thus formed the modern world and all its goodies, but it scares us a lot to contemplate those goodies not being the best possible. So we offend not only the milkwater anti-racist liberal, but the pro-science white race realist, when we question whether or not the past few thousand years of Europeoid tech was really the best possible way. The "liberal" can't admit that the African really couldn't have accomplished this, while the "race realist" can't admit that maybe what was accomplished actually wasn't that good, and that maybe the Congoid's deferment of abstract thought for twenty thousand extra years will turn out to be a superior survival strategy in the long run than the Europeoid's horrid abuse thereof. How many millions of successful African farms would you trade for four new Dresdens? Tough question either way.

The paling consequences of our "tech," and the occasional imaginations of what we might perceive as its "mis" use, reveal a great deal about us, very little of it good. Stuck in a hell of undeclared urban warfare, with Africans killing off Europeoids as fast as they can without rousing the beast, this sort of concern seems silly and badly timed, but imagine the opposite, living in the nuclear apocalypse, and you can see how the Nu Euro's "He may guide us to use it" wargasms might've led you to view one hell as worse than another. If the Jews had wanted the last white people to annihilate themselves in the 1960s, make no mistake, the proud little Nu Euros would've done it, and some dumb Congoid survivor's oral history that "Yeah, dey was sum bad shit up dere" would've been a more thorough and intellectual history of the Europeoid race than anything that's been composed in this reality about the Cuban missile crisis.

Details aside, remember the cairns. Someone has gone this way before and the way is passable.