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.

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