Tuesday, November 04, 2003

You know, if you look long and hard enough for an answer, almost anything begins to look like wisdom.

I suppose this effect is easy to see, from a certain perspective. Constant sameness of any kind dulls your perceptions, and the absence of an answer grates on your intuitions. You begin to look beyond your original assumptions for satisfaction. It is perhaps like a failed relationship, as the unsatisfied partner's eyes begin to wander outside their original scope. That is too apt an analogy, too easy. Also, both images wound me. Too much identification.

You know, not that long ago, I would have said that there is no such thing as a comforting lie. That the truth is preferable to anything else, under all circumstances, even from an emotional standpoint. I'm not certain that it's not, but I've come much closer to considering it. Sometimes the truth can tax my enthusiasm for being right.

There is a small list now, of things I'd almost rather not know. Sometimes I wish for some confusing information, just so I'd have to reevaluate my current best guesses about the world. A good hallucination, or improbable event. A thermodynamic miracle, a coffee cup leaping back together.

But intelligence eventually imparts one with a flawed but functional intuition as to the shape of reality. A kind of reflexive recognition of the character of truth. It gets to the point where you begin seeing similar imprints at the bottom of each story. Not that this doesn't present it's own problems. Recognizing truth in this manner has the same kinds of hazards. False positives are just as, or more dangerous. Sometimes the old plodding way of confirming reality is still the safest. But intuitions of this nature allow interesting conclusions to be drawn. What if there is a certain design similarity between all truths? Would this be real physics? Real math? A mysterious teleological uncaused Cause? No, I don't' think so. But I'm hardly qualified to make an educated guess. Or even a wild speculative guess. It seems like any such similarity is because of reality, rather than the cause of it. But it's difficult the separate the two possibilities.

Maybe I'm just frustrated. A year of little discernible accomplishment IRL. Great strides in my understanding do little to mollify a personality that I built of ambition and personal accomplishment. Learning feels like no great thing, because previously, all learning was easy, a non-subject. I could learn whatever I pointed myself at. Now, I'm either decaying or aiming at targets much higher than before. I prefer and assume the latter. The former is a haunting possibility. I wish, not for the first time, for a return to earlier days. A letter to send to my younger self. "Concentrate here instead". Maybe more time, practice or neural plasticity would result in what I lack thus far. A breakthrough of some kind. A result.

Perhaps my expectation of a result is in itself misguided. I have long noted the anthropomorphic expectation that all important discoveries fit within a simplifying abstraction that in turn fits neatly within human short term memory. Perhaps greatly powerful heuristics lie just outside easily manipulated formulae sizes. There is no way to know for sure. But there is no reason to assume the answers lie outside human ability. The complexity barrier has yet to begin to rear it's ugly head. At least practically. Already, we have hit limits in theoretical knowledge in math. How many other areas conceal such nasty surprises?

I don't like to think about such things. They're unsettling and hard to resolve, emotionally. They remind me of another sore spot, my poor memory. Oh, culturally relative I have a great memory, but in general, a horrible one. I can barely remember my own thoughts of a mere hour ago. My personality of a year ago is assuredly not preserved in full. For someone still gripped by a sense of mortality and self, there is no more horrifying realization than the fact that a few years from today, only the grossest approximation of myself today will still exist. Not even in my own memory will I be fairly represented. I will always be filtered through my future self, and imperfect recollection.

You know, some time ago, my journals and notes of most of my past life before 2001 were lost to me. I can't describe the sense of loss inherent in that. My poor memory seemed more secure with physical hooks to goad it into accuracy. Now whatever I did, or accomplished or began lives just as I remember it today. And even that poor testament will degrade as time passes. Justins past fade into reinterpreted mist. This is not all sad. Much deserves to be forgotten. But I wont' get to choose which is and isn't. I already remember unpleasant social events more vividly than my first kiss, my first book, my first love. I can't remember the first time I understood rationalism. The first time I proved a math.

For a while, I was paralyzed in fear of losing my notes again. And then, after a while I was afraid to take notes. What was the point? I rarely reviewed them after a week or so. And I would lose them again. For the first time in a while, computers became less interesting to me. Most of my childhood and young adulthood I considered them tools primarily for writing. An impression I only recently began to change. I was stymied. I couldn't rely on them anymore. Gradually I began to realize that this was no different than anything else. I can't place sole trust in anything.

These aren't bad realizations. They are useful, to me. But this post has grown, and reading over it, I find little that could be useful to a reader. Little even useful to me. It has little structure, little predictive value. It wanders, and it makes no great conclusion.

I find I am afraid of change, even as I work towards it. I'm afraid of a lot of things. But fear doesn't motivate me as much as desire. Though I do fear that balance reflects nothing so much as genes and environment. I don't know how many thoughts I have that can be described that way. I just have to test each one as much as I can think to, I suppose.

One's optimism or pessimism can be determined by who you want to be, over who you are. And whether the differential is larger or smaller than your ambition and hope. That relationship will be different tomorrow. And I'm not sure what the answer even is today. I guess I can approximate based on whether I think that is encouraging or not.

Today someone accused me of being unscientific. I was surprised how much it stung, particularly given the medium, (just IRC) and the source (some person I don't know, and who doesn't know me). the fact that anyone would get such an impression reflects badly on me, I think. But I can't say they're entirely wrong. I am unscientific, I am irrational. I'm far too emotive, and I'm unstable in several dimensions. Further, I am of limited value in certain endeavors. But I aspire not to be. And that my efforts in this were unrecognized, hurts me. Even from one with little vision. I would like to think that I appear to be trying, at least. But perhaps this is too much to ask from outside opinion. Or perhaps I'm overrating myself.

I like asking a lot of questions. I think good ones point you in better directions than good answers, no matter how useful.

"In the end? You should know, nothing ever ends"
--Dr. Osteoman, "Watchmen"

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