Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another New Year; Another Bird Flu

How long has it been, dear Reader, since I've found any time to write? I look back and find that I predicted Christmas, now come and gone. Even on vacation, my time is filled. Happy New Year!

I sit now upstairs from Mom, not having slept because I was fool enough to take an espresso after dinner out. Mom has trouble regulating her sleep as others have trouble regulating their bowels and not only in the old folks' home. Dad's language is not regulated and one can't be sure he's all there. Though he is recognizably Dad.

Home for the holidays, back from SoCal to Buffalo and glad therefore to be listening to some actual howling wind behind my head, out the window as the temperature plummets. I wonder if I can write. I wonder how to navigate the divide between what interests me and what might interest you. I think I approach writing as a problem to be solved when you, dear Reader want a story.

I know what loss of consciousness means. I sleep, and I watch others sleep and I've watched as the world closes out when I've lain dying. On the other side of that divide is only a wonderland mirror's image of the zeno approach to infinity which is death in practice. There is no crossing.

No, the hard part is to define what consciousness is. At what point does the self-regulation disappear and get replaced by automatonic processes? One could only know that from the inside. The soul a convenient supposition. It only feels as though there is some I here, I suppose.

There are certain narratives which feel inevitable. The plot is so powerful that it would be just too jarring to introduce such dissonance as would contradict the setup. Most of us can't change like that. All or none? In death, we do stop.

Multiple personalities are debunked, and it's back to being played roles and exaggerated evidence.

And yet we crave narratives to be sucked into. Books once, and movies now morphed into three simulated dimensions as though there were no end to the ways that the self-same plot can be twisted, tortured, torts, not sweet.

I watched the next installment in the Stieg Larsson after-death chronicles of a young girl who must stop the narrative and I recognize the pattern. Males whose need to dominate and impose and instill their narrative since it is the only way they can get off. And there is only one kind of force to stop it and it's female and still you are attracted to her.

The man asks - the foul and cruel and careless murderer - why then do we all fail to run even though our instincts cry out danger in the face of someone who pretends to charm us? Why do we fail to run screaming from the easy fuck? It is not fear of offense or is it?

I think it is the same reason that Mom still internalizes what Dad would have said, in some semblance of anger, about what she should be doing or thinking or feeling about, say, money. And so his actual alive presence is like some paranoid fantasy of ghostly resurrection after unresolved death.

I have no problem at all, you see, with automata in concept. Humanity can ride on almost any machine if it be complex enough. I am only the narrative riding, figuratively now, on my shoulder. The substrate hardly matters except as a strange attractor for those stories. The problem would be to make it attractive, as a focus for some feeling.

I suppose, therefore, I have no problem in principle with ghosts either. There should be enough stuff left-behind when a person leaves on which to ride some narrative continuity. The personage hallucinated must be as real, and surely the perceiver can't be accused of absence quite for presence felt, right?

The literal cartoonish Jesus might be so real. Meanwhile, I promised something about Bird Flu, which I understand has now been studied in the lab and perhaps a strain has been induced which might actuate the life-ending pandemic. It seems prudent, no? To create the strain so that it can be understood ahead of time, except that science - the process - demands a kind of openness and transparency to enable the replication which constitutes an important component of proof.

But if too many labs get the formula or its result there seems to be some kind of inevitability to its release and who knows whether the pandemic will have been induced or inevitable or whether the preparations for it will have been its cause?

Which is approximately or actually rather precisely what is going on with the CERN supercollider. Will the standard model - read "narrative" - of physics be bolstered or undermined by the probability that whatever instrumental artifacts get correlated corroborate or not the existence of this God, so-called, particle?

There are people who are automata. They know how to work your sympathies just as the predators do in that Stieg Larsson series. Like a used car salesman, they know how hard it is for you to be rude back to them when they pander their sweet inducements. In extremis, these are the psychopaths, who probably are still conscious, but in the ways machines might someday be. No emotive center.

I read what I've written previously - sometimes - and find that I no longer inhabit it. It's still familiar and recognizably me but I don't exactly remember it. I opened the door to my Buffalo apartment, still un-let, and found myself still there, the carpet vacuumed only yesterday and the kitchen still ready for activation. I had encountered my own ghost and was glad for the company of my two daughters who enabled a chuckle in the place of a different kind of howling exit.

The story of my life as it gets lived is hardly interesting. The attempts I make, now more and more infrequent,  are as unreadable as any technical manual, but no-one wants instruction on these matters.

I also watched Hugo, you know. The 3D semi-animated or is it  semi-computer-generated film which traces the magic spark that transforms a machine to life. Not bad.

A little late to wish it, but Merry Christmas! It really is too bad that so many who have expropriated Baby Jesus for themselves fail to see the magic anymore. By taking only the literal reading, they fail to see that it is the invention which has been enlivened and not the fact. I take hope that change is possible and that the roles we play will be collectively rendered into something quite watchable. Fictions of ourselves.

Yes mother dearest, the world is an awful place, and there can be no resolution to our lust for stuff. Self knowledge, yet again, will lose us our berth in Eden's paradise for surely that is the plot we now inhabit. But for the inconvenient truth that the earth can't support that particular narrative and stay alive.

The perverse incentives have us all and each trying desperately to stay afloat by finding our little advantage. Our narratives resolve themselves into hunts for the best price, and it's hard to make the connection that this is why, indeed, there are no longer any margins.

Shall it be luck which guides our identity, or shall it be hard work? Do we happen upon the gold mine's coordinates or do we maximize our chances, and supposing that we do what might be the obligation for those who conspired with us in ways small or large?

I hear now finally there is some sense of shared responsibility for the actings-out of those deemed insane by the rest of us. There are no narratives which get constructed individually, in isolation.

Well, gotta go! I say Happy New Year again and here's to some rediscovery of the commons before tomorrow becomes today.