Saturday

free will and tomfoolery

what do you call a northern comedian?
a manc-jester?
no.

are people who read c'leb mags actually worth saving? what and who are we fighting this ideological battle for? people died in trenches so they could we didn't have, oh, just arrgh.

a qote from hofstader:

unless a person designed himself and chose his own wants (as well as choosing to choose his own wants, etc. [which leads to an infinte regress]) he cannot be said to have a will of his own.


this is what i was talking about with my superhero whose special power was free will. the only possible way to have free will would be to have no internal state, the body literally as a vessel for the soul, which is why i said all that stuff about being able to have absolute control over every cell and molecule in his/her body. dr. manhatten from the watchmen, which i reread last weekend, has really got me thinking again. it would thus be interesting for our hero to look like a normal person, but was actually hollow (except for the tube conecting mouth to anus and urethra, which can be percieved as outside the body), with a soul inside - the first ever. everyone else is completely deterministic. except that snake plicit in this argument is its own downfall - because we are not in a closed system, but a huge and chaotic one, it becomes impossible - nay, intractable - to actually determine what people will do (unless you're doctor manhatten - "a puppet who can see the strings"). so we might as well say we have free will after all.

no, again. while the minuteae is unpredictable, the broad trends are determined. choice is an illusion, but to an uncertain degree, and we can happily act with will. especially when we think we have free will and delierately try and break the cycle - then things get interesting. think of the person who was beaten as a child, and is now on the verge of beating his/her own children before someone says, "you can change". this is important - how the study of free will afects our predetermined lives. i digress. one can predict groups of people, and even individuals, very accurately. but one can never be certain, and there is always at least a small amount of chaos.

another thing i loved in watchmen this time round was rorschach's chapter. i'd love to use his and his doctor's diaries as commentry over an instrumental piece. but i found the last few panels slightly fallacious - the doctor is examining his rorscach tests after his wife has walked out, and writes something along the lines of "i wanted to say it looked like a pretty butterfly, but it just looked like [something disgusting]. but even that is masking the true horror. it is a picture of nothing." i would go one step further; i would say it's not a picure at all. it is nothing.

at work, the middle-aged man i was sitting next to, said to me,
"you only put your card up for the totty, eh?"
(you see, we put our green cards up in the air to show we're free and the red ones to show we've got a problem, so when a student walks into the room everyone who's free sticks their green card up.)
this was clearly untrue. i put my green card up whenever i spotted anyone waiting. besides, i don't think in terms of 'totty'. but i didn't want to say that, nor 'actually, a fie upon the creed of woman, i shall ne'er know that warm comfort again.' so i said
"actaully, i'm gay."
i couldn't help myself (see above).
"oh, right, okay. well, you just have a different kind of totty, don't you?"
did he lose that round or me? i think we both came out looking pretty bad. i told him i wasn't gay after all, i just said it to see how he would react. but that's not true - it just seemed like the best thing i could possibly say.

so then later, he asked me my name again. i was clearly wearing my name badge, and yet again, i could't help but lie. he was inviting me to take the piss out of him, and i wasn't really taking the piss anyway, just taking the opportunites where they arose. so i said my name was john.

later, he called me john, and i said
"eh? my name's not john. it's david," and i pointed to my name badge. he was so confused.
"whyever did you think my name was john?"
"well.. er.. i was speaking to jennifer yesterday, and i asked what your names were, and she said you were called john."
i didn't realise i was experimenting on this guy. he looked like he actually believed what he was saying. a simple, 'i don't know', or a factual 'stop being a dick! you told me you were gay, and you said your name was john!' would have sufficed. i didn't think i was even that convincing. but he was not only fished in, but also this analogy can't stretch far enough to convey my intended meaning. did he really invent a memory to make sense of the situation, a la (spoiler alert!) 'under suspicion', starring gene hackman and morgan freeman? how many times have you reimagained a memory, only to consult someone else who was there, or your diary, and find that it didn't happen like you remember after all? i know i've done it, 'though i can't recall any specific examples now.

la.


oh yeah, and then i went to see super furry animals on my own and it was bloody brilliant. first gig where i have actually found myself putting a hand in the air without meaning to. some suspiciously album-like sounds going on - see my comments about zabrinski's bacnking tracks - but a totally wonderful gig nonetheless.
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