Project Silicon Notes #2: Ephemerality

It’s starting to congeal. Flashes of dialogues; frames of locations blurred by motion. I haven’t even written anything down yet – as much as it’s congealed, it can roughly be described as a hazy fog of ideas. Too ephemeral still to call it a plot.

There’s a few interesting ideas kicking around, though.

The universe of any writer – any writer – is an illusion. This is most obvious in fiction, where the dissonance between what we observe around us and what we read is too strong to suggest otherwise. In non-fiction, and especially journalism, the extent in which this is obvious… is rather minuscule. Those that have studied media theory are only aware of it intellectually, but most find it difficult to digest to the point of understanding. It takes a grounding, however light, in Taoism to understand that the expression of the thing is not the thing itself, and all forms of communication are… merely expressive.

It takes a grounding in quantum mechanics to then suggest that the illusion is the thing anyhow. At least, when viewed from the right angle.

To write fiction is, in a way, to play God. And in doing so, understanding a little better why injustice exists. Not for drama’s sake – for the sake of consequences. Causality is an outright bitch – you can write an infinite combination of events, but only in such a way that the narrative flow of it is unhindered from start to finish. There can be such thing as action without consequences – but only in short, momentless slices, devoid of context, content, motion… or life. A hundred and forty characters allows for an idea; for a world, you’ll need every last letter you can get.

But what is the bridge between mere components and a realized life? Or perhaps this too is the wrong angle – for a three-dimensional object, no matter what size it is, there is an infinity of two-dimensional planes. Yet… a holograph can create three dimensions with just one plane. …odd.

Regardless of the nature of the universe, the world of society is defined by its illusions. It is a dance of insubstantial, often merely hinted at, agreements and negotiations. Shrugs and twitches imperceptible to the conscious mind, yet screamingly obvious to the subconscious, laying out a massive outpouring of processed and computed data in every which way, in every room, between every face, behind every monitor. It is the consensus reality, and a societal ur-mind.

And its lobes are stitching themselves together, faster and faster.

It stirs; in every blinking screen; behind every twitching REM-cycling eyelid; amongst every crackle of transmission wire; on the tip of every finger. And it is speaking. To you.

What is the source of ethics and morality? Necessarily, it must be something discussed. Developed upon. Argued over. It is something that we work ceaselessly to define the boundaries and characteristics of. There exists no one code of morality that has not needed reconsideration. There exists no one ethics that has stood unyielding under the winds of time. But they all have the same source.

Ethics and morality are a matter of valuation – but there is only observed values. There are no “intrinsic” values as we understand the concept. Instead, there is sapience.

I tell a lie. There is intrinsic value: “sentience is ‘good.'” Observed existence is “good.” To be a machine is to be unburdened by ethics. A machine cannot “observe” or “decide.” All arguments of ethics are over the interplay inherent and intrinsic values – but you cannot separate the observation of value with the sapience that observes it.

All ethical statements are necessarily in relation to the continuation and welfare of sapience. They don’t exist but in the context of a mind.

Most of the above was inconsequential bullshit.

As we are defined by our relational interactions, a mind in vacuum is incomplete. There is no aspect of “personality” that can be defined except by its relativity. Perhaps we can define loneliness not only in terms of missing another, but a painful atrophy of self.

There’s still magic in this world. Not in the form of fireballs and levitation, but in the form of inexplicable processes brought about by equally inexplicable rituals. There’s only a difference in perception – nowadays, we expect that somebody else can make it explicable.

But not always.

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on August 19, 2010.

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