As I’m lying on my couch in the cushions arranged just how it’s most comfortable, I think about the warmglow vitality of the cubensis amphetamine symbiosis; in walking through the humming shadow treepaths of the heath under a lilac sky.
The hum is the vibe of London and trafficenergy and wealth and struggle and privilege and serene nature manicured wild Wuthering in the centre of dense conurban sprawl. In my mind’s limbic memory I can walk through those humming shadow treepaths, comfortable pale fire because fuck going out to the heath in physical space (though it’s literally just outside my window).
To go out would mean shoes and outdoor clothes, what an effort. I mean if I hadn’t done the walkabout a hundred times or if it was LESS magical, maybe I’d get off my couch. This is perverse, I’m well aware. Shouldn’t the magic be an attractor, the hundred affirmations a source of conviction?
I remember a character in a book by Douglas Adams. Odin, Norse deity, personified as an old man, bored by omnipotence but fascinated by lovely clean linen. Bed linen especially. As the crazy world roiled and raged, Odin fretted only about the next change of bedding in his comfortable hermitage. It was very little fretting, truth be told.
Here was a veritable god, who could go anywhere and do anything, content to range no further than between his bed, his bathroom and his couch. Harming noone. When I read this book I was in my teens and I didn’t empathise with the Odin character at all. I’d glossed over his parts in the novel. I’d wanted the action of real plot with the heroine and Thor and the holistic detective. Douglas Adams was clearly an Odin sympathiser, however. I guess I’ve come to understand why.
I don’t know if old man Odin was supposed to be a satire on getting old and comfortable and disconnected from the vanity fair maelstrom of People Doing Something in the world. Was it a criticism? Didn’t the novel end with Odin reluctantly acting all-powerful one last time, to save civilisation, and then returning to his clean linen, comfort and obscurity?
I should probably read the book again. I know it was good and of course memory is imperfect, pale fire as I say. I won’t be reading it again. I’ve got my cushions stacked just how it’s most comfortable and the books are in another room altogether.
(Full disclosure here. I won’t be going out into the beautiful magical woods or reading the book by Douglas Adams. I’m going to move off the couch, however. I’m going to a freshly made bed…)
Life finds a way through.
Words, on the other hand, struggle.
Let’s see now. I’ll try to lay words on this sentiment in my nothing-much noggin.
By the time of birth there’s already been an enormous weight of microcosm natural selections, iterations and multiplying iterating run cycles from – let’s call it – the zygote metagenesis launch. It’s an oft-ignored application of the Darwinian natural selection model, but let’s call a spade a spade: zygotes build humans, and the simplest explanation for such magic is the same one we see in macro for life on Earth, an unconstrained lifegreed algorithm that’s evolved to select for intelligence; and imagination; and homo sapiens minds.
It’s worth taking a moment to try to conceive this zygote algorithm playing out in real-time. Drawing energies from the womb, its expansion is exponential and its complex build iterates across at least five dimensions: its own generational lineage, its exponentially accumulating cellgrowth, genetic homo sapiens heritage, intracellular and intercellular network, continuous de facto symbiosis refinement. The zygote becomes an embryo blob becomes a foetus blur becomes a baby in distinct delineated focus.
Snap to the first breath: in – rude awakening (but not of YOU, yet) – first breath – out cry – and what’s unleashed in the world is a living force, an organism will, that’s insatiable while it’s resolving through self-assembly stages.
“What the fuck is this world, where is the titmilk, what is all this air in my belly and my arse, what is an arse, why am I bleeding poo, what is this home smelling leviathan and why is some of it making me clean, feeding me energy, creating warm like it used to be in the fading beforetime. More energy, yay! Neurogenesis is not a free lunch and this Darwin shit is far from over.“
Consciousness – self-awareness, personality, the you in your mind, may have its own brutal expression of the natural selection evolution build. See Consciousness Builder Algorithm In A Zygote speculation to read more on the prisoners of our alt-conscious Omdurman’s four-walled House of Stone (prison)
We’re launched into adulthood – once the construction algorithms have mostly reached their exit() – full of fuel and greed; a second metagenesis that’s as much complicated by nature, nurture, an inheritance peculiarly ourselves – for good or ill – with its operating system of layers and substrates and interrupts and events and creative energies to not only keep the life-organism plates spinning but (for a while) find more to spin.
The energies seem inexhaustible but, although it’s a generous overabundance thanks to natural selection winnowing most successful genetic delivery in multivariate environments, the fuel is finite. In a life given longevity the energies may not last as long as the lineage intercellular symbiosis pact to which conscious human minds owe their existence.
The overabundance plays out in a consciousness that inevitably sees itself and sees the power gradually lost each cycle, though it’s tiny, imperceptible, ignorable-ish; sees it and feels it but like Kanute at the oceanside, must command the tide not to recede and be shown impotent.
“Rage rage against the dying of the night?”
Maybe that works as a desperate invocation if you’re a middle aged drunk but good luck finding that sort of life-affirming vigour in old age. The tide is going out; and the night is coming in. Whatever your consciousness might do to hold itself together, it won’t hold itself together. Death is the description others who are alive give, to depict what they observe, but for the dying-to-dead organism itself, the future isn’t going to be a neat, storybook binary.
Neuroscience consensus on consciousness is there’s no moment the lights switch on; and yet it’s just as unanimously asserted the lights are switched on and consciousness is evident because it’s its own evidence. “Something seems to be happening…” The same will be true at the end of life.
There won’t be a moment the lights go out; an instant of being and the next instant unbeing. End of life won’t be experienced as death but deliquesce.
And what will that feel like?
Imagine the light at the end of a tunnel. The one often used in religion and spiritualism to represent a point of focused light and bliss. Afterlife, rebirth, heaven, whatever. With good reason this notion appeals to the not-dying-right-now human being. Even for an atheist, for whom the light at the end of the tunnel is the end of being, there’s a comfort in the life-coda aspiration: live your life and face your moment of death, a blinding reunion as your consciousness transitions back into the universe’s potentialities yadda yadda yadda. It’s an enticing story; or would be if it weren’t complete bullshit.
In fact the light at the end of the tunnel is a compelling misdirection. 180 degrees of misdirection. Imagine looking the other way from the light at the end of the tunnel, towards the antithesis of focus, light and bliss. That’s the trajectory of life and consciousness. That’s the direction we all go, eventually. Away from the light, blurring out of focus, flickering framerate lost fidelity, feeble reassertions of conscious selfhood against the irresistible entropy as more and more executions of the neural functionality fail. It won’t be death, but pathetic apathetic bemused confused staccato deliquesce that’s not instant but closer to a distilledd Alzheimers disintegration. Where, what, how, why, who am I (goodbye) EOF.
What does it matter if we’re living in a simulation?
What does it matter if, under all the inscrutable layers of codex abstraction, the human mind – consciousness itself – disassembles to a machine code base-layer that bootstraps from the zygote and ends in the same EOF?
It takes energy to care. It squanders energy to feel.
Some speculate there may be a safe shutdown process written into life-mind substrate, a calming anaesthetic that’ll only execute when – let’s say – consciousness packet loss (deliquesce) exceeds a certain level… But I can’t think why natural selection pressure would’ve evolved such a thing. Fight or flight is the antithesis of safe shutdown.
Perhaps, as stoics and existentialists suggest, the most sensible “added” purpose of the middle years through to old age is the coding of a safe shutdown tailored to the peculiarities of an individual mind. And who better than you, to do this coding? Who else could even be capable this coding than the only authority on the particular consciousness scheduled for shutdown?
Let me be human (for once) and say – while I’ve still got energy to say it loud enough – fuck you, fuck you future EOF, fuck you future me. You know I love you, I don’t need caveats, but fuck coding safe shutdown against the deliquesce to the EOF. If for no other reason than simple disagreeable perversity.
Feel free to call that hope.