hereticalphysicist
Sunday, November 30, 2003
  Title: Disputed Territory

It's amazing how easily and completely we can lie to ourselves. We can even tell ourselves lies while knowing that we're doing it, and somehow this action doesn't create a paradox that sends us into a coma. I suppose that's one thing the human race has over computers: the ability to process paradoxes with realities without freezing. Something as simple as telling my computer, "No, no, no, I do NOT want to open Works," after I've just double clicked on the shortcut will prompt a reaction from the computer which brings to mind the phrase "caught in headlights."

Really, accepting and ignoring paradoxes is a form of statistical correction--you use the data you need, discard what you don't, and adjust the results for errors. Of course, this is more easily done for things that are important--such as forming a belief-system--than for things that are utterly meaningless. Instructions from my boss that don't seem to follow will cause me to stop, drop (my jaw), and roll (my eyes back into my head). Concrete but contradictory information turns me into the undead. However, I have convinced myself that I do believe in God and also that God does not exist. That was easy.

I'm getting off topic and approaching a discussion that, really, is kind of dumb. The paradox which had prompted me to blog today is this: When I started this blog, as I was typing in my zip code and my mother's maiden name, I realized that I've started three stories but haven't finished them, my website has been abandoned for so long that it's turned into a flophouse, and my journal, well, let's just say I lug it around in case I ever have to start a fire. I knew that I would start this, and then never update it, and then forget about it. I did something characteristic of me: I began a long and meaningful post and never finished it. I just haven't had any ideas I've wanted to write about, and I don't really think writing's worth the time if it's not that great. I'll be the first to admit that if this is the best I can do, I've got no chance of becoming a professional writer. I guess people make money off worse writing, but I'm not willing to expose myself to the public if I'm not showing my best face. I am a snob. Self-absorbed. I cannot tolerate people thinking that I'm not the most talented and most intelligent and kindest person they've ever met.

I'm afraid that my ego will prevent me from ever daring to do something awe-inspiring. That I'll constantly put off the date on which I'll take the plunge into fame, infamy, or mediocrity, because I'll always feel like a part of me can stand improvement. If I want the world to think I'm perfect, then I'm a fool, and I know that. I also know that there are two theatres of development: the private theatre and the public theatre. A person can only improve himself so much privately. We are inextricably tied to the judgements of others. We only have autonomy insofar that it is not limited by the power the public holds over us. My efforts to improve myself will eventually produce fewer and fewer results, so then I must move into the public theatre. I am afraid that I will not know when that time is. I know that thoughtlessness is a trap the best of us fall into. It's a catch-22, thoughtlessness is. Perhaps even though I think I'm overly self-aware and critical I still can't see an essential and fundamental truth to my existence. This brings us back to paradox: if I can successfully convince myself of two contradictory truths for the reasons I do those kinds of things, how do I know what else is true and what else is false? If one day I attempt to clear myself of these paradoxes, how will I know which thought to keep and which to discard? And if my brain is so malleable that it can accept contradictions with ease, how many other paradoxes do I just let slip past my consciousness? How confused am I? And how will I ever begin to answer that question?

Most importantly, how can I pursue a life of truth when I don't even know what the truth is?

Reality is, largely, what we think it to be. As long as we can define with a certain amount of completeness what we believe reality to be, it matters little what reality is. Those of us who have formed realities based on logic are close enough to the truth, because the truth is a collection of all the conclusions which can be reached through logical thought. Therefore people who have reached some conclusion logically are close enough to the truth so that the discrepancies between actual and imagined can usually be ignored. Those who form their realities through any other process than logic--say, based on impressions from television shows--are pretty far from the truth, more often than not, but still the true nature of reality is unimportant--to them, at least. People who put little effort towards a logical definition of reality probably don't care much what reality is.

So what's my point? One of these days, I'm going to take every thought in my head and put it through a proof machine and what makes it out, I'll keep, and what gets blown out through the smokestacks will diffuse back into the collective assumptions of the misinformed. And then once I've got all my truths sorted out, it'll be perfectly obvious whether or not I should make myself public or spend a little more time in meditation. Easy as pie.

And oh, hey, I actually posted. Hope you, my beloved imaginary friends, enjoyed the intellectual frou-frou. I sure did. 

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