Archive for February, 2007

Of unicorns and electric sheep.

After finally settling with your own ideas and beliefs, having worked them all out, there is little else for you to do to busy your increasingly insane mind with, than adapt those of others and re-chew them, think them over.
 
Sound weird? Nah. Law enforcers are weird.
I’ve been watching ‘I, Robot’, ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and ‘Blade Runner’ in a short period of time. For the illiterate, all 3 (4 actually, there are 2 Ghost in the Shell movies) are about a world dominated, one way or the other, by androids. Perhaps dominated is a misleading word, but it comes closest; just as we today are dominated by the machines that we create and soon, will create us.
Staying true to the principles of blockbuster movies, all of them have happy endings. I am not going into details, since you will be watching them soon if you don’t want your throat eaten, but humans and often, androids survive and live happily ever after. What I find particularly remarkable, is that the android’s "feelings" are taken seriously and its opinion into account.
They smile, shake hands, wink, curse, go diving. They respond and hug children. When threatened to be killed, they put up a fight, scream, run. Of course, who wouldn’t? What troubles me a bit though, is that people are influenced by this behavior. I remember seeing ‘A.I.’, a movie by Spielberg, in which a young boy robot screams for his life when they are about to boil him in oil on a fair. People start throwing stuff, yelling "release that boy!"
 
Today, there are androids freely available that resemble dogs, cats and even women. Taking AIBO as an example, this dog-like machine will act very much like a regular dog. Of course, with the exception that it does not freak when it is in obvious danger. If it would, people would feel sorry for it and perhaps save its "life".
Humans have very obviously a problem with distinguishing robotic imitation from human expression. The concept today is fairly simple: People express, robots imitate. The line is thick and there is no grey zone. When a robot should be terminated and it begs to you, cries to you, to please let it live, there should be no more feeling in murdering it than turning off the light. I hate to break it to you, but the android "Sonny" in ‘I, Robot’ is a machine, and it really doesn’t care if you skull-fuck him and break its back to leave it there until its batteries run out and it dies. Not even when it begs you not to. It Doesn’t Give a Shit. It doesn’t have a heart, doesn’t even have a brain, for that matter.
The little kid screaming for its life in ‘A.I.’ is no different than a toaster looking happy when it pops out your breakfast. Honestly.
 
However, where ‘A.I.’ and ‘I, Robot’ draw a clear line between robots and humans, ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and ‘Blade Runner’ approach the matter from a different angle.
Today, people’s severed limbs are replaced by artificial ones. Dead structures of metal and plastic, taped lifelessly to your body. However, new prosthesis have been developed that respond intelligently to your body (for the record, I do believe that a computer/android is intelligent). Prosthetic arms are made that, once attached and programmed, have a robotic hand that responds to your body like a normal hand would: opening, closing, and turning around a robotic wrist. Soon, we will have brain implants to help the blind or deaf, or top the reflexes of soldiers. And where does it end? If you have fully replaced a human body with a synthetic one, except for its brain, does it still have a soul? When you synthesize the brain, does that make it a fake? Do actions turn into imitations?
 
The truth is, all of our actions are imitations. We beg for mercy because that’s what we’ve been doing for million years. We want to live and reproduce, which is the sole reason our race still exists today. It’s all hard-wired, and we don’t give a shit if we die or not. Not really. We just beg, and live to fuck another day. Reproduce begging babies, hard-wired robots that exist only because we acted like our ancestors, as will they. It is the ultimate in our urge to copy ourselves.
 
I enjoy putting up shreds of whatever busies my mind on that curious MSN ‘message’ spot (That’s the nerd in me talking, don’t listen to him!). Hoping it will trigger a similar tendril of thought in other people’s minds, and they can share their version of the facts. Often it only takes as much as a single phrase, or even word, to break a dam and start a whole new flow of reason. The last one to do that for me was my therapist, about 9 years ago now. He may just have saved my life, though I very much doubt he considered our sessions a success.
Thanks anyway man.
 
 
10 feet under the soil
and I can still hear her sing
 
I always carry a booklet with me, in which I write down whatever pops up in my head, and makes a deep impression on me. Then later, I can leaf through it and see how my mind has evolved the last few months. People change rapidly and thoroughly. They never notice, because their point of view changes right along with it. I encourage anyone to keep a diary of some sort, often you can look back on who you were and what you have become, and learn enough from it to change further, in the best sense possible: self-knowledge.
 
Anyhow. The few lines there are about my mother. She’s passed away 12 years ago now, but for some reason her presence is in my mind now more vividly than ever before (except the obvious of course). I can’t put my finger on it, but I have a few ideas where it might come from.
 
12 stinking years. It is tempting to review them with a sense of irony, sarcasm almost. Trying so desperately to be happy, while it just doesn’t matter, the core has died. Smile when amused, cry when not. One grey area, starting at our last fight, the moment she walked away in anger and never came back.
The reality of course, is different. I know as well as anyone the world changes color the moment your vision of it changes. But still, I carry her with me where ever I go, what ever I do, how ever I feel. Mostly dormant, it’s sad to say I can go days without thinking of her. But she is there, undoubtedly. I feel it stir when yet someone else dies, one way or the other, pulling open a wound that’s there like Clark Kent tearing open his shirt. And most of all, I see her looking at me in every girl’s eyes I look into. Which is likely the reason I hardly look in some one’s eyes when talking to them.
 
There is a sort of stigma lodged in my brain, that of a perfect woman. Though she’s located behind my eyes, there are a few things I do know about her. She’s older than me, sexually perverted to a degree that will drop your jaw, and she doesn’t exist. She mustn’t exist, that’s the key. She is represented in every girl on the street that I find attractive, that holds the potential to have me crying, naked and bleeding under the sole of her shoe. Yet they can’t, they won’t, because I won’t allow it. She’s an illusion, and even the woman I would create with my own hands, my own mind, my own ribs, wouldn’t do because the blanks aren’t filled in by the perversion of her own twisted character. Oddly, it all comes down to sex. I think I’ll dig up Freud and give him a fond high-five.
Don’t dare think you are holier than this. These are the mechanics that makes each of us tick.
 
So there she is. My angel, clad in leather. My undeveloped Oedipus complex, rocking me to sleep every night. It’s only recently that I became fully aware of her, after someone else (Yes, that’s you Lisa) stepped down from the stand, and I caught glimpse of her claiming her spot. Not that she had ever given it up. There’s room enough in my straining skull for another split personality.
 
In the same metaphorical sense I seem to be so horny about lately (fucking fag), there’s my girlfriend sitting up there now, overshadowed by the contrast with the person there with her. I often wish she would be a little more perfect, and then other days I review my version of perfection and she matches it flawlessly. But always, always I fall back to that shadow, cradling and smothering me.
 
How’s that for a mind trip…
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Once you pop,…

Few things in life are more blissful than late night insomnia trance. For these moments, this pinprick in between cracks of the long life granted to you, the fogginess inside your head makes sense. It is still as unstructured and chaotic as before, but for once, it is as it should be. Not because it has changed, but because your realization of your own soul changes fundamentally enough to mix with the pea soup that is your psyche.
 
This being said, I think it’s time for some movie reviewing.
 
 
Deja Vu. I always thought it was spelled ‘vue’ but apparently I’m mistaking. Starring, a big black guy that looks familiar from other movies and a chick that does not. He is a detective in the AFF or something, charged with investigating a terrorist (I always read this word with mixed emotions) bombing. Someone placed a car bomb on a boat, crammed with folks celebrating Mardi Gras, including a kid school and a load of US Marines.
 
\/  \/POSSIBLE SPOILERS\/  \/
In his investigation, it turns out that the terrorist in question has murdered a certain woman and stolen her car to plant to bomb with. The detective is introduced to a team that sits at a screen all day long and watches "satellite images", as they tell him, of exactly 4 days earlier. They can’t rewind, can’t fast-forward, change the angle of the "camera" to anything they want, and get spotless sound. This of course raises some suspicion with the detective and eventually he loses his patience, and points a little pocket laser at the screen. The woman they are watching actually sees the light, just briefly before the computer fails and the whole town loses power. He gets quite pissed, because obviously they have been lying to him, and they explain they managed to create a loop in the time-dimension so they can watch 4 days back. Upon lots of discussion, it turns out they could actually send matter back in time, as well, but any electric pulses would be nullified, including those that would keep your heart beating.
After lots of persisting, they send a warning note back in time, but that only manages to get his -already dead- partner killed. But, they see him do it and find him "in the present", so he’s arrested and the project is terminated.
The detective however can’t accept letting this crime happen now that he has a chance of stopping it. So with one of the employees there, he lets himself be transported back in time, smack into a hospital with the words "REVIVE ME" written on his chest.
One of the major rules in the making of movies is, you can show anything impossible, but nothing implausible. Just like the pulses triggering your heartbeat, your brain is full of electric data flowing through your synapses. Shut this off, and you go brain dead. When this happens, you are declared dead. Make a little cross, do a little prayer, and off to the morgue with you. No way to reanimate someone brain dead. At all. Let alone have him stand from his bed (after having both the defibrillator and manual CPR) after a few minutes/hours/whatever. But still, they do and he does, walking off like nothing happened.
Then basically, he saves the girl from the killer, and keeps him from bombing the boat but dies in the process. In the mean time he’s (of course) in love with the woman. At the end of the movie, the "4 days younger" detective comes walking by and picks up with the girl where the dead guy left off.
Now come on, that just doesn’t make any sense at all. If he doesn’t need to investigate the bombing, he doesn’t end up in the time machine, doesn’t get transported back to the past, and can’t undo the crimes. Yet still, he obviously did, so where did the future-guy come from? An alternate universe? Did they create a parallel universe which he got beamed into? That would confirm the chaos theory (not sure if that is the correct name), which dictates that every decision leads to the creation of a parallel universe in which things are the same, only different.
What a crock.
________________________
SPOILERS END HERE. MOSTLY.
 
If that were the truth, an alternate universe would be created when you decide to scratch your ass, in which you decided not to scratch your ass. Every absurdly small bullshit whims of your challenged mind, creates a whole new universe with you in it that decided against whatever you were up to. And if you decide not to do/think whatever, a universe is created in which you did. And of course, if you change you mind, congrats, you just crapped out another solar system or two.
 
So if you decide to let’s say, spend 5 more seconds picking your nose, that would mean every decision in that brand new dimension will have a five second delay. So! unless the amount of realities crafted by the hand of our detective literally raised itself to its own degree, you will have detectives popping up, starting at the soonest time physically possible, and basically going on for as long as he can possibly live. Every nanosecond, or whatever the smallest amount of time dimensionally possible would be, you’ll have a handsome black detective popping up in the exact same location. I don’t know about you, but I find that a pretty gruesome thing to think about. The expansion of matter would be so immediate and continuous, that it would end our universe in an infinite blast of handsome black man in an infinitely short amount of time.
 
In other words? You can only change the past as you shape it, in this second, the present. Anything you do going back, has already been done. Fuck this "alternate universe" nonsense, it obviously doesn’t make any common sense. Thought and action are based on reason, not on random events. Every event can be code-written in mathematics, from a simple acceleration to the collision of planets.
Math is reason, both are logic, and logic is predictable. Thus, the future is predictable, making it predetermined. You can’t predict chaos. Computers today are busy predicting the future. Think about those calculating the destruction of a building by TNT, or even those predicting something as complicated as the weather. Granted, they’re often enough wrong, but that is simply because there are factors overlooked, not because "random" is a factor at all.
We are granted the blissful illusion of being able to change our future. Energy spent, will be returned in the form of emotion. Sometimes bad, often good. The key to changing the past is acceptance, making it much brighter and less significant in the subjective forming of your future.
 
Put simple: live your own fucking life. Don’t bother worrying about subjects like this until you feel you have the time to sit down and spend a few years on it. It cost me my diploma cracking my skull over it so make very sure you’re properly prepared.
 
 
I was talking to a friend last week and she asked how I was doing. As I told her I was quite happy, I realized that I actually was. Still am, actually. I can’t remember when I was last this confident or just plain happy with my life. I’m on the peak of my physical condition, I don’t need to worry about a damn thing, and I can do the things I love most, all day, every day. Work, Capoeira, MUD, girlfriend, I can do whatever the heck I want.
 
Of course, I spoke too soon.
Let’s see… When did it start, exactly. Oh yeah. The first next job, first trailer, first one to jump in was, of course, yours truly. 3 steel ramps used to roll cases out of trailers were stacked on top of each other. The top of these ramps are bent slightly so they fit to the trailer nicely, and I hadn’t noticed the middle one was upside down. So, upon grabbing the top ramp and shoving it out, my fingers got stuck between and 3 of my fingers got their skin sliced off. Fuckin’, ouch. I treated the wounds well enough so they didn’t get infected, but they still hurt like a bitch.
Then, when I got home that same day, I kick my shoes off and immediately sink through my left leg. Pete knows why, but for some reason my foot aches like a hammer fell on it. I hadn’t noticed a thing before, but I’m guessing it’s from jumping off the 1.75 meter high stage repeatedly.
Next day! My girlfriend’s birthday, so we all go out with some friends. Had a good time, go home. I hardly got sleep because I was helping some girl move to a new apartment that morning, and I came to town by bike so I had to get home by myself. After about 500m, I want to swerve up the sidewalk to avoid a few cars. It was very foggy and the curb was wet, but still I hadn’t expected my wheel to slip until it was parallel to the other, and then catch between tiles. I was sort of catapulted off and over, all the while thinking "Oh now what the fuck". I landed with a roll so I managed to not get hurt too much, but I’m still feeling my knee.
 
So! Along with the never fading annoying little cuts in my mouth, my whole left side is just about lame. Every joint hurts and I’m getting pretty irritated by it. I had to stop capoeira in mid-lesson because my foot was giving me a hard time and I didn’t think it was a smart thing to keep going.
I get. Extremely. Pissed at situations like that. I don’t get aggressive but you don’t want to ask me much the next couple hours.
So yeah, I’m still as smug and giggly as before, but I swear I’ll want to forget about this week as soon as humanly possible.
 
 
I was at a friend’s place recently, hanging out in his room stacked to the roof with drum computers, midi keyboards and percussion instruments. I got curious and soon enough the three of us were jamming using a guitar, keyboard and computer. This is the first time I got to play with others. They complimented me on my "playing with music", and I had a marvellous time. At first I was just amusing myself on the computer but later on I took the guitar and we got to playing Deep Purple’s ‘Child In Time’. Sure, easy as hell, but damn did we look sexy. It got me thinking I should spend some more time learning guitar so I can actually play complete songs with others. I would love that.
I’m not going into trying to describe just how much of my life music really is. I live and breathe music. My job is about music, my hobbies are about music, and I’m going no place without it; I have two portable CD players (lost one for a while and bought another), and despite the download madness I’ve been on the last few months, my CD collection is ever growing. It has made me smile, cry and shout more than anything else ever has.