Archive for June, 2010

The Supertheory of Super-Everything

I couldn’t find any synopsis of my “meaning of life” theory anywhere in my archives and while I hate repeating myself, I don’t want to lose track of it. It’s, as far as I’m concerned, one of the best things I’ve accomplished in my life so far, and I don’t want to just irreversibly “forget” about it one day.

So let’s begin, at the beginning.

When I was 14, I got sent to boarding school, where I spent 3 years before quitting school altogether. I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that it was an utter waste of time, at least regarding my grades. I failed at everything I did, mostly because I never tried not to. I had other things on my mind.

One thing boarding school gives you a lot of, is time. You are put in a hall, or your room, for what feels like ages per day, with nothing but a table and a chair.
Only distractions: Book knowledge I didn’t give a damn about, and writing gear. So I wrote. To my girlfriend. I wrote pages, books. Every single day I spent writing, only to her. On Tuesday I would send them, and on Thursday she would receive a stack of letters written over the week. Subject varied from personal issues, over dumb stories to borderline pornography, which got me in big trouble when caught, which in turn gave me plenty to write about.

Something inside me forbid me to study the material I was supposed to. Anything but that. But study I did, albeit other things.
By the second year, the subject matter changed. Ideas were forming and I began to wonder about things. As soon as my door closed, I began to reason and write down my train of thought, re-reading and continuing in a trance. Jumbled ideas at first, but after I hurriedly mapped all the things I was troubled with, I began to tackle them.

Who/What/Why is God?
What reason is there to believe in the supernatural?
What is life?
What is our life, and what does it contain?
What is the value of a life? (Triggered by Bro Hymn lyrics by Pennywise: “Life is the most precious thing you can lose.”)

And my big question:
What is the meaning of life?

Around that time I was following mechanics class, which included Newton’s, Descartes’ and such laws in its lessons. It began to dawn to me that mathematics weren’t just numbers to toy with. They were never invented; they were discovered. In the words of some mathematician, “Mathematics is the language in which God wrote the universe.” To discover mathematics is to find the very fabric of reality and map its thread. It is everywhere: In computer programs which is completely binary and thus pure math, but also in real things like the collision of particles, the orbiting of planets, in a car crash, and the changing weather. Events that we don’t have insight in is just math we haven’t yet discovered. It’s definitely there.

Another aspect about math that I realized is that it’s logic. In fact, it is logical reasoning in its purest form. One plus one equals two. 1+1=2. Right? And look: 1+1=2 it still is. It will always be. With sheep, with atoms, with people. Also, the he sum of the areas of the two squares on the legs of a right-angled triangle equals the area of the square on its hypotenuse (Pythagoras’ theorem). Always.
When events, no matter how complex, can be written down in mathematics, down to their every factor, they can be predicted flawlessly. Mathematics is logic, and logic is predictable. No exceptions.

We can see it in real life: Computer programs predict the weather days in advance. Not perfectly accurately, but that is because not all things are factored in. If you could make a computer that could factor in every single atom and every single influence, it will be able to predict the weather flawlessly.
In a broader sense: If you could make a computer that could factor in every single atom and every single influence in the universe, it will be able to predict it flawlessly.

The universe is retraceable to mathematics, and mathematics are logic and thus predictable. The universe is predictable. We are part of the universe. We are predictable. Our every action is set in stone. It’s as if a track is laid out for us, dictating our every move, and we have no choice but to follow it along like a cart on a rollercoaster, unable to stray.
Free will is an illusion because we can’t see the track ahead: We can’t see our future because we can’t possibly comprehend all the factors in it. Sometimes we can boil it down to the basics and predict what will happen – something called common sense. When an apple falls out of a tree, we know it will fall down because the only relevant factor is gravity. Logic. Predictive.

Try and imagine you’re sixteen again, and in your feverish writing you suddenly end a paragraph that goes: “…hence, our future is laid out for us and it doesn’t really matter if we “go through me motions” or not. Everything is set in stone and if it has a purpose, it is already reached and our existence is meaningless.” Period. Blank.
Nothing more to write. I re-read everything, even asked a few letters back, but I couldn’t come to any other conclusion: Our life is meaningless. Without purpose.
Maybe you can imagine, this kept me awake at night. Literally. I lost sleep from this, tossing and turning and straining my mind but not able to escape my conclusion. Free choice: an illusion. Our very lives: Without goal.
Why do the effort? Why even bother to breathe, if there’s no point to it? Every thing you look up to is a valid reason to overcome one’s will to live and end it, because ultimately, there’s simply no point to it. I was in crisis, I felt lost. Never before or after had I been struggling with my own self so much.

As another attempt of my father to better the situation we were in (he wasn’t even aware of all this) was to send me to a psychiatrist. I had seen about four of them come and go, and finally ended with a family therapist, the father of a good friend. When he asked how I felt about my stepmother, I shook my head. “No, let me tell you something else.”
I should ask him some time how it came across when I spilled. Everything just came pouring out; I knew it all by heart, by then. The ideas, the reasoning, and finally, the conclusion. All the while, he just sat and listened, which he was considerably better at than all the others put together. And another thing he was better at: He gave me an answer.

“Does it really matter if life has a purpose? If it turns out not to, you can always provide one for yourself. Then the question changes: It isn’t “What is the meaning of life,” but “What meaning can you give it?”
I sat in silence as I watched it fall in place. When I got back to boarding school the next day, I was so excited I could barely form a sentence.

Life has no meaning. It is empty, a void. A blank slate waiting to be filled.
Life has no meaning. Is there any better outcome? We are free, liberated from a responsibility, blessed with the illusion of free choice. The world is just there for us to grab and enjoy, no questions asked, no price demanded. Free to do as we please.

This extra step that changed the whole concept fundamentally, has changed this initially depressing, gruesome idea to the best thing that ever happened to my mind. After a little more thinking, it was easy to find the purpose I wanted to give it:
It’s the reason we fall in love. It’s the reason why we turn our faces to the sun. It’s what we strive for every waking moment, consciously or not.
Happiness.

And voila; I found it. The reason of life. The holy grail.
I can tell you, it didn’t shield me from negative thoughts or bad events. But every moment that others aimlessly spend wondering about their purpose, I spend wondering what I will do next to become a happier person. I really do believe that after 10 more years since, that has had a significant impact on my life. One that I am extremely thankful for.

 

I did write down a few little ideas based on this theory already, which can be found at the Continuation of the supertheory: prediction and its methods.

Further input is highly appreciated, whether it is criticism on the ideas or writing, new matching (or not) theories,… Whatever, really.

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The Science of Fear

As a roadie, even when (merely) part of the local crew, you get confronted with all kinds of bad things. Often we have to deal with aggression, frustration, sleep deprivation, pain (you haven’t worked if you’re not bleeding), all kinds of weather extremes, claustrophobic, awkward of just plain disgusting situations… It doesn’t end.

But! The one issue I’ve been confronted with lately is fear. The festival season has started, and our primary occupation has transformed into the construction of scaffolding. In other words, climbing.

It is one thing to locate a tree or rock and climb up it. It is something else completely to walk up to an empty spot and build your own structure to climb. Nobody is one hundred percent reliable, and although I think I can build a pretty solid structure, I can’t say I never make mistakes. Things like forgetting a pin, a safety,…
As I go up together with my (luckily very capable) colleagues, I become acutely aware that such dumb mistakes become progressively more lethal. The stress level rises, and actions that are laughably simple at floor level, gradually become impossible because of the simple presence of fear.

There are three kinds of fear, by my experience. Or three levels, more like:

– There’s the obvious kind. The fear of pain, of aggression and so on. So many things, that we’re hardly even aware of it.
– Then there’s the peak. The heart stopping, blood freezing shock of realization when shit hits the fan. Just today I saw my colleague use a ledger for support that I thought was free to pivot away from him, giving him the illusion of security where there was none. Luckily I was wrong and the ledger was, in fact, secure, but it took me a few moments to calm down. When standards rotate, when hammers fall, when ledgers spring loose: that “Oh Jesus Fuck I killed him/myself” moment.
– But the worst kind has to be the latent type of fear. The knowledge that accidents happen and it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” they happen. The idea that you are bound to fall to your death sooner or later, and either you will quit the job before that, or you won’t. Safety measures, although I shouldn’t admit this, aren’t always possible if you want to keep up, and can be ironically dangerous to yourself and those around you.

Every time I go to work, a die is thrown. Either an accident will happen that day, or it won’t. What my colleague and I were talking about the other day, is that we both feel we are “overdue”. With the frequency of the accidents that happen around us, those that we witness and those we only hear about, we get the idea that somehow, we’re cheating death. I’ve been at it for five and a half years now, and while he’s much more experienced than I am, he is much more focused and controlled- I’ll probably take a dive long before he will.

I seem to have lost the habit of considering the fact that I might not be coming home that night, every time I go to work. I used to, but it’s an exhausting thought and starting the day off with that third type of fear in the back of your head, only contributes to the statistics already working against me.
It’s what we do, and what we love to do. We look out for ourselves and each other, and thank heavens (and again, ourselves and each other) every night we come home with no more than a few scratches.

I’m glad that we’re not too big to talk about it, either. I have no problem admitting that I get really afraid when I get tired, and they understand completely, often agree. When I see someone struggle, I ask if they’re alright and if they aren’t, if they want to trade places. It’s one more effort towards avoiding accidents; an important one. To work together in such situations with confidence, there has to be respect and trust all around. For that reason,, I wouldn’t want to share a tower with anyone else right now.

When in a tight spot, I often tell myself I have “nothing to lose”. While that couldn’t be further away from the truth, it allows for a fatalistic kind of self-confidence that gets things done. It’s funny how a few mental tricks can switch off the fear factor for a little while, especially for someone like me who usually doesn’t bullshit himself.

So yeah, when I do fuck up some time (or my colleague does), I hope things turn out alright. People have fallen from aeroplanes and lived, while others die from an icy patch on the sidewalk. Either way, I will probably catch a kind of fear that can’t just be fixed with a mental workaround.
We’ll see, I guess. But not too soon, please.


Dear Motherfucker

Dear Sir,

I’m afraid I can’t say I know you very well. I wish I did, though, because there is so much I think we could talk about. Perhaps we could get to that, some day.
I assume you know me better than I do you; after all, you live with someone who is bound to share a few details about me once in a while. You know, your girlfriend? My ex? I’d love to hear what she said, you should tell me over a beer some time. Our relationship (you and I, that is), if at all existing, could at least be called unique- at least as far as I am concerned. As stated before, I don’t really know much about you.

But here’s a few things that I think I do know: If what I hear is correct, you’re smaller than me. Younger, too. And apparently you sing in a band? That’s really nice. It’s important to keep occupied these days and trust me, I can know. I hope you become rich and famous really soon, and get to travel a lot.
Speaking of which, you’ve been to Jamaica recently? I know that because I saw your girlfriend around that time, and she told me all about it. She couldn’t quite specify why exactly, I think what she said was “Something to do with his music and roots, you know.” And yes, I do know. As I said, I believe it very important to stay busy.

That’s not the only time I saw your girlfriend, by the way. I just realize: We went for a drink once or twice. At first it was me who contacted her for a status update, to see how we were doing and if we could sit in the same room without things heating up. She was very brave, telling me that it wouldn’t be possible, the way she did.
You know, in case she failed to mention this to you.
No wait, I forgot: She visited me on my birthday, as well. Brought me a few things that I still have, among them a letter with rather sensitive things that I am sure still apply, today.
The reason why that would be is because after our “date” (for a lack of a better word), she contacted me to meet up again. I thought that was kind of awkward but she had a good reason; her relationship with you wasn’t going so well and you know her, she needs to share that with somebody close to her.

This leads me to something I would like to ask you if we would ever run into each other: When she and I went through the last few weeks of our relationship, did she also roll her eyes when talking about me? Did she call me boring, a whine, and her relationship tiresome? I can only assume that she did, which, I’ll be honest, hurts me a little to think about. So I want to warn you: if she did back then, then maybe she might be nearing that point now, where she could have second thoughts about it all and do things she might later regret.
Do with it what you will, I would just like to pass my experience on to you, the younger generation. Perhaps we should really do this over a beer…

Very well. Something else entirely, then:

I sincerely hope you didn’t take the whole wedding affair (no pun intended) too personally. I heard you took it pretty badly, but perhaps that is because you thought it was the first time we saw each other? Hmm, that couldn’t be. She would either tell you or you would figure it out on your own.
I hope you know it’s not personal. We just have the same friends; those people that came to see your show that one time. It were two days that neither of us could miss, or I am sure she would have paid better attention about your feelings, and your definition of and ideals about love, that you seemed to believe were relevant. I wish you would have come with her, so we could share these things face to face.
I’m also sure that then, she wouldn’t have come to pick me up at home, she wouldn’t have asked me to dance with her, and she wouldn’t have been flirting enough to give a British Royal Guard an erection. To spare your feelings, you see. I also doubt she would have made it kind of obvious that she didn’t mind at all having her ass grabbed on the group picture (see the face she makes there?) and thus making everything she wrote in that letter, still true and actual.

You see, I am single, and she is not. I have nothing to lose but sadly, she does. This must sound familiar to you but rest assured, throughout those two days I decided that it would probably be better if I let things lay as they were. I didn’t want to stoop to your level and hurt her all over again with a relationship that will forever live in the shadow of something much better. For her, but also for you. I just… kept her warm, for you. As a gesture of kindness. Or did you keep her warm for me? Do you, still? Only time can tell.

No, I prefer more subtle methods. Low, I know, but not even close to you, you sorry excuse for a rival, who does not only refuse to face me, but forbids his girlfriend to do so. Not that I blame you- you are more than right. Keep her away from me, far away, because with every minute spent with me, she gets her nose shoved into the reality that is EVERYTHING she once had and gave up… for you. For what you give her, today, tomorrow.

Oh, my. I got a little carried away, there. Accept my apologies.
Perhaps I’ll see you some time. Some time soon, if you ever hurt her the way you already did.

 

Sincerely,
Maarten

 

 

Dear reader,

I don’t normally address you but in the light of the situation, I feel like I should.

The above text is based on true facts as well as wishful thinking and blatant lies. I’ll leave it up to you to determine what is real and what isn’t, but be aware that the truth might shock a little.

I came up with this whole text walking through town, and it felt so right that I had to write it down. And now that I did, it looks so right that I want to put it up with all the other snippets I had over the past years.

It’s low, it’s childish, and it shows poor character. I am aware of that. And I don’t care. We all have our weak moments, and I think that all things considering, I could do much worse.

 

Thanks for reading.
Maarten


Destruction Therapy

Haven’t written in a while. Not because nothing’s been going on- quite the contrary. Between working with dinosaur robots, editing vacation photo’s (I’m at #600, about halfway) and wedding photo’s (Another couple hundred), fixing friends’ computers, demolishing homes and cursing myself for my lack of Emotional Intelligence (More on that later. Maybe.) I simply don’t have the time to sit down and summarize what’s been going on. Granted, I am doing so now, but it’s 4 in the morning and I have another busy day tomorrow- I’m working on borrowed time.

So here’s some shit in a nutshell:

  • I subscribed to a course as a stage technician. It’s one of the most prestigious (and exclusive) courses in Belgium of around one year and I seriously fucking hope I get accepted.
  • More voluntary work. A friend asked me to help him renovate his house, so I do- in between “real” work.
  • What else… Oh right, went to Norway for 10 days with the guys. Nice place, but we knew that. Lotsa rocks and blondes.
  • Photography is coming along well. I am never satisfied with my pictures but when I check them again at a later time, I have to admit they’re getting rather good. I was thinking of buying me a hard drive, but I might just buy me a whole new fucking computer- this one just doesn’t cut it. But I got time.
  • I bought a book on basic philosophy because I feel like I’m losing touch. I need input and I’m not going to get it from the streets anymore. I don’t think I ever bought a book before and read it…
  • More below.

 

 

The act of destruction, I am absolutely certain, is more therapeutic than any talking session or even meds. And I can know, I had all three. The simple destruction, preferably of something bigger, older, stronger, and more beautiful than myself, flushes negative emotion like nothing else can.

I’m not sure why that is. Is it the urge to feel strong- physically if not mentally? Could it be the release of a darker side of us? I think it might be the latter, but I can only speak for myself.
Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to beat, kick and hammer the shit out of a house that is being renovated. And with all the conflict going on lately, it has proven to be an effective way to vent. There is something about watching things break- something soothing. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

And it’s only just physical property, right? It stops being fun when people’s emotions are involved or when somebody hurts himself. In that figurative sense, it’s a pretty narrow situation that really does the trick. But whether it’s cars (holy shit I’d love to kill me one of those), walls or small objects, the “fuck yeah” feeling you get when tearing it apart is usually worth building it in the first place.

 

 

If fate was a woman (what else), she would have one dry fucking sense of irony. By the way:

Ironic – Characterized by often poignant difference or incongruity between what is expected and what actually is; "Madness, an ironic fate for such a clear thinker"; "It was ironic that the well-planned scheme failed so completely".

I hate it when people use the term “irony” for “sarcasm”.

Irony. As in: “It is ironic that my old and new life would clash so violently during the celebration of a close friend’s wedding.” Get it?
Since we broke up, my ex and I (I should write “ex” with a capital so everyone knows who I’m talking about) haven’t seen each other for more than a couple hours. Two awkward evenings at a café to see if we might get along, in almost two years now. And then suddenly, we are shoved on the same dance floor for two consecutive nights.

There’s no telling how much I’ve changed since I left her. No man could go through what I did back then without changing fundamentally. So when I get to see her again after all this time, it’s with different eyes, and what I find confuses the shit out of me.
Oh yes, the tension was there- thick as pea soup. Suddenly, everything either of us said seemed to have an unintentional sexual undertone and to my amazement, the reflex of grabbing her was still there, once or twice almost completely escaping my guard.

But we were good. Hello, how are you, well bye, see you around. Mwah. On the cheek.
That little shitscoop of a boyfriend of hers seemed to disagree. He didn’t pitch probably because he knew I would be there, and instead spent his time moping at home (for the record, I promised myself to behave- it was still my friend’s wedding). The first thing I saw her do that night was roll her eyes, as she arrived after a big fight at his place. Apparently, that little weasel is so insecure about his excuse for a relationship, that he collapses and cries about it at the first thought of she and I spending an evening in one room. I interpret this as the information that his cock is significantly smaller than mine (just like all of him, by the way).

And don’t get me wrong, I totally would. I’d walk in, take her out of his bed and fuck her in front of him just to show that he’s a bitch. The issue is that I need her to do that, and she’s the only one in this picture that I care enough about. Yes, still. I don’t think that will ever change. He would probably be too guilt-ridden to break up with her too, because that’s right, he cost her her seven-year relationship and ditto sex life with his little pecker. It’s got to be tough trying to live up to that. Here’s a hint: Crying doesn’t help.

It’s juvenile, I know, but damnit does it feel good. Where was I.
Yeah yeah, it’s all behind me. I moved on since, and I managed to prove it that same night. Awkward as it might have been, I really am kind of proud of myself. As I stated before, when history repeats itself, it is that much easier to see the progress you made. And have I ever made progress.
If fate were indeed a woman, she would totally dig me.

 

 

There’s more that I want to write, but I need to sleep. I really do miss it, this “ditching” of ideas and memories. More to come.