Inside a simulation, inside a simulation, inside a simulation…

Another recursive thorn in the human mind disguised by the cultural zeitgeist’s attire. Of our time it’s a horrifying epiphany perhaps, but are there glimmers of parallel ideas echoing from the past in more benign and even divine semblances? And what if? What are WE to follow if this realisation reflects reality? All hope disgraced and meaning destroyed, trivialised in our glorified petri-dish grid-world. This shapeless beast of an idea, felt in the depths of the body, base and formless… this concept allowed to bloom as a flower, feelings to thoughts as so many before. From the chaos sea of all in all, to the meticulous intricacies, the gold enamelling, the placement of jewels, the explicit intention, crafted by the master craftsman, the higher mind, cognised and brought into our shared world as a form for all to see and all to relate. But our wild idea-spirit of the fathomless ocean becomes hidden, displayed as a ripe fruit or a heavy stone. A dream within a dream, a level of the cosmic computer game, a cycle of Samsara, a progeny universe. Watched by the gods; played by the puppeteer; controlled by the machines; a self reflecting fragment of a living, evolving reality. Reverence or suspicion coats these works wrought in plated lustres reflecting ourselves and our minds. Are they the reflections of a fundamental truth? What is it? A fractal echoing of nature’s fabric: as above so below? Creation creates creation, levels upon levels of worlds.

weltamdracht1neo-phoneexistenz

I’m talking about the simulation argument, conveniently articulated by philosopher Nick Bostrom. Here it is, simply: if a civilisation were to become sufficiently advanced (without becoming extinct) and had the power to do so, they would almost certainly run ancestor simulations, and many of them. If the constraints are met, then considering the possible number of simulated worlds (millions?) compared to “real” worlds (1), in probabilistic terms we are almost certainly living in a simulation. What is your reaction? Horror? Suspicion? am I the one!? Denial? This isn’t a new idea, even in the modern sense. I recommend Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1973 film “Welt am Draht” for the first cinematic exploration of the concept, based on the 1964 sci-fi novel “Simulacron-3” by Daniel F. Galouye. The Thirteenth Floor is a good American remake, and from there Dark City, eXistenZ (careful), and of course The Matrix do a good job of banging the same old drum. The horrifying realisation in Welt am Draht and The Thirteenth floor that the characters are living inside a computer simulation follows the creation of their own simulation, where they–predictibly as humans would–tinker with their creations, then think “wait a second…” it turns out they have created a simulation-within-a-simulation.

weltamdracht2neo-wakes-up-within-the-matrixexistenzplug

Bostrom also suggests that if we are indeed living in a simulation, then it’s also highly likely that we are living in a simulation within a simulation within a simulation….etc. These portrayals remain peppered with modern cultural flavours: computers and technology as we know them, or imagine them in the future. But one-thousand years from now who can tell what gildings wrap the inner sanctum of this timeless idea? We could very well shoehorn into the same umbrella of ideas the “illusory world” concepts: Gnosticism, Platonism and Buddhism come instantly to mind. When these ideas were spread technology and the world in general didn’t look like it does today, therefore instead of simulations created by highly technologically advanced civilisations there were illusory worlds created by the demiurge, spirit worlds, etc, etc, same-same-but-different~.

Another Choice

1. Go back to nature

2. Advance

Today it seems popular to yearn for a simple life, live in balance with nature; no desires, no suffering said the man himself. A beautiful ideal, I’ve longed for it myself. Is it really in harmony with nature? Nature evolves and is evolving and we are nature. Casting off the shackles of modern life is alluring, but the bleak reality is inviting back a life of hardship, starvation and disease.

The imperfections of our world are of course in our faces every waking hour: the filth, the cars, the destruction and the stupidity… Our advances predict our decline. Technology I’ve always said is a double-edged sword, the power to enrich lives and also to enslave them. The monkey brain doesn’t have an instruction manual for his new creations, it’s not his fault he destroys his brothers with them. Enslaved by an economy that ravages the planet, no wonder we’d like to go back to the primitive. But in fact I think we yearn for something different, which is harder to envisage.

My humble medicine for this important dilemma, an old friend, a key to many locks, is balance. The true enemy is ignorance. With full ignorance of the vast potential of say nuclear power, one is repaid with a Chernobyl or a Fukushima disaster – the fault is stupidity, not technology. The pocket computers we all carry now keep us connected to our friends and people all over the world, allow us access to a vast library of information at all times – an empowering device –  but at the same time they isolate and enslave people to the cold addictive buzz of the little red Facebook notification icon.

We can go back to nature, but nature is changing. Nature itself may kill us all. With technology and balance and without ignorance and stupidity we can truly live in harmony, the choice isn’t anyone else’s to make, so make it.

Ignorance enslaves, knowledge liberates.

The Cosmic Joke

tabulaFlung into this meticulous, peculiar chandelier, we – the waking universe – rub our eyes in disbelief. We imagine all the possibilities, alternatives and what-could-have-beens. The bizarre circus on which we float in the void of inconceivable nothingness is arranged thus! “WHY!?” we will continue to ask, with the naiveté of our infantile consciousness, disturbed from the aeons of slumber, while boulders became beasts, the reflecting god only a new born babe, blinded and perplexed by all that is.

Structures blend and patterns form, patterns at all levels repeat and recur. Growing, organising, exceeding complexity. The eye for beauty in the world, the eye for horror and evil infects. From these eyes I cry and cry endless tears of compassion, does our world self flagellate and know no mercy?! Doomed and bound, our floating torture chamber, what sick entity do we entertain?

Does our complexity ascend? Attracted to the one which we are? Or are we mere twinkles in a cosmic furnace, fleeting shards of brilliant light, no more a character in the grand play than the dust that burns, the entropic demon consuming all with bottomless hunger and a steady evil. A rageless evil, void of aggression, but a knowing victory for all that’s dark, all that dissolves and all that ends.

Those above may toy and laugh, for our mad world is but a grain of sand they say, among myriad other heartless worlds perhaps, or do they grow and organise themselves? From one to the next, as above, so below. Complexity and form, too willing to succeed, too willing to attract, smite thee boring demon, and all that’s bland and void of expression! Our meticulous, peculiar chandelier is. It is, it is, it is.