Nov 3, 2013

ZC, halfbaked

There is trouble when trying to understand myself and the world around me, I end up wrapped up in my own head.  Can you be a mystery even to yourself?  Or better yet, would you want to be?  Given that you could. That you could be a self-knowing mystery.

Quick, she asked, tell me a secret.  A real one, no cheating.  What does it take to make a secret?  If no one knows, then it is a secret.  If everyone knows, then it's just a piece of life.  Segredos.

Gredos.  Like Grecos.  Gregorian.

The year was 852 ZC. (wouldn't it be cool, she thought, if this were a novel of a novelist writing a novel.  she feels her brain skim along like happiness and the bottom of her soul pick up, ,for the first time in what may be months.  perhaps even a year).  Cameron relaxed back into his captain's chair, really just a seat in front of a terminal, but he called it his captain's chair.  From there he regaled the universe, one piece at a time.  Or rather, one screen at a time.  (Pixel refresh rate on a modern Mac is obsolete.  They're now measured in clock cycles of your GPU -- graphics processing unit).

(What are you afraid of? So many things.  The novel that will never get written.  The novel that does.  The one thing, he said, that sets me apart isn't that I do things.  It's that I finish them.)

ZC stood for Zone Counts, a strange telexscoping calendar that was created by the small sect of time warriors that Cameron belonged to.  Fed up with the homogenous nature of Gregorian calendars, and unwilling to bend their sleep schedules to fit the hegemony of the central mandate of a Monday to Friday, instead the time warriorites switched to a metered telescoping time.  Hazel, the main instigator, or as the collective liked to think of her, time architect, based the system on the concept of spiral springs.  Moments oscillated, said Hazel, and so should the way that we mark time.  To base our understanding of our universe on an orbit of the sun, while practical in terms of crop raising and god praising, makes no sense in this time less, metered meritocracy that we call modern life.  My time is no longer ruled by the sun, why too must the way that I mark the days?

Hazel sat down in the front of the group.  They had been called together tonight to discuss what Hazel wanted to term time scoping.  Cameron picked up the telephone from the wall, plugged it into his cell, and phoned his mother to let her know that he was going to be home late.  The conversion of time from ZC to Greggers (as they termed it later), was not yet necessary as they were about to create it.  (Is it better for a system to already be in place, or would it be better for the reader to be there in the process of seeing the system take place?  It's far easier for me just to describe how the system works (though to be honest I'm not quite sure yet, I'm just typing things out as they come to mind, as semi-compelling as that is).  Every thought is a token that I spend, on you. On me.  On all of us.  If we argue about a thing, how much do I need to be right?  See a doctor about the throbbing in your head).  Cameron phoned his mother.  Well, how late do you think that you'll be out, she asked?  Cameron gave a number, arbitrarily.  21 hundred hours, Mom.  He said.  Did she want to know because she was worried about him?  As a way to judge his allegiance to her love by clocking his arrival against the promise that he had made?  Or was it merely a way for her to mark her own time in the evening, to give meaning to the passing of her own moments?  (Selfish, selfish.)

Cameron returned to the small knot of people gathered around Hazel's bedroom.  There were about six all told, friends from uni.  They had graduated or dropped out or never started together about four years ago.  None of them had regular jobs -- they were all contractors or free lances or just plain unemployable.  Time oscillating, Hazel was saying.  Remember when, she said, you were just a child.  How does your mind understand time?  Or rather, isn't your understanding of time telescoping all of the time, as a function of your having lived it?  At one minute of life, your entire frame of reference for what "time" is, is exactly one minute.  At an hour, your concept of how time passes is just that.  An hour.  Can you imagine living for longer, for putting your time at any different amounts?  What is it to only have ever lived an hour?  Or a month?  Or a year?  Does time seem to pass more slowly for you, each moment drawn out as a pebble in a brook or a stream?  Is this why as a child, an hour television show is murder, it's the longest thing that you've ever experienced, and as you get older a three hour lecture is merely another way of spending a day?  The child sits then, at one end of the spring of oscillating time scopes.  They can imagine what time would be like a month or a week out, but to expand that into a year, or a decade -- there's no basis for the extrapolation.  Children, with their telescoped understanding of time, experience life more real.  In a moment to moment basis, spontaneously.  And so they see life not as a set of months to be conquered or weekends to be enjoyed and treasured or afternoons to set aside and enjoy and escape from, but as an endless plateau of existing.

Hazel had all of our eyes now.  Time wasn't standing still, but just by hearing the words that she spoke reality seemed a bit clearer.  The urgency of leaving, of meeting his mother, at least for Cameron, slowed down.  The ticks of the clock seemed less fatal.  (Fate. Fatal.  Fatalistic.)

So how would ZC even work?  How can you replicate a telescoping time with a calendar?  Answer, you can't.  Should time be divided up by (Expostion! I write, she said, to show off.  I am a tease.  I am a performer.  ANd in performing I need others to see me as in movement.  I need validation of the movement, of the thinking.  I need you to see that I am.  I AM.  am i?)

We can't replicate moment counting as telescoping, but by altering our calendar from a metered pace to something that is more fluid, as we experience time, we'll reinstate an ability to live every day for the sake of it being a day, and not for the sake of it being an event on the calendar.  Celebrations will happen when we feel that they should -- as time and experience dictate.  Zoned because rather than days, we'll live in zones  Each person gets his or her own zone, to cycle through as you want to.  There'll be no metering.  At the beginning of a morning, when you wake up, the units of the day will be decided by the first song that you play on the radio, or that you choose from the banks of the ZC server hub.  Since everyone will be on a different clock, they'll all have to be managed centrally by the time share server that we all use.  You can discover what a person's day is to be filled with based on their personal home page on the site.  It'll also take care of marking engagements with the person on their personal calendar.

But we're a community still, Joa piped in.  If we're all on different time clocks, will we not all be lost to the sands, each man in his own individual world and understanding of that?  Is that not antithetical to the way that we live, as friends, as a community?  (Common unity.)

Hazel sat silently for a moment, realizing that Joaoa had a point.  They were in a meeting altogether presently.  How could she forget about that?  She agreed with Joa.  Alright, then, she said.  How do you propose that we all stay on the same time, and yet still manage to escape from the hegemony of the time clock Gregorian?  Jao hesitated for a moment, visibly thinking.  (Time stood still.  The writer flexed her feet, yawned, felt the lumps in her throat. Sore for the past ten weeks.  Most definitely cancer, she thought.  How long do I have to live?  Four decades, whispered back the fates.  Count them with me. One. Two. Three. Four.)

Alright, said Joa, what is we each meter days to our own liking.  Each day will still be composed of 24 hours (sun we cannot shake you) but instead of weeks, we'll do days in zoned pods.  A year will consist of one complete revolution of the moon.  So instead of tracking time by years and the sun, we'll track our months on the lunar scape.  A week, instead of 7 days (7 is so long! 7 is lucky. 7 is strange), we'll divide our time up into pods of 3 and then 4.  One day off at the end of every pod.  So two days of work. One day off.  Three days of work.  One day off.  (Could I swing it, she thought?  Is this even possible?  What would that look like, in line with the lives of others.  If it helps me to keep my understanding of the world in check, I think that there is no problem with it.)  It needs to be, they agreed, at least analogous to what others do and did, but They should be free to set the rules as they saw them.  Days would have different names, just to break up the monotony of living in tightly bookended days.  (3 days on. One off. Two days on. One off.)  (It's not about being different, it's about living with a different set of eyes.)  Days will be called by whatever you want them to be, and instead of being numbered, they'll be symbolified.  Each day within a cycle will get its own symbol.  So that instead of things in a series, we'll be encouraged to think of each day as separate and unique in its own right.  No order given, no numbers on the calendar.  Count downs will be considerably more difficult to do.  The end of days will be nothing more than a sunset.  (Marking time not so that you may mark the number until you are done, but to keep track of how and why and when a life has been lived).

(What is metaphysical?)

Nov 2, 2013

Nanonite

There is a beam of sunlight on the wall in front of me.  It's bright and my fuzzled brain is confused by it.  The brightness of it stands in stark contrast to the warm glow the other sunbeams that are caught by the curtain are giving off.  The edges of the beam are fuzzy, wavering as the draft pushes its curtained boundaries left and then right.  It dances on the wall, a slow wandering back and forth in a dazed shuffle.

Hungover. My brain too wavers like the sunbeam, dancing back and forth on the wall.  Slipping out of my grasp, ability to string pieces of reality together, all here but not intact.  The light goes dim as the sun passes behind a cloud, and Latina pop blares from the street below.

My fingers forget how to type.  Pecking at the keyboard in random fascination.  Life is too short to be lived typing on a keyboard such as this is, clacking and almost put together.  Or is life merely long enough to be sitting here typing out on a keyboard.

What is writing?  I've been talking about it a lot lately, how I'm going to write a novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  It started yesterday and all I have so far is a bunch of words about the sunshine on the wall in front of my face.  Some people say that it's a hard thing, talk about how they craft stories and put a certain amount of intention into it.  A thing that you've considered and thought through.  That's a hard way to do it, but when I do the words come across more cleanly.  It's hard to think of stories as composed things, of pieces that are put into place one right after the other.  I've only ever written short stories, things that take not as much time or effort to put it all together.  They jump into my brain semi-fully formed, these ideas of monsters and cows and small children crying to their parents about how there's just not enough time in the day to be worried about how many vegetables are left on their plate.

A friend sent me a short story recently about a fellow that he had met.  It was strange in that it was a recounting of a thing that he had experienced.  Not so much strange as just different from the sort of thing that I've ever been able to write.  It was an accounting of an experience, a drawing of a character that he had met in his travels.  It was, as far as I could tell, a real person.  The story was well written, well composed.

Composed.  Put together.  Thought through as pieces, and then repositioned at the end to make some kind of logical sense that, all together, told a story.  An accounting of a real life thing.

I'm thinking of Spencer and how he was writing the next great American novel.  What does that even mean?  To write the next great American novel.  Composition is hard.

When David Foster Wallace sat down to write Infinite Jest, do you think that he had the whole thing in his brain fully formed or that it just kind of flowed as he got it down on paper?  That's the greatest thing about fiction, is that you can flow with it in whatever direction that you want.  But composition.  It needs to all make sense at the end.

If a monkey can bang on a keyboard, and eventually (given enough time and permutations of the alphabet) eventually re-produce a Shakespearean work, isn't it just faster and easier to have Shakespeare do it?  Why not just get him to write the damn thing than let chance take its toll with it.  Think about it -- maybe Shakespeare was 'god's' Shakespearian monkey.  Or chance's.  Or life's.

I read a cool thing about light the other day.  About how it decides where to go, and how it's all based on probability.  Light is spherical.  It moves not as a ray, but as a probablistic machine, that follows the rules of where it's expected to end up.  (What do you mean that light is not directional?  Did we always know that light is a sphere?  How did it take us such a long time to figure out what Feynman did?  Was it because the rules of probability were too fantastical (what makes a thing fantastical?) for us to consider?  (What makes a thing metaphysical?).

What did Feynman discover?  He discovered that the rules of light and photons follow that of probability.  And that light would be where its probability said that it would go.  Therefore following the probability of a thing made it so.

Thinking is hard.  Exposition is easy.

Why think?  Why put my brain into contortions to try and understand a thing?  (If you can't talk or write about it, did you ever really understand it?)

Given a few gates, leading to a destination, how will the light get to the destination?  Or rather, how much light will get to the destination?  If we observe and measure how the light is arriving at each of the gates, then we will know exactly how much that there is arriving, and that will be the amount that arrives at the destination.  But if we allow the light to arrive on its own, without measuring it at each of the gates, it takes the probabilistic path and it uses all of the gates, in such a way that we don't even know where the light is going, what path it's taking.  All that we know is that it arrives, and the amount that arrives is equivalent to the probability that it would arrive at all.

Two conclusions to be drawn from this: 1) The universe knows when it's under observation.
2) We create our own reality (by choosing to observe, or not observe, the light on its path - we've altered how the light behaves.)

The beam on the wall is gone.  I moved the curtain, and now it's just a softly lit room.

sound reflecions: observations from SF MOMA's Soundtracks exhibit

karthik and i went to the SF MOMA today to check out the last few bits of the soundtracks exhibit. we saw this great video work that i can&...