Nov 2, 2013


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.

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