Rhythm of the Night. [Weekly Head Voices #66]

(This post has an extremely high slightly-insane-rambling index (SIRI). You have been warned.)

The rhythm of life

I love Unkle. Here’s the introduction to their song Back and Forth:

YouTube Preview Image

The only life you can get is one made up of ups and downs. The trick is in learning how to deal with the downs, increasing the number and duration of the ups, and enjoying every last drop out of them. This realisation was brought to the surface by a car advert in which the narrator claimed that time in the car equalled “quality time”. I don’t like cars, but I love quality time. It usually comes in little bits and, as I’ve reported before on this very blog, happiness and other important things also come in little bits, interspersed by other often less interesting bits. Although one has a limited extent of control over some parameters of this rhythm of ups and downs, of excitement and boredom, it can never be smoothed out. As is often the case, the best course of action is the zen one: Step outside and try to absorb completely the multi-factorial whole.

Intermezzo – this post’s title was inspired by this Italian masterpiece:

Selling one’s soul to the Virtual

A week ago, I started going through my bookshelf trying to find books that could potentially be given away or sold, freeing up some space for I’m not sure exactly what. Here’s a photo of some of them:

Books traded for space.

Each of these gave me pleasure at some point in my life, taking me on journeys to faraway corners of my imagination. Each of these contributed in some way to the ball of thoughts that is me. Years ago, I would not have considered giving even a single book away. Now I do, because I convince myself that everything is available digitally. I do read on my Kindle, where everything is far more convenient and takes up zero real-world space. I can never lose anything again. If I want anything, I can either find it in my archives or acquire it anew.

Could this line of reasoning, this position, be something that’s really quite insidious? Besides containing information on their pages, the books are tangible and visible reminders of the knowledge that they represent. By getting rid of them, could it be that I’m exchanging parts of my soul for an empty, virtual promise, for oblivion? Maybe the books should remain there, on my bookshelf, as constant physical reminders of the knowledge that they brought me — of all the knowledge that I should continually cultivate and upgrade.

Maybe the time has finally come for the 21st century reboot of Microsoft BOB. :) Then a failed (and the brunt of many jokes) experiment, perhaps now the seeds of a solution to the problem of trading the physical for the virtual. Imagine a private room where you can walk between your virtual bookshelves, a virtual haven to keep your slow, real humanity intact.

Life philosophy that works

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a prominent American astrophysicist and science communicator. Recently he took part in a IAmA session on reddit, where he answered the questions of random reddit users. To the question “What can you tell a young man looking for motivation in life itself?” his answer was the following:

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.

For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.

This will definitely find its place in the Unified Dogma of Me (UDM). For now, I’m doing my best to fuse it permanently with my atoms.

3 Comments

  • Ah, so interesting. I only give books away, my own ones of course, not other people’s books, and hopefully the best ones like many of yours with the purpose only of sharing the joy you speak of. But some I like to keep, mostly because I feel they were important and I may need to read them again. They are reminders like you say. And maybe I will give some to my children and they will get extra joy by casting their eyes over the very same ink that I did years ago. Hyperion is on my very-soon-to-read list. I’m happy to see it was on yours. We have so little time to read, and such vast choice, that it is important we make good choices. If you read one book per month for 40 years, that’s still less than 500 books. I believe Asimov wrote or edited more than that. Amazing. I wonder how many he read.

    I’d like to know your list of 5 or 10 most enjoyable or important books.

    About 5 years ago, around the time of my first child, I was working out the regrets of my life so far, and deciding what the most important lessons or concepts in life are and how to teach these to my kids. I once thought of the idea of listing all my lessons learned in a book that could be passed down and edited by the generations. Weirdly I do most of that kind of thinking in the shower when I’m in auto clean mode and not distracted by anything else, which sometimes leads me to forget if I washed my ears or not… Anyway, I managed to condense the most important things to two words that I am also happy to see reflected in your blog: knowledge and compassion.

    My four year old daughter has recently learned to say these words and hopefully she will soon ask me what they mean in more detail.

    • What a perfect comment, thank you!

      I’m also curious to see what the coming years bring in terms of the maturing of my genetic offspring units. I’m hoping that they turn into next level humans before age 8 (at the moment they’re just lovely kids), but I expect that people, especially young(er) ones, unfortunately don’t work the way I expect. I’m going to have to think about my top N books, it’s a really hard and time-dependent question.

  • I like biscuits. Every time I eat one there is magical space left to get Nother one. There is a simple beauty in this.
    The only problem is that every time I eat one there is left space in me to eat another one so I fear that things might be leveling out. A sort of caloried equilibrium.
    It worries me. How do I deal with this?

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