(This post has an extremely high slightly-insane-rambling index (SIRI). You have been warned.)
I love Unkle. Here’s the introduction to their song Back and Forth:
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:
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:
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.
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.