Recently in Philosophically speaking Category
I woke up at 3AM, probably right after a post-midnight midsummer thundershower fell to refresh the city.
I woke up, thinking that I slept a whole night, only to find the skies still dark, and the alarm clock on my bedside desk pointing well before 7:30AM.
I woke up feeling distraught. The first thought that brought me back to the reasonable world was that eternity can be so long, so short, yet had no meaning if you didn't see both the beginning nor end of it. I might've slept only two hours, but the architecture of a good night of sleep is such that its exit is exactly the same as that of a long nap, because you only remember the last REM state.
And so, I only remember the last REM state. I could've slept a million years. and yet it will only be a single REM state.
I spent the day semi-sleeping, but not quite. Woke at (actually, I don't think it counts as "woke up") at around 10-11PM, but went back for a late afternoon nap. The night before, I stayed up until 5, 6 or 7 again. In fact, I lost track of the time I slept at - I just know I didn't get much sleep, from the caffeine superdose I took the night before (caffeine has that effect b/c I seldom drink coffee, or at least didn't drink that much, until I started "working" - speaking of which, the job hunt is on hold, 'cause of the house).
It felt terrifying. For about three good weeks, I have felt absolutely neutral, and even silently optimistic, if those meant the same thing. One's state of mind is like inflation, or the economy - it's always evolving upwards, but you don't feel truly satisfied unless the rate at which it evolves also increases - that didn't make sense wrt inflation, but oh well.
I start to understand that life is best lived when you make choices - no matter how anodine they might be. Choices, or perhaps according to some philosophical mode of the past, fulfilling your destiny. I had a lot of free time during cegep, and because it was such a small place (and b/c I wasn't inhibited by classmates, the environment - surely not b/c I was particularly cultivated), I liked to pick up private discussions usually not for schoolwork with some of the profs, usually the social sciences ones. It's an obscure memory of my past - and they were mostly philosophy or political science profs (both who were specialized in China stuff, and also lectured at local universities-not-McGill). It was a funny period, b/c I don't think it brought me anything that lasted (I didn't have the background), and I stopped doing it as soon as I hit a semester in university. It was prolly a different Ced, who was even more naive, even more "arrogant" (real-life friends cannot describe me as particularly arrogant, but I'm sure it's existent - but not quite, if I can admit to it? ...).
One of the ideas that circulated in these informal discussion was that of choice. What if choice is just an illusion created by the circuitry of our brains? How can I actually know that my "choices" are not defined by a series of binary switches? There's the idea that neurons take input from various sources and that there is a probabilistic game being run to decide of the output. But who knows. We're (the living things of this Earth) all part of the system, and it seems to me that unless we stand outside of this system (ha-ha, outside of this Universe - here comes the existential paradox), we won't be able to examine the mechanism of choice. Animals don't choose - nematodes don't choose, when it swims towards the nutrients; they merely react to stimuli, etc, etc. The philosophy prof (who I was conversing with after class) was nice enough to listen to my insanities (we went as far as suggesting, what if some sort of transcending -alien?- being created us) and suggested a few paths to explore.
Years after, "we don't know" is really an acceptable answer. Thank you, Greek philosophers (although I'm sure alternate societies could think of that w/o your help). My view of the world is now mixed with elements of biochemistry and computer science, of which I retain, respectively, the topics of genomes and proteomes, and that of the theory of information. I guess that it could also relate to the string theory, in physics. Yeah, alright.
Reading governorgeneral's blog periodically renews my admiration for doctors - or doctors to be. It's a bit hmm to grow up surrounded with people wanting to become doctors. It's often hard to distinguish the true from the fake. Who's doing it for the vocation, who's doing it for the money - but even if you did it for the money, it must still be a hell of a self-investment to get through medical school.
I have chosen to be a programmer, for now (it's nice to say "for now", b/c this way, you regard the rest of your life as a blank book for you to write in). I can see that my work would benefit something in the end of a long chain. And it would, I'm sure.
For or against biographies? I don't have time for biographies, so obituaries are alright. The Economist usually posts one per week, and this week posted two, one of three pages on top of the usual one-page one.
As a part of the grand scheme of things. Hmm. When you think about it, it might become all very overwhelming. What's all this? A very superbly wired machinery producing an "intelligence" capable of "choice", and writing this alignment of strings accessible to other superbly (finely) wired machineries? The chance to destroy ourselves is so great, yet that's not what we want.
Life is probably a continuity. Err. Our body works because it worked one fraction of second before this one. We "think" through a continual process of nervous impulses. We are born from cells from our parents, from their parents, etc, upwards to the primordial soup. That's really fantastic.
Snow plows with their quadruple/sextuple lights look like giant insectoid monsters in the dark of the night.
I clicked the weather shortcut off my browser to see that "temperatures were on the rise" tonight. So, yay, says he, b/c today's been feeling like the coldest day of the year - when everyone knows it frequently gets below -20C around these latitudes, and probably more like -40C with the chill factor. In any case, "temperatures on the rise"; I will keep this positive observation.
I then decided to check the weather in HK, off the observatory's predictions (and official observers of the skies), which I used to have on bookmark off my aunt's computer. I then checked other Google hits, one of which was the weather underground, a website mainly for sharing between weather enthusiasts and experts, "Weather enthusiast" reminded me of the first job I dreamt of having when I was a kid (other kids would want to be veterinarians - I never got this), which was that of meteorologist. Of course, it was more about being fascinated with cold, warm fronts, and the shape of clouds in the sky, than making conjectural analyses with heavy statistics involved (which is what I guess is what some of atmospherical sciences is about). Oh well. Not meteorologist. Not even chemist (but I was a biochemist at some point). I think programmer/software dude is alright, but I'm quite open to the idea that I could do something totally from outer space. Something food-related - but then I'm afraid of dealing with paying protection money to dark societies. :/
If leopards can die of the flu, then what's left to this world, I ask? Are we merely fabrics of meshes of information, waiting to be taken over by other sneakier meshes of information? The damn viruses. All I want is to preserve my race. All I want is to preserve my information...
In the meanwhile, Katrina was worse than I thought, and I guess I'm not the only one, seeing how many people decided to stay behind in New Orleans no matter what sort of aquatic hell the weathermen forecasted.
Damn it. There's something so philosophically central to the biological definition of life in those viruses. Why are they seen as pests? They are mere bunches of DNA or RNA, packed together with proteins and lipids and sugars. I often wondered if a piece of DNA/RNA with the genetic makeup of that particular virus was viable, but I think not. Of what I know, we are their beginning, and their end. Either they are rogue mechanisms escaped from us or our ancestors somewhere in the mid to long term past. Or perhaps they are the earliest forms of life, which have co-evolved, been "pests" to all the lifeforms that scoured the Earth. And broken down like this, Earth sounds like a simulated playground for meshes of protein-producing information...
5 more minutes of working on flu, and that's it for the weekend.
Bringers of mankind's doom?