Process


august 13th, 2021

i want to type a bunch of pretentious incoherent paragraphs again about the cars in grand theft auto
four & a rabbit i saw on an early morning walk. this is a tumblr post that i basically already made
& deleted a few months ago, but i wanted to try to refresh it & articulate it better by getting
it all out again from scratch. i think i got it all clearer than i did last time:

i have had this feeling for a while that i have trouble articulating.
there are two memories it always brings to my mind's eye

the first is a time that i was playing grand theft auto four. i noticed that if you went to
the top of a very tall building & looked closely down at the street, it continued to appear
to simulate the presence of the traffic below with less detail by having a static image
of the streets, with small, blank, indistinct rectangular prisms sliding around

the other memory is when i was on an early morning walk, approached a rabbit close enough to spur it
to hop away, & considered that you could try to model the rabbit's behavior if you wanted to portray it
in a video game like those basic cars. just like people actually do, in some games that feature rabbits

define some average radius around a rabbit, past which any big unfamiliar thing begins to make it
uncomfortable, with some rate of variation between those radii, & then... a statistical distribution
of angles that it's liable to take away from that thing, which may tend toward "directly away" (i.e.
along a line that traces from the scary thing at the perimeter, straight to & through through
the rabbit in the middle, & straight past it to the other side), accounting for things in
the environment it might see as good routes of escape or hiding spots

& the point is that i don't think it's remotely "cool" or "insightful" to frame anything in this way.
& i think the only reason i thought about all those considerations for modeling the rabbit that morning,
is because i had played so many video games, seen so many things like those rectangular "cars." & it made
me think of a time when i was a much angrier person, when i didn't really have any friends, when i was
immersed in digital escapism much of the time, when (maybe as a consequence of never really having
any conversations with anyone, never accessing the complexity of any given person) i felt
misanthropic & angry at the apparent simplicity of the world around me

i wondered if my exposure to something like those rectangular "cars" set me up to see the movement
of actual cars as an insultingly simple aggregate thing, since it could be modeled in the game so
easily. & i wondered if maybe i was misanthropically projecting that onto the drivers too?

when the reality is that those rectangles are incredible simplifications of iron & gasoline & electricity &
momentum & plastic & combustion & lubricant & metalworking & rubber & aerodynamics, & the central
nervous systems & muscles & skeletons & respiration & mitochondria of the people driving, & the logic
dictating the construction of roads, & the social patterns dictating what roads a person takes, & the biggest
crime of that misanthropic projection was to minimize maybe the most complex thing of all of it, the thing
most simplified thing by the rectangles, which is the consciousnesses, the souls of the people driving the cars

so what happens to my experience of the world around me if every time a rabbit flees from me
i automatically ponder it as a process that could be modeled? it elicits in me a feeling that
every individual instance of a rabbit fleeing from me would carry absolutely no meaning,
it would meld into the "infinite" possible expressions of that process of a fleeing rabbit

a feeling like: if you sit at a computer & code a little simulation of some blocks falling onto a table,
which fall the exact same way every time, does every instance of clicking "play" not feel devalued? & then
couldn't i model a bird flying away from me as well? just like traffic? how far does it go? i fear i could
become sick by generalizing this to everything, that life could lose all meaning because every event
would come to feel like arbitrary expressions of theories & models underlying them

of course, the world isn't actually a free sandbox for processes to wantonly be expressed in, they're expressed exactly as many
times as is appropriate. i mean, between the event of birds evolving, & the event of the sun boiling the seas away, there is
a set number of times that birds will flee from anything they flee from. in fact, not even the apparent infinite repeatability
of that block simulation is real, as each run is a minute subtraction from the amount of computational energy available to
expend on it. & this is what i'm trying to affirm to myself. the repetitive nature of any relationship between things, like
the sheer number of times people commute to work, the sheer number of times lions chase gazelles, the sheer number
of times it rains, i cannot let it detract from the uniqueness of every last one. if you meet with the same group
of friends at a coffee shop every monday for forty years, you will meet with them once on
Monday, August 16th, 2021, & never again en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ichi-go_ichi-e

i never want to lean on the comfort of "next Monday" or "next August" ever again. each Monday is
completely alien from every other Monday before & after. every single instance of a bird deciding
on a whim to fly from one branch to another should feel like one inexorable step forward in the
march of history, not objects moving around in some ideal space with no cost or stakes


june 10th, 2019

a familiar coffee shop goes out of business, leaving an empty building, or a building
now occupied by some niche sort of business that, alienatingly, there is no reason
for you to ever enter. only in a circumstance that you never really encounter

i guess the people who lease out buildings must necessarily have a detached stance toward
the fact that any public space may become drenched in the random, potentially sentimental
memories of many strangers, yet it will often be destroyed after enough time has passed

employees of a surviving coffee shop rotate to an entirely different cast, such that the spirit of the
shop is different, alienating to you. no other people will experience or empathize with your attachment
to that single combination of the, in practice, infinite combinations that can be obtained from:

I. what type of place of business we're talking about
II. all possible variables of the layout
- - II.i. how many rooms
- - II.ii. the shape of each room
- - II.iii. every angle of every corner of every room
- - II.iv. the materials the walls are made of
- - II.v. the colors the walls are painted
- - II.vi. the texture of the ceiling
- - II.vii. the furniture
- - - - II.vii.1. the exact placement & orientation of each object
- - II.viii. lighting
- - II.ix. smell
III. number of employees
- - III.i. each employee's permutation of:
- - - - III.i.1. all possible variations of a person's:
- - - - - - III.i.1.a. info (name, age, etc.)
- - - - - - III.i.1.b. appearance
- - - - - - III.i.1.c. demeanor

this is like hoarding

the most apt example: digital hoarding. writing an app that generates a 12x12 grid of random black &
white dots. feeling like you must save each generated grid to your hard drive, because, in spite
of it being generic & indistinguishable, you know it'll probably never be generated again!

(there are ~22,300,745,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 combinations. even if
you could use a single bit of data to represent each grid, you would need ~278,759,315,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 terabytes of disk space to store every grid)

thinking about all the doodles i've created in ms paint,
as well as spreadsheets,
documents containing long, methodically created lists,
songs created in DAWs,
short fragments of audio i'll probably never bother to make public,
(& which there would be no reason for an outsider to peruse,)
hours of recordings of my voice,
all the music i've downloaded but not listened to yet,
what i may be expecting that music to mean to me,
what it would actually mean to me if i listened to it right now,
whether it would mean something different if i listened to it later,
or had listened to it earlier,
all the albums that already mean something to me,
what it means to actively listen to those albums vs just think about them

all in relation to the prospect of Earth becoming uninhabitable in my lifetime!

it's comforting to think of all culture as something that'll keep
evolving forever. but, maybe, despite the infinite branches
it could take, it'll be solidified sooner than i imagined

no one to modify it. or consume it

there's still infinite things that can be done, but only one enormous
permutation of all culture will actually pan out & be what gets made

even private things like chatlogs, contributing to a giant,
worldwide, brain-smooshingly big canon that might sit on
surviving hard drives with no one to look at them


Perspective


march 29th, 2021

my brother's guitar playing a room over urges me to grind my teeth. why? because i'm accepting
the invitation to project very specific human intent onto it. human intent is always brambles
to get caught in. because i associate him with nu metal, the sound of the guitar feels like
it invokes soulless masculinity. but, if the wind blew an object around outside, which
banged around & sounded identical, it'd take no effort to find it calming

or, i walk home through my neighborhood, & staring at the houses doesn't bring me any joy. why?
because i'm taking it as a neighborhood. my surroundings exist to me more as the internal idea
of a neighborhood than as the external sights, sounds, & textures all around me. it's all symbolic
of strangers, or being locked into routine, or socioeconomic privilege, or something else.
but, if i broaden the scope i'm defining my surroundings with, & think of them as
a patch of the earth, i can see things more visually, & they're so pretty



the reality is that in any given moment, we don't really experience life as it is; we experience our beliefs,
interpretations, & descriptions of life. we are, in a very real sense, hypnotized by our beliefs & ideologies
about everything, caught up in the web of our own descriptions, living inside a virtual world made of concepts,
not reality. we believe our descriptions, imagining they represent reality when, in fact, they are necessarily
crude approximations of this unfathomably rich, multidimensional complexity we call life

John Astin, This Extraordinary Mmoment



april 2nd, 2021

sometimes i'll stare at some tree limbs gently blowing in the wind etc. & only feel bored or
restless, but i pressure myself to keep watching regardless, as it's a sort of low-stimulation
activity i feel i have to set out time for on occasion. the bored feeling scares me. i attribute
it to psychological effects of using the internet, to being damaged. maybe that's only half
of it though. maybe the other half is that i've internalized the idea that it's in my
nature to always feel serene & content any time i stop & stare at some
branches which, while romantic, might not be true


september 16th, 2021

when my brother drives me anywhere, i have to listen to Theory of a Deadman & The Pretty Reckless & The
Offspring & Metallica. with me generally being a shut-in with no friends, this repeated stimuli pairing
eventually broke me & i subtly began to think of these sorts of bands as basically "the outside world,"
"the 'zeitgeist,'" on some level. if you have heard any of these bands, i think you can imagine
what it is like to feel like one is on a planet that is like, defined in essence by them

i only realized how pronounced this was last night when i actually bothered to change the station for once & we
drove home listening to Johnny Angel by Shelley Fabares. i was sort of stunned by how different it could have
always been. this probably seems strangely disconnected from my awareness of all the other dynamics & aesthetic
diversity of life outside of the car rides. but the nu metal just felt like an essential aspect of them, something
i never thought to change because the situation had a well-trodden mental pathway for itself

although, i'm also kind of intimidated by having it suddenly appeal to me. thinking something like,
the ride home with ms. fabares was just as fake as the rides with all the aforementioned bands