Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Every Floor has an Upstairs...

With luck, tonight will by my last one without internet for awhile. Tomorrow,the DSL folk are set to configure my phone line for raw DSL, and I will againhave civilization at home. I no longer will need to come to the office atodd hours to do work or play. Hurrah! The only slight downside is that, as iscommon in the industry, they won't give me granularity any better than anentire day as to when the tech will show up, so apart from my meeting, whichI can't miss, I'll be staying home all day tomorrow, or at least until DSLis set up. I don't feel bad though, because I've come in for big parts of thisweekend and done work things.

I went to the first meeting of the generalists that I've gone to for awhiletonight, and that was fun. Rather than talking about philosophy, we playedsome really kick-ass open-style card games for the whole time. There's somethingthat's interestingly different between the generalists and PUSH -- I think it'sthat with PUSH, it's always, at least in my mind, struggling to exist and havemeaning, at least partly because it's trying to attract the attention ofstudents who have a lot of other things to do, while generalists iscomposed of people who arn't quite so busy (nonstudents), and there's not thatmuch of a need for purpose in the group. I wonder if there's a better way forme to think about or contribute to PUSH that will help it feel more stable andsolid.

On the way back from Generalists to my office now, I had a daydream, based onall the weird ceiling work they're doing in Baker hall, of there being moreupstairs stretching up to infinity, each floor a variant of the floor below,generally less unified and official-looking, more ad-hoc, than the one below.I used to always have dreams of incredibly huge shantytowns, in the vertical andthe horizontal (unlike real shantytowns in that way), remains of huge,interconnected offices and similar, all available for the taking. In the dreamgeometry, somehow, it never felt like anything would fall, nor was there reallyany single ground level outside. I think some parts of this daydream alsoconnected with the end of the film, The Believer, a film I saw with Debb (I think)a long time ago. At the end of the film, the main character, having killedhimself, is shown in what is perhaps a Sisyphesian way, to be running up anendless set of stairs, as his childhood rabbi tells him there is nothingupstairs.

How can it be that my entire life feels like it's losing focus, becomingsurreal and recursively self-mocking? Did this start a month ago, or a yearago? The fast forward and rewind keys are simultaneously hit.

A further thought on a recent post -- with our dual-nature, we acquire a tensionbetween them and allow civilization to be the vehicle from one reality to acomprimise. The more advanced society, and the higher our position within it,the better we can isolate ourselves from what are harsh realities for otherpeople. In the non-labour class, the non-starving classes, we don't need tothink about people in a mad struggle for power as much. Most of us never get anyblood directly onto our hands. Sometimes we do see things from that otherreality, people who either cannot be part of our commonwealth, or who break therules/intuitions in order to climb further, faster, to get ahead. Like whensomeone weaves in and out of traffic dangerously to get ahead, I enjoy, whencapable and not at too great a cost to myself, to alter the situation to bringharm, either as humiliating or as fitting as possible to those who would riseand harm society. Society isn't based on contracts or anything so remotelyformal -- it's based on people giving up considerable autonomy and selfishnessin order to better the common weath and themselves through that common good.Societies must manage members who are much less cooperative than theirneighbours, and I suspect that a lot of our emotions, including spite, aregroup-selective tools for these purposes. When sitting in on a class on EvPsych,it struck me how blind Evolutionary Psychology is without group selection andmemes. So many elements of human behavior don't make sense without thoseprinciples, and even if it's difficult to quantify them in practice, theycan be strong effects in computational models. Given that they fit so wellin the computational model, and there's no reason, as far as I can see,that they would not work in practice, it seems fair to me to, absent furtherdata, consider them as likely existing, just as we may safely assume that gametheory as a whole applies to a lot of evolutionary models without individualre-proof of each element of game theory within the model. Data can, of course,suggest we reinterpret this.

I'm getting sleepy. The analysis isn't quite where I hoped it to be when Ileft tonight, but it's almost 03 now when I'm finishing this post, so it'sprobably time to go.

Tags: science

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