Sunday, November 11, 2007
THE GAME WE FORGET WE'RE PLAYING
Having followed a link to the Wikipedia page on simulation I tangented off on a metaphor for how we can slip into our avatar in the civilization game so readily, being plugged in since birth. In a way a new born is like a circuit board full of the standard set of transistors soft wired according to their genomic memory prepared to deal with experience in nature by tweaking the analogue knobs for a clearer picture, only to be hardwired by civilization’s digital demands for certainty to gain security from the threats it alone poses — if not certainty, at least a bribe, a tithe, a tax just to keep ‘em out of your kitchen or insure they won’t be throwing a garbage can through your store front window.
So we wake up every morning with fresh possibilities of learning more about our relationship to the natural world our ignorance of which is leading to an imbalance that could end life as we know it. Before our eyes open the game powers up and our avatar’s agenda, financial and social maintenance, baby’s diaper, shaving, lipstick, hangnails all become much more immediately demanding of ones time as we once again slip into the game and fail to question our playing at all.
Matrix was a pretty cool, stylized scenario on the idea. If the story had come to reveal that each of the cable drained entities had actually volunteered the use of their energy to a hypnotic propaganda system as the patriotic, good for the country thing to do, it would have hit the nail quite a bit more on the head.
The Thirteenth Floor takes the man as simulation theory into the game aspect further by posing that game playing tekkies get so deep into their science they discover that they themselves are avatars for individuals in the “realer” world. This comes much closer to the idea of the avatar we begin manipulating within this poor, crudely digital, law and order simulation of nature we call civilized behavior replete with its sophisticated knowings blinding it to natural happenings.
The Truman Show gave me goose bumps by reminding me of my early sensitivity to changed behavior in adults whenever I entered a room. I often spun around unexpectedly, hoping to catch them resorting to who they were before I showed up, the false back of a set piece, a changing back drop, something to confirm a suspicion I have never quite lost. As I got older I realized that my suspicions were true; adults do hypocritically alter their behavior for children to the point that most parents become even more dedicated avatars to protect their children from the game they play and cannot imagine an alternative to. The only thing new was that I no longer saw the adults as aware parts of a conspiracy from which they too suffer. What appears to be a conspiracy is an unwitting complicity in support of a belief system whose whole premise of man’s exceptionality in the scheme of things, his grant from above of anything he can grub for himself below as upheld by the western version of civilization is poisonous bullshit held together with extremely frightened blind faith and unctuous prayer, the most fragile of last resorts, the most deadly of explosive treacheries an avatar can inflict upon its player for volunteering to play the game.
Then there are the exposés of the wizards behind the simulation ala Oz in the movies Network, Wag the Dog, and Broadcast News showing the gears under the hood of the roadster to hell.
Of course there are the attempts to accurately reproduce reality to be found in actual computer game simulations of hockey, golf, car racing, family life, war against whomever, history and empire building.
In the field of alternate realities Second Life is like the second derivative of civilization, still locked into the original parameters while Uru is more like a differential of nature requiring the avatar to figure out alien nature and probable clues to vague puzzles of an alien culture.
Cruder, though no less effective in conditioning the reactions of the avatars are the mathematical simulations in the form of pie charts, bar graphs and asymptotic plots of chaos should alternatives be considered. With the two year billion dollar campaign season being waged among a baker’s dozen of professional scammers for the right of one of them to be of “service to the people” for four years in the White House I cannot but wonder if there isn’t some other reason they want the job. Polls conducted with all manner of intended results are hawked as the wave of the future just to scare people the other way or play to the lowest common denominator of being on the winning side no matter what the principles involved.
Another sort of simulation has been suggested by having seen Steve Kilby’s proudly posting an award to his blog, the time being, the dubious honor of its requiring a genius to be understood. Seriously!! The subtitle to the site, The Blog Readability Test, is What level of education is required to understand your blog? and the award itself states “This Blog’s Reading Level: Elementary, Junior High, High School, College under grad, College post graduate or Genius. Considering that Einstein once said that if you can’t explain something to a child, you don’t know what you’re talking about, or something to that effect, it would seem that writing only geniuses can understand is ultimate sophistry. To check into their criteria a bit closer I entered the URLs of my blog buds and fellow canaries and was flabbergasted at the results. I won’t name any names to protect the reputations of my friends but: All the poetry/photography/art inclined blogs were restricted to high school or less education while the political ranters rated at least under grad reading required up to genius level for a USA hating group of armchair revolutionaries. WTF? Since when is being easily understood a minus and being relevant only to a rare few a virtue?
I am interested in one simulation I came across and posted on a couple of days ago, the Political Compass. I am hereby requesting anyone who cares about such things to take the test and copy/paste your resulting chart in an email to me so I can plot your position on the political map and perhaps against your reading requirements if their appears to be a trend. I love this kind of shit even though I know it amounts to less than a hill of beans, it must be a recessive gene.