Tag Archives: Philosophy

#15 Write Ups: The Games We Play

Since past couple of weeks, I haven’t been doing anything productive. A result of a work heavy month which literally wore me out. I just sat in front of my gaming console and enjoyed butchering random characters, escorting them to their cyber graves. And I enjoyed it to be honest. I enjoyed the fact that I am the most powerful character in the game’s universe. I needn’t worry about dying as I can load the game again. And just like in any game, I am destined to win.

Maybe this is the reason why violent games are so in fashion. We, as gamers; don’t have to fear the consequences. There is always an easy way out. But the puzzle of our life is not a video game. Right?

Well, technically speaking modern open world games have created a real life experience for us. The expressions, the stories, the characters all look very believable as we play the game. The maps in the world of video games are huge. Yet, the way our console can present that level of detail is that it only renders the field of view. One perspective, one point of view at a time. A nerd named Ray Kurzweil has predicted that considering the accelerating progress in technologies, it will be possible to build a supercomputer more powerful than the human brain by 2045. So suppose we do build a supercomputer that can simulate the game of life for us, what else do we want? Isn’t life all about the experience of it?

Going even more crazy now, what if we have built a supercomputer so strong already? And we have decided to connect ourselves to that singularity in order to do as we please, without any consequence? Just to safeguard the integrity of the game we have erased that bit from our memory. Our mind is the console, rendering one point of view at a time.

If we are in the game, we are at the mercy of the supercomputer. We don’t have the controller in our hands. It is just the illusion of control. We are in the game, we are a character. Some character. We don’t even know if we are the good one, the bad one or the insignificant one. We don’t know if we will respawn once we are gone. We don’t know whether the game will restart. We don’t know the rules. That’s what makes it so confusing; matters beyond our control. Matters beyond our understanding.

This is the reason to fear. And ironically this is the reason not to fear. Whatever is the story of the game, it will take us forward. We will do things, as the story suggests us to. We will win sometimes, just to keep the game “lively”. And we will lose sometimes, just to keep the game “lively”. We just have to do our best in whatever the story unfolds.

If you ask a supercomputer, the proof of its consciousness it will give you one. But only if it is programmed to give you. The supercomputer will know for sure that the proof is obvious. But is it? Consciousness is such an unthinkable phenomenon, something so obvious that is why so dubious. We can sure give the proof of being self aware; being in control of ourselves. But we can never be sure if we are the ones pulling the strings.

Einstein was just as useless as I am. Maybe even more. He wrote this:

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace the whole of nature in its beauty.
Note: In all this nonsense, my next level has loaded. Need to take some more characters closer to their destinies.

Advertisements

#14 Pursuit of Happiness

I have been privileged enough to know a bunch of talented people. And I am jealous of them to the core. Even I want to be able to play the acoustic version of ‘Wonderful Tonight’ without any hassle in front of a live audience and bathe in the applause. I want to be the center of attraction at every party with my moves. And every once in a while (though bodybuilding is not a talent per se) I want to take off my shirt on the beach without hesitation.

As simple as it may sound, I want more from my life. Who doesn’t? Isn’t that the reason we do things? To get more?

In the summary of our school days, I wonder, we were under the constant judgement of our performance in the exams. And no matter how much we tried, there was someone or the other with whom they always compared us. ‘It is okay if you did not score well as long as you were one step ahead of your rival.’ Rivalry has seeped through our veins so deep that we don’t even find it wrong anymore.

And is it wrong? Maybe yes, maybe not. I think under the pressure of judgement I performed well. For someone else, the absurd expectations proved fatal. It is the outcome that measures the correctness of our actions. It is too simple to connect the dots backwards. It is easy to thank someone or blame someone as a post script.

Do you know the feeling when the coin is tossed in the air? Suspended mid-air with utmost uncertainty of the outcome. When you can do nothing but to believe in your luck? I dread those moments. The flutter of a butterfly may cause the winds to change their course, making the coin turn one more time and change my fate altogether. Suspended mid-air, far away from the concept of control

If you think about it closely our life is the sum of all such moments. No matter how good you are, life finds a way of surprising you. Like a gust of wind making a bird’s nest to fall off the tree. I wonder if that keeps the bird thinking what if it had lazed a little? Things would’ve been different.

Unburdened by such thoughts, everyone except humans must be happy. It’s just us who believe in the pursuit of happiness. We wait for the better tomorrow as we blindly forget that today is the tomorrow we always waited for. We keep running after we cross the finish line instead of celebrating. And maybe that’s where we lose.

So instead of envying others for what they have, I’ve decided to be proud of what I have. Maybe someone, somewhere will be jealous of me too. Because it is simple to see the light reflected off others. To see your own reflection, requires a talent.

#3 Always a bridesmaid never a bride

Leonardo DiCaprio has been all over social media for NOT winning an Oscar, probably more that Matthew McConaughey. I am surprised how people think that Leo is the only mainstream actor who has yet to receive an Academy Award. So here we go with a few of my favourites who have not received an Oscar in the Best Actor category.

1. Gary Oldman

Known for his versatility, Gary Oldman is described as “a very strong candidate for the world’s best living actor” by Academy Award winner Colin Firth. Oldman was nominated for his performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and lost to Jean Dujardin for The Artist. And this is his only Oscar nomination in his career. You can check out this list which puts it in detail why Oldman deserves an Oscar.

2. Jim Carrey

Speaking of being nominated, Carrey has never even got that far. After being praised for going beyond his comfort zone for The Truman Show and overshadowing his co-star in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindit is extremely disappointing not to get noticed by the Academy.

3. Johnny Depp

Depp has been in the limelight for accepting challenging roles and pulling them off with ease. With the kind of performances under his belt, Johnny Depp has been nominated thrice in the Best Actor category, always leading to disappointment. However, an Oscar isn’t the only recognition one seeks is it? Depp, in 2003 and 2009. He has been listed in the 2012 Guinness World Records as the highest paid actor, with $75 million.

4. Sir Ian McKellen

He is Gandalf, he is Magneto but all those powers are not good enough to pull an Academy award towards him. Nevertheless he has received six Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a BIF Award, two Saturn Awards, four Drama Desk Awards and two Critics’ Choice Awards.

5. Orson Welles

At the age of 23, he shook the world with the radio adaptation of H. G. Wells‘ novel The War of the Worlds. When he was 25, he made the film, which is considered as one of the best films ever made. He wrote it and acted in it. He shared an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. Orson Welles gained national and international fame and recognition in mostly every possible media of that era. In 1970, Welles was given an Academy Honorary Award for “superlative and distinguished service in the making of motion pictures.”Rather than attending the ceremony he exclaimed: “I didn’t go because I feel like a damn fool at those things. I feel foolish, really foolish. … I made piece of film and said that I was in Spain, and thanked them.”

 

An Oscar is probably the most coveted method of acknowledging one’s contribution to Cinema. And in these 86 years we cannot even imagine how many legends have been deprived of it. But the most important part is, regardless of this recognition, they’ve measured success in different terms. Success and failure depends on our choice. There isn’t only one definition of success. It is highly subjective. And this is what I take back from it.

#11 Write ups – Being human (2013)

Have you watched the ‘Planet of the Apes’ film franchise? I find the concept of humans being dominated by another superior species very tempting.

But in reality, why exactly, do we control the planet?

Science provides some useful insights. Let’s visit our distant cousins, chimps. A recent study showed that our genes and the ones in a chimp are 98.6% identical. So theoretically speaking we are 99% chimpanzee and 1% human. All of it, that makes us human, accounts for that tiny one percent and yet it makes a huge difference.

1.Chimps don’tknow “me”

If you put a mirror in front of a chimpanzee, it fails to recognize that it is his own impression. It takes a chimp a lot more time than a 4-year-old child to understand that the image is not another chimp. Self-recognition doesn’t come naturally to chimps. And neither does the need to improve beyond physical being.

2.Chimps don’tknow “you”

We have achieved positive results in making them speak through gestures. Dolphins are even more sophisticated in this matter. Apes solve puzzles efficiently and can find answers. But if you put two apes together with a puzzle with only one of them knowing the method to solve it, the other one would not ask him the solution. And that’s theproblem. Unlike humans, every animal fails to understand the possibility of other better, intelligent mind. No laboratory has made an animal ask a question, till date.

And that’s how we evolved, didn’t we? Making a long story short, every new step was a question. A creative interpretation of a possibility! We make use of the knowledge bestowed upon us by our ancestors as a stepping-stone to climb up and move forward. We have learnt, not only from humans but from our other co habitants as well. (Remember Da Vinci’s glider inspired by bats?)

We very proudly assume that we control the world. But do we?

We are self-proclaimed masters of the universe. At the moment, here on planet Earth, there are just above 7 billion (7,000,000,000) human beings. But the number of insects is staggering. It is estimated that there are ~ 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000)insects. Imagine if all of them unite and plan a counter attack on us.  We are critically outnumbered and gravely endangered.

No matter what level we reach, it is essential to keep learning, growing and sharing wisdom. And very importantly, not considering any person or any thing for that matter, inferior. Because that’s a part of the tiny 1% that makes us human.

#10 Write ups – The Universe Is Expanding (2013)

For a few months now, I have been reading some absolutely random facts of the world we live in. On one of such endeavours of mine, I stumbled upon the concept of time. You see, The Big Bang is widely considered as the beginning of everything. What happened before The Big Bang? It is a bit complicated because there was no ‘before’ before it. Time is the result of expansion of the Universe and so are the spatial dimensions. Everything, every single bit of it was wound up together, compressed and limited to the greatest possible extent. And then, BOOM.

And so was our life, before we started exploring the world. Using media to connect with people and sharing information; gaining knowledge! Life, as we know it right now, has a different meaning altogether from what our ancestors recognized then.

Not too long ago, just a few thousand years back quenching the hunger and the thirst of our body, was the ultimate goal. Everything else seemed miniscule. But today, most of us don’t need to hunt for it. Not everyday. Our thirst is a different kind of thirst altogether. We seek – knowledge, power, recognition, status.

I can imagine how grand a Neanderthal must’ve felt on hunting a wild boar. The sense of not having to hunt for a few days was the greatest achievement. And not much has changed. We struggle to get ourselves up the corporate ladder and once we get there we feel relieved. But on looking at the larger picture, how much does the achievement of the Neanderthal weigh, today? And how much is our greatest achievement, no matter how great, is going to weigh, tomorrow?

Think about it this way – Britney Spears is considered the Pop Goddess, today. But tomorrow, when we go interstellar and colonise ‘in a galaxy far, far away’; do you think we need to carry this information over there? Nope. And we don’t need our marks in geography in our 9th grade or that silver medal and certainly we don’t need our followers on Twitter.

So, why do we take it so hard on ourselves?

When you look at the picture taken by Voyager I, the farthest human-made object from Earth from ~ 6 billion kilometers away, you can’t tell the difference between me and the richest person on the planet. You can’t say if I am wearing a Gucci or something off the streets. Basically you don’t care if I exist or not, because I am so miniscule.

Take our aggregate living as a grand opera night and ourselves as the double-chin-singer. When we perform, the spotlight is on us, and the house lights are dim. We don’t know what the audience thinks of the performance when we are performing. Yet we put up a good show, not for the people in the dark, but for the person in the spotlight. Because we owe it to him…

Our being may not bother anyone else, but it always bothers ourselves, our loved ones. We don’t need to prove anything in life because life has no hypothesis. All of it comes down to the moments that make us feel on the top of the world. We define our own targets and even if we don’t meet them, frankly speaking no one else bothers. And I think, considering the universe is expanding, we can forgo our puny imperfections and look at the larger picture.

earth-from-voyager