I've returned from vacation and I'm sitting here, on this Tuesday morning, with twenty-thousand things to post on, but a dirth of ideas on how to winnow them down and present them. There was, for instance, this interview with Edward Wilson on the topics surrounding evolution v. religion. Or this complete mind-fuck, a quantum computer program that can solve a problem without ever running. Perhaps the emerging (or, for those who are not upper-middle class and white, ever-present), battle for access to birth control that Rebecca's covering is more your cup of tea. And then there's the alternative medicine seminar I went to the weekend before last, about which I have long been meaning to post something.
Surely I can tie all those threads together here in one neat paragraph, then go fetch some lunch and get back to work...wait...thinking...nope, can't do it today. Instead what I've got is this overarching thing that's been on my mind lately--something about the massive distributed system that makes up the entirety of my being, or your being. I, you, they out there in the world, are the sum of differentiated cells that know nothing of the being of which they are part. They respond to changes in pressure or light or chemicals or electrical charge that occur in their immediate environment; when a change occurs, the cell alters in some way. You and I are one giant collection of stimulus and response--at this level there is no happy or sad, or pain or relief, or love or hate. There are merely chemicals and patterns of electricity.
But I don't feel like a machine that's the sum of these things. Maybe the human condition exists because we have chemical signals telling us to survive and reproduce and that really everything we do is part of the strategy to make sure that our genetic material is propagated--red in tooth and claw and all that. Maybe everything else is, for lack of a better word, narrative that we make up to convince ourselves otherwise. Maybe religion is a narrative created to fill in that gap between the massive network of cells and the resulting experience that occurs when you are that massive network of cells. Maybe all of that. But then, and I don't know how it is for you, but I don't feel that way.
Next: What the hell was that?
Tags: Meaning Of Life