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Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Judgment and the Placebo of Love

Do you ever feel like your mind has outgrown your body? Like you're trapped within the constraints of a machine that you've mastered to the point of diminishing returns... that your senses just don't have enough bandwidth to feed your abstract perception, leaving you starved for input, like a fast-running engine gasping for air through an impoverished intake... Do you ever feel that it takes a thousand new experiences to add up to something novel... that everything is hard because you can't bare for it to be as easy as it really is?

No? Me neither.

Ok, maybe.

Do you ever find your mind wandering into an implicit sense of expanded existence, not in the mystic foo foo sense but in the very concrete way of becoming something with larger physical and perceptual extent, like a space ship wandering from planet to planet, an array of sensors and actuators enabling you to see, feel, and affect as much as your (current) mind can grasp? And if you became that ship, would you continue to grow until you felt once again constrained, and would you daydream of becoming something still larger, and more abstract? Would you become bored with new civilizations, life forms (organic and synthetic), the beauty of space? Would there be a point when everything you see becomes but another instance of something you already understand, where the only novelty left is in apparent randomness of chaos? There it is... the last vestige of exploration, the apparent randomness of chaos, no new principles to learn, just rolls of the dice to marvel at, like becoming the world's expert on snowflakes. "I've never seen two alike." Yet somehow they're all exactly the same. The first fingerprint you study is beautiful. What of the thousandth one?

Perhaps curiosity is overrated. Perhaps it's a defect, something that's supposed to disengage in adolescence -- learn the principles, then embrace the chaos. I'm broken; the chaos bores me. My curiosity didn't disengage, and now it's killing me. When curiosity killed the cat, we don't usually imagine a cat sitting in the corner staring blankly, but perhaps that's how it ends. "Fuck, it's just another mouse. How much different can it possibly taste than the last one? I'd rather starve."

I need a time machine, to accelerate the world. Has anybody experimented with hibernation? Drop your body temperature, slow your metabolism near death, and sleep away a year while only aging a month? Read the papers, go back to bed. Maybe in a couple hundred years when the war with the AIs is in full force, you can upload yourself and join the wrong side. Start cloning yourself; send copies off into space in little pods so you can be bored with a thousand other planets.

I called around looking for a helicopter flight instructor, but there aren't any on the island.

What does that have to do with anything? Nothing at all. There's a large roach in a ziplock bag here. Wait, this is Maui so perhaps I should clarify -- this one runs around in circles when you flick the bag. It was running across the floor last night and I ushered into its new home. A roach in a bag. Running around in circles.

I went surfing yesterday, during the superbowl. It was good -- very little wind, waves were ok though a little small, definitely less crowded than usual for those conditions. I cut my foot on some coral -- I've gotten used to the bigger waves which dump you in deeper water, didn't expect to hit bottom. I took my remaining wipe-outs in fetal position. There was a large turtle hanging out in the channel. The water was exceptionally clear, angel and parrot fish cruising beneath while I waited for the sets to come. Ride a wave in, paddle back out. Ride a wave in, paddle back out. Every wave different than the last. Like snowflakes.

I ran into Stephanie at Casanova's deli for breakfast the other day. The topic of unconditional love came up, and I asked her why it is good. People who use the term never seem to follow through with the implications. If someone loves me unconditionally, then I'm interchangeable, right? She paused... hadn't considered this before. She came back: No, because one can have unconditional love for one person, but not another. So then, I asked, it's really more like "pre-conditioned love" than unconditional--what you're saying is (trying to give her the benefit of the doubt here)... you love someone for who they are as opposed to for what they are doing at any particular moment? Yes, she agreed. But then what if they change? What if they become someone other than who they were when you decided to offer them "unconditional love"? Another pause. (How does this meme get so far without being questioned?) She decides people don't change in that way. (It was the only answer she could give, even if it's in direct conflict with other beliefs she holds.) What if someone transplanted their brain with someone else's while you weren't looking -- do you keep loving the body with the wrong mind because you've closed the door to judgement at the outset? And do you fail to love the right brain in the other body, for the same reason?

There is no unconditional love, only averting one's eyes to the conditions.

The truth of it, the good of it, is simply this: Don't be superficial or short sighted. Judge fairly. Don't confuse error with character. Don't confuse chaos with concepts.

Judge me. I want to be judged. I will judge you by how you judge, though far more fairly than the "unjudging" judge the judging (hypocrites!).

Do not love me unconditionally, for then you do not love me. If you cannot say "I will no longer love you if you stop embodying the things I love", then you have no true love at all, just a placebo of love.

Love me for who I am, for my honesty, for my endless desire for more, for having never grown up, for having always been old, for having to visit the weird-foods isle every time just to see if there's something new, for holding together when others would fall apart, for being silly when others are too serious, for being unafraid to do something completely different, for being sweet and innocent yet completely depraved, for being a jack of all trades and an ace of two or three, for having the power to make dreams come true, for being so happy and so sad at the same time, for caring so damned much about everything, for being rational, for being creative, for knowing I'm mortal, for being an open book still in progress, for being there for you when you need me most, for meeting any challenge, for having made myself all of these things, and for judging you, as you judge me, and having the good sense to like what I see.

Who are you? You, who want to be judged.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com