I like the illusion of free will. That’s not to say that I suffer from the delusion of it. I’m not a solipsist nor am I totally convinced that reality exists. I base that uncertainty on some hallucinations I experienced, the most recent were in a hotel room in Venezuela. My brain overheated with a fever from pneumonia and my perception was that the objects in the room changed shape and perspectives. Or perhaps my brain malfunctioned and failed to re-create the reality I am used to.
‘The pre-eminent mystery is why anything exists at all’
― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
This morning, I cut myself shaving in the bathroom. I inspected the cut and realised that it didn’t need intervention. Experience tells me that such a minor nick may bleed profusely but it would heal without any assistance from me. The blood cells would clump together, clot then dehydrate and close the wound.
I looked at the razor that cut me. I don’t know how to make such a razor. I simply don’t know enough about metallurgy or plastics or ergonomics or surfactants or any of the trades, skills and engineering that went into the device I used to cut myself.
I looked at the basin into which the drop of my blood fell. It splashed in water that I have no idea how to deliver to the basin, a ceramic basin but I have no idea how to make.
I was standing more than 20 m off the ground when I cut my myself shaving. I don’t have the training nor the skills to raise myself 20 m. There is a ceiling above me that is preventing the rain drenching me. I can see the rain through the double glazed window that was replaced just three months ago.
It seems obvious that I need other people. I must presume that they need me too.
My perception of time is changing with time. I am convinced that my changing metabolic rate is to blame. It’s slowing as I age.
My memories are becoming less distinct because my recording processes are dependent on taking frequent readings from my experiences. The frequency of sampling is dependent on my metabolic rate. I know of the dangers of aliasing from geophysics. And you know of another form; the canals on Mars. They were only there until the patterns were resolved with the better telescopes needed to defeat our hardwired brains that are programmed to make sense of the patterns.
My sleep patterns are less consistent than they used to be so my archiving of experiences for memory is laying down fewer and fewer samples. Those reductions in sampling manifest as differences between long-term and short-term memory.
My illusions of reality, my reality, are painted in place by my experiences. My reality is different to your reality. Isn’t it different to the birds? Do you see as well as birds in UV light?
I learn new skills all the time. The likelihood of becoming proficient in any new skill is somewhat age-dependent. I have learned to pace myself and I have an innate bacterial-derived sense of time and schedule. These gifts are enablers and I can follow and repeat most any recipe. That creates the illusion that I am a good cook. I don’t suffer from that delusion because I know that I can’t remember all of the proportions let alone all of the ingredients for some of my favourite recipes.
I suspend my disbelief while regularly reading and watching the ideas of others. I do not pretend to myself that I have faith in myself, or faith in anything, neither in my life nor while I am asleep. I may not be possessed of an eternal soul given that I don’t recall the Big Bang. I’m not sure how it will all end but I suspect I won’t be there. Perhaps I am a pantheist or as Dawkins wrote ‘pantheism is sexed-up atheism’.
Today’s journal title came about this morning when I dictated a note to my phone. ‘Que sera, sera’ became K SerraSara against my will. Or despite my will. Or was it always destined to be this outcome?
Technology destinies: my first ever book order from Amazon was The Spanish Civil War by Antony Beevor in February 2000. Will my order ever be forgotten?Will my interest in such things get me into trouble if a regime change makes my views politically unacceptable?
PS I was in the car after I wrote this and heard Futureproof with Jonathan Mccrea for the first time. There must be something on the air: his subjects were freewill, reality and time. I’ve since listened back and I recommend you do too. He does it better than me. Far better.