Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dream Theatre: Phantasmagoric Performance Art

Vivid Dreaming - Alternate title

Behind the stage was a room where one could go to alter the performance at the front of the stage. By pressing together the films of light into an ever-smaller wad of wax a hole could be plugged between the conscious and the subconscious.

On the stage were colorful dancers and screens with real-time cityscapes that flickered as the light from the city itself dimmed.

Madonna appeared at the edge of the state and looked at the director and asked him, "how long do I have to keep his smile on? I'm tired of gyrating endlessly and I'd like to stop if you'd let me."

To prove that one could alter the performance itself by thinking about it from behind the stage, I whispered greek letters, e.g., alpha, beta, gamma, to the director to prove to him that we were not in a dream. It is said that one could not be conscious of being in a dream while one was in it. In order to prove it, one either looked at one's hands or recited letters of a foreign alphabet.

Night after night we all frequented this mind and body series of performances. It was the high point of our life. Someone announced that all performances had been released on dvds, about eight hours worth and that future performances would also be released. We eagerly awaited the continuation of these vivid theatrical dreams as well as the release of the dvd sets.

It was difficult to describe to others the sheer joy and wonder of witnessing these performances night after night as the sunset invaded the screen and sent the dancers into the very skies of New York City.

It must have been near Lincoln Center for the buses drove by and then appeared on the panoramic screens at the corners of the stage.

Summer never let up and the colors of dream theatre and music never died.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Hillary Clinton Wins Big

Senator Hilary Clinton wins big in both Texas and Ohio. While it was not completely impossible for Clinton to win in both states, the previous weeks had indicated that it was not to be. However, recent events in the other candidate's campaign had created enough doubt in the minds of voters to change the outcome of a highly anticipated primary election.

It is hoped that the campaign promises made by both candidates will continue to influence American politics for many years.

Disclaimer: The above is an example of anticipatory journalism. It expresses the desired outcome of a near-future event on the part of the writer. It is intended in the best possible way. If such outcome does not materialize, time then becomes important as to determine the eventual realization of the desired reality.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Virtual Physics Lectures

How I would have wanted to have attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology years ago. Well, not really. It wasn't until the 21st century that I became fascinated with Physics, Astrophysics, etc.

If I had broadband--another reason to put up with the extra expense--I could sit in on Physics lectures for nothing. I understand they are becoming the rage, worldwide.

When I get broadband, I can come back to MIT Physics lectures and enjoy one dazzling idea after another.

Maybe the new year will find me sitting in front of the broadband LCD panel in my living room soaking up lecture after lecture, while the sun rises and and sets while I take no notice of the passing of time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to Become Part of the Machine

Some of the mind-intensive activities or experiments outlined in this recent New York Times article have been selected below:

"Go to Google Image Labeler (images.google.com/imagelabeler) and you are randomly matched with another bored Web surfer — in Korea, maybe, or Omaha — who has agreed to play a game. Google shows you both a series of pictures peeled from the Web — the sun setting over the ocean or a comet streaking through space — and you earn points by typing as many descriptive words as you can. The results are stored and analyzed, and through this human-machine symbiosis, Google’s image-searching algorithms are incrementally refined. . . .

Now a site run by Amazon.com, the Mechanical Turk (http://www.mturk.com/), asks you to lend your brain. Named for an 18th-century chess-playing automaton that turned out to have a human hidden inside, the Mechanical Turk offers volunteers a chance to search for the missing aviator Steve Fossett by examining satellite photos. Or you can earn a few pennies at a time by performing other chores that flummox computers: categorizing Web sites (“sexually explicit, “arts and entertainment,” “automotive”), identifying objects in video frames, summarizing or paraphrasing snippets of text, transcribing audio recordings — specialties at which neural algorithms excel. . . .

How do you categorize Wikipedia, a constantly buzzing mechanism with replaceable human parts? Submit an article or change one and a swarm of warm- and sometimes hot-blooded proofreading routines go to work making corrections and corrections to the corrections."

Click on the title of this post to read the entire article. (Free Registration may be required at New York Times site.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Multiple Lives You Are Living

If Quantum Mechanics really does suggest an infinite amount of parallel universes or realities existing simultaneously, then this changes what you perceive as everyday reality.

If we create our reality by our intentions and choices on a minute-by-minute basis, then even though it defies understanding, we are constantly stepping into and out of the ever-flowing river of time and reality.

Let me give an example. So much of what happens to us depends on what we envision as happening to us and as what we remember that happened to us in the past. I have been looking for a good friend from college for about 17 years with no success. Last week I recalled an incident that happened to him and his family and I commented on it on the following blog, Divergence. Hours later, I was exploring the Invisible web (the Deep Web) and accessed http://www.pipl.com/ and, to my utter surprise, I was able to find my friend's phone number in a database that had forever eluded me. I was able to talk with him and catch up with all that had transpired during those 17 years. One comment he made chilled me. He said he always felt that I'd contact him again when he turned 50 which happened last week.

I had always felt that I'd never find him again--that he was forever beyond my reach. I even thought he had died and that was the explanation as to why he was not in any of the databases that I had used to find countless friends from the past. It almost felt like I was never supposed to find him again in this life. My suspicion is that had we both not had that intention to find each other after two decades, we probably would not have done so.

Now this is the chilling part. Each of us is experiencing to some degree a different universe or reality than what we experienced even a day or an hour ago from the one we had been experiencing even a day or an ago earlier. The people we meet and the experiences we have are not the same ones we would have met or experienced had we continued existing in the previous universe or reality. Of course some things stay the same, you continue living in the same home from day to day. You continue in the same job from day to day. You stay married or related to the same spouse or love interest or friends from day to day, but there are slight changes that occur to you that are not integral to the life and world you were previously living in.

In other words, reality is always changing, perhaps subtly, but changing nevertheless. In other realities I could have lived in, I would still be looking for my elusive friend with no known address or phone number. In another universe he would still be looking for me, as well.

A good film to explore this concept of ever-changing reality is Dark City, a SciFi film that is like no other in that it explores a Matrix-like alternate reality, but one that continues changing from day to day.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Are we Living in the Afterlife Now?

If this is the afterlife, we had better make the best of it. This life has a heavenly quality for some people. For others, the experience is more hellish than heavenly. There are all the variations in-between, as well.

I'm not saying there is no Afterlife. The traditional view of some other reality after death, or at some distant point in the future after one dies, may very well also be a possibility. Nevertheless, if this present reality were to some significant degree a kind of afterlife, as perfect or as imperfect as it may seem, then the next question arises. What was the previous life like? Was it as imperfect or perfect as this one? Was it almost a mirror of this reality? Or was it slightly different in some important way?

This may sound like the reincarnation that Hindus believe with no end in site until one achieves, or doesn't achieve Nirvana or Benign Oblivion. On the otherhand, this life-after-life-after-life may simply be the different alternate realities that String Theory and M Theory postulate as existing side by side.

What if life were one long series of opening doors that are always opening or closing in a long corridor of eternity? You go through one and open another one for all eternity. This endless opening of doors does not sound like such an imperfect reality, provided one is equally healthy and happy. There will always be new doors to open and close along that endless corridor of time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Living between Time

Ursula K. Le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven (1971) has influenced my perception of life more than I care to admit. The gist of the story is that reality is transformed by what the hero dreams. His psychoanalyst suggests ridding the world of racism. When he dreams about that, he awakens to a world where all of humanity is now gray-skinned. This and many other startling changes are brought about by his lucid dreaming.

Through the years, I didn't consciously think of that novel which I read at 15 or 16. I once caught a PBS adaptation (1980) which delighted me by its distillation into quite a completely different story from what I had imagined it to be. Nevertheless, for about 20+ years I've had the odd suspicion that some elements of life have changed ever so slightly from what I clearly remember them to have been.

One of the earliest occurrences was being completely befuddled at finding that a chord or motif that I had been so certain existed in the Beatles' Hey Jude, did not, in fact, exist. I imagined that I was mistaken, but in my mind I could still hear the other version that I had been familiar with. Now this is before bootlegs became widely available on the Internet and in Greenwich Village rare records stores. It saddened me that I remembered a version of this famous song, that, in fact, no longer existed, or perhaps, ever existed.

Another startling occurrence deals with a book that I have been reading since I was eleven, October the First is Too Late (1966) by the astronomer, mathematician, philosopher Fred Hoyle. I've read this perhaps four or five times in my life. The last time I read it I was astounded by the fact that a encounter between the hero and a historical/mythical person that I had vivid memories of having read many times before, suddenly had disappeared from this only paperback copy that I have always used when I reread this story. I tried rereading it in case I had missed this significant encounter, but alas, it was not to be found. I have a feeling that if I were to read this book again I might either find this missing scene again, or perhaps find new ones missing, or--even more perplexing--find a scene that I know I had never read during the previous readings of this unique book.

The latest occurrence of this personal phenomenon was when I recently learned of Ingmar Bergman's death. This stunned me more than you'd imagine, as I distinctly remember reading that Fanny and Alexander (1982) was his last film. I never heard anything else about Ingmar Bergman until this past month when all the news agencies reported his death at a ripe old age. Now the confusion may be that, yes, this film was in fact his last film, and his Swan Song, as far as feature films are concerned. He, however, continued making other kinds of films, mostly for Swedish TV. Now as much as I loved his work, and as much as I have immersed myself, obsessively at times, you'd think I would have read at least a review or two in the ensuing years, but that was not the case. Not until he died did I see anything in print in any of the major film or cultural media about this singular director. To my mind, this was indeed proof, that the reality I remembered quite certainly that Bergman died some time in the early 1980s, had, in fact, changed.

I'm suddenly reminded of the only line of text that I remember from my distant encounter with Catch 22. I remember a rambling discussion about the real or imagined alternates to deja vu (already seen.) The other two being presque vu (almost seen) as well as, jamais vu (never seen.) I forget the point the author was trying to make, but now that I think back on those varieties of things previously seen, imperfectly seen, or never seen, I wonder if what I've been describing can be described as a fusion of all three manifestations of realities actually experienced in some way or other.

Perhaps this very blog post may one day be remembered by myself or by someone else, when actually no such post will have ever existed in some future or alternate reality.

Please note, that the following paragraphs almost disappeared as I had previously added extra space accidentally and had forgotten that I had done so. The previous paragraph you read was almost--to my mind--the last one in this post. What a pleasant surprise and one in tune with what I've been writing about to have found these alternate paragraphs. I'm including them as is, in case they disappear again, or never register in the first place.

These are only two glaring situations in my recollection that illustrate this point. There have been, in fact, many others, including meeting people that no one else remembers, but I remember them because they left a huge impact on me. I always ignored these inconsistencies with other people's memories until I was able to reveal to relatives or close friends things they had said to me, 20 or 25 years ago, that upon some reflection, they admitted that they very well could have said that, but it was long gone from their memory. This gave me some assurance that if I remembered statements or situations in family member's lives or in those of close friends, perhaps I remembered other realities that others no longer remembered at all.

I'm not sure what this phenomenon is called. I thought briefly of how fascinated I used to be with the concept of déjà vu until until I read that it had nothing to do whatsoever with a mystical reality, but rather that it was caused by a trick of the mind. For years I often had episodes of déjà vu and they delighted and perplexed me greatly. Since learning that this phenomenon is a trick of the mind, I no longer experience episodes of déjà vu .

Recently I read in the New York Times that one major cosmologist believes that we change our evolutionary and cosmological past by what we collectively choose to remember or imagine it to be. This was both startling and comforting. I'm still looking for this recent quote, but, it seems to elude me the way other memories or recalled incidences have done for more than 20 years.

Perhaps one day I will remember that I wrote this post, but will find that no one read it or recalls it, and even more problematic, I will find no copy of it either here or in my hard copy binder of blog posts I've written.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Halographic Prayers Underground

Alternate title: World Wide Web 2050

In a special holographic circular room your entire body is connected by wireless electrodes to the supercomputer that colors your seemingly endless room by purposely preventing you from ever hitting any of the walls.

You wear no goggles. There is nothing but yourself and the almost perfect illusion that you are in bright sunshine or in the mountains of the distant past, as you meet and experience people and locations that would have been unthinkable 43 years ago.

The clothes you try on are sent to your home. The furniture you sit on has been shipped and will arrive there by morning, or sooner, for you to enjoy. The virtual people you meet will seem to know you perfectly if ever you meet them in the flesh.

As you sit in the holographic church, or temple, and worship the real God in a real heaven, you wonder how anyone ever risked the safety and the variety that the holographic web now affords you. You find it preposterous that humanity once lived in the precarious world before the free nations of the world had to go into hiding to avoid the nonstop bombing of the cities above ground.