Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Tempus Fugitive Manifesto

The following screed appears throughout history in all sorts of places. While commonly found in text on electronic devices past, present and future, it has also been found in physical text. Written in a medieval Italian manuscript, for instance, or spray-painted in Cyrillic letters on the face of the Kremlin and even carved in hieroglyphics in an Egyptian tomb. Every time, certain references change (particular cultural touchstones alter from context to context), and the following version is the one most commonly associated with the time/space code of readers contemporaneous to this data posting. The Kickassistan Ministry of Tourism has chosen to preserve this text in this current format for the sake of historical preservation. 

Let's talk about time.

One of the great things about it is that there's a nearly endless supply of it.

The nice thing about that supply is that, writ so large, strange little epicycles of the improbable have plenty of time to beat the odds and go ahead and occur, whether or not statistics is on their side.

Which it usually isn't.

So, let's take that again: time writ large equals possibility. Later on, that might be important. I haven't sorted that bit out yet.

Now that that point has been made, we'll step back a minute and take a look at something else: conspiracy theories. So, remember how folks like to leap to any sort of improbable explanation by linking unlinked events, trends and ideologies? How they'll prop together ever-more-improbable scaffoldings of spurious logic to make nefarious sense out of the senseless? I'm sure you've heard a few gems. 911 was an inside job. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The New World Order. The Kennedy assassination. The belief that the Armenian Genocide during World War I was a hoax. The Philadelphia Experiment. UFOs. Water flouridation. The Bilderburg Group, Illuminati and Freemasons. Holocaust denial. Islamicization. The Liberal media. The thing is that while none of those are or were true, they could have been, they're just remarkably unlikely. Conspicuously unlikely. As if they were deliberately crafted out of unlikely parts.

Let's jump back to that time stuff.

Given enough time, causality of events matters less and less, right? Due to the number of disparate causal influences on any remote point in time, you have less and less reason to believe that a point in time sufficiently distant from your own will resemble it in any way. This is why you watch a movie from the 50's about what they think the future will be like (say, in the then-distant year 2000) and all of the futurism junk looks ridiculous. The folks in the 50's were banking on the idea that fifty years was a sufficient amount of time for things to be significantly different (it wasn't) and that the ways in which it would be different were ones that they could predict (it wasn't). Think about how Back to the Future II depicts the year 2015; because the designers of that film couldn't shake their own preconceived notions of where the world was going in 1985, we see a future where the only influences that ever occurred were those present in the year 1985. A hideous day glo nightmare.

The folks at home who are better at juggling ideas can probably tell where all of this is going. Or rather, from my perspective, already has gone.

For everyone else, here's the gist: think about how some folks have described the infinity of space.
"Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen..." (Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
 All of that is doubly true for time because, really, they're just about the same thing. If you're still not sure of that, try this little thought experiment on for size. Pick a place that you can see from where you are. Now go there, and see how long it takes you. Go back to your starting point and travel the same amount of time in the same direction again. You'll find that you've gotten back to that same point you picked, thus proving it doesn't matter whether you're measuring the time or the space because they're quite similar things.

When we talk about the enormity of time, we also need to talk about the enormity of space and so when we talk about the probability of an event occurring what we're really discussing is whether its likely to occur now and here or whether it's likely to occur at all, ever anywhere in space and time. Because here's the thing: most things that aren't the former are definitely the latter. So definite that it might be considered to be certain. A surety. Pretty much there's no way this is not happening at some point in time at some point in space.

I know what you're thinking. "So far," you're thinking, "that's pretty cool. We've just got to find the right bits of space time where the right stuff is happening and we'll rock with that."

Yes. That's a perfectly reasonable place to start. But here's the problem: everybody else has already figured that out.

Especially the folks who don't like that at all.

Remember earlier when we were talking about all that conspiracy theory nonsense? The down side of all this mumbo-jumbo is that it means that somewhere and somewhen those things occurred. Or rather, something as likely nonsensically nefarious. The very nature of the raw, untapped possibility is that time guarantees their occurrence, assures us that somewhere in Universe of time and space, something really bad is always happening in covert awful ways that need to be stopped. The shit is always going down. What's even worse is that the very infinite nature of time and space ensure that conspiracies of conspiracies exist and that all of these little eddies in chronospatial ether are actually fucking coordinated by someone, somewhere, somewhen.

I really need to come up with some new words for these indeterminacies of space-time. I'm repeating myself too much.

But you get the gist.

Bad stuff is always happening and bad things/people are behind it, trying to shape the universe into a very bad place to be in. Now, you may be asking yourself "He's using some very certain terms to talk about things that he only a little while ago told us were merely probable, not certain." Well, yes, kind of, but you've also missed the point of a couple things. If you're going all empirical on me and demanding proof, the best I can do is a mathematical proof or a line of convoluted metalogic like I've spun above. You could also take my word for it, because I've seen as bad as it gets. I've seen where it's all going. And it's bad, folks, really bad.

The quote "The only constant is change" is usually misattributed to Parmenides, an ancient Greek thinker who would have been insulted that he was being linked to something that he didn't think existed: change. Rather, he thought that everything was part of one vast universal whole where time and space were just matters of perspective (which they are) and that things just were. While there's a certain truth to Parmenidean concepts (you should really check out the paradoxes that his student Xeno wrote about if you haven't already), and a certain untruth to them as well, because the big thing that Parmenides wasn't accounting for was the mind. The mind, where all change actually occurs, where every revolution is conceived of and, ultimately, fought and won, where every beautiful thing is given its beauty and everything of value is assessed its value. The only way to get the Parmenidean model to be perfect and unchanging and just so is to reduce the mind to series of Skinnerean inputs and outputs, to destroy creativity and silence the voices of dissent and hope and joy and sorrow that sing a chorus in the minds of all who can think. That's where it's going. That's the end game of the conspiracy of cospiracies, folks, if only because of its self-justifying and self-propagating nature. After all, if change can occur, then conspiracies can be prevented or defeated or reversed or subverted, can't they?

This is where you come in.

Because you can think. And probably would like to continue to do so.

Find a time machine. I don't care where, just find one. Just make sure it's one of those ones that moves you through space, too, because, and this shouldn't be a shock to any of you, planets fucking move. Even you'd like to spend all of your time on a single planet, you're going to need to account for sidereal movement, spiral movement of your solar system around the galactic center, galactic movement relative to objective space and the constant movement of all things away from the origin point of the universe! Got it? Space/time same/thing. Make sure your time machine goes in all the necessary directions and not just forward and back.

You might want to bring some supplies or people who could help, too. Smart friends who know more than you about any particular subject. Athletic friends who are good at running/jumping/climbing trees. Maybe someone who likes to talk to other people if that's not your sort of thing. Also bring some tools like flashlights and those cool little telescopic magnet things that are shaped like pens. Tweezers seem useful. A towel, perhaps, or is that too transparent?

Right, so pack all of that in your time machine and mess around with the controls. It helps if you know how to drive the thing. Or fly it. Or control it. Or whatever you do. Find a point in time and space where some sort of plot is underway and, wait for it, because here's the fun part, fuck the shit out of it. No, not literally. Just wreck it. Destroy that fiendish scheme. Or reverse it if it's already done its damage. Or subvert it if you can turn it to not-quite-so-awful (good is really just a relative concept that, once we start talking about, starts begging far too many questions, so we'll leave it alone).

No, I'm not asking you to become some sort of time police. That sounds like a terrible idea for an awful movie starring a pointless Belgian action star.

I'm not asking you to "set history right." Again, that sounds like the sort of quantum leap of logic that TV shows are made of.

Rather, I'm asking you to be the monkey wrench in the gears of a mindless machine, grinding to a halt (or at least putting it out of commission for maintenance, to continue the metaphor) the plot-of-plots against all thought throughout the Universe. I'm asking you to tear down what you can, to fiddle with the parts until they break off, to interrupt and interrupt and interrupt until all the bad guys go home frustrated. I'm asking you, if you want to keep thinking, to think pretty thoughts of anarchy and wreckingballs and drinking too much at parties and stepping on people's toes and making things unbearable for the sorts of people for whom things can be made unbearable when there's too much thought, too much art, too much beauty and ugliness and things that stir you to actually fucking feel.

Pick up your figurative brick and through it through their metaphorical window.

Be a Tempus Fugitive.