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A Theory of Everything

By Jessica Lynd

THREE

It was close to midnight when I had the idea. Something evil was lurking in the
dark. I suppose it happens to us all. You wake up at some indeterminate point in
the night (for those who don't have clocks in their bedrooms anyway) and your
mind begins to whirr with thought. The thoughts rush on and you silently nod in
agreement with the thoughts that you are having. This has certainly happened
to me more than once and often I have determined to write them down later
when I get up. Of course, you never do because life gets in the way and it
becomes just another lucid moment lost forever in the mists of time. Well, this
time, I have actually made the effort to write down what I was thinking about
and to use it to meditate on the thoughts I was having. So what follows will be a
mash up of the thoughts I had last night in my bed and now as I write,
remember and muse on those thoughts that I had.

I suppose, in a way, it really started last night before I went to sleep. The
thought occurred to me that no one gets born by their choice. In that sense
every one of us is born without our will being taken into account. Our birth, the
fact we are given life and brought into being at all, is the choice of other people.
This strikes me as partly selfish. Although not a parent myself, it does seem to
me, observing from the sidelines, that some parents are selfish. They want a
child for themselves. I wonder how many parents give thought to what kind of
life their child will have or how much pain or misery they might be storing up for
their offspring? My guess would be that many never think of that at all, at least
not until or unless things go wrong. And yet these things, in the abstract, are
foreseeable consequences of having, or giving birth to, a life. So why don't more
people think of the downsides of being alive when bringing a new life into the
world?

Maybe these people consider that although life will certainly include some bad it
will also contain much good. Lives, of course, are very different. Some will
contain little pain and some will contain much. In that sense, once a life has
started and you are thrown into existence you pretty much have to suck it up
and deal with what comes down the pipe. You can't refuse life and go back
where you came from. The clock only ticks forwards. But, to get back to the
point, perhaps people consider that life, overall, isn't that bad. That would be
reasonable, wouldn't it? I don't think so. You can't live your life on someone's
behalf. Each life is individual. You cannot measure someone's pain by how you
measure your own because you are not comparing like with like. Human beings
are not robots and are not built to the same specifications. Much less do they
experience life in the same way. Your appreciation, or lack of appreciation, of life
is not commensurable with that of another person. We each make our own
minds up and human beings, in general, have always valued that fact about our
species.

I raise all this because, for the longest time now, I have actively said to myself
that, were it possible, I would give my life back. I don't accept the idea, for
myself, that life, although a mixture of good and bad, is "worth it" over all. For
at least 10-15 years now I've said to myself that if it were possible to reject life
and give it back then I would. If there was a button you could press or a deal
you could make where it meant that you suddenly had never existed then I
would press that button or make that deal. You might now be asking about all
the things I would miss that you value or all the things I would never
experience. To me, that argument holds no weight. A person who never existed
has nothing to miss and has no ability or desire to value things. These are the
problems and issues of the living. And the difference between being alive and
dead, existent and non-existent, is very great. Put simply, people concern
themselves with the problems of the living. Unsurprisingly. And they find it hard
to think in any other way. For the same reason I've never understood people
who couldn't appreciate why someone might take their own life. To me, this is
obvious: dead people have no problems.

My thinking in this, of course, is guided and shaped by my own experience of


life. I don't regard myself as having had a particularly bad life. Certainly, there
are people who would seem to have had worse ones and its not hard to think of
examples. But, as I said before, everyone is different. Its a mug's game to start
comparing lives one with another. You can only really address your own
appreciation of your own life. And I haven't appreciated mine very much. There
are certain issues I've had to face daily for many years and I wouldn't be me or
live the life I lead without them. But that is my comprehension of what life is
from my own experience of it. You will have yours. Quite a lot of people seem to
think that life is a gift and that it is ungrateful or bad to reject it or despise it. I
must admit that I don't understand this, to me, irrational mentality. If life is a
gift then its surely the unwanted pair of socks your granny gives you, something
you get from someone eager to save face but not overly bothered about putting
huge effort into it. Overall, nature is random without a guided direction or
purpose. You were the sperm that made it and fertilised the egg. Its not as if
any intelligence selected and formed you in a womb, made you who you are and
set you on your way. (Yes, I don't believe in gods in any sense.) You are just the
result of a couple of human wills and lots of random factors no one power had
any control over. There will come a time when parents and doctors will be able
to choose the baby they have and start to make selections both for physical
appearance and mental faculties. I don't envy those people who will be actively
engineering the birth of yet more people. What will happen when the children do
not turn out to be the things that were selected? Can people really be created in
laboratories?
I do, in a sense, see life as something mystical. But this is mystical in the sense
of profound or complex or ungraspable. I don't see it as mystical in the sense of
it being from a higher power. We are, all of us, life forms created in a physical
universe. The conditions that make life possible, and we don't know what they
are or why life happened at all, are just there and so, in turn, are we. I don't see
any inherent or deep meaning to that. It just is and any meaning we do find, or
fail to find, will be on our own terms. Recently, I've been following the Twitter
account of a shepherd in the Lake District of England. He's become a minor
celebrity thanks to a book he has written about his way of life and the fact that
one of his sheepdogs, Floss, gave birth to 10 puppies. For the last week or so
now he has been posting sometimes graphic pictures of the lambing season that
he is currently dealing with. I have looked with childlike innocence at the
pictures he has posted of lambs being pulled out of a sheep or, newborn, lying
on the grass covered in mucus and amniotic fluid. This is life. This is the wonder
of life. The wonder of life to me is that it happens at all.

But that it happens at all is, for me, also the problem. Its one that existentialist
writers like Sartre or Camus saw too. For the world, life, does not make sense.
There is no way to square the circle of your existence. There are endless "don't
knows", you are full of fallibilities and, as a physical being, you will suffer and die
for change is a constant of the universe. Things do not, and are not meant to,
stay the same forever. As a being with higher brain function you will also likely
have to muse on all of these facts and deal with that too. "Life is suffering" has
long been a truism of mine even though, at times, more positive souls have
tried, and failed, to dissuade me from it. I just see too much evidence to support
it. You, too, may say that's not very positive and I would probably concede you
are right. But that is to miss the point. The point is that you can only be true to
yourself. For although you can appreciate and think about life in general, you
only ever live one actual life: yours.

TWO

My name is Jessica and I am a teacher in a school. I teach English to 11-16 year


olds and those who talk to me through my page on porn site Xhamster always
ask me if I have ever had inappropriate thoughts about any of them. I say
Yes because thats what they want to hear. When they probe me further about
it I tell them lots more things that they want to hear because that is why men go
to porn sites in the first place, to be told lots of things that they want to hear. Its
relatively easy to fulfill such a naive request and if you enjoy making up stories,
as I do, it can even be all kinds of fun to fill in the blanks that such people
provide you with. You can easily lose days doing this if you have the time. It can
become addicting as you trick person after person into believing their fantasies.
A fantasy is what it is but the challenge is to make it real. I seem to have a skill
for making things real with words. I enjoy confusing fantasy and reality, erasing
the boundary between the two. Imagine a world in which you couldnt tell the
difference. Oh, wait a minute. No need. Youre already in such a world. Because
my name isnt really Jessica and Im not really an English teacher and those
pictures arent really of me. Its just the fantasy that, so far, thousands of men
have wanted to believe and take as genuine. Its when people stop caring about
the difference between fantasy and reality that you should really worry.

As part of my cover, my fantasy background if you like, I wrote a story and put
it on my account. I always refer people to it who havent swallowed enough Kool
Aid yet. It usually does the trick. Are you ready? Then well begin.

"Have you met anyone from online before?" asked OldStiffKock. "A couple of
times," I replied, idly fiddling between my legs. "How did that go?" he continued.
I replied that things had gone OK and I'd got the requisite amount of hard cock
between my legs that I was looking for. I was on my favourite sex chat site
again, calmly browsing through the profiles and friend requests. Because I got
so many friend requests normally I just checked the profile to see if it was
anyone who seemed remotely interesting. Alternatively, I'd just add everyone
who had requested me who came from the UK. These guys, at least, would be
able to have a normal conversation with me. In the case of OldStiffKock he just
happened to message me at the right moment and so I took on the conversation
hoping that he would have what it took, upstairs and down, to get my lacy
knickers wet.

OldStiffKock was a man in his early 50s, married but sexless, and with a raging
hard on but no one to blow it for him. It was a story I encountered fifty times a
day every time I logged onto the site. We engaged in the usual chit-chat and
boring small talk that these sites engender with their stereotypical questions
such as "What are you in to?" and "Do you have any kinks?" As a regular user of
sex chat sites these questions had come to bore me, no, actually, to annoy me. I
look for a bit more than this from a man who wants to get himself inside my
panties and taste the goodness inside. I want the thrill of the chase and the
adrenaline of the hunt. So I admit that I'm not the easiest person to talk to but
that is deliberate. Only the strong, or the worthy, will survive. Only the cleverest
hunter catches the prey. I'm a challenge and I like it that way. So if you're
reading this and thinking of chatting me up then you better bring your "A" game
to the table.

I was naked on the bed, laptop to the side of me. I felt uncomfortable and so I
shifted my weight a little. The bed creaked a tiny complaint beneath me. The
sun was beaming through the window onto the bed and it kissed my naked
body. I was slightly moist between my legs as OldStiffKock told me how he had
masturbated the other night whilst watching his neighbour undressing through
her unguarded bedroom window. For some reason this rather dirty old man was
getting to me. I was horny. I asked for the password to his pictures and lightly
caressed my clit looking at his dick, at the same time telling him what I was
doing. His cock wasn't the biggest or the fattest I'd ever seen but in that
moment I wanted it ploughing between my hungry pussy lips, emerging again
and again covered in my creamy enjoyment. I clicked the button for my webcam
and took a picture of me with a big smile and my legs parted just enough so that
he could see my glistening pot of gold. I uploaded it and gave him the password.
He was very impressed.

Inevitably, he wanted to meet and, once more, he had got lucky with his timing
for he had aroused me with the way the chat was going. He was not far away
either, maybe a 40 minute drive. This was certainly well within the distance of
an older man who hadn't touched much younger pussy for years and any pussy
at all for a while. I was less than half his age with pert breasts and a wet pussy
so I had numerous attractions to offer him. He wanted to come over to my place
there and then. It was a weekday evening and my husband had informed me
earlier that he would be back late today. So the only question to answer was if I
wanted to risk such a spontaneous meeting on the spur of the moment not
knowing if or when I would be interrupted by what would be an extremely
agitated husband. It was a "strike while the iron is hot" kind of situation. I could
lie there fingering myself all evening, talking to several other guys just like this
one, or I could let OldStiffKock come round and show me just what his old, stiff
cock could do.

Having given him the mobile number of the phone I kept for naughty contacts in
case he got lost, I told him my address. He said he would be there in less than
an hour in a way so excited that the words were tripping over themselves to get
out of his mouth. I spent the time remaking the bed and having a shower. I
slipped on my favourite negligee and pair of heels, dabbing perfume on my neck,
my breasts, under my arms and above my cunt. I wanted to look and smell like
he'd won the lottery when he arrived. I thought about panties and stockings but
decided that the sheer fabric of the negligee, which barely covered my ass to the
rear or my mound at the front, would be a more enticing look together with the
bare, smooth, skin of my legs. I imagined opening the door to him, my breasts
more displayed than hidden by my outfit, and the way his eyes would caress me
as he looked me up and down. I imagined closing the door, having let him in,
and turning to walk to the bedroom, his eyes fixed like lasers on every curve of
my peachy ass in front of him. It made me tingle at the thought.

I had told him not to park in front of the house but it was clear he'd probably
forgotten this due to the erotic rush in his mind when I opened the door. His car,
a respectable Audi, was practically parked across our driveway. I was about to
say something when "Oh my God!" came from OldStiffKock's lips. Never one to
miss a compliment, I said "I hope you like what you see" and gave him my
filthiest smile. Now I wanted him to drink me in with his anticipatory eyes and,
forgetting the car issue, I ushered him inside. I took his coat and hung it up then
invited him to follow me. I could feel his eyes squeezing my ass with every step
and probing between my legs as they parted slightly as I walked, my well tended
pussy just tantalisingly out of sight. A slight and involuntary moan issued from
his lips as he walked. "Mmmm." I stifled a giggle. He was eating out of the palm
of my hand. I flashed a look at the clock as I entered the bedroom. I literally had
no idea when my husband would return and I'd get no warning. I dismissed such
thoughts and invited him to sit down on the sofa in our bedroom. Then I lay
down on my belly across his lap and said as innocently as I could "Smack my
bum daddy!"

He lifted up the negligee slightly so that my peach was fully exposed to him.
SMACK! His hand came down across my right cheek. SMACK! Again. I wiggled on
his lap a little as the smacks continued. I knew his attentions were making me
wet and I couldn't wait for him to realise too. He did when, instead of another
expected smack, his hand found its way between my legs. My pussy lips were
already wet as my excitement had begun leaking from inside me. He played with
the wetness before two fingers were thrust within. He enjoyed the feeling of
being in me a little then smacked me again and began alternating between
smacking my bare bottom and fingering me increasingly harder. I began
moaning which spurred him on as he tried to encourage the moans and find out
what I was responding to. Neither of us said a word in this erotic game of sexual
discovery. Occasionally, I would moan louder when he gave me a noticeably
harder smack or finger fucked me more vigorously. Then it occurred to me that
his hard on was sticking through his trousers into my belly.

"Wait," I said, climbing off his lap. "You smell delicious," he replied. That smell
was now a mixture of perfume and cum and it even made me feel incredibly
sexy. "Stand up," I said and he did. I undid his trousers and he kicked them off.
"Take off your socks," I said. He did. I motioned him to sit back down and I went
down on him with my mouth without using my hands. I nodded my head up and
down his whole length for a few strokes, imagining the jolt this would be to his
system. "Aiiiiiiioooowwww," came out of his mouth. It was working. I continued
at a fast pace for 15 seconds then slowed it down a little, taking my time. I went
right down to his balls. The tip of his cock just barely scraped the back of my
throat. I released him from my mouth and masturbated him for a while. "Don't
cum yet," I said. "I want your first load to be inside me." I continued jerking him
slowly even though he had been hard as a rock from the minute he dropped his
trousers. "Thank you for doing this, " he said. I brushed the comment aside,
ignoring it. I went down on him again, this time licking his dick up and down like
it was my favourite ice cream. He had slumped backward in the couch and
beneath his balls his asshole was visible. I had no clue how he would respond
when, jerking him manually once more, I put my head underneath his sack and
licked his ass. "Oh fucking hell!" came the reply. I thrust my tongue as deep as I
could.

I tongued his asshole and jerked him a while but figured he would not last long if
I did it too much. He was increasingly vocal with moans and other indecipherable
sounds issuing from his mouth regularly. I had one hand between my legs,
working over my clit and keeping me on the boil. But now it was time for him to
do his bit and so I stood up and beckoned him to the bed. I kept my negligee
and heels on as I fell back and opened my legs wide to reveal my snatch in all its
moist glory. I didn't need to say anything. He ripped off his shirt in haste, a hail
of over-strained buttons pinging across the room, and lustily fell between my
legs. All men tell me that they can "lick me for hours" but he began like he
would do just that. He drank from my hot, wet pool of refreshment like he had
been years in the desert. It wasn't subtle. It was long, desperate slurps. But
what he lacked in technique he made up for in enthusiasm. This man wanted me
more than anything else right in that moment and I responded to that by
pushing my hips back into his face. I grabbed his head and pressed it as hard as
I could between my legs and rubbed my wet cunt on his face. It was animal
instinct and I didn't care what he thought. I just wanted to rub my cunt on his
face until I came. He was slightly unshaven which stimulated me even more as I
wrapped my legs around his torso, using all my strength to grind my cunt on
him. A gush of cum came out as I loudly moaned my release.

I held onto the release, and his head, until, with it starting to fade, I said simply
"Fuck me!" and he got up to get into position. I rolled over so he could take me
doggy on the edge of the bed and I noticed his wet, cum-soaked face. It had a
big smile on it. I got on all fours on the bed but he pushed me down as he
wasn't tall enough to enter me from that angle. So there I was, face down arse
up, when he stuck his dick in me. It wasn't the most passionate fuck I'd ever
had so I needed to urge him on. "Smack my ass you cunt!" I said. "Pull my hair
and make me your slut!" I continued. "Shoot your seed in my pussy!". It worked
as he raised the pace, moaning. "Fuck this married whore!" I said, not giving up
on the encouragement. "Take my dick you dirty bitch," he said, clearly now
hitting his stride. Suddenly, he jerked my head back and slapped my face. "You
fucking filthy whore!" he shouted in my face. He put an arm around my neck and
clutched me as tightly to him as he could, pumping my cunt as hard as possible.
He began calling me every dirty name he could think of as he banged me for all
he was worth. And he kept slapping my face. "Take my dick you cunt. I'm going
to choke you with it when I cum." Slap. "You cheap, dirty married slag!" Slap.
He grabbed one of my tits and leant forward and bit it, slapping the nipple hard
when he released it. I yelped slightly at this unexpected development. Then he
tensed, clutched me even tighter and his cum was pumping between my legs.
He held onto me, enjoying the sweat-soaked moment for what seemed like an
age.

And then he got dressed and went home. I never saw him again. As he drove
away he passed my husband's car coming the other way along the street.

TWENTY SEVEN

So yesterday I came back to thinking about consciousness again after some


weeks away from it and, inevitably, the idea of robots with human consciousness
came up again. I was also pointed in the direction of some interesting videos put
on You Tube by the Dalai Lama in which he and some scientists educated more
in the western, scientific tradition had a conference around the areas of mind
and consciousness.

But it really all started a couple of days ago with a thought I had. I was sitting
there, minding my own business, when suddenly I thought "Once we can create
consciousness procreation will be obsolete." (This thought assumes that
"consciousness" is something that can be deliberately created. That is technically
an assumption and maybe a very big one. It also assumes that consciousness is
real which people like philosopher Daniel Dennett dont even think is true.
Dennett thinks its a powerful but useful illusion.) My point in having this thought
was that if we could replicate consciousness, which we might call our awareness
that we exist and that there is a world around us, then we could put it (upload
it?) into much better robot bodies than our frail fleshly ones which come with so
many problems simply due to their sheer physical form. One can easily imagine
that a carbon fibre or titanium (or carbotanium) body would last much longer
and without any of the many downsides of being a human being. Imagine being
a person but not needing to eat, or go to the toilet. Imagine not feeling tired or
sick.

So the advantages immediately become apparent. Of course this thought also


expressly encompasses the idea that if you can create consciousness then you
can create replacements for people. Imagine you own a factory. Instead of
employing 500 real people you employ 500 robots with consciousness. Why
wouldn't you do that? At this point you may reply with views about what
consciousness is. You might say, for example, that consciousness implies
awareness of your surroundings which implies having opinions about those
surroundings. That implies feelings and the formation of attitudes and opinions
about things. Maybe the robots don't like working at the factory like its very
likely some of the people don't. Maybe, to come from another angle, we should
regard robots with consciousness as beings with rights in this case. If we could
establish that robots, or other creatures, did have a form of consciousness,
would that not mean we should give them rights? And what would it mean for
human beings if we could deliberately create "better people"?

At this point it becomes critical what we think consciousness actually is. It was
suggested to me that, in human beings, electrochemical actions in the brain can
"explain" the processing of sense data (which consciousness surely does).
Personally, I wonder if this does "explain" it as opposed to merely describing it
as a process within a brain. One way that some scientists have often found to
discuss the mind or consciousness is to reduce it to the activities of the brain. So
conscious thoughts become brain states, etc. This is not entirely convincing. It is
thought that the mind is related to the brain but no one knows how even though
some are happy to say that they regard minds as physical attributes like
reproduction or breathing. That is, they would say minds are functions of brains.
Others, however, aren't so sure about that. However a mind comes to be, it
seems quite safe to say that consciousness is a machine for generating data (as
one of its functions). That is, to be conscious is to have awareness of the world
around you and to start thinking about it and coming to conclusions or working
hypotheses about things. Ironically, this is often "unconsciously" done!

So consciousness, as far as we know, most assume, requires a brain. I would


ask anyone who doesn't agree with this to point to a consciousness that exists
where there isn't a brain in evidence. But consciousness cannot be reduced to
things like data or energy. In this respect I think the recent film Chappie, which
Ive mentioned before, gets things wrong. I don't understand how a
consciousness could be "recorded" or saved to a hard disk. It doesn't, to me,
seem very convincing, whilst I understand perfectly how it makes a good
fictional story. I think that on this point thinkers get seduced by the power of the
computer metaphor. For me, consciousness is more than both energy or data, a
brain is not simply hardware nor is consciousness simply (or even) software. If
you captured the electrochemical energy in the brain or had a way to capture all
the data your mind possesses you wouldn't, I think, have captured a
consciousness. And this is a question that scientist Christof Koch poses when he
asks if consciousness is something fundamental in itself or is rather simply an
emergent property of systems that are suitably complex. In other words, he
asks if complex enough machine networks could BECOME conscious if they
became complex enough. Or would we need to add some X to make it so? Is
consciousness an emergent property of something suitably complex or a
fundamental X that comes from we don't know where?

This complexity about the nature of consciousness is a major barrier to the very
idea of robot consciousness of course and it is a moot point to ask when we
might reach the level of consciousness in our human experiments with robotics
and AI. For, one thing can be sure, if we decided that robots or other animals did
have an awareness of the world around them, even of their own existence or, as
Christof Koch always seems to describe consciousness, "what it feels like to be
me" (or, I add, to even have an awareness of yourself as a subject), then that
makes all the difference in the world. We regard a person, a dog, a whale or a
even an insect as different to a table, a chair, a computer or a smartphone
because they are ALIVE and being alive, we think, makes a difference.
Consciousness plays a role in this "being aliveness". It changes the way we think
about things.

Consciousness, if you reflect on it for even a moment, is a very strange thing.


This morning when I woke up I was having a dream. It was a strange dream.
But, I ask myself, what was my state of consciousness at the time? Was I aware
that I was alive? That I was a human being? That I was me? I don't think I can
say that I was aware of these things. What about in deep sleep? Who, in deep
sleep, has consciousness of anything? So consciousness, it seems, is not simply
on or off. We can have different states of consciousness and change from one to
the other and, here's another important point, we dont always do this by overt
decision. Basically, this just makes me wonder a lot and I ask why I have this
awareness and where it comes from. Perhaps the robots of the future will have
the same issues to deal with. Consciousness grows and changes and is fitted to a
form of life. Our experience of the world is different even from person to person,
let alone from species to species. We do not see the world as a dog does. A
conscious robot would not see the world as we, its makers, do either.

So what? Well, I want to remind people that this subject is not merely
technological. There are other issues in play too. Clearly the step to create such
beings would be a major one on many fronts. For one thing, I would regard a
conscious being as an individual with rights and maybe others would too. At this
point there seems to be some deep-seated human empathy in play. There is a
scene in the film Chappie where the newly conscious robot (chronologically
regarded as a child since awareness of your surroundings is learned and not
simply given) is left to fend for himself and is attacked. I, for one, winced and
felt sympathy for the character in the film - even though it was a collection of
metal and circuitry. And this makes me ask what humanity is and what beings
are worthy of respect. What if a fly had some level of consciousness? (In a
lecture I watched Christof Koch speculated that bees might have some kind of
consciousness and explained that it certainly couldn't be ruled out.) Clearly, we
need to think thoroughly and deeply about what makes a person a person and I
think consciousness plays a large part in the answer. Besides the scientific and
technical challenges of discovering more about and attempting to re-create
consciousness, there are equally tough moral and philosophical challenges to be
faced as well.

FOUR

It would be lovely to bend you over and lick your bumhole while playing with
your pussy Jess. I glanced up to my porn chat, which I was giving 16.7% of my
attention to, and read the message. In that moment I felt the passionate heat of
it and I imagined what it must be like to be the man who had written it. What
did he want from me? To play along? To say Come and meet me right now and
you can do it? Perhaps he just wanted to believe that in another world not quite
the same as this one he could do that. And then I thought he was probably some
grubby loser lying in his stuck together sheets leafing through pages on porn
sites in preparation for his next empty orgasm. Was this a thought to pull myself
back from falling too deep into the fantasy world or another, less appealing
fantasy which I would rather choose to believe? Who knows? Mmmm, and fill
your ass with my hard cock and fill it nice and deep.

Meanwhile, in Manchester, another chatter was telling me the weather because I


had told him the sun was shining through my window and falling onto my bare
legs. He couldnt believe it because in Manchester the skies were black and rain
looked imminent. Its Manchester, I said. I need to move, he replied with
what I imagined was a grin. Then he said, Mmmm, bare legs, the image I had
given him for free clearly having entered the psychoerotic chamber in his mind
where it could do its work. Yes, bare sun-kissed legs, I said, just leaving it
there for him to think about. At this rate in about an hour the sun will be nicely
warming my bare pussy too. I popped the cherry on top of the cake. Like
clockwork. What are your plans for today? he asked. To lay here naked with
the sun shining on me, I offered back by way of continuance of the idea. Im
bored, came back the reply, a remarkably common one from men on porn sites.
Here is a story I wrote, I said. Its a true story. Maybe it will stop you from
being bored. I sent him Car Story. Ive just cum, said the guy in the other
chat window.

Even though I am married, I enjoy the thrill of being with other men. And when
I am with other men I enjoy the thrill of my husband not knowing. You may
think that is very naughty of me and I suppose it is. But I just need the extra
pleasure and I love men paying me attention whether that is at the shops, in the
street, at work or wherever. It just really turns me on to find that men are
looking at me or are getting aroused by me and I admit that I can't help flirting
with them and smiling at them. It makes my married pussy tingle! I love the
feeling when I flirt with a man and I can feel my nipples getting all hard and
aroused just like they are now as I think about it writing this story!

Now there was a man I met online through some website and we got to chatting
and we got on really well. He was a married, middle-aged businessman, twice
my age, with a very dirty mind and I used to look forward to chatting with him
on Skype because I knew that he'd arouse me with what he had to say. It also
helped that he was very well hung and he wanted to share it with me. I had
many conversations with him telling me all the things he wanted to do to me as
I played with my pussy. Sometimes my husband was even in the house at the
time and I could have been caught with my legs spread and my panties down. I
took the risk because this man knew how to make me cum. And I couldn't resist.

One day as we were chatting he asked me, in between the orgasms he was
giving me, if we could meet. He was a very clever man because he had just
made me squirt with his dirty talk and I was really gagging for the pleasure of
his curious attentions between my thighs. So I said yes. He said he had a
surprise for me. I asked him what that was as I was a bit suspicious but he
wouldn't say. He just said I'd love it and I would have to trust him. I really
wanted to meet him and suck and ride his thick length and so I said OK. I didn't
mind humouring him a little if it meant I could feel him stretching out my
married pussy and taste his hot cum so I agreed. He seemed really pleased with
that. But he had another request. He said to meet him wearing all black
including black underwear and black stockings. He said to make it look sexy. I
said that was no problem. We set a date and he said goodbye. I was excited to
meet him.

A few days later I drove to where he had said to meet him which was a car park
in town. After a bit of texting I found his car and parked beside it. We got out
and embraced each other. He gave me a kiss and said I looked fantastic. I
thanked him and then he said to get in his car. I asked where we were going but
he said not to worry and it would be fun. He said my car would be safe where it
was as it was an underground car park with cameras and security. Reassured, I
got in his car and he started the engine after sending a text to someone. We
drove out of the car park and I was very intrigued about what he had planned
but he wouldn't say. We passed the time in small talk until, about 8 miles out
into the country, he pulled into a secluded siding off the side of the road. "We're
here," he said, with slight amusement in his voice.

"What now?" I asked. "Just wait a few minutes," he said. "You'll see". At that
moment another car pulled into the same secluded siding and parked a few
meters away. "Pull up your dress a little," my friend said. "I want to see your
panties". I was still a little bemused and intrigued about what he had planned
but I did as he asked anyway. I lifted my hemline and pretty lace panties and
stocking tops were fully on view. The driver of the other car, meanwhile, had got
out of his car and he walked towards us. He seemed to nod acknowledgement
towards the driver of the car I was in as if they knew each other. "Don't mind
him," my friend said. "Just do what I ask you, ok?" I nodded agreement. The
other driver had taken up a position standing by my door and he peered into the
car. "Play with yourself" my friend said.

I looked at him and it began to dawn on me what he was planning. Having


already exposed my panties, I put my hand inside them and began fingering
myself. I slid forward a little and spread my legs wider and tried to get into the
mood as best I could. I became nicely wet as I got more aroused. Outside, the
unknown man had unzipped. He pulled out a decently sized semi stiff cock and
began slowly wanking. "Take off your panties," my friend instructed me and so I
did. I handed them to him and he pulled out his own impressive shaft and began
masturbating it with my moist panties. "Spread your cunt," he said. I complied.
The window buzzed into life as my friend lowered it. The guy outside moved
forward.

"Finger her wet twat," my friend said to the unknown driver. Well, he was
unknown to me anyway. His hand went straight between my legs and without
even a touch or a caress he pushed two fingers inside me. "I know she squirts
mate so make her if you can," my friend continued. "No problem," the guy
replied. He leant inside trying to get the right angle for himself and then his
fingers fucked me like a drill. He grabbed my hair and sharply kissed me. I held
onto the seat so as not to slip but my friend grabbed my right hand, the one
nearest him, and placed it on his thick cock. I began masturbating him as best I
could. The guy outside took out his wet fingers and smacked my pussy a couple
of times which made me jump before putting them back inside. He found my G
spot and stimulated it hard. I began to moan and I knew he'd done it. I squirted
cum in a fountain that splashed my friend's dashboard.
"Can I fuck her?" the unknown guy asked. "Let her suck your cock first," my
friend said, motioning me to oblige him. I opened the door to make it easier and
began sucking him off. As I did, my friend got out of the car and got in the back.
"Don't make him cum yet," he said to me. "Just get him rock hard." I did my
best to keep him as hard as I could without pushing him over the line into an
inevitable orgasm and I did a good job. "Come and get in the back love," was
the next thing my friend said. "You too mate," he said to the other guy. I asked
about how he wanted it to be and it seemed he wanted to watch me riding the
other guy. So the stranger kicked his trousers and shoes off and lay on his back
on the back seat. I got in and straddled his dick I'd covered in my spit to keep
him hard. It slid in all the way to his balls as I was so wet.

I began riding him but I soon realized this wasn't all my friend wanted. I felt him
spread my arse cheeks and he spat in that most private of crevices. His finger
began to work the spit into it. He repeated the process. Then he pushed what
felt like two fingers into my ass, gently stretching it wider as the unknown man
pumped my slick, wet cunt. My friend tried to stick his cock in my arse but the
confined space wasn't helping. Underneath me the stranger was about to cum.
He gripped me with his arms and pumped me like a jackhammer. With a judder
he shot his thick sperm into me. "Oh fuck yes!" he exclaimed. My friend told me
to back out of the car and having done it he bent me over the back of it,
pressing my face into the painted metal, my bare arse and used pussy exposed
to the world. His own cock was standing thick and proud. He parted my ass and
pressed the tip of his cock against it.

"Give me your ass," he whispered into my ear. He smacked my bum hard a


couple of times. A little squeal escaped from my mouth. This made him smack it
three more times and harder. My rear was stinging. The other guy was pulling
on his trousers, watching. "Stick it up her arse!" he said to my friend who,
without further encouragement, did just that. I felt the stranger's spunk
beginning to find its way back out of my pussy as my well hung friend began to
plough my asshole. I gripped the back of the car as best I could and hung on as
he gave me the hardest fucking my arse had ever had up until that point. "You
dirty married whore!" my friend said as he grasped a handful of my hair, jerking
my head violently backwards. I could tell he wanted to explode in my ass and he
soon did, his cock pulsing as he did so in that tightest of holes. He withdrew and
put his hand between my legs. He scooped up the stranger's cum which was
streaming from inside me and fed it to me. He put his fingers in my ass and did
the same with his.

"Now that's what I call a present," he said. And he was right. Because I had
loved his surprise!
THIRTY FIVE

"Stoic absence of passion, Zen absence of will, Heideggerian


gelassenheit and physics-as-the-absolute-conception-of-reality are
just so many variations on a single project - the project of escaping from
time and chance." (Richard Rorty)

It is our human nature to rage against the dying of the light, to fill the
nothingness with somethingness, to give meaning where there is none, truth
where there is none, knowledge where there is none, to make reason where
none exists, to be rational where irrationality reigns. At least, this is my
observation. I need to say something about this at this current time and lay out
a more comprehensive set of thoughts after my recent ones on being and
consciousness. As you will know, these things mean something to me and I want
to try and give a slightly more comprehensive account of them from my own
understanding. It will at least help me to do this and, maybe, one or two others
as well.

It is my intuition that the time has come to acknowledge the gaping hole that
exists at the centre of Being, to acknowledge that our human powers and
perceptions fail, to acknowledge that truth is insubstantial, knowledge is merely
what is useful, that our seeing is partial and mostly blind, that we are contingent
and merely fitted for a form of life, a very narrow form of life, evolved to live and
die on an inconsequential speck in the vastness of space. I do not see that there
is any Whole or Unity or Truth or amount of Knowledge or Privileged Insight or
Enlightenment or Meaning that we can work our way towards or find. There is no
Deity or Spirituality, no Body of Privileged Information or Holy Being which is
going to allow us to see behind the veil of our limitations and glimpse the Holy of
Holies of "how-things-really-are" or "what-life-is-all-about". There is no
"our-true-place-in-the-universe". These things are a mirage, and we are victims
of their illusion.

It should be noted, then, that I am hardly the first person to diagnose


nothingness at the centre of all that is. "Nihilism" has been a problem for
European philosophy for 200-300 years. In other traditions, emptiness has been
held as a value in itself. 2,300 years ago there was at least one Jewish teacher
(a person named Qoheleth, the speaker in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes to
which I will return below) teaching that life is "breath" and a chasing after the
wind. And he was continually asking "What does it profit...?" So we can be sure
that we are not the first to have the thought that at the centre of Being is.
nothing and that life itself is insubstantial. It may be, like the Ego, that certain
illusory goals and beliefs (the aforementioned list of gods and pseudo-gods such
as Meaning, Truth and Knowledge) were necessary and that evolution fitted us
with them to best enable our survival. But we make a terrible mistake in taking
them too seriously, petrifying them and making deities of them. But, then again,
maybe we are only living out the life that we were meant to lead in doing so?

Nevertheless, I want to suggest today that the claim that something "is" (in any
essentialist or foundational sense) is the most meaningless claim any human
being could ever make, in my opinion. We have neither the insight nor the
means to make any such claim. We live in a constant stream of existence, of
consciousness, and randomly pluck things from the torrent as it rushes past and
then make connections between one and another. If it has the utility of working
or being, so it seems, repeatable, then we deify it as something that is. but
have no genuine right to do so. We can only ever speak properly of a constant
becoming, a changing as one day turns into the next. We are part of a stream
and we observe a small stretch of the journey before we blink and cease to
exist.

I think the key insight here, which I hope to flesh out soon, is that it's not in
spite of the nothingness that we make meaning, truth and knowledge: it's
because of it. It might have been thought, pre-reflectively, that these things
arise as we have an awareness of a greater thing that is out there, some god or
truth or insight into being that is currently beyond us. And so we yearn to reach
it guided by our belief that there is "a-way-things-are". But this is not so.
Instead, we experience the void of nothing and experience the edge of chaos
and cannot bear it. And so we become (or, in evolutionary terms, became)
machines for the creation of meaning, truth and knowledge to give us something
that can allow us to live. No one could survive the chaos, it would make our lives
unlivable. Instead, we find a form of life through which we can survive, endure
and prosper. Because at the heart of Being there is a void, we find things plastic
to our touch and begin to create. This is to say that our "reality" is not nearly so
fixed as some might have you believe. Or, at least, not nearly as restrictive.

It's worth noting at this point that I am not here making any claims to universal
knowledge. That would be both arrogant and entirely contradictory to my point.
I am simply emptying out onto the page my understanding such as it is at this
current time as it has been educated by the thoughts, and the thought, that I
have encountered on my journey down the stream. I regard "right and wrong" in
this connection as to be strictly missing the point. I don't regard the journey as
about right or wrong. I regard it as about the experience of the journey. I regard
philosophy, which is nominally what I am doing here, as about utilization of the
mind and as about, as it originally was, a love of wisdom and not as a means to
some fabled special insight, much less some technical or hidden knowledge. As
such, I believe that questions are more fundamental than answers and that
thinking is the most important activity, one that can lead us to find the questions
at the heart of our existence and our being. This, I see as I look back, is what I
have really been doing throughout my life since I was 8 or 9 years old.
For myself, I see myself at a crossover of Philosophy and Spirituality, two things
which can, indeed, be compatible. There have been many spiritual and
philosophical thinkers. A belief in god is a logical outworking of one way of doing
these things but not a necessary one and not one I have found myself coming to
be convinced by in the end. Indeed, I think back to when I would have said I
believed in a god and cringe at how naive I was at that time. However, I don't
think that spirituality, in itself and in all its forms, is to be pilloried or violently
attacked as some like Richard Dawkins do. Both Philosophy and Spirituality are
searching for things to fill the nothingness at the heart of being (things like
meaning, truth, knowledge or god) and, as such, are entirely understandable in
that context. The attacks of those like Dawkins merely show an arrogant and
boorish lack of humble understanding. Humility, we should remember, is
perhaps the quality human beings need most in the face of the all-encompassing
nothingness that surrounds us. Perhaps those who are least humble are the ones
who are most desperately running away in a futile attempt to escape it? I would
argue that where Dawkins sees "god" and rages he actually only sees "Truth"
instead - which functions in much the same way for him as god does for his
opponents. He is more like those he despises than he would ever want to admit.

So my approach in what follows will be based on a firm belief that all the
connections human beings make in their thinking are fictions. They are merely
either useful or not useful. (It is to be noted that fiction is not an opposite of
truth. We habitually share fictions that, whilst not true in themselves, elucidate
some truth or beliefs we would hold dear.) All syntheses are at least fictional and
tell a story that works at a certain time and place. We know that nothing stands
for all time and so in place of models of accuracy and correspondence theories of
truth, models which have their very failure inscribed within them from the start,
I use models of honesty and authenticity which have a validity of time and place.
What follows will be my attempt to describe the nothingness at the heart of not
just human being, but all Being, and how I came to find it. I will do so in my own
words and I will also try to point up some issues this raises and some of the
options before us. I take it that I don't need to point out again that this is merely
my own partial account (in at least 2 senses).

So why would anyone think that at the heart of Being there is a gaping chasm of
nothingness, a black hole at the centre of all that is? For me this realisation
came by thinking and reading in addition to the lived experience of my life. I
read philosophers like William James who said that "truth" was those things that
were merely "good in the way of belief" and Richard Rorty who wrote papers and
books extolling the idea that beliefs are not true or false in the sense of
corresponding to an antecedent world, but only in the sense that they are useful
beliefs and that it pays to believe them. Where James, a man of his philosophical
time, talked about the world of experience, Rorty, in keeping with the linguistic
turn and focus in more modern philosophy, talks about language. Indeed, Martin
Heidegger, a German philosopher obsessed with thinking about Being, called
language "the house of Being". But it is when thinking about language that we
begin to realise that language is not a perspicuous tool for penetrating to the
heart of Being but, instead, a collection of "tools for coping with objects rather
than representations of objects, and as providing different sets of tools for
different purposes" (Richard Rorty).

Another very famous philosopher of the 20th century, Ludwig Wittgenstein,


described language as like a game in which we, as various different
communities, need to know the rules of the game we are playing in order to take
part in using the language. This makes language sound very much like a social
practice as opposed to the innate logic of the universe, something that, at first,
Wittgenstein himself had tried to find. But, on his later thinking, no language
gets us closer to reality because that is not what language is for. Language is
there to help us deal with things not represent them, correspond to them or
describe them in their essence. All this is to say that language is in no way
foundational to Being like a code for how things really are. Rather, it is
descriptive of it in as many ways as there are human purposes.

There were for me other philosophical indicators that traditional god substitutes
such as Knowledge, Truth or Meaning had ideas above their station. A while ago,
as I prepared to start some intensive studies, I chanced upon a book by
Friedrich Nietzsche. I knew next to nothing about him save that I knew his work
had been co-opted (and corrupted) by the Nazis. I began to read the book
(which, soon after, grew to become all of his books) and found it very reader
friendly but in no way simplistic. I have learned many things in the years since
by reading Nietzsche. One of those things is the "will to system" that human
beings have. Another is that human beings are excellent at deceiving
themselves. Nietzsche, at times, is a very astute and insightful observer of his
kind and of their intellectual habits and failings. Thus, he describes truth as "a
mobile army of metaphors" and says that "We believe when we speak of trees,
colours, snow, and flowers, we have knowledge of the things themselves, and
yet we possess only metaphors of things which in no way correspond to the
original entities." In the same piece of writing he will argue that our concepts are
a "making equivalent of that which is non-equivalent" and that "The
thing-in-itself (which would be, precisely, pure truth, truth without
consequences) is impossible even for the user of language to grasp". Perhaps
my favourite Nietzschean thought, though, is this one:

Life as the product of life. However far man may extend himself with his
knowledge, however objective he may appear to himself - ultimately he
reaps nothing but his own biography.

I find in this perfectly crafted thought (and Nietzsche's books are full of
hundreds of such thoughts as well as more lengthy arguments) a perfect
summary of all of our lives. Life, so it says to me, is not about knowledge or
truth or meaning. Language does not get to the heart of anything. We do not
perceive past some intellectual or spiritual barrier to something that is more real
than real. Life is just a time period and all we do when we live is create our
history.

And so I took up and ran with this theme as I continued my studies. I entered
the world of French 20th century philosophy where Camus tells us that the only
genuine philosophical question is to ask if life's worth living at all. In that same
environment Sartre proclaims that we are all "condemned to be free", an
expression of our individual existential freedom, Foucault delineates how our
human knowledge is shaped by the operations of power and Jacques Derrida
builds a whole philosophy around the idea that human language, and human
meaning with it, corrupts and deconstructs itself even as it goes about its
business.

My final philosophical insights came not from a Frenchman, but from the very
American literary and legal academic, Stanley Fish. His work on meaning as
constructed, on human communities as always situated and contextualised and,
thus, on just "anything" never having the possibility to be the case, ("anything
that can be made to go, goes" is his insightful gloss on the more traditional
"anything goes" that people who don't believe in reality" are often accused of
believing) convinced me that there can be no "real world" in the highly
philosophical sense that some people often mean it. There is the world that is
available to us, the world that we sense and describe and brush up against every
day. It is a world that constricts and constrains us. But we cannot penetrate it in
the way that some deceptive dualisms such as those like reality and appearance
or intrinsic and extrinsic would have us believe. There is no inner reality to find.
There is, for example, no inherent morality of the universe (there is merely
prudent or considerate behaviour). Instead, all we have is a world of relations
and descriptions, some more useful than others, a world that constrains but that
is also material for the constructive and creative engines of our minds and
language and purposes.

It is at this point that it would be reasonable to feel loss. We want to think that
what we have in our hands is solid and, well, real. I say that the world I am
describing, the one with nothingness at its heart, is and that I certainly have no
problem believing that we live on an amazing planet in an amazing universe full
of everything from planets, stars and galaxies to electrons and electromagnetic
radiation. It's just that there is no god figure for us to bow down before, nothing
really real that we can feel appropriately supplicant before or in touch with, no
divinity of any kind that we can share in, no "real-way-things-are" unconnected
from some human purpose or description. There is only the world of experience
and our means of describing it and making use of it. Perhaps, then, we might
want to share in the conclusion of one of the biblical writers, Qoheleth (to give
him his Jewish name), when he says, "Sheer futility, sheer futility, everything is
futile!" (Qoheleth 1:2). I myself often translate the Hebrew word "Hebel" that is
behind the word "futile" there (I did study biblical Hebrew at university with
some success and so feel able to make such comments) as "absurd". Everything
is absurd. It is absurd not in the sense of funny or amusing but in the sense of
being pitched into a game you must play but can't win or where, as Camus
discusses in The Myth of Sisyphus, we must forever push a rock up a hill only to
have it roll down. And thus the cycle begins again.

Qoheleth looks out upon a world in which human beings die like beasts and the
good suffer whilst the evil prosper. No path seems to lead to any meaningful
conclusion. There seems to be no point, no target to aim for. In lieu of a better
conclusion we might almost say that stuff just seems random, a matter of time
and chance. "Why be wise when the wise and the fool both die?" asks Qoheleth.
"All is futility (or absurd) and chasing after the wind" (Qoheleth 1:17). In a later
section, Qoheleth muses on that fact that we humans can grasp no overarching
meaning or knowledge or truth about our existence or about existence in
general. (Today we would call this the death of the metanarrative.) His
conclusion is that the only pleasure to be found is in "pleasure and enjoyment
through life" (Qoheleth 3:12-13). And that sounds very like Nietzsche's
biography comment to me. If you look for meaning in something greater than
yourself, or something greater than you within, you will not find it. It's not there.
All you have is the life you actually live - and to enjoy it.

Of course, the charge may be raised that there are, indeed, many people who do
find meaning and truth and knowledge in things greater than themselves. The
world does not lack for believers in gods of many kinds - from the little old lady
who goes to church to the evolutionary biologist who worships at the altar of
"truth". "So what is going on here?" you may rightly ask. One answer to this, I
think, might lie in the thought of French postmodern thinker, Jean Baudrillard.
Baudrillard is famous for saying that things like the first Gulf War "never
happened". He did not mean to suggest that there was no war. He means to
suggest that the war we saw through newspaper headlines and 24 hour rolling
news coverage was empty and devoid of referent. It was an act of creation in
which the reporting came to replace and represent as true something that wasn't
really there. This rolling news then became "The Truth" but had no actual
referent behind it. Baudrillard's most famous work, Simulacra and Simulation,
fleshes out this idea more fully. A simulacra is, for Baudrillard, "never that which
conceals the truthit is the truth which conceals that there is none. The
simulacrum is true". As Baudrillard notes in a section dealing with the media in
this book:

We live in a world where there is more and more information and less
and less meaning.

So what am I saying here? I'm saying that people can be deceived. I'm saying
that much "information" today is shallow and useless and refers to nothing
beyond its disseminators but, nevertheless, becomes the truth that conceals
there is no truth. News is fake. Facts are alternative. I'm saying that people can
believe anything for the purposes that they have that the world of our
experience allows. This may, for some, include gods whilst, for others, it won't. I
would remind you here of the quote I used at the start and it's focus on human
beings wanting to escape the "time and chance" that they have, with complete
disregard for their will, been pitched into. It has, to date, been a project of
some, if not all, humans to try and escape the stream of consciousness, the time
and chance which is all they have, to find a solid, firm foundation on which to
stand. I doubt that this purpose will go away anytime soon. But given a wider
perspective, we have every right to doubt the privileged access or insight some
people claim. Better then to see it as just one more human attempt to shoot at
the moon, one more self-referential news report about gods and rumours of
gods with nothing behind it, one more go at the oldest human project of all -
finding solid ground when, as Nietzsche says, all we have now is the vicissitudes
of "the infinite sea".

But if at the heart of all Being there is merely nothingness, a reaching for
something forever out of reach, as I claim, then what are we to do? I can think
immediately of two things but I think that we are already doing both of them.
The first thing we can do is hope. We can hope for a better life in a better world
full of better people - whatever we take better in these cases to mean. We can
hope to have a better life personally and we can work towards it. We can hope
and so allow the seeds of imagination to flourish within us and make use of the
opportunity that time and chance has afforded us in our being born. Of course,
you can sit in a corner and wait to die too. It's up to you. You might even muse
that in the end it doesn't make much difference and I couldn't really argue
against you. Not in the end, at least. But there is always the here and now for
the living to concern themselves with even if eternity is forever and life is short.

The second thing we can do in the nothingness is create. This certainly applies in
the personal area. I was reminded by a friend's tweet the other day that there is
no "inner self". Sometimes various kinds of guru try to claim there is an inner
self and that you need to find it. But there is no inner self. Just like all the other
attempts at grasping something really real, it has an imaginary target. But, in
the absence of an inner self, there is just you in all your particularity with all
your history, thoughts and feelings. And there is no one version of you for you
are always becoming, always changing. You don't even know yourself better
than other people. You just have your own thoughts about you, your own
descriptions and your own reasons for preferring one over another, albeit that
you have more information to go on because you have always been there!

This world of experience that we live in yields to our descriptions. It is plastic to


our touch. We can make use of it and manipulate it and make it useful for our
many purposes. And we can do that with ourselves too. We have the opportunity
to create something beautiful, if that's not too naively poetic. It may not be that
it lasts for a long time for we know that meaning is as temporary as human
beings and their projects but, as Nietzsche and Qoheleth both saw, all we have
is the lives we are creating day by day. That is where we will find our being and
the world of our possibilities: in our world of Nothingness.

I thank you for reading if you got this far!

Yours,

A Nihilist.

NINETY NINE

I have been focusing my thinking recently on my own species, human beings.


Namely, I've been asking what a human being is. I produced a ten part musical
series whilst thinking about this but then, last night, it struck me that I haven't
really written anything about it in so many words. (Even though I have written
about what I was doing when I was making this music elsewhere in this blog and
about related issues. Check out the rest of my blog for that.) And then I thought
that I should at least try to put that right. This is not because I think I have
anything startlingly original to say. Neither is it because I think there is not
plenty that has already been written about it. Philosophers, as only one group of
people, have been thinking and writing about being and being human for as long
as they have been thinking and writing. It's a subject that has always been there
and we as a species have always needed to come back to it again and again.
Why else has this subject struck me as so important?

But in thinking about human being and human beings there are clearly a number
of issues to overcome. For a start, I take the word "human" in my title as both
an adjective and as a noun. That is to say that I am concerned with what a
"human being" is as an individual creature and with what "human" being is as a
specific type of being in the world. Here, immediately, we can see that this
subject could become very dense and complicated and I hope not to make my
writing about it appear that way. I hope to elucidate my thoughts clearly and
concisely. This is a roundabout way of saying that I'm writing a blog here and
not a paper for a peer-reviewed philosophy journal. (Although I would point out
that my thinking and writing has been guided by an interest in academic
philosophy stretching right back to my years now.) So I will try to keep my
language as perspicuous as possible. I will do that, of course, at the risk of being
misunderstood or not being as precise as I might be if I were writing in another
context. So maybe now I should say what I'm setting out to do before then
going on to make some observations about the subject of this blog.

Let me say straight away that I can't make any claim to be comprehensive here.
I live a very specific (and unique) life that is not and will not be replicated by
anyone else. (I thank the non-existent gods for that!) All our lives are individual
in their particularity and this is something we value about our species. So the
things I write below will be animated by my own life experience and the
concerns that it has thrown up for me. I would more than welcome it, though, if
you read this and feel that I have missed something vital out and feel the need
to tell me what that is. I am certainly no oracle and am more than aware of my
many thoroughgoing limitations. So I will be writing a very personal and situated
answer to my question. (I could, of course, do no other.) My aim is to put into
words issues and questions that I think bear on the subject and that are
important to address. Each one could, I have no doubt, be subject to several
book-length treatments in itself. I will, on the contrary, attempt to be brief and
concise for the sake of my blog readers.

Some Thoughts About Human Being(s)

And so the first thing to say is that we, as human beings, are beings for whom
"Being" is an issue. We ask questions such as "Why am I here?" and "Who am
I?" and "Why is there something rather than nothing?". This is to say that it
occurs to us to be aware of our existence and our surroundings. And these are
not just questions about ourselves as individual people who exist. They are also
the greater questions about existence as a whole. "Where did everything come
from?" is a question of great import that doesn't, we think, occur to every living
thing to ask. So it is this consciousness, this inquisitiveness, this awareness of
self and surroundings, that becomes a constituent part of our makeup as human
beings. To be a human being is to experience the world as one. It is neither a
gift nor a curse. It just is. And we can reflect on what that means because, as
human beings, the meaning of things is important to us too.

But there are also a whole slew of issues that are important to us as human
beings just by simple virtue of being alive. I refer to these myself as "the issues
of the living". I use this term in distinction to being dead when, of course, these
things would not matter at all. For me these things are the things of everyday
life, of survival and of daily procedure, the questions that we deal with as almost
background issues and that are rarely overtly thought about or noticed as
important. "What's for dinner today?", "Do my teeth need brushing?" "Am I late
for an appointment?" and "I wonder what my colleague at work thinks of me?"
would be examples of things like this but there could be a billion other such
things. They are the things you think about and process because you are alive. If
we wanted to put it more simply we might just say that being alive entails caring
about things.

Being alive as a human being also entails caring, or not caring, about other
members of our species. It is not unique to human beings to be social as we can
see from our observations of the wider natural world. But we also know, as
human beings, that we are infused with a strong sense of self. We value and
cherish the fact we have individuality and are not, instead, part of some
Borg-like hive mind in which everyone else's thoughts are constantly present
too. So, as humans, our form of being is shaped by a kind of dual nature as
beings who are individual yet also part of wider social groupings, be they familial
or otherwise. Most of us have experienced some great communal event together
and shared in a kind of group euphoria and we experience that as a group, as
beings together in a way that is not individual. And yet we retain a foot in both
camps and we can be psychologically affected if either our sense of self or our
sense of belonging, or not belonging, to groups is called into question.

A very basic way in which our human being is shaped is by our form. Human
beings are physical beings of a very specific kind in a physical world. We breathe
air. We pump blood. We can see thanks to our optic nerve and the
electromagnetic radiation that exists as photons of light. We can hear, touch,
taste and smell. We reproduce in a specifically physical way. We walk on two
legs in an upright fashion. We have active brains which can learn and adapt,
often overcoming some of these limitations or finding ways around them if some
of them are taken away in an accident or due to illness. We can talk. We have
organs which stop us from being poisoned by the waste products produced in
sustaining ourselves. We can feel pain. We decay. We die. All of these physical
things are very specific and I want to make the point very strongly that they are
inherent to what makes us human. For me, a human brain in a vat or a mind
uploaded to a computer would not be a human being. To lose our physicality is,
for me, to lose something vital to our humanity, something that has shaped who
we have become and what we are. It may be that one day we evolve our species
into beings not made of flesh thanks to scientific advances. For me that would
entail a possible gain but certainly also a loss and definitely a change in
circumstances. Physical things eventually wear out. As human beings that is
always before us in very specific ways. I ask you to consider the question: "If all
my body parts were replaced with artificial ones, would I still be me?" My answer
to this is that I think being a human being, living a human form of being, is
intimately bound up with the specific physical form of our nature.

Another way we can talk of human being is in terms of time. I have already
addressed this in a number of musical pieces and philosophers have remarked
on our inherent temporality for centuries. The fact is that we are beings who
exist within time and who are always conscious of it. This is not merely in terms
of appointments or notable dates but also in things like consciousness of death
and the cycles of life. (Mid-life crisis? Becoming an adult? Retiring?) But we are
also aware of the infinity of time which exists in such large amounts that we
literally cannot conceive of the age of the Universe or of even our own planet
within it. So, as with the social and the individual, there is a dual focus here as
human beings have an awareness of both finitude and infinity and that affects
our form of life here on earth. A way to imagine this is to think of the future and
the past. One, the future, stretches out before us as an infinite possibility whilst,
on the other hand, the past lies behind us as something insubstantial that has
slipped through our fingers. Time, in some senses, leaves us completely
powerless. We try to grasp it and hold on to it, but it is gone. Only the
photograph or the memory manages to hold some traces and time even fades
those too.

An important aspect of our humanity is to be found in our fallibility. Put bluntly


and rather obviously, we are not omniscient. We are, indeed, quite limited
beings. We see more than through a glass darkly. It is easy to fool the senses of
human beings, which are our means of gathering information about the world,
and there are many parlour tricks which are capable of doing so such as the
never ending staircase or the duck/rabbit made famous by Ludwig Wittgenstein
as shown below.
We have also developed our own pattern and habits of thinking which, whilst
useful for certain purposes, are by no means to be regarded as the best possible
or unsurpassable. Human beings have developed by evolution and their powers
of thought and means of gathering information have been shaped by their
environment and become useful for the form of life they lead. It is conceivable
that beings from elsewhere might be nothing like us because their development
would be suited to their environment and form of life too. One simple truth is
that, if we are honest, we, as human beings, don't even know what it is we don't
know. We are working in the dark in the only ways evolution has equipped us to
do so. We also need to remember that human beings are not passive robots
whose job is merely to be carried out passively as a response to commands. But
this is my next point.

Human beings have intentions, attitudes, feelings and emotions. And often we
act not simply with intellectual goals in sight but simply because we feel a
certain way or because we have a certain attitude towards something. Its also
worth pointing out that to have a goal is to be human too. Can you imagine a fly
or a table to decide that it purposely wants to do something? Probably not. But
you can imagine that a person decides to do something. You can imagine they
do this for a number of reasons from it being something they want to achieve to
because some other factor motivates them to do it. Human beings, then, are not
simply calculators or computers or machines. They can get angry and make bad
choices and harm themselves and others and then feel sorry for it. And I think it
is important to say this since the machine or computer metaphor is very often
used casually and lazily to describe human beings. I think its wrong and
misleading. Human beings are not machines. They are, instead, animals and
they are imbued with animalistic attributes such as intuition. I recall to mind
here a scene from Star Trek in which Spock, who does not have all the
information he needs to hand to make a calculation, is advised by the very
human McCoy to "make his best guess". And that, indeed, is something that
humans often do. They guess. Now when a human being feels cold you might
want to describe it as a programmed (or learned) response to sensory
stimulation. But is it really that simple? I don't think so. When you cry do you
think that a machine could do that? When you feel fear, or anxiety or love you
are acting as a living being would not as any machine we have ever yet
conceived. I don't regard these things as mere developments based on
increasingly complex networks. I think it something fundamentally different that
we don't yet, and maybe never will, understand. It is something human. It is
something to do with being.

So, for the purposes of this blog, this is my list of attributes when thinking about
human being:

1. Ontological
2. Alive
3. Individual and Social
4. Physical
5. Temporal
6. Fallible
7. Animal

There is one more that I finally want to add at this point. And that is that we are
incomplete. We are not finished but are always in a process of continuing to
become something else. We are like this blog. No matter how much I say, there
is always more that could be said. There will always be new occasions or
contexts in which it could be said again with new force or in new and probably
better ways. The understanding and the searching never stops. And so it is with
us as people and as a people. We are never complete, we are never finished.
Human being and human beings never reach a point at which they can stop and
say they are done and there is no more to do. A constant process of becoming
as people "condemned to be free" (as Jean-Paul Sartre put it) is the only game
in town.

8. Incomplete

SIX

Softly, softly, catchee monkey, I said for the one hundredth time when asked
how many times I had cum today. Zero, I said. And then the inevitable, Oh
thats a shame. Why? Softly, softly, catchee monkey. Men have no idea of
subtlety. A certain kind of man, that is. I dont mean to tar all men with the
same brush. I know very well that not everyone is the same. Its quite amazing
how many men tell me that I am An amazing turn on every day I do this. Me.
An amazing turn on. I ask myself what that means and what it says. I am not
Jessica. I am quite far away from Jessica. But in their heads I am Jessica. I am
as real as all the other things they take for granted as true. And that means you
too. Because were all doing the same thing. Theres another one. Youre an
amazing turn on Jess. Thank you Jim. Have you read my story Tradesmans
Entrance?

It was a sunny but cold winter's morning when the plumber arrived. I and my
new husband of only 3 months were enjoying a day off from our prospective
jobs. We had planned to go out for the day and enjoy the outdoors together but
the sound of leaking water in the night had us rushing to the bathroom where a
burst pipe was found. Hubby turned off the water and we returned to bed,
realising that our day would need to be put on hold. In the morning I phoned a
plumber and he duly arrived around 10.30am. We hoped that he would soon be
done so that we could at least spend the afternoon somewhere together.

My husband opened the door and he came in with his tools. He looked late 40s,
early 50s and had a big gut and a crook's demeanour like he wasn't the most
honest bloke you'd ever meet. I immediately noticed that he looked me up and
down with an approving smile as he mentally undressed me. I smiled back. He
had a man to man talk with my husband where they discussed what was wrong
and then my husband left him in the bathroom and went off into the living room
to watch some car video. I felt that I should be the good hostess and decided to
go and ask the plumber if he wanted a cup of tea. I opened the door and he was
down on his knees under the sink. His bum crack was exposed. "Mmmm, at least
I'll have somewhere to park my bike!" I said, with a cheeky grin. The plumber
got up and giggled. "Thing is, love, have you got anywhere to park this?" he
replied, grabbing his groin. "Cheeky sod," I shot back, "I'm a married woman".
"And?" he said.

It turned out that he was happy to receive a cup of tea with three sugars and so
I went to the kitchen and made it. My husband shouted to ask what I was doing
and I told him I was being the good hostess. He mumbled something in reply I
couldn't hear and seemed well engrossed in his video which, from the sounds of
it, might have been a Top Gear one. In any case, the kettle boiled and I made
the plumber's tea and took it back upstairs. Feeling generous, I popped a couple
of chocolate biscuits on the saucer too.

"There you go," I said, offering him the tea. He stared at me again and didn't
hide the fact. "See something you fancy?" I teased. I was probably less than half
his age at 23. "What do you think?" he replied. "I think you'd love to take my
knickers down and bend me over the sink," I shot back, meeting his gaze fully.
"You got that right," he confirmed. "So how about it?" "My husband is
downstairs," I said, giving the obvious reply. "What if he comes up here?" "Then
we are both in a bit of trouble," he said. "So have you got the balls for it, or
not?" he challenged. "Well maybe if you get your balls out we'll find out," I said.
In a one-handed movement he undid his buckle and his jeans dropped to the
floor to reveal his boxers. The chat had obviously aroused him as a snake had
been awakened and it twitched in pleasure under the cotton fabric. I moved in
close and he grabbed a handful of my hair and crushed his lips to mine. My hand
felt around his groin until the snake was in my hand and I rubbed it through his
shorts.

Having kissed me passionately, he pushed my head down indicating that I


should focus my attentions on his boxers. I dropped to my knees on the
bathroom floor and pulled them down. His dick sprung out and hit me in the
face. "Mmmm that's it baby," he said and he grabbed his dick and hit the rapidly
hardening member in my face a few times. I took over and put it in my mouth,
rubbing it briskly with my right hand. Spitting on it, I worked the spit up and
down its impressive length before sucking the head once more while I pumped
it. The plumber instinctively grabbed my head with his hands and pushed me
onto it before grabbing my hair and more forcefully fucking my face. Then he
pushed it deep in my throat and held my head there. He let out an "Ahhhh" in
enjoyment and then released it. Spit gushed out of my mouth and I coughed and
spluttered. "You take a cock in your throat well," he said. "Again". "Be careful," I
warned. "If you do too much its going to be obvious to him that you've just
fucked my face!" "Good point," he said. "Can I see your tits?"

I stood up and took off my sweatshirt. I wasn't wearing a bra underneath as I


hadn't got properly dressed for the day yet and had just thrown on some
comfort clothes. So as the top came over my head my boobs popped out in front
of him. "Fucking hell!" he said. He took them in his rough, worker's hands and
gave them a squeeze and hungrily sucked at the perky pink nipples. "Nice big
nipples too!" he added. Some grease or dirt from his hands made my boobs
dirty. "You better fix this bastard water now," I said. "Otherwise I'll never get
this muck off me". "Don't worry about that," he replied, and his big tongue
started licking all over my tits. He bit my nipples and then gave my tits a few
slaps. "Not too hard," I said. "You can't leave any marks". His hand went into my
sweatpants and he realised I wasn't wearing any knickers. He pulled them down
and looked at my cunt. "That looks so fucking sweet," he said. "Freshly married
and freshly fucked this morning," I replied.

He took two fat fingers and began toying with my hole, working it, making it
wet. And then the fingers disappeared inside me. Two became three became
four as he made me wetter and wetter and made the hole wider and wider. "You
better hurry up," I said. "He might start to wonder where I am". He pushed me
towards the sink and bent me forward. "You want it over the sink, I'll give it you
over the sink," he said, and I felt his thick cock rubbing against my peachy bum.
Then it entered my wetness which he had stimulated so well. I wanted a quick,
hard, dirty fuck now. I wanted to feel this dirty fucker taking advantage of me
whilst my new husband was only a few meters away. I bent over willingly and
pushed back as his dick started to work its way inside me. I grabbed hold of the
taps and he grabbed hold of my hair in a bunch and rode me hard from behind.
So hard, in fact, that it was only as my husband passed the closed door that we
heard he had come upstairs.

We froze and time stood still in what seemed like an eternal minute. His dick
was still in me and my cum was running down his length because I was sopping
wet. I felt it running down the inside of my thighs. If hubby came in now we
were both fucked in more ways than one. But he carried on past and went into
the spare bedroom where he had a computer and some games console stuff set
up. He closed the door behind him and I heard some game start up. Hubby was
now about 5 meters away from me in the next room as I was being fucked by
the plumber. He started to slowly press himself in and out of me again. "He'll
hear us," I said. "I'm not stopping until I cum," he replied, as he tightened his
grip on my hair and pressed himself inside me all the way up to his balls. I was
totally slick and wet now. He fucked me rhythmically, jerking my head back from
time to time and then he stuck his thumb in my arse. "I wish we had more
time," he said. "Well we don't, " I answered. "Quick, finish off".
He withdrew himself and I turned around putting his soaking dick into my
mouth. I sucked him hard and well. His ballsack was tight as a drum and it was
clear he was ready to blow. I was taking the whole length of his cock in and out
of my mouth now and then he flooded my throat with his thick, sticky cum. I
coughed, I'm not ashamed to say it, as the load was massive. Some burst back
out of my mouth as I couldn't contain it all. The plumber pushed his still hard
dick deep in my throat once more and held it there as I struggled to chug down
the cum as best I could. He savoured the moment. Finally, he slowly released his
dick and I swallowed what was left, sucking the cock clean as he withdrew it.
"Jessy!" my husband shouted. "Come here a minute!" I wiped my mouth on my
arm and found my sweatshirt to put it on again after pulling up my sweatpants.
"We have to meet," said the plumber as I closed the bathroom door behind
me.

Youre an amazing turn on Jess

EIGHTY THREE

The following "chat" came about as part of an on-going online discussion I have
been having with an online friend called Bob. He, I think he wouldn't mind me
saying, has long been interested in matters of mind and consciousness. Indeed,
it was talking to him that nurtured and gave impetus to my many articles on
Being recently on this blog. I thought it would be interesting if we could ask each
other 5 questions on the subject of our own free choice and then publish them
here complete with the answers that were given. I'm glad to say that Bob
agreed. We start with us both giving our answer to the following question:

What is Consciousness for you?

BOB: I have to warn you that I come at the concept of consciousness from the
Tibetan Buddhist perspective. After years and years of searching, questioning,
surveying world religions, and reading the classical Western philosophers, it's the
only approach that has made sense to me as a complete package and answered
the most questions. I've been practicing in this tradition about 20 years now,
bringing a lot of hard-headed skepticism to it at first. I'm still here and find no
conflict between this approach and modern science. I'm going to use the term
"mind" to consciousness.

With that caveat in place, i would tell you that mind is nonphysical, perhaps a
type of energy or a state we don't understand yet, that can exist independently
in awareness and perception. It has awareness of its own existence, perception
of what is beyond itself, and discrete thoughts and reactions concerning
perceptions. What it lacks is an interface to interact with the physical world, and
this is where the brain comes in. The brain is a tool that mind uses to experience
and carry out actions in the physical world.

There are several reasons I believe this. The strictly material approach argues
that all thought is the result of electrochemical activity in the brain. While I
accept that brain activity we can observe shows processing activities, I can't
accept that brain activity itself can produce all the content of thought. If I think
of a blue monkey, what chemical or neural configuration.has to occur? Does
that configuration recur every time I think of a blue monkey? How many
processes have to occur every day to account for all the thoughts? It doesn't
make sense that a strictly physical system could keep up. I think it would burn
our brains out if everything actually happened right there. And the big question,
what determines the content of thought? I don't believe a physical brain,
marvelous as it is, generates the blue monkey on its own strictly driven by
chemicals and electricity. I believe the brain processes sense perception for mind
and mind generates thought and controls the actions of the body. You have
probably noticed that this is getting very close to your idea of a consciousness in
a machine. You could say we are "meat machines" used by consciousness.

For the non-physical mind, I also turn to out of body experiences and past life
recall, and I'm not getting "new age" here. I'm talking about strictly documented
cases that cannot be explained any other way. There are enough of both to
convince me and you can find them too if you look for them, but in the West we
generally disregard them because they don't fit our scheme of things.

With out of body experiences, they seem to be a natural, controllable thing with
some people, but for the most part they seem to occur at times of great physical
trauma when the mind-body connection is weakened. With past life recall, there
are also enough well documented cases, but almost universally they occur in
young children. This is because the memories are fresh for a while, but as the
mind struggles to learn control of the new body, process the new experiences,
and strongly identify with a new identity, the old memories fade until we think
what we are now is all there is.

It's similar to when I was learning Japanese. In the beginning, when I couldn't
think of a Japanese word, my mind, desperately grabbing at language, would
find and plug in the correct word from my old college German. That went on for
a long time and I would make these horrible sentences that were half Japanese
and half German. When Japanese really started to be deeply ingrained as a
complete language system and I could comfortably communicate, the German
started fading to the point that I couldn't remember any German. Even today, I
can still speak Japanese, but if I try to think of German words, I can only pull up
the Japanese equivalents. German has been totally erased.

Why would a mind, with perceptions far beyond our own, limit itself by
inhabiting a physical body? Because of great attachment to the physical world!
As we go through our lives we develop habits and attachments and desires that
drive our mind to come back as soon as possible when we lose our current body.
It's an act of desperation driven by attachment and there is no choice in the
selection of a new body. That is driven by the long long ingrained habits and the
seeds planted in the mind in the recent life.Over many lifetimes, you cut a
groove in your mind that you tend to follow and will propel you to an existence
that perpetuates the groove. So you have a new body and shiny new identity,
but the old habits and tendencies remain.

Back to the strictly material view, how do you explain a Jeffrey Dahmer from
strictly observable behavior and electrochemical activity? What was the
particular electrochemical reaction that caused him to kill and eat his victims,
and does that same brain process occur in other instances of serial killers?
Dahmer had a normal middle-class upbringing in a house, his parents were nice
people, and they certainly never taught him this or encouraged it. He didn't have
any traumatic incident that might have caused this. In my view, it's a deeply
ingrained habit of killing from the past that was carried into this life.

Buddhism has no moral problem with homosexuality because it's obviously just a
strong memory of being the other gender in a previous life.Don't you have
situations, people, places, and things you find yourself inexplicably attracted to?
You probably make up some kind of story to explain those based on your current
life, but I doubt you can explain them all and some of our "logical" explanations
turn out to be very destructive to us.

So, from the Buddhist view, our current type of existence is a trap for the mind.
There is no problem with having a physical body, but we get so wrapped up in
our created identity, desires, and attachments that we limit mind to basic gross
functions and blind ourselves to the reality of how things exist.
JESSICA (ME): That's a very thorough answer Bob but, with the greatest of
respect, I want to offer a different one. For me it has to come down to a
physical/biological phenomenon. Obviously, no one can actually say for sure
what the answer to this question is and so we can only give our best guess or
our intuitions. For me, I note that human beings have consciousness and that
human beings have this, as far as we can tell, when alive. Now, before you butt
in, let me say that, of course, since we don't exactly know what consciousness is
we can't even do something so rudimentary as test for it. So let me admit again
that all guesses here are somewhat stabs in the dark. And it could be true that
consciousness exists before birth and after death. A humble inquiry has to admit
possibilities that it cannot rule out definitively. But since I have no way to know
if consciousness does exist before or after a human life I make a more modest
claim. I think that consciousness is a phenomenon related to the physical
existence of human beings who are alive. I would extend this, to a lesser
degree, to some other life forms as well. But I don't think consciousness exists
"in the universe" or as a general thing or in some mystical sense. I do not, and
cannot, envisage minds or "mind" floating about out there. I wouldn't know how
to sensibly talk about such an option. It would provide me with no answers but
merely exponentially raise the questions. So "minds" are related to people in
terms of identity and origin. I further think that consciousness is imagined by
human beings as a place where they think and feel and have awareness of
themselves and their surroundings. I imagine that it is some function of the
brain and arose, in ways as yet unfathomed, as part of our biological evolution
because those of our forbears with a growing consciousness of themselves and
their surroundings were more successful in their surroundings and, thus, better
equipped to survive.

I also would like to note that I find your reasons against a physical explanation
unconvincing. Is it really so hard to imagine a computer that can process at the
speed and rate of a mind? Are you saying it would always be impossible? That it
could never be created? I don't understand how you could. What's more, if
taking up a physical explanation for the mind, we do not have to subscribe all
thought to "electrochemical" processes at all. We know, for example, that people
can be influenced and affected by their environment. Why do we need to make it
any more complicated than saying that the brain is the means and the mind is
the result? The properties and abilities of electrochemical processes, unknown as
they are, need not be determinative in these things. They can just be a means
to an end. And, of course, not knowing how it works doesn't mean that it doesn't
work. It means that we don't know how. Fundamentally, my point is that you
need to start from what you have and not leap straight to something more
extraordinary. And I take your "independently existing" minds that need "an
interface to interact with the physical world" to be extraordinary. On my
understanding, minds can't exist without people.

I would also add that I am open to the possibility that we don't have anything
specific that is a consciousness (in any corporeal or incorporeal form) but that,
instead, it is merely a construct for a part of our lived experience. This is to say I
can see it as possible you could never point to a consciousness and say "that is a
consciousness". Human beings already rely on many useful fictions and
consciousness could just be another one.

BOB: So, in that case, what for you determines the content of our thoughts?

JESSICA: I want to answer this by saying that I don't think it is enough to


answer by saying that I can think of no current way how this might work and so
I will posit some entity called "mind" which, like a ghost in the machine, can do
it all for me. I also don't think that the immediate and pre-reflective answer "I
do" is correct. At least, not without some unpacking. Brains and minds function
in many ways unconsciously like many physical functions of the body. You don't
have to consciously think to make your heartbeat or to breathe. Neither do you
need to consciously decide to think. Indeed, I find the Cartesian "I think" to be
problematic. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say that "Thought becomes"? I
think that human beings are very integrated beings and, even with a few
minutes of self-reflection, this seems obviously true. Imagine, for example, how
many nerve endings you must have in your body. Your mind is aware of those all
at once. That is amazing. It's something you likely could not deliberately achieve
and so our evolution has built these things into the way we exist as a functioning
organism.

Our human lives are intimately involved with many networks. The neural net of
our brains, the thought patterns of our minds, social connections and cultural
entanglements are just some of these. I know of no way yet in which we can
comprehensively account for how these networks all function together but I do
think that they all exert their influence upon us as thinking subjects. Sometimes
this can be as the result of a goal or purpose of ours as we are beings who can
have intentions and attitudes. And, as you will know, we hold beliefs. Each of us
comes with a genetic make-up, a past and a context too. So thoughts can be
directed or organized. But it is never as simple as this. Minds have evolved a
more sophisticated and efficient form of operation, one that does not always, or
even usually, require our express attention.

So you might now be saying I haven't answered the question. But in a way I
have. The answer is "I do". But not in any deliberative way and not simply so.

Now, if I may, let me ask you something else. Given your views on "mind", do
you think that a robot with artificial intelligence would be a person?

BOB: I have to say yes, and I certainly support the idea of rights of personhood
for artificially created autonomous aware beings that generate their own unique
thoughts and are not just following programmed instructions. Following the
previous paradigm, an artificial person would have form, awareness of it's own
existence, perception of the outer world, and discrete thoughts and reactions
based on perception.

JESSICA: So what is the essence of humanity in your opinion?

BOB: Ooooh, the humanity! I guess you would have to define human as having
a human body and human sense perception coupled with a mind capable of
higher awareness. I think the blindness to the higher functions of the mind and
entrapment in desire, attachment, and ego would help define human. In other
words, I guess the average, confused guy on the street would be a good
example of the human condition. Now, what do we do with people of extremely
limited or nonexistent brain activity? We still identify someone in a vegetative
state as a human, but that's mostly identification with the form. On the other
extreme, people who have worked deeply with their own minds and accessed
higher functions of mind that we can't use or deny even exist seem to be
"magic" but they are still grounded in a human existence though they view it
very differently.

And now it's my turn again. So, Jessica, can we be aware of our own
consciousness in your opinion?

JESSICA: This feels to me like a trick question and I am immediately put on


edge! When I think about this I would have to answer no. But that is because I
don't perceive of "my consciousness" as something separate from me. I think it
was formed along with me, develops and matures as I do and will end with me. I
am not aware of my brain either but I imagine that if I had brain surgery and
was shown video of it after the fact I would then have an insight into what lies
inside my cranium!

I also want to put the idea that there is a "me" in question. Who am I? What
would this "I" refer to when I talk about myself? My physical being? The various
thoughts I have about myself that are always changing and being changed? A
person other people would describe me as? I am not even sure that I can give a
decent answer to who I am before I get to any questions of my consciousness.

But, of course, there is another answer to this question and I want to hold this
answer in tension with my first ones. I do recognize that there can be different
or altered states of consciousness. When I was younger I would have said that I
had experienced some of these myself in a religious context. Now I would give
what happened other explanations. I do also recognize that some others, such
as yourself, offer testimony for differing states of consciousness and I have no
way, or desire, to cast them aside out of hand. I'm open to trying to understand
better what might be going on there. Of course, it's also worth mentioning that
every one of us alters our state of consciousness daily when we sleep. Then we
have no sense even of being alive or, in dream sleep, our state of consciousness
is somewhat ambiguous. So, I'd want to take up an "interested listener" position
regarding this question.

PS There is a third way. This is that when you say you are aware of your own
consciousness you only think you are. How would you ever be able to
demonstrate the truth of it?

BOB: How, then, is consciousness related to the ego?

JESSICA: Man, your questions are hard! In my first answer I raised the the
prospect that maybe "consciousness" was just a useful fiction. For all we know
there is this little spot somewhere inside the brain that is the "consciousness
spot" and it generates this field of consciousness much like a holodeck in Star
Trek creates a whole world with electronic smoke and mirrors. In that way we
have named what is created without knowing how it happens. I want to say that
with the ego I would be a little easier to persuade with this kind of answer. What
is the ego after all? Our sense of self preservation? A sense of self theorized
most notably by Freud? We are talking in conceptual terms and I am reluctant to
make things extant that I have little evidence for or of. So I'm saying that
maybe we are naming phenomena here that are a function of something else or
maybe even just utilizing ideas or conceptions thought helpful in a discussion of
the self.

Be that as it may, I think what I am looking for here in answer to your question
is a definition or two, a working hypothesis. Let me tentatively say that I regard
consciousness as an awareness of things, of being, of self and ego as a more
personal self-protection mechanism, maybe even a prison for the self. (I am
speaking theoretically not physically, phenomenologically or idealistically.)
Consciousness, if you want to call it mind, could be conceived of as our
apparatus for existing in a world of perception. I'm thinking out loud here. Now,
I wouldn't hold hard and fast to those definitions to the death. Further thought
and discussion will inevitably change and refine them. But that is my starting
point. To then go on to how those are related I would have to admit that I have
no in depth knowledge. I would intuitively think that once more we are back to
the integrated nature of our particularly human form of life. The issue is that you
might want to say that consciousness is the general name for mind activity. But
then ego must be a subset of that or a specific function perhaps since we would
normally think of it as some mental faculty. However, when we talk about these
things we are talking about ideas which we can distinguish. I think the functional
reality of human beings makes it much more difficult to do that. So it's largely a
"don't know" here and a reminder that I have a holistic conception of the human
being.

My turn. There are people like futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil who believe
that we will technologically engineer our way out of death, either by the use of
nanotechnology which can heal us from within or by capturing and removing our
consciousness to better, robotized bodies. Do these possibilities interest you at
all?

BOB: From my view, it's totally unnecessary. We're already transferring our
consciousness over and over, and trading a body for a machine is just a different
kind of trap. Better to learn the true nature of mind and access the subtle
functions so we remove the blindness, gain some control. If mind is
non-physical, to really learn to use that would mean we could be physical when
we wanted but still be able to access the vast non-physical perception and
knowledge of the mind.

JESSICA: So imagine you are in a room with some animals (a cat, a dog, a
monkey), a human being and a robot that has been given artificial intelligence
so good it convinces you that it acts of its own free will. What makes the human
being special? Anything?

BOB: What makes you think we're special? Mind is mind. Any being that has a
mind has the potential to become a fully developed mind, and in fact has been
more developed and less developed in the past. The dog and monkey and the
robot and me are all just different current examples of the same kind of mind in
a particular limited physical state.

JESSICA: So now you get the last question Bob.

BOB: What is your first memory?

JESSICA: A suitably interesting question. I was walking between my parents at a


zoo. We approached the ostrich enclosure and an ostrich came close to the
fence. I was frightened and made a commotion, trying to pull my parents away
from the fence. I cannot precisely locate this event on a timeline of my life but
can have been at most 4 as my father left us after that.

EIGHTY FIVE

Last Sunday I published a blog that was a conversation between myself and an
online friend and deep thinker of my acquaintance called Bob. We discussed
human being, mind and consciousness, a subject that interests us both greatly.
We come at this subject from quite different positions which makes for good
conversation and I thought it would be a good idea to make a blog of our first
exchange of questions. Bob agreed.

But, of course, it didn't stop there because these are questions about which it is
difficult to find ultimately satisfying answers. And so the conversation continues
here with part 2 in which we discuss minds and if human beings are entirely
physical or if, as Bob contends, there is a non-physical component.
Jessica's Question:

On a material mind.

You argue against "the strictly material approach" to the origin of mind being
physical on, what seem to me, to be flawed grounds. You seem to have a
number of such grounds, one of which is that you can't understand how it might
work. You ask about the brain's electrochemical activity and ask how it can
account for the no doubt millions of processes it needs to account for on a
constant basis. You say that a brain would likely burn out if asked to carry out
this workload alone. I find this response a little puzzling. Let me give you an
example of why. Imagine I have a large amount of water and a pipe. I see the
water and the pipe. The pipe seems too small. I have no conception of how the
water could possibly fit through that pipe all at once. But am I to rule out the
possibility of a bigger pipe? Am I to say that a bigger pipe is impossible? Am I to
say that no combination of water and pipes would be able to carry out the
physical task I have in mind? Or am I to say that because I cannot see how this
would work that I should, instead, conceive of a non-material pipe which could
do the work of transmitting water for me? It seems to me that, especially since
you say you have no idea how the brain's electrochemical activity might work,
that you simply have no basis to make the claim that because you don't
understand how it happens that you must therefore refute the possibility. As I
read your answers, you don't understand completely how the non-material
option might work either. And yet this fact does not stop you choosing that. So I
think that, to be consistent, not understanding how something works is not a
sufficient reason to completely close off that possible solution.

This same issue affects the question "what determines the content of thought?"
Now "determines" is one of those words that as a thinker I don't like. It sounds
very like determinism and that's not something I'm a fan of. Again, you seem at
a loss to give a material response to this question because you don't understand
how physical or material processes could achieve it. Now neither do I. But I
know that material processes are happening. So I find it entirely plausible, in line
with Occam's Razor (the simplest answer is to be preferred), to start there. And,
by the way, I don't think I have to say that electrochemical processes are
"determinative" for anything either. I am open to the option they are a means
for thought to occur with some other, unknown factor or process the originating
point instead. I'm also open to the option that, as you say, thinking of blue
monkeys is caused by some electrochemical process itself. And I ask "Why can't
it be?" It seems to me that you don't answer why it can't be. You just throw your
hands up and say it doesn't make sense and you can't understand how it might
work. My point is that in order to posit the kind of mind you have chosen to
prefer (something I think is an unfounded deus ex machina) I think you need to
give some evidence for it and some evidence for why simpler options are not
taken up first and, if necessary, dismissed on better grounds than "I don't
understand it". It could be argued, I think, that you have simply chosen to prefer
a more obscure alternative when you have established no reasonable basis to do
so. You start off by suggesting that the mind could be some type of energy or
state and these can be conceived of materially. I myself rule neither option out.
And I wish you had stuck with that line of thinking.

Bob's Response:

OK, so let's address information processing power, water and pipes. If you do
some practice of being aware of your thoughts and their content, there is an
insane amount of stuff going on in our brains. The brain is an amazing
information processor, but the amount of information is simply staggering. Can
you imagine enough pipes in a bio-mechanism the size of a cantaloupe to handle
all that and store all the past experiences of your life? If you can, fine, but I find
it difficult.

There is a way out of that with a still entirely physical explanation in that
perhaps part of the processing is taking part in one of the other dimensions of
quantum physics or string theory. This is how physicists now explain the force of
gravity, which has an attractive force that is not explainable by the constraints
and mathematics of our 3 dimensions. It is out of proportion and doesn't act the
way it should (a problem that haunted Einstein). However, if you add the other 7
dimensions mandated by string theory (11 dimensions total), the math works
perfectly with part of the force action taking place in another dimension and part
here. So I would be comfortable with that as a material way to explain the
amounts of processing.

However, information processing is not the same as consciousness. In your


article on the film Ex Machina, you argue that Ava is capable of actions
motivated by self interest and preservation but is incapable of feeling and
emotion and always will be. If Ava has sensory input and information
categorization abilities at least as good as ours, why can't she feel emotion? In a
materialist framework, you would have to argue that there is a physical
component in humans that is missing in machines. If that is so, it should be
identifiable. What is it that produces emotion (and identifying the part of the
brain that lights up when you're angry or happy is not the same as saying that
part is producing emotion)? As T.H. Huxley said, "How is it that anything so
remarkable as a state of consciousness comes about as the result of irritating
nervous tissue, its just as unaccountable as the appearance of the Djinn when
Aladdin rubbed the lamp." So, what is the physical origin of emotion and what is
the physical necessity and function of it?

(Jessica: I would like to point out here, briefly, that I don't think I do say this
about Ava in my blog on Ex Machina. In fact, I say the opposite! I invite readers
to read for themselves and decide if I do or not.)

I think this leads us into the non-material mind and I did give 2 pieces of
evidence, out of body experiences and past life memories. I left it to you to
pursue examples so that I would not guide what you would find. You have not
addressed these, so I will give two examples for you to respond to. I was
listening to a lecture by a psychiatrist (a podcast of a lecture given this year)
who was explaining why he believes the mind is capable of leaving the body. He
said that when he was an intern, he was put in charge of the university sleep
research lab. Separately from his clinical duties, he met a woman who claimed
that she had regularly had out of body experiences during sleep since she was a
child. For a long time she thought everybody did that and thought it was normal.
As she grew up, she learned not to talk about it, but she said the experiences
were still occurring. She was very convincing, he was curious, and he had the
perfect lab to scientifically test her. She agreed to come to the lab and he told
her all she had to do was get in bed and sleep. After she was in bed, he wrote a
random number (selected from a book that was thousands of pages of random
numbers spit out from a random number generator) on a piece of paper and
placed it on top of a clothes wardrobe too high for her to reach. He told her
there was a number on the piece of paper (she's already in bed) and in the
morning he would ask her what the number was. She was on camera the whole
time and never left the bed, yet every time, time after time, she correctly recited
the 5 digit random number that was on the paper. There are other examples you
can find. The University of Southampton just completed the largest study of near
death experiences (including near death out of body experiences).
For past life memory, I'll use the example of the Dalai Lama. Dalai Lama is not a
hereditary title. After a Dalai Lama dies, the next one needs to be found and
tested to make sure he is a continuation of the same mind. The current Dalai
Lama is the 14th. He was born shortly after the death of the previous Dalai
Lama, but he was born in a remote, isolated area of northern Tibet to a poor
farming family. When he started talking, he spoke in the dialect of Lhasa, even
though he had never heard it and nobody there spoke it (though some could
understand it). He also talked of people he knew by name who were actual
people in Lhasa and accurately described buildings and places. He also passed
the test (as all the previous Dalai Lamas had) of correctly identifying all and only
the personal items that belonged to his predecessor out of an array of similar
objects. However, he has said that the memories of his past life started fading
about age 4 and now he cannot remember any of it.

There are other non-religious documented examples (about 3,500 I think) of


children who can speak languages they've never heard and describe places
they've never been. The interesting thing is that this almost universally occurs
between ages 4 to 6. That's why I asked what your first memory was. You said it
was at age 4. Mine was also age 4. It seems to me this is when the current
identity formation begins blocking memory of the past in the same way that
learning Japanese blocked my past knowledge of German.

So, if a mind can pass from one body to another, it would have to do so in a
non-material state, or at least in a state of material we don't understand and
can't measure. Going back to my examples of Jeffrey Dahmer (and serial killers
in general) and Mozart (and child musical prodigies in general), and
homosexuality, materialists will have to posit a complex array of physical
attributes, conditions and processes to account for these, and as such these
should be identifiable and observable. From a non-materialist view, Occam's
Razor is on my side.

EIGHT

Does your hubby fuck your arsehole? Rarely, I replied, the idea of a cock
penetrating the behind of the woman who sat on my account page at Xhamster
playing in mind. She did have a perfect behind and, indeed, shed been chosen
for that reason. She was a perfect vision of white, blonde, female beauty. She
was what men really want as opposed to what they think they want. On this I
take the view expressed in Paul Verhoevens film Total Recall. Arnold
Schwarzeneggers character is asked to choose a woman to order in one scene
and he inadvertently chooses slutty and demure, a seeming contradiction, but,
in fact, not one at all. Men think they want the dirtiest, filthiest sluts. But they
dont. They want demure beauty they can think slutty things about. Thats what
really gets the wheels turning, the corruption, the using, the making good into
bad. And thats what I give them. Never reveal too much, in words or pictures,
hold something back in reserve and make them chase it, a forever impetus to
further effort on their part. Example?

Jessica loved to travel. It was a gift that had been given her by her rich lawyer
parents as they took her on exotic holidays all around the world during her
childhood. It was with great excitement that now as a young woman of only 22
she could spread her wings for herself and find new places to go on her own.
She had developed a love for Eastern Europe and especially for Turkey, gateway
to Asia. Istanbul was the city she wanted to visit, charmed by the mystery of
minarets and the Bosphorus. Being still a student, Jessica was not flush with
cash so she made plans to couchsurf whilst in Turkey, an idea she had got from
some hipster friends at uni. (Couchsurfing is where benevolent people offer their
couch for you to sleep on as you visit their country.) She went on a
recommended website and picked out a small house to stay in that had been
made available by a middle-aged couple with professional jobs. The couch
looked decent enough and it satisfied her middle class sensibilities. And so it was
that in the fading light of an evening sun four weeks later she made her way up
a short path to a blue front door in a quieter suburb of Istanbul.

A swarthy, unshaven and somewhat overweight Turk answered the door. He was
of average height and he was bare chested. Baggy shorts hung in a misshapen
mess below his oversize gut. He muttered something in Turkish which Jessica,
for all her love of languages, did not understand. "I'm Jessica," she said,
"Couchsurfing?" she offered, quizzically. "Oh, I see, I see," said the man in
heavily accented English. "Come, come. You welcome, you welcome!" Jessica
wondered if he always repeated everything he said twice. He turned and
marched away. Jessica noted his back lightly covered with fine dark hair as he
walked away from her. She picked up her bag, stepped inside and closed the
door behind her. The man had quickly receded down the hall and she thought he
must have gone off to the left at the end. She hurried along and took the last
turn to the left which led her into a dimly lit room. Because there was so little
light she had trouble making out the fine details of the room but she did see the
man sitting on a tatty leather couch, which looked like a poorer version of the
one she had seen online.

"Jessica, you sit? You sit?" The man patted the couch beside him and beckoned
her to come into the room. She was tired from over a day of travel that had
begun with an early start and the invitation was enough to remind her of this
and she suddenly felt in need of a rest. She quickly walked towards the man and
set down her bag on the floor and sat beside him, leaving a polite gap between
them. "I am Emre and this is my humble home. You are welcome, you are
welcome," said the man. "Its very nice to meet you," replied Jessica, with all the
genuine courtesy that those in polite families are taught from their birth. "You
must be thirsty. You want drink I think?" said Emre, and he quickly got up from
couch and danced across to a cabinet from which he plucked two glasses and a
bottle. Jessica was soon being handed a glass of raki. "Thank you," she said, and
took a sip. Emre looked at her and his eyes lingered on her appealing form.
Jessica was 22 and five feet eight inches tall in bare feet. Her breasts were
shapely 34Cs and she had dark brown eyes and a crop of short brown hair,
freshly styled. Her pretty face was framed by new glasses that she had just been
prescribed and she was still getting used to wearing them. Her smooth, slender
legs and contoured lower thighs were visible thanks to the trekking shorts she
had put on that day to travel.

The uncomfortable pause was broken as Emre reached for the bottle and
immediately topped up Jessica's glass. "It's good, no? You like it I think!" Emre
encouraged her to drink more and Jessica politely concurred, tipping back the
glass. Emre immediately topped it up again. Jessica gave a polite smile. "Is your
wife here too?" Jessica interjected. "My wife?" said Emre, puzzled. "Oh, no. She
is not here. We are separate now. Its just you and me here," said Emre. "But
your couchsurfing page said a couple lived here," Jessica continued. "Yes, I
know. I am sorry. I am sorry," said Emre, looking at her. "It is an old page from
last year. I do not change it yet. Its alright. Its alright." Emre topped up the
glass yet again even though there was barely a sip taken from it. He gave a big
smile which revealed teeth in various states of health. Jessica smiled back, ever
the polite one. Emre moved a little closer on the sofa. "So you sleep here
tonight, no?" said Emre, leaning in, watching the glass for the slightest chance to
top it up, yet again. "Yes, and tomorrow too, I hope," replied Jessica. "Tomorrow
I will have a look around Istanbul and then I will move on," she continued. "That
is good, that is good," said Emre. The glass was filled to the brim once more.

"You are very sexy girl," said Emre, as he finally set down the bottle of raki.
"You must have boyfriend, no?" "Well, actually, no, not at the moment," said
Jessica. "What? I don't believe it!" replied Emre. "Its not possible! All the boys
must be loving you. You have very nice figure." Jessica felt herself blushing
profusely and was glad of the now almost non-existent light. There was merely a
faint haze that a window at the far end of the room was desperately trying to
hold on to which allowed for silhouettes and outlines but not much more. "No,
I'm afraid not," Jessica confirmed. "But you like sex I think!" Emre laughed a big
belly laugh and knocked back his glass of raki before setting the glass down.
Jessica took a polite sip of her's, neither confirming nor denying his assertion.
She felt a little uncomfortable and her tiredness was being exaggerated by the
alcohol. "Do you think it would be possible for me to sleep now?" she inquired.
"I've had quite a long day." "Sure, sure" came the reply. "If you want wash or
piss the bathroom is the room over there across the hall," Emre said, standing
up. "And if you need me just shout. I come running!" Emre let out another loud
laugh and Jessica could see it making him shake in the non-existent light.

He handed her blankets and pillows and then he shut the door and she heard his
footsteps disappear. Down the hall a door shut. She lounged back on the sofa,
suddenly overcome with the urge to just sleep. She micro-dozed for ten minutes
and woke with a start feeling a little strange as if something wasn't quite right.
"I need to get to bed," she thought to herself, and began to remove her light
blue blouse with frilly cuffs that clung to her smooth white upper arms. She
undid her frilly white bra and her perfect breasts were released. She cupped
them and wiped the sweat from beneath them. A brief wave of sexual
excitement rushed over her giving her an innocent thrill. It was enough to perk
up her full nipples. All was quiet in the house. She felt a longing and so she sat
there cupping and squeezing her breasts, enjoying the innocent pleasure it gave
her. She remembered that she had packed a dildo and she mused over whether
she could stave off the tiredness long enough to take the pleasure from it. She
decided she could and quickly found it. She removed her shorts and pulled her
white lace knickers to one side. And then she began to tease her pussy.

The tip of the dildo brushed against her clitoris and tantalized it until she felt
wetness oozing from her. She pushed it inside her and trembled at the pleasure
of being filled. A gasp of pleasure, surely not enough to be heard in the rest of
the house, escaped. A long, drawn out "Ahhhhh" followed and the dildo
disappeared deep inside her. She began to plunge it enthusiastically with her
right hand, her left hand cupping her left breast, squeezing and teasing it. Her
pussy creamed up nicely and made the dildo slick and wet, a testament to her
growing excitement. She was enjoying the fun of these stolen moments in the
dark, Turkish night. Then she heard a sound somewhere in the room, fast and
rhythmic. It sounded like a man masturbating. She stopped dildoing herself and
listened. "Don't stop," said Emre from a dark corner of the room.

"What the fuck? When did you come back in here?" gasped Jessica, her hands
trying to maintain her privacy. "When you were dozing," replied an unrepentant
Emre. "I wanted to look at you. You have very lovely tits and a hot, sexy pussy.
I want to fuck you," he continued. He approached her and his thick, stubby
Turkish cock was erect before him. "I give you choice," he said. "Suck my cock
now or you must leave." "Leave? Where can I go now?" she shot back at him.
"Nowhere," said Emre, convinced he had made his point. He stood in front of
Jessica and his pointing cock was an invitation to do as he said. "Let me suck
your beautiful tits," he said, leaning forward. He pushed Jessica back onto the
couch and his unshaven face was pushed between her luscious breasts. He
sucked them feverishly, paying especial attention to the big, hard nipples. "You
are hot slut! Yes! Yes!" he said and then he pushed her down on her back and
gave her tits a few hefty slaps. "I want you now!"

He hoisted his Turkish bulk on top of her, his stubby Turkish cock finding its way
between her moist and sensitive flaps. His back arched instinctively and he
started fucking her enthusiastically. She moaned, half in protest and half in
pleasure, as his dick penetrated her sacred hole. She was tired and the raki that
Emre had been very careful to top up in the glass was now taking effect. She
didn't bother to struggle and, instead, let the fat Turkish pervert take his
enjoyment of her. He was pounding her as much as he could and he called her a
white slut and spat full in her face. Then, removing his now wet dick from her
warm hole, he stood up in front of the sofa and grabbed her legs by the ankles.
Pulling her ass towards the edge of the sofa, he put her ankles on his shoulders
and his dick probed between her peachy ass cheeks. She looked at him with a
mixture of surprise and fear. No, surely he wasn't going for the asshole? But he
was. He spat on her again, his spittle flecking her big tits with moisture and his
dick eased into her behind, helped along by the cum she had leaked down
between her creamy white thighs.

Having ploughed her rear for a few minutes Emre wanted to cum. He eased his
cock out and told Jessica to kneel before him. "You really earning my couch now,
bitch. You want to stay the night now you swallow me!" She flopped forward and
knelt before him and the stubby Turkish cock, now slick with all kinds of
lubrication, was thrust towards her mouth. As she began to suck gently he
suddenly grabbed her head with both hands and fucked her mouth forcefully. "I
want cum!" he said. Jessica instinctively grabbed the back of Emre's legs,
steadying herself as she took the face fucking. Suddenly her head was jerked
back and Emre's right hand slapped her full on the left side of her face. "Suck it,
bitch!" he said. His cock was thrust back in and she sucked as enthusiastically as
she could. "Yes! Yes! Keep going. I cum! I cum!" And Jessica's mouth was
flooded with Turkish delight. She coughed and choked. Some spilled out down
her chin. Emre took his cock and wiped it all over her face. "I go clean up now,
filthy slut. See you in morning!"

SEVENTEEN

Let's engage in a thought experiment. I want you to imagine that instead of


being a physical person in a physical world you actually do not exist like that at
all. You are, in varying ways we will get to shortly, a simulation of a person. This
means that nothing you do and no one you interact with in your daily life is
physical. It is, if I can put it like this, all just a game and your experience of life
is just data that you experience a certain way. And its not just a game in your
head. You yourself are part of the game. This blog is going to ask what follows
from that and come to the conclusion, after taking the scenic route, that,
actually, not much follows from that. At this point it would probably be a good
idea to mention that the journey is still worthwhile, nevertheless! So let's begin.

The idea that we we cannot prove that anything, including ourselves, actually
exists as we think it does is as old as our race's ability to think. Indeed, I would
argue that such questions arise from being able to think at all, part of our
species' existential angst. In more recent times this type of question has been
asked in ways more fitting to our times, ways more technological, in an era
when the computing power necessary to simulate a life seems to be over the
next horizon. Indeed, I am shortly going to argue that simulating the lives of
people is something that we have been doing increasingly since the rise of the
Internet in the early 1990s. Let's take a walk along my "continuum of
simulation".
We start, at one end, with social media. Here people can create accounts and
interact with friends but also complete strangers. Many people create these
accounts without using their real names or giving out too many personal details.
They are, it is often said, anonymous. In fact what they are doing is playing
characters. Both here on Google and on Twitter I have accounts but do not use
my real name. There I play a version of myself. But it's not the person you
would meet in the flesh. The online version of me is both more confident and
more harsh and this is likely because the scenario is not "real life" - where there
are real life consequences for speech and action - but a mitigated form of the
same. Sometimes real life impinges upon these characters using social media
accounts, as when you insult someone you shouldn't and they take you to court.
But, within certain parameters, everyone is basically happy to let you create who
you want to be online and they play along.

Now we move along the continuum. There are other websites, porn sites
perhaps or messaging sites, where some people take this creation of a character
a bit further. They actually pretend to be people they are not. This is a real world
form of role play and the thrill, in my case at least, is in convincing the person
on the other end that you are who you say you are. (For the purposes of this
blog the ethics of this is irrelevant.) This means that for the duration of the
contact you are actually pretending to be someone you are not. Perhaps this is
not even someone of the same gender as you. You can, I am sure, start to work
out some of the possibilities for yourself. This is a step up from the social media
persona that was sort of a version of you. We have moved to you playing at
being someone else but whilst still being you.

And we move along the continuum again. Now we are playing role playing
games (the computer kind), be it World of Warcraft, The Sims or Second Life, a
website where people can go expressly to create themselves anew and interact
with other people who are doing the same thing. The point at this stage of the
continuum is that you are not you at all anymore in the fantasy worlds created.
And we are slightly further along the continuum because, although everyone
knows this is pretend, everyone acts and reacts in accordance with the rules of
the virtual setting. One step down my continuum those pretending to be others
could be found out at any time and then the reality dissolves. Here that isn't
going to happen. Everyone accepts the situation they are in.

And along we move again. The next stage is that as is shown in the 1998 film,
The Truman Show. This film, starring Jim Carrey, was about a guy whose whole
life was being filmed and shown on TV. He thought he was living in the "real
world" but, actually, he was living inside a bubble and being put on display for
entertainment purposes. In the narrative of the film he starts to experience
strange things and wonders what is going on. Reality finally hits him when he
gets on a boat and literally bumps into the edges of the reality that has been
created for him and where he has lived his whole life. The point at this stage is
that he thought what was real was one thing but it wasn't. It was something
else.

On we go to the next stage which is the world created in the film The Matrix.
This film is very well known. The scenario here is that the whole human race is
enslaved to machines who use their bio-energy as a fuel source. In order to keep
them alive they are in essence fed a false life by direct neural connection. To
those inside The Matrix everything seems completely real and they are
completely shielded from what lies outside this experience. Only the fact that
others have "woken up" and are able to disconnect others from this program
stops every human being alive from being part of the great machine network. So
good is this illusion, if illusion it be, that Cypher, one of the characters who has
been freed from The Matrix, would rather be put back inside the virtual reality
than face what is outside of it. This raises an interesting question in that life
outside The Matrix is bleak and puts you into immediate conflict with the
machines. Inside The Matrix you will live, to all intents and purposes, a normal
life and your death will come when your usefulness has been served. But from
your subjective perspective everything will be fine.

We have two more stages left as we head to the far side of my continuum. The
next is one step up from The Matrix for, so far, we have been real physical
people put into differing circumstances. But now we leave our mortal physicality
behind. Imagine that you are no longer a physical being and that consciousness
does not need carbon based life forms to exist (if, indeed, it does anyway).
Imagine that consciousness, mind, can be a computer simulation, essentially a
program, that runs on a supercomputer, the superest computer you can
imagine. For the purposes of this stage of my continuum you also need to
imagine that this computer simulates our whole universe and that NONE of it
physically exists except as mathematical processes inside this computer. So you,
your world, your friends, your experience, your thoughts and everything else are
just someone else's simulation. There are no "laws of nature" for there is no
nature to find. There is no "waking up" because you don't exist physically. You,
your world and everything is governed by lines of code and you are, perhaps,
part of the simulation of some more advanced version of ourselves or of some
being we cannot yet imagine.

And so we reach the far side. The final stage in my continuum does away even
with the computer and the program. Now I want you to imagine that all there is
is just a great consciousness, a mind. That mind is reality and we, our world and
our universe are the thoughts of this great mind. Again, in this scenario we are
not physical things. Nothing we do or experience is physical either. We exist only
as thoughts in this unimaginably great mind. There is nothing physical in
existence either inside or outside of this mind. This is the opposite thesis to most
of the prevailing thought in human science which regards all phenomena as
physical. The scientifically-minded philosopher, Daniel Dennett, for example,
thinks that consciousness (which seems incorporeal) does not exist at all but is
merely an illusion. Here I am completely turning this around and saying it's the
physical that doesn't exist and the consciousness, a thing we all experience,
which does. For all we know this mind imagines numerous other universes and
people and things too. But, for our purposes here, it is enough to know that we
are just thoughts in this mind. Perhaps this mind likes to think things to learn
about itself and we are the means it uses to do so? Who knows?

So that is my continuum. We go from being characters on social media to being


the thoughts in some great mind. We go from being us in our physical universe
with its scientists looking for the hardwired laws that make it work, to being
thoughts in an incorporeal existence. Now one problem we get as we come
nearer to the end of my continuum is that people think they would instinctively
know if the world and the life they experienced was not real. And they thus
dismiss it without really filling out why. I imagine this is because they don't
really know why. But let's ask why. Perhaps they think of The Truman Show
where there are hidden cameras to be found or The Matrix where there are
glitches that point to something else?

The thing is, these are just films and those things are just plot points. Much
more pertinent to the point here is the millions of people in The Matrix who
never wake up and who Morpheus doesn't care about finding because he doesn't
think they are The One. They have their reality and are presumably more than
happy with it. They don't know of anything else outside it. The reality they have
wasn't designed to let them know there was more. How do we know that our
reality isn't a similar thing? How could we find out? How could you yourself prove
that there was nothing more to find? Is it impossible that we are someone's or
something's "Life On Earth 2.0" program running on their future computer or
even that we are a character being played by someone else? Do The Sims know
that they aren't real? Or do The Sims only know and do as they are required to
do by the program that brings them into existence?

It does not seem too outlandish to imagine a future computer simulation that
could completely fool simulated human beings into thinking that they were
independent life forms in a genuine universe. After all, it is easy to show that
actual human beings are easy to fool. Even at the early stages of my continuum
you can very easily fool people that things are not as they seem. There are
several people right now, for example, that I'm sure are completely convinced
that the person they talk to online is a 25 year old busty German girl called
Sabine. But this isn't correct. They are talking to me who is neither busty nor
German nor called Sabine. So if people can be so easily convinced of things that
are so obviously not true then how much easier might it be to convince them
from birth that everything they experience is real and a certain way when the
circumstances are quite different? If you had lived 40 years in just one world
with one form of life I expect that everyone would be certainly convinced of its
reality. Such would be very normal indeed. It would be expected to be regarded
as sane in that world. You are regarded as sane right now because you think the
world we share now is real. But is it? Surely if it were a simulation thinking this
was real would be exactly what we were programmed and expected to think? We
get no further forward in discerning its reality simply by being completely sure
that it is. In fact, that's just a function of our being in it. Here something that the
20th century's greatest philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, said strikes home:

The difficulty is to realise the groundlessness of our believing

For if you can concede that a simulation might be possible then, logically, you
have to concede that it might be possible now and that you are (in) a simulation.
After all, you must admit you do not know all of life's circumstances. Everyone
concedes that our knowledge is both fallible and limited. So it is a logical
possibility that we are ourselves living in a simulation and this thought cannot be
escaped. Indeed, there are genuine philosophers and scientists who study this
issue as part of their daily professional lives. And what of the concept of the
great mind that thinks everything that "is"? Well, we cannot logically discount
that possibility either. Descartes said that he thought and therefore he was. But
maybe he was the thought of something greater than he could imagine. And so
was his thought too!

So there is no way to escape the possibility of these things. They could be true.
We just don't know. And so it behooves us to ask what, if anything, follows from
this. It seems to me that many things follow from this but none of them are
really of any great consequence and, as a philosophical pragmatist, I have been
taught that truths that don't make that much difference to anything aren't really
worth much time or effort. But, nevertheless, let's think it through a little more.

If we are a simulation of a person, if all our world is simulation, then so what?


Pain still hurts if its the physical consequences of a physical cause or the result
of a line of code telling us to feel something when certain things happen.
Injustice is still injustice in the context of the system in which it takes place.
Life, death, disease, happiness, everything we experience, still has the same
functions and meanings in terms of ourselves and our social and cultural
networks. Of course, you may say that there is something beyond that we don't
know and this is true. But what, if anything, could we do about it? In both the
computer simulation and the pure consciousness scenario there is practically
nothing to be gained by becoming aware that you are a simulation - save that
the great mind or whoever might be running the simulation finds something
worthwhile in that fact. But there is nothing to suggest this changes the context
or circumstances of your life in any way at all. And, crucially, you can never
become physical because you weren't physical to begin with. So what do I say to
this? I say, don't worry about it. Even if it's true, it's of little consequence.
Whether you are a physical being in a physical universe or the thought of a mind
you are in both cases not in control of anything really and, in each case, only in
the terms of the system you are a part of. Whatever your universe is, you are at
it's mercy.
PS There is a postscript to my thought on this subject. As I was thinking about it
I took, for a moment, the position of the being running the computer simulation
or of the great mind. I asked myself what their relationship was to their
simulation and to those of us in it, convinced of our reality. I came to thinking of
it in terms of what is called "The Problem of Evil". This is a
philosophical/theological question related to the existence of god. Briefly, it goes
like this: if there is a god who made and runs everything that is then why is it
that he allows terrible suffering and death? Why are children abused by
pedophiles and others tortured or raped? Why do people die of painful diseases
and starvation? Why do others suffer terribly with mental illness for decades
without relief? In short, if there is a god why does he allow bad things to
happen?

And then the answer hit me. Its because god is like you or I playing Grand Theft
Auto. If we drive down the street and blow away some street prostitutes with
machine guns we feel no sorrow or moral consequence for that. It's just a game.
It's not real. So why wouldn't god or the computer simulation player or the great
mind feel the same way about us? And who could blame them if they did?

TEN

We are privileged this week to have an interview with author Jessica Lynd about
her new novel, A Theory of Everything. Jessica, as you may know, previously
ghost wrote the novel, Diogenes. We asked her about her new book and what its
about.

Interviewer: So, Jessica, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed about your
new book, A Theory of Everything. What is it about?

Jessica: Well, thank you for asking me but thats really not a question you
should ever ask a writer because I think the answer to that question will change
a thousand times in their heads as they write and then, when they let the book
go, it still remains this mass of possibilities. At least, thats certainly true with
me. So when you ask me what the book is about all these answers immediately
flood my mind in a quite overwhelming way. If you want a simple answer, the
one that will come out of my mouth now and then be different in ten minutes
time, its that its really exactly about what the title says its about. Its a theory
of everything.

Interviewer: Well thats interesting Jessica but how can that be? The book is, at
best, fragmentary, some would say incoherent. There isnt really any story and
Im sure some would say its not really a novel at all. So where is the theory of
everything in the book?

Jessica: Well thats really pretty easy to answer.. Jeff?


Jeff: Yes, its Jeff.

Jessica: The form of the book is itself a comment on the idea of a theory of
everything. Now, as a writer, its not for me to join the dots for you. It could be.
Those writers exist who will spoonfeed you a tale that ticks all the boxes,
something complete in itself with all loose ends dealt with and tied off.
Something safe and harmless. But I dont do that. I dont tell you which way is
up or which way is down. I dont offer to point you in the direction of right or
left. And that, in my way, is a comment on the idea of a theory of everything.
But theres more than this. The content is not randomly made. The subject
matter also bears on the questions and ideas raised by the title. If you ask me
where a theory of everything fits into this book the answer is: everywhere. You
have to use whats said to attenuate yourself to a discussion of the subject
indicated by my title.

Jeff: But can you be more specific Jessica? How is the content related to the
subject matter?

Jessica: Well, Jeff, let me say again: its not my job to join the dots for readers. I
believe it ruins the reading experience and I believe it will make dummies of the
readers themselves. Readers are constitutive of the writing process in my view. I
dont think any two readers read the same book. And I certainly dont believe
that I can sit here as a goddess over the readers telling them what it all means
and why. But let me say this. A lot of this book is about sex and sex is perhaps
the number one drive in human beings, the desire to create little versions of
themselves. I find that very suggestive that at that very basic level we are just
here to make more of us for as long as we can. Creation is the purpose. Or a
purpose. Couldnt that be a theory of everything, the ghost in the machine, the
originless desire to create?

Jeff: Yes, I guess it could. So is that why you included the Jessica character? I
notice that she and you have the same name. Is she you?

Jessica: Jeff, there you go again wanting to spoil things for my readers! Im not
going to sit here and say who characters are or arent. I imagine pretty much
everyone has a name that someone else has, in some cases many people will
share your name. The Jessica in my book could be me or it could be another
Jessica. Readers are smart and they can decide for themselves what to think.
Now as to why the Jessica character is there well I think that really she is the
central character of the book. Readers should pour over her very thoroughly to
get the most out of the experience of reading whats on the page.

Jeff: Jessica, theres a lot about consciousness in the book and a fair amount of
speculations. Have you done any research for this? Do you feel responsible for
providing accurate discussions of the subjects you discuss in your work?
Jessica: Well Jeff let me say that I dont write science papers. For one thing, Im
not qualified and, for another, I dont want to do however many years study I
need to do to become qualified to speak as a credentialed expert. I write fiction.
I tell tales. I give people opportunities to imagine, dream or think. At least, if I
get it right I do. Now I have done a fair amount of both reading and thinking in
my time. Ive certainly interacted with conversations that are referenced in the
book. So maybe its like when you discuss things with friends. Some are more
clued up than others but, whether clued up or not, everyone comes to their own
conclusions anyway. Now they may be more or less informed. And, by the way,
Id always advise people to be on the side of being more informed. But even if
not, people will always take a stance towards things. My book is a fictional piece
of work in which fictional people share the thoughts in their heads and the things
that animate them. Its no more than that. But that may be enough to start
people thinking.

Jeff: In writing this book Jessica are you wanting people to come to some
conclusion?

Jessica: This question is in many ways a trap, I think. My book is fiction, a story
that isnt a story in this case. I make no apology for my unconventional way of
writing it by the way. There is a point to that and if youre perceptive maybe you
will figure it out. I want people to think and one way to get people to think is to
give them puzzles to play with. This is a puzzle but one in which you might not
even know what the pieces are, how you put them together or how you will
know when you are finished. There, Ive probably said too much already.

Jeff: Coming back to the Jessica character for a moment Jessica. Are those
sections of the book fiction too or did you actually do research online on porn
sites as that Jessica?

Jessica: I see you maybe want a little scandal for your piece Jeff? Author uses
porn site is a little saucy you think? Well I can tell you, because I know, that
many, many people use porn sites, including people for whom it would not look
good if anyone else knew, including people with jobs that do not go well with
porn site user written next to them. Yes, I use porn sites Jeff. And I get off on
them! So Jessica is well placed to speak as she does in the book which, as I keep
saying, is a work of fiction.

Jeff: One last question Jessica: why do you think people need a theory of
everything?

Jessica: Well if you mean the book they absolutely dont. Its just a book. It kept
me busy for some weeks and I tried to make it a worthwhile thing to do and
hopefully to read. But its dispensable like most things. But if you mean a theory
of everything in the wider sense then I think its something much more
important. Human beings seem to have this need to set themselves in context
with everything else around them, to know their place, and they derive comfort
from this. Its why scientists, philosophers and religious believers exist in the first
place. So this book, I think, is addressing a basic human need in a way I see as
fitting to the task. People will work on their theories of everything without it but
it is useful, I think, in working on that task too.

Jeff: Thanks for coming in Jessica. It was a pleasure to have you.

Jessica: But you havent had me yet, Jeff. Maybe we can discuss that over
coffee?

Jeff: *inaudible*

TWENTY NINE

Are you conscious? Do you have a consciousness? You instinctively want to


answer "Yes" and maybe you think its rather dumb of me to even ask the
question, so common-sensical does the answer "Yes" seem to you. But a number
of scientists and philosophers, extremely materialist ones, would say that you
aren't. And neither are they. They think your sense of consciousness is a very
powerful illusion and that it is a function of your brain to generate this illusion.
Of course, they think this partly, maybe even mostly, because they have a
dogmatic view of reality as a whole. They think that everything is explainable in
physical terms, in terms of physics and chemistry. So you can't really have a
consciousness because that does not admit of a physical explanation. Therefore,
they say, your sense of consciousness must be something the brain is doing.
These people do not so much explain consciousness as explain it away.

It was with some enthusiasm that in a post-Christmas lull of activity I dived into
texts and online video about varying views on human consciousness. Forty eight
hours later that enthusiasm had been severely tempered if not completely
extinguished. I had been following my thoughts where they led me, from this
text to that, from one video to similar suggested ones. New thoughts and
thinkers came up on my radar. I learnt that consciousness is very much a
shibboleth for many, a stumbling block. Very soon I was into debates and
forums and that is when things started to get too much. My head started to
bulge and ache. Too much information, too much arguing, too much
partisanship. I reflected on this. Why is so much modern debate cheap,
adversarial and sarcastic with an undertone of nastiness on the side? Why are
people so self-invested in their intellectual choices? Why is every thought laid
down as a personal Waterloo?
I'm mixing my discussions here in this blog. On the one hand, I'm wanting to
research and discuss varying human views on consciousness but, on the other, I
find myself discouraged by how my own species, human beings, seem to behave
and go about that. In any debate these days, most carried out in the febrile
melting pot / echo chamber / outrage arena that is the Internet, it will take very
few steps indeed to go from discussing a subject to insulting the person raising
the subject of the discussion to insulting many of the other participants in it as
well. The next stage is getting your army of followers to descend from Valhalla
and unleash hell on those holding views you cannot believe yourself. Battle lines
are quickly drawn and thereafter all anyone does is defend the position they are
entrenched in. More heat than light results and anyone who was there to try and
learn from others and their points of view is quickly and thoroughly made
cynical. Debate today, I conclude, is often conducted in the gutter and the aim
of it is to score points, get hits on your opponent and employ as much ridicule as
possible. Its UFC over points of view and beliefs. Am I naive for wanting to share
and learn and thinking this might even be possible? Am I naive to want merely a
lucid detachment, a humble enquiry?

I came across the work of a scientist called Rupert Sheldrake. He started out
very mainstream and was educated in orthodoxy at the heart of all things
thought right and good about science. As a biologist, he got a PhD from
Cambridge, UK, had fellowships at the Royal Society and at Harvard and even
made discoveries which were lauded in all the right journals, including Nature.
But then he published a book in which he discussed "morphic fields" and spoke
about "resonance" and "formative causation". As far as I can tell, Sheldrake was
started down this path by asking himself why plants take the form they have.
We might think this is to do with genes and DNA (in other words, a materialist
answer) but this turns out not to be the case and this information supplies only a
fraction of what is needed. (Sheldrake describes the Human Genome Project as a
bit of a failure because the secrets people hoped to unlock by it have not come
to pass.) We don't know how plants know to grow and look a certain way or why
they look the same as the others like them.

Sheldrake proposed what I understand as some kind of memory field. Basically,


plants know how to grow because they know how other plants like them grew in
the past. This holds true for animals too. For example, teach an animal to do
something somewhere in the world and then other animals like it will learn the
same thing much faster next time because they now somehow have the
knowledge the other animal like them gained. The blurb for Sheldrake's book
says

"the past forms and behaviors of organisms..... influence organisms in the


present through direct connections across time and space".

Yes, I know it sounds a bit incredible but then if I'd told you the Earth went
around the sun at some point in time you would have thought that silly too.
(Also please note I'm not saying that this theory convinces me. To be honest, I
haven't read the literature on it thoroughly enough to come to any conclusion at
this point. I can say I have described it with far too little explanation here and
maybe not too well so go read Sheldrake's books for a fuller and more adequate
description of it. His experimental results that I read about, however, did make
me think and sit up and take some notice.)

The book Sheldrake published, A New Science of Life, was denounced as heresy
(yes, literally) against a materialist view of the world, the standard scientific
view of the world that is put forward today and, thereafter, Sheldrake was
viewed by the defenders of the mainstream and of this view of the world with a
snigger and a sneer. The editor of Nature asked in an open review of the book if
it should not, in fact, be burned. This is unfortunate because Sheldrake appears
himself to be quite a reserved, quietly spoken and profoundly scientific man. Its
important to note here that this is the case whether you happen to think there is
something in his scientific hypotheses or not. To my mind, Sheldrake is merely a
very curious and scientific man who happens to want to investigate things other
people don't. This is something to be praised, is it not? If you follow where
evidence leads you should not stop if you start saying things that might threaten
your career, your standing or your status within a professional field. Evidence
leads where it must. But for many it doesn't. Some things are ruled kooky, off
limits and things you don't talk about in polite society by those more concerned
with careers than ideas.

Sheldrake thereafter started to follow his nose regarding his ideas and developed
theories about consciousness (which is why he comes into my blog today) and
things such as telepathy, things which a materialist would look upon as magic
and impossible. He devised and carried out a number of methodologically
scientific trials to test for things such as telepathy. For example, he ran trials in
dogs to see if they knew when people might be coming home and on the sense
people have of being stared at. He also ran trials to do with people thinking of
someone who then, seemingly by coincidence, phones them. He was involved
with trials on rats, teaching them tricks and then observing if other rats
elsewhere could learn the same tricks faster as a result. In all these areas
Sheldrake was trying to establish, on the basis of the scientific method, if there
was more to things like this than blind luck or random chance. He determined
that there was and laid out his results in the standard scientific fashion. He
debated the results with skeptics (even challenging them to replicate his
experiments) who seemed to disagree more with his conclusions and his implicit
criticisms of their materialist boundaries than his methods and even though they
themselves had no possible other solution to the issues he was raising and the
results he presented. There was no substantial refutation of his experiments,
their methodology or results. More so there was simply a refusal to accept or
discuss them as there is to this day.

Today Sheldrake has moved on to a meta-discussion about science itself, a thing


he sees as being held in the grip of a destructive materialism. The issue is that,
for those of a materialist persuasion, non-materialist answers to questions are
declared impossible from the off. Sheldrake finds this self-defeating and not very
scientific in itself. His latest book, known as Science Set Free in the USA and as
The Science Delusion in the UK, is an attempt to name 10 current "dogmas" of
the scientific worldview (which Sheldrake would say has largely coalesced with
the materialist position) which are holding it back. He diagnoses that science
itself has largely become a creed to be defended rather than that spirit of
disinterested curiosity that maybe it should be. There are many prominent
defenders of this scientific faith who are, moreover, extremely militant atheists
(people like Richard Dawkins, P Z Myers and Daniel Dennett, to name but three)
who actively look to police science and the public debate about it to the
detriment, so Sheldrake would submit, of scientific endeavour as a whole. For
sake of completeness I'll list Sheldrake's 10 "dogmas" of materialistic science
below which he describes as "the 10 core beliefs that most scientists take for
granted." (I have put some text in bold to highlight the main points.)

1. Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex


mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people
are machines, lumbering robots, in Richard Dawkins' vivid phrase, with brains
that are like genetically programmed computers.
2. All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of
view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material
activities of brains.

3. The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the
exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the universe
suddenly appeared).

4. The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the
beginning, and they will stay the same forever.

5. Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.

6. All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA,


and in other material structures.

7. Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When
you look at a tree, the image of the tree you are seeing is not out there, where
it seems to be, but inside your brain.

8. Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at
death.

9. Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.

10. Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.

We can see here that Sheldrake's concern is to emphasize how much the
materialistic creed is one which rules out certain areas of study or explanation as
a matter of dogmatic concern. He himself wishes to refute them all. So
materialism is essentially a faith that dare not speak its name. As I have said on
my blog before, those like Richard Dawkins who hold this view are not the
opposite of a religious believer: they are a religious believer and their religion is
materialism. For example, to take the final of Sheldrake's points, materialists, so
Sheldrake submits, would rule out any kind of healing or medicine that was not
on the basis of the body being thought of mechanistically. So drugs are fine
(since they treat the body as a big chemistry set that needs all the chemicals in
balance) but holistic, alternative or other therapies are regarded as New Age and
hokey folk magic.

Sheldrake would also argue that the so-called "placebo effect" (where someone
gets an inert pill thinking its actual medicine but gets better anyway) or the
power of prayer or simply willing yourself to get better are also problematic for
those of a mechanistic, materialist persuasion because such a point of view rules
such things off limits as possibilities and, by definition, can have no explanation
for them. If people could think themselves or be thought better that would
present an insurmountable challenge to the materialist worldview which
demands physical causes for physical things. Sheldrake is saying "Why not
investigate this?" whilst others laugh and snigger at the very idea. Which seems
more scientific to you?

So what to think of all this? Immediately one must admit that to accept
Sheldrake's criticism of a science held in the grip of materialist dogma is not to
accept his own positive contributions or theories regarding alternatives or
additions to it. These are separate things and one is not committed to both by
accepting one. Interestingly, in many of the forums and blogs I read about
Sheldrake's criticisms of science the most common refutation was that "real
scientists don't really think the way Sheldrake says they do". Sheldrake was
accused of building a handy straw man it was easy to hack down. But I'm not so
sure this is true. I see plenty of evidence at hand that science and scientific
worldviews are held in the grip of a mechanistic materialism, one falling apart in
the modern physical world of processes, energy and waves. I also take
Sheldrake's point that all too many prominent scientists today are virulent
atheists against anything that could be regarded as spiritual, mysterious or
unexplainable from within a mechanistic materialist paradigm. Sheldrake
correctly asserts that this position is held as a dogma. How else to explain those
like Richard Dawkins who speaks of "wonder" on the one hand but "blind
watchmakers" on the other? The watch image gives Dawkins away: the universe
is like clockwork. Sheldrake is correct: there are those out to expunge beliefs in
immaterial things or explanations and to make them, in a way quite Orwellian,
unthinkable thoughts.

I am against this not because I believe in ghosts and ghouls, in gods and
monsters, but because it is to artificially close off areas of enquiry for no other
reason than that you personally don't believe in them. This seems a very dumb
and thoroughly unscientific thing to do for me. You may regard Sheldrake's own
theories as foolish and that is OK. It would be scientific to demonstrate that
though if science is your game. The trouble is the most regular response to
Sheldrake's own experiments is to ignore them. Some skeptics, he reports, have
replicated his experiments and largely replicated his results too. But they are shy
of doing this. In one debate Sheldrake reports that Richard Dawkins, another
biologist, flat refused to debate his evidence preferring to criticize Sheldrake's
refusal to take up the materialist position instead. Often this is done from a
supposed position of power as the utility of science is lauded and, indeed, this
often cannot be denied. But it is surely relevant that those who endlessly chirp
on and on about their passion for truth (as Dawkins does ad infinitum) should be
criticized for their dogmatic assertion that truth will only be found in one place
and not in others. Sheldrake is right to say that enquiry should go where it leads
in a spirit of disinterested curiosity. Dawkins and his like are notable only for
their remarkable lack of such curiosity where some things are concerned. This is
a dogma, a boundary of faith.

And this is the point where the partisanship of modern day debate kicks in. By
now you've made your choice and chosen a side I wouldn't be surprised to find
out. But is it really about taking sides? My blog here is presented as the rambling
thoughts of a woman going through life just trying to understand the things that
go on around her and sometimes impinge upon her own life and existence. That
is what it is. I hope to do this in a spirit of somewhat lucid detachment. I don't
need to defend my thoughts or my position because they are mine. I'm not
saying everyone or even anyone else has to believe them. Its simply about me
having a very naive honesty as much as I can. I'm well aware that my
experience is narrow and that I know very, very little about anything. That is
why the fact that you can read and communicate with others is a very good
thing because you can take what they share and add it to your own data for
analysis. But that doesn't happen as much as it should because confessional
boundaries come into play and defensive walls get built by those more interested
in defending what they think they've got than exploring together in a spirit of
mutual curiosity. This is a source of great frustration. We live in a very public
world where it is easy to belittle others and many can't resist the temptation for
an easy "win" as they see it, often based merely on a numbers game.

Often in my thinking I find something interesting to read and, underneath, there


is now the seemingly mandatory "comments" section. Often this is just hell.
People of dubious qualifications (although this doesn't matter and is really an ad
hominem approach) launch straight into personal attacks on those who think one
thing or another. It doesn't really matter what they believe. What's important is
that someone else doesn't believe it and that makes those who do stupid beyond
belief. I find the whole exercise stupid beyond belief and I wish there were more
places where debate could be to the point and not to the person (which is by far
the biggest problem in any kind of discussion, that the subject switches from
what is believed to who it is that believes it). Many times in comments sections
about Sheldrake's books or work there are just insults tossed casually
Sheldrake's way because he is that crazy guy who thinks dogs know
telepathically when their masters are coming home. In a world of public forums
you get a reputation and that reputation usurps the place that should have been
reserved for consideration of the arguments. People get lazy and where formerly
they needed to think now they just take "the word on the street" under
advisement. There is a nihilistic schadenfreude at play that loves to tear down
rather than build up.

There seems, not for the first time in one of my blogs, a lack of humility in
many, if not most, people who debate these things. Sheldrake diagnoses this
problem too when he says the problem is that some people these days think that
science has resolved all the issues and now all we need to do is fill out the
details. He gives examples from the ends of both the 19th and 20th centuries of
people who have written that science will from now on discover less and less
because we have already found out about most things. Its a matter of time not
possibility. If we go on long enough we will answer all our questions and
understand everything there is to understand. This belief strikes me as both
arrogant and egotistical (as well as philosophically naive that there would be one
answer to any question in the first place). Why, as Thomas Nagel writes in
another recent book criticizing the materialist dogma, Mind and Cosmos, should
any of the questions about the universe be within our power to answer? Doesn't
that seem just a little bit egotistical to you, that human beings automatically
must have the ability to understand? Why would all the answers of the universe
be, as it were, human-shaped in their resolution, much less human-shaped and
materialist? Is this a post-experimental conclusion or a pre-reflective condition?
For the materialistic dogmatists this can only be because they have willed it so,
forming a clockwork universe that can be measured and reproduced. But what
happens when, finally, they are forced to accept that the clockwork was merely
their illusion, a function of their indefatigable will to believe, another phase in
human history?

It was the American philosopher and psychologist William James who said "We
have the right to believe at our own risk any hypothesis that is live enough to
tempt our will" (italics mine). He said this in the context of explaining why he
thought people had a right, if not a duty, to hold religious beliefs which they
found themselves genuinely unable to escape the force of. He did it by
expounding a general theory of human belief across the board and did not make
any special exceptions for religious beliefs, something some would want to do
today in these more polemical times. Of course, believing something does not
make it a scientific belief nor one that attains the recommendation of that credit
but this is another matter involving the tenets of scientific peer review and
debate. Beliefs are things which, for most people most of the time, function as
true, even where they are contradictory from one person to the next. It is, when
you think about it, commonsensically true that this is the case and the world
keeps on turning nevertheless. Indeed, our world of sense and sensibility is the
one which allows this state of affairs. For some this will be irrationalism but is it
really? I sense I may need further blogs on this and I hope to provide them but,
for now, it is enough for me to say that one person's shibboleth is another's
possibility. Where our world allows us to hold such a belief others should not be
so dogmatic as to dismiss another's opportunity to explore it or so authoritarian
as to disallow it. This is not to take sides in the debate or nail one's colors to the
mast. There is a time and place for that. It is to say that for all genuine people
holding their beliefs is not a choice but a necessity.

All this puts me in mind of something Nietzsche pointed to when he said that
"Truth" was but the history of Man's "irrefutable errors". This thought puts in
question if we ever really know anything in an absolute sense, the sense that a
"law" of the universe would rightly have. I would argue that Nietzsche's insight
tends to suggest that we may not. But the good news is that we may not need
to in any case. We have happily got by on our habits of belief and our practical
observations of the universe until now and there is no suggestion from anywhere
that we will ever need anything else to do so. We don't need to make of the
universe a mechanism nor say that everything that is must, as a dogma, be
physical. Indeed, the vast majority of our species has got on with life just fine
without ever concerning themselves with such specialized technicalities. We can
be be sure that even the world's most dogmatic scientist would have to agree
that we do not know everything, nor even how much there is to know and how
much we know of it. But it doesn't matter. We get on fine anyway. I would
humbly suggest that the best way forward is to let people explore where their
beliefs take them in a spirit of disinterested curiosity and let us see where that
takes us.

TWELVE

Jessica came home to find her brother-in-law working in the garage. Alright
Dave? she offered as she stepped out of the late afternoon sunshine into the
shade. Alright Jess, Dave replied. Im just finishing off this engine for Stefan.
Im sick of it dragging on now and I just want it off my back. Stefan rings up
every bloody day about it. Jessica understood Daves frustration. Like her
husbands older brother, she too was sick of Stefan going on about fixing this
engine. Her brother-in-law was a busy man though and always seemed to have
several cars queued up for repairs at his workshop down the road. It was really
a wonder he was here now but clearly Stefans constant moaning had done the
trick. When youve finished hopefully we can all have some peace, Jessica said,
adding, Do you want a cuppa? Ta love, Dave shot back and Jessica went
inside to make the tea having noticed Daves muscular body, his overalls pulled
down off his shoulders and tied around his waist. Only a vest with the word M U
S C L E across the front covered his barrel chest.

Jessica pressed the button to start the kettle boiling and got a mug from the
cupboard. She threw in a teabag, got the milk from the fridge and placed it
ready by the cup. She was still thinking about Daves chest. She imagined
ripping the vest from his body and licking it, paying special attention to the
nipples which she licked and sucked. The fantasy continued as she thought of
Dave clutching her in his big arms, his hands running down her back to her arse.
Once there, he hitched up the skirt she was wearing and started to knead and
massage her fine buttocks as she covered his manly chest in passionate kisses.
As she realised the fantasy she was having in her kitchen whilst waiting for the
kettle to boil, she realised her hand had inadvertently slipped under her short
skirt and down the front of her panties. Her middle finger teased her clit
momentarily and she didnt want to stop. But the kettle boiled ending her play
time prematurely.
She quickly made the tea and took the cup back out to Dave in the garage. She
felt as steamy as the hot liquid in the cup she carried, a residual tingle from her
golden triangle wormed its way through her body giving her a sexual thrill. She
set it on a workbench in the garage and Dave muttered Ta seemingly not
sharing the thoughts Jessica was having. She couldnt deny she was
disappointed. Her mind was racing with various Pirelli calendar scenarios there in
the greasy garage, at least, before the Pirelli calendar had been infected with
feminism. She, for one, dreamed of being spread across a bonnet and plowed
filthily, her intimate areas suddenly displayed in wanton abandon for all to see.
She thought, deep inside, that perhaps being on display secretly animated her
and made the sex seem so much better. But she mostly kept such thoughts to
herself as it was best to do in her position. Teacher enjoys filthy public sex is
not something you want to share too much if you want to carry on in the role of
teacher. All these thoughts in her head, suddenly she heard a car pull up behind
her. A door slammed and she heard heels on the driveway. Turning, she saw her
friend and colleague, Miss Fox. How opportune!

Miss Fox was a teacher in the same school as Jessica. Whereas Jessica taught
English, Miss Fox taught Art. They had first met before term started over 4 years
ago now and had immediately clicked as friends. Their age proximity and similar
life situations as newly married had immediately given them common interests.
Miss Fox was a friendly woman as well and had done much to help Jessica settle
in a new area. Particularly, she had invited her to a party at which things had
changed between them. Jessica couldnt remember what had exactly happened.
A combination of lack of food that day, bright lights, loud music, copious
amounts of alcohol and feeling very horny had combined with Miss Foxs
intoxicating sexuality to lead to a sequence of events that, in retrospect, Jessica
still found it hard to imagine. All she really kept in her mind from that night was
the shape of Miss Foxs body, especially her fulsome breasts pressed up against
her, her wandering hands, sweet tasting mouth and the realisation that
somehow here she was and Miss Fox had fingers inside her, her obvious
pleasure spurting out all over her forearms. All this to a muffled soundtrack of
dance music. It was one of those stop/dont stop kind of moments.

Dave looked up from his dirty engine and his eyes widened at the approaching
Miss Fox who, in heels, was six feet of voluptuous sexuality which is not the
kind of thing you expect to say about a school art teacher. But it was a warm
sunny day and Miss Fox had an air about her that made it hard to choose
between knowingly flirty or naively sexual. Whatever the truth of it, the fact
was men and women noticed her. Perhaps you might say she was the archetypal
slutty AND demure. Hey Jess! she tossed out in front of her to Jessica. Hey!
came the reply. Dave was staring and Jessica stifled a giggle. This is Dave,
Stefans brother, Jessica said, trying to break the stare. Dave moved forward to
offer a greasy hand then thought better of it and just said Hi. Miss Fox said Hi
Dave back in a way it was hard to decipher. He is here fixing this engine for
Stefan, Jessica continued. He looks like he could get an engine revving,
retorted Miss Fox rather naughtily. They all laughed at the rather corny joke. Do
you want to come in? Jessica asked of her friend. Sure, said Miss Fox, Ive
got an hour to kill. See you later Dave, said Miss Fox, giving a little wave to
the distracted mechanic as they went inside.

You want to do him, dont you? quizzed Miss Fox once they were out of
earshot. Jessica burst out laughing. How did you know? she asked. I can tell,
she said. Its my sex radar. Your sex radar? Jessica shot back. Yes, my sex
radar, Miss Fox confirmed. Tell me Im wrong, she challenged. No, youre not
wrong, said Jessica. Im just not sure I like the idea of you knowing everyone I
want to diddle, she continued. Oh, thats easy, said Miss Fox, grinning. You
want to diddle everyone because you are a dirty little tease. Miss Fox laughed.
Tell me Im wrong, she challenged again. But Jessica couldnt because she
knew the hunger that she felt, the hunger Miss Fox had discovered and
encouraged. I would like a shower, Miss Fox announced. What, right now?
Jessica asked. Yes, why not? said Miss Fox with a questioning stare. But what
about Dave? asked Jessica. Dave is busy fiddling with his bits in the garage.
Hes occupied. No need to worry about Dave, Miss Fox reasoned. But what if
he comes in or needs something? asked Jessica, concerned about
consequences. Lucky us, Miss Fox deadpanned. Jessica half agreed but, in any
case, she didnt disagree enough to say no. They made their way upstairs, went
into the bathroom and closed the door.

How are things with Stefan? was the first thing Miss Fox said once the door
was closed. The same as last time we talked, Jessica confirmed. Sometimes
she felt sorry for him that the best thing about him was the things she did that
he didnt know about. She wondered if it was right that she was using him as a
pretend enemy she had to avoid getting caught out by. She knew it was a
dangerous game and that literally everything would be ruined if even the
slightest thing about her secret life he didnt know about came out. Just one tiny
slip, one unaccounted for possibility, would tip everything into the abyss. At
times like this she told herself she was a dutiful wife who fulfilled her wifely
duties to the best of her ability. Stefan seemed happy and content and she made
sure he was. She just needed more and she needed him not to know about it
since he wouldnt countenance or approve of any of it. And, yes, she knew she
enjoyed the fact he didnt know about any of her secret sexuality. She told him
she didnt like anal sex but willingly took it from strangers she met. Did this
make her a bad person? She told herself it just made her someone who could
play multiple roles well. No harm, no foul, right?

All this was swiftly broken up as Miss Fox pushed Jessica against the tiled
bathroom wall. She pressed her red lips against Jessicas and they embraced in a
deeply passionate kiss. Jessica moaned as Miss Foxs right hand found its way
under Jessicas skirt and began rubbing the cotton fabric that was all that was
between her and Jessicas warm sex. Jessica moaned some more as this kiss
fondling continued and that fabric between her legs first became damp, then
moist then finally wet. Miss Foxs hand went inside the panties and continued
rubbing. Her kiss seemed to communicate somehow that she wanted Jessica to
cum and Jessica had started to want it too. She could feel the strong desire
rising within her and she began pushing back against Miss Foxs fingers, rubbing
herself on her. Mmmm, yes, escaped from kissy lips. Please.. Miss Fox
stimulated Jessicas vagina in a way she knew would push her further, several
years of experience with this 28 year old married English teacher now being put
to sexy purposes. She slipped two fingers inside and simulated coitus. Fuck,
kiss kiss. Oh fuck yes. Jessicas pleasure oozed out of her in warm spurts.

Miss Fox undressed and Jessica always enjoyed it when she did. Miss Fox was a
tall woman. She wasnt a model and didnt have a photoshop perfect body but
she was real, voluptuously real like a painting. Her curves were natural and her
body had a reality which was intimately sexy. Her breasts were gorgeously full at
38DD and her bottom was like a natural peach. Again, this wasnt picture perfect
but more like when you find wild fruit out on a walk and it tastes so sweet. Miss
Fox was produce from natures bounty. An independent observer might have
thought Jessica the prettier of the two and her body more attractive. Jessicas
behind was picture perfect and symmetrical but she only had average breasts
which she wished were fuller like Miss Foxs. It was the one thing that bothered
her about how she looked, that she couldnt do photos of herself with an absurd
cleavage. But she wasnt a person who would artificially improve them. She
believed that you worked with what you were given. But it was her one regret.

Jessica walked into the shower and turned on the tap. The water shot out and at
first was cold. Jessica let out a little squeal at the frosty surprise but soon the
water began to warm and a pleasing temperature was reached. Miss Fox, now
nude, got into the shower too. Her pussy was neatly trimmed and shaved with a
very neat triangle above her pussy in dark brown, soft pubic hair. She allowed
herself to walk into the stream of water and it hit her in the face and began to
run over her curvaceous breasts and down her body. In her hand she had some
shower gel and she squirted some onto her tits. You know what to do Jess, she
said with a familiarity that betrayed past adventures. Jessica smiled and took a
breast in each hand and slowly worked the gel into them until they were two
creamy orbs. Then she pushed her face in them and Miss Fox playfully rubbed
them together against Jessicas face. As the water randomly washed off the soap
Jessica began to suck them hungrily, concentrating on the nipples which were
dark and aroused. Jessicas hand went down between Miss Foxs legs, briefly
stayed on her pubes, which she stroked lovingly, and then found their way into
her cunt.

Miss Fox was wet and it wasnt just from showering. She was juicily, sexily,
voraciously wet. Jessica easily slipped three fingers inside and pumped her
powerfully. She felt Miss Fox jolt suddenly with the pleasure this released. Miss
Fox was a demanding lover, in many ways an Amazon of a woman who had big
appetites and took a lot of loving. But Jessica loved this. She loved someone for
whom she could give her all knowing that if the orgasm came it had truly been
earned. She slipped the fourth finger inside Miss Fox and manipulated her hand
inside her vagina. She sucked on the nipples again which was always a little trick
she knew to use from time to time on Miss Fox. She responded to it, the
stimulated nipples sending tendrils of pleasure throughout her body. Jessicas
hand was sliding in and out of Miss Foxs hot, sexy cunt. She held it there a
moment and used her free thumb to rub her clit quite hard. Yes! said Miss Fox
louder than Jessica might have liked. But she knew she was going to have her
now. She sucked on the nipples once more and fucked her hard with her hand.
Come on Foxy! she encouraged. Give me your cum. She did.

Miss Foxs immediate desire released, she smiled and grabbed hold of the
shower gel bottle once more. Jessica looked at her quizzically as if to say What?
What are you thinking? Miss Fox took the bottle and slowly pressed it between
Jessicas legs. Oh shit, no. Really? thought Jessica. Miss Fox just smiled which
became a cheekily vulgar laugh. Jessica felt the plastic bottom of the bottle
being massaged between her legs and immediately felt aroused but she wanted
more. She grabbed a shampoo bottle that was to hand and pressed it between
Miss Foxs legs. She smiled broadly at Miss Fox who returned the smile.
Touche, she said as Jessica tried to rub it against Miss Foxys clitoris. She
began to grind on the bottle and Jessica did the same as they mutually
masturbated each other. This continued for minutes of genuine pleasure as the
warm water ran over them until Jessica moved closer to Miss Fox and took her
free hand and grabbed Miss Foxs ass with it. They kissed a sloppy wet kiss and
then Jessicas fingers searched around Miss Foxs behind, looking for her
asshole. Still grinding on the shampoo bottle, Miss Fox felt Jessica fingers
teasing her rear entry. Do it, she whispered as Jessicas fingers entered her
behind. Jessica slipped a finger in and Miss Fox rubbed herself to orgasm once
more on the bottle. Then she returned the favour to Jessica.

Forty five minutes later they came downstairs again. They heard the downstairs
toilet flush as they reached the bottom. It must be Dave, thought Jessica and,
of course, it was. He came out of the smallest room in the house and Miss Fox
said I hope youve washed your hands! to which he replied Both before and
after, grinning and holding his hands up. Miss Fox giggled which meant she was
still aroused. What have you two been up to? asked Dave, suddenly asking
something a perhaps more tactful person wouldnt have. We were discussing
girly things. Never you mind! said Miss Fox. You look like youve had a shower.
Your hairs wet, said Dave, in a way that was dangerously too accurate. Jessica
and Miss Fox both laughed. And what if we have? said Jessica, playing the
psychological card of daring someone to believe something and so accept the
consequences of it. Got to get your fun where you can these days! she
continued, trying to now make the idea seem absurd. Aye, true enough, said
Dave in a way which suggested he perhaps wasnt getting as much as he wanted
himself. As he went back out to the garage, Jessica and Miss Fox followed him
where they said their goodbyes. Dave gave a look once more from under his
engine cover at the receding Miss Fox and, having got in her car, Jessica turned
back to the house where she once more saw her brother-in-law in overalls and a
muscle t-shirt. I wonder what his cock is like? she thought to herself.
FORTY NINE

Ex Machina is a film by British writer and director, Alex Garland. He previously


wrote films such as 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd which I liked very much.
In 2015 he has brought out the film "Ex Machina", a story about a coder called
Caleb at a Googlesque search company called "Bluebook" run by the very
"dude-bro" Nathan. Caleb wins a company competition to hang out at the
reclusive Nathan's estate which is located hundreds of miles from anywhere near
a glacier. When Caleb arrives he finds that the estate also houses a secretive
research laboratory and that Nathan has built an AI called Ava. It is to be
Caleb's job to decide if Ava could pass for human or not.

Now that is a basic outline of the setup up for the film. I don't intend to spoil the
film for those who haven't watched it but, it's fair to say, if you haven't seen Ex
Machina and want to then you probably shouldn't read on as my comments
about the film will include spoilers. It would be impossible to discuss the film
without giving plot points away. The film caught my attention for the simple
reason it's a subject I've been thinking about a lot this year and I have already
written numerous articles about robots, AI and surrounding issues before this
one. Ex Machina is a masterful film on the subject and a perfect example of how
film can address issues seriously, cogently and thoughtfully - and still be an
entertaining film. It is a film which balances thought and tension perfectly. But
enough of the bogus film criticism. Ex Machina is a film that stimulates thought
and so I want to address five areas that the film raises for me and make a few
comments and maybe pose a few questions.

1. Property

A question that the film raises most pointedly is that artificial intelligence, AI,
robots, are built by someone and they belong to someone. They are property. In
the case of this film this point is attenuated in the viewer's mind in that Nathan,
the genius builder and owner, creates "sexbots" for himself and feels free to
keep his creations locked up in glass compounds where he can question or
observe them via camera feeds. Even when they scream and beg him to let
them go (as they seem to) he does not. One robot is seen smashing itself to
pieces against a wall in its desperation to escape the prison it has been given.
The point is made most strongly: these robots belong to Nathan. They are his
property. He can use them as he wishes, even for his own gratification. As
Nathan himself says to Caleb, "Wouldn't you, if you could?"

The issue then becomes if this is cruel or immoral. Given that Nathan is
seemingly attempting to build something that can pass for human, the issue is
raised if this not might be regarded as deeply coercive or even as slavery. The
mental status of the robots Nathan uses for sex is never fully explained so it
could be that their level of awareness is not the same as that of his greatest
creation, Ava. (It is not known if Nathan has ever had sex with Ava but he
reveals during the narrative that she is capable of it.) For example, his
housemaid and concubine, Kyoko, never openly speaks and it is said by Nathan
that she cannot understand English. However, in a scene in which Nathan invites
Caleb to dance, Kyoko is apparently immediately animated by the sound of the
music Nathan switches on. She also has no trouble understanding his
instructions or knowing when Nathan needs sexual pleasure. A question arises,
however: does it matter at what level the putative awareness of these creations
would be to judge how cruel or immoral Nathan's behaviour might be? Or should
we regard these robots as machines, not human, property just like a toaster or a
CD player? How much does awareness and self-awareness raise the moral
stakes when judging issues of coercion? Would Nathan's claims of ownership of
property he created carry any persuasive force? (In the film Nathan never makes
any argument for why he should be allowed to act as he does. It seems that for
him the ability is enough.)

2. "Human" Nature

The film can be viewed as one long examination of human nature. All three main
characters, Nathan, Caleb and Ava, have their faults and flaws. All three
contribute positively and negatively to the narrative. Of course, with Ava things
are slightly different because it is a matter of debate if she is "human" at all -
even if there is an express intent on Nathan's part (and/or Ava's) to make her
that way. Here it is noteworthy that the basis of her intelligence and, one would
imagine, her human-like nature, is apparently crowd-sourced by Nathan through
his company, Bluebook, and all the searches that we humans have made, along
with information from the microphones and cameras of all the world's cell
phones. For my purposes, it is gratifying to note that Ex Machina does not
whitewash this subject with some hokey black/white or good/bad notions of
what human nature is. Neither does it take a dogmatic position on the
nature/nurture aspect of this. Caleb says he is a good person in one discussion
with Ava but it is never filled out what is meant by this. More to the point, Ava
might be using this "goodness" against Caleb. And this itself then forces us to
ask what use goodness is if it can be used against you. In general, the film
raises moral questions whilst remaining itself morally ambiguous.

It is in the particular that Ex Machina reveals more levels of thought about this
though, playing on a dark, manipulative vision of human nature. All three
characters, in their own ways, manipulate others in the storyline and all three
have their circumstances changed completely at the end of the film as a result of
that. Nathan, it is revealed, besides tricking Caleb into coming to his estate, has
given Ava the express task of manipulating Caleb for her own ends. (We might
even go so far as to say here that her life is at stake. Her survival certainly
seems to be.) In this, she is asked to mimic her creator and shows herself to be
very up to the task. But Caleb is not the poor sap in all of this. Even this
self-described "good person" manages to manipulate his host - with deadly
consequences. The message, for me, is that intelligence and consciousness and
mind are not benign things. They have consequences. They are things that are
set to purposes. "Human" nature is not one thing (either good or bad). And it's
not just about knowledge or intelligence either. It's about feelings and
intentions. In the character of Ava, when what is actually going on is fully
revealed, we are perhaps shown that at the heart of "human" nature is the
desire for survival itself. We also learn that morality is not a given thing. It is
something molded to circumstances and individually actualized. In this sense we
might ask why we should assume that Ava, someone trying to pass for a human,
should end up with a "human" nature at all. (Or if she can ever have one.)

3. Is Ava a Person?

And that thought leads us directly to this one. Right off the bat here I will say
that, in my view, Ava is not a person and she never could be a person. Of
course, Nathan wants Caleb to say that she passes as a person, that he has
created an AI so smart that you wouldn't for a second doubt you are talking to a
human being. But you aren't talking to a human being. And you never will be.
Ava is a robot and she has an alien intelligence (alien as in not human). She can
be tasked to act, think and understand like a human. She can be fed information
from and data on humans all day long. But she will never feel like a human
being. Because she isn't one. And it might be said that this lack of feeling makes
a huge difference.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is overtly referenced in this film. Nathan's


company, Bluebook, is a reference to the philosopher's notebook which became
the basis of his posthumously published and acknowledged masterpiece,
Philosophical Investigations. There is something that Wittgenstein once said. He
said "If a lion could speak, we could not understand him". I find this very
relevant to the point at hand here. Ava is not a lion. But she is an intelligent
robot, intelligent enough to tell from visual information alone if someone is lying
or not. Ava can also talk and very well at that. Her social and communicative
skills are excellent. We might say that she understands something of us. But
what do we know about what is going on inside Ava's head? Ava is not a human
being. Do we have grounds to think that she thinks like a human being or that
she thinks of herself as a human being? Why might we imagine that she
actualizes herself as a human being would or does?

On the latter point I want to argue that she may not. She introduces herself to
Caleb, in their first meeting as a "machine" (her word). At the end of the film,
having showed no reluctance to commit murder, she leaves Caleb locked inside
the facility, seemingly to die. There seems no emotion on view here, merely the
pursuit of a self-motivated goal. Of course, as humans, we judge all things from
our perspective. But, keeping Wittgenstein's words in mind, we need to ask not
only if we can understand Ava but if we ever could. (It is significant for me that
Wittgenstein said not that we "wouldn't" understand the lion but that we
"couldn't" - a much stronger statement.) For me, a case can be made that Ava
sees herself as "other" in comparison to the two humans she has so far met in
her life. Her ransacking the other robots for a more "human" appearance before
she takes her leave of her former home/prison may be some evidence of that.
She knows what she is not.

4. Consciousness

Issues of mind or consciousness are raised throughout this film in a number of


scenarios. There are the interview sessions between Ava and Caleb and the
chats between Caleb and Nathan as a couple of examples. The questions raised
here are not always the ones you expect and this is good. For example, Caleb
and Nathan have a discussion about Ava being gendered and having been given
sexuality and Nathan asks Caleb if these things are not necessary for a
consciousness. (Nathan asks Caleb for an example of a non-gendered,
unsexualised consciousness and that's a very good point.) The question is also
posed as to whether consciousness needs interaction or not. In chatting about a
so-called "chess computer scenario" the point is raised that consciousness might
be as much a matter of how it feels to be something as about the ability to
mimic certain actions or have certain knowledge. Indeed, can something that
cannot feel truly be conscious? The chess computer could play you at chess all
day and probably beat you. But does it know what it is like to be a chess
computer or to win at chess? In short, the feeling is what moves the computer
beyond mere simulation into actuality. (You may be asking if Ava ever shows
feeling and I would say that it's not always obviously so. But when she escapes
she has but one thing to say to Nathan: "Will you let me go?" And then the cat is
out of the bag. She does.)

Nathan is also used to make some further salient points about consciousness.
Early in the film he has already gone past the famous "Turing Test" (in which
mathematician Alan Turing posed the test of a human being able to tell the
difference between an AI and a human based only on their responses to
questions and without having seen either of his respondents) when he states
that "The real test is to show you she's a robot and then see if you still feel she
has consciousness." In a chat with Caleb concerning a Jackson Pollock painting,
Nathan uses the example of the painter's technique (Pollock was a "drip painter"
who didn't consciously guide his brush. It just went where it went without any
antecedent guiding idea) to point out that mind or consciousness do not always
or even usually work on the basis of conscious, deliberate action. In short, we do
not always or usually have perfectly perspicuous reasoning for our actions. As
Nathan says, "The challenge is not to act automatically (for that is normal). It's
to find an action that is not automatic." And as he forces Caleb to accept, if
Pollock had been forced to wait with his brush until he knew exactly why he was
making a mark on the canvas then "he never would have made a single mark".
In short, consciousness, mind, is more than having certain knowledge or acting
in certain ways. It is about feeling and about feeling like something and about
feeling generating reasons. And that leads nicely into my final point.

5. Identity

A major factor in consciousness, for me, is identity and this aspect is also
addressed in the film. (To ask a Nathan-like question: can you think of a mind
that does not have an identity?) Most pointedly this is when Ava raises the
question of what will happen to her if she fails the test. (Ava knows that she is
being assessed.) Ava asks Caleb if anyone is testing him for some kind of
authenticity and why, then, someone is testing her. It becomes clear that
Nathan's methodology, as we might expect with a computerized object, is to
constantly update and, it transpires, this involves some formatting which wipes
the old identity, and the memories which are crucial to identity, from the
hardware. It is clearly shown that this is not a desired outcome for Ava and in
the scene depicting her escape and her line "Will you let me go?" we can see,
combined with the fleeting footage we have been given of previous AI's and their
experiences, which also included pleas for release, that the AI's Nathan has
developed have an identity of their own which is something precious to them,
something they want to retain.

The interesting thing here is that identity is not formed and matured alone but is
shaped by surroundings and socially, by interactions with others. We would do
well to ask what kind of identity Ava has formed in her relationship with her
egotistical and possessive maker, her new friend to be manipulated, Caleb, and
her brief and enigmatic meeting with her fellow AI, Kyoko. The film, I think, is
not giving too much away there and maybe we need a sequel to have this
question answered. For now maybe all we know is that she regards herself as a
self and wants freedom. We do get hints, though, that this identity forming
process is not so different from our own. Caleb argues with Nathan that no one
made him straight in the discussion about Ava's sexuality. But Nathan retorts
that he didn't choose it either. The point is that identity formation is not simply
about our choices. So much of us is "given" or comes with our environment. The
"Who am I?" question is also asked when it is explicitly revealed that Kyoko is a
robot as she peels off "skin" in front of Caleb. This then forces Caleb to head
back to his room and cut himself to establish that he is really human.
(Amusingly, on first watching I had surmised that Caleb was himself not a
human being only to be disappointed in my intuition by this scene. I didn't mind
though because the film itself felt the need to address the issue.) Identity, and
identity as something, is thus revealed to be both an interest of the film and of
conscious beings more generally. Consciousness goes hand in hand with identity
it seems according to the characters of Ex Machina.
FOURTEEN

There is a park near to where I live and sometimes, especially on hot, sunny
days, I like to get into my bikini and go and lie in it. Sometimes I do this with
friends but often its alone as well. My husband doesn't like this because he's a
jealous man who doesn't want to share me. I, on the other hand, like to flirt and
enjoy the attentions of other men. So when I go to the park by myself I'll often
make up some excuse or white lie that gets me a couple of hours alone time in
my bikini.

At the beginning of August I got such an occasion. It was a scorching hot day
and I woke up longing for the sun's rays to warm my skin even as men would
walk past where I was lying and their eyes would caress my body, undoing my
bra top and slipping down my bikini bottoms mentally with their eyes. I told my
husband that I was going to visit a friend who was sick but he didn't really seem
that interested. I packed my bikini and a few other things and got in the car. I
drove the mile to the park and changed into my bikini in the car in between
other park users arriving and leaving. Then I got my blanket and my bag, got
out of the car and headed for my favourite spot which was one of the few
secluded spots the park afforded.

The sun felt gorgeously warm on my skin as I spread my blanket and lay down. I
took a couple of pics of myself and then closed my eyes, enjoying the warmth.
Around me without being totally on top of me were lots of other park users;
people walking their dogs, mothers pushing young children in strollers, groups
playing games. There were also other people sunbathing although not many
women in bikinis. Across the field from me maybe 200 meters away were a
couple of guys who were sitting under a tree. When I looked up from time to
time they always seemed to be looking at me. I would turn over occasionally,
from front to back or back to front, and there they were looking at me again. I
turned once more but they seemed to have gone as the tree they were under
before had now been vacated. I turned onto my front and forgot about them,
enjoying the warm sun on my bum.

"D'you need some sun cream rubbing in?" The question woke me from my micro
sleep. "What?" I said, seeming a bit incoherent. I turned over and it was the
two guys who had been under the tree. "D'you need some sun cream rubbing
in?" one of them asked again. They smiled to each other. "I'm a married woman
you know," I said, smiling back. "So what?" one of them replied. I chuckled to
myself. "Do you go around offering this service to all the people in the park?" I
asked. "No, just the good looking ones" was the reply. "Thank you very much," I
said, genuinely grateful for their complement. "Well do you then?" they
continued. "I suppose so," I said. The sun was getting hotter and a bit more sun
cream wouldn't have done me any harm. And now I had two willing helpers.
Jon and Dan were 18 year olds and judging by their shorts they were clearly
aroused. "Do you both want to help with the sun cream?" I asked, knowing full
well they both did. "Yes," they said. I told them the sun cream was in my bag
and rolled onto my front so they could do my back first. First of all I felt the cold
of the cream on my back then adolescent hands began to work it into my skin. I
heard whispers behind me but couldn't quite make out what was being said. I
turned to look over my shoulder. "Make sure you don't miss anywhere," I said.
"We won't," they replied. Suddenly I felt one of them fiddling with my bra strap.
"Hey, what are you," I began to ask. "Well you don't want anywhere
unprotected, do you?" Jon shot back, daring me to question his choice. "No, I
guess not," I said, moving my arms to my sides to grasp the cups of my bra top
to my breasts. Jon rubbed the cream into my back and shoulders and it was
enjoyable. Meanwhile Dan had started rubbing my legs starting from my feet
and working up to the backs of my thighs. He got to my bikini bottoms and
pushed his hands under them a little, as much as he dared. I said nothing but
just enjoyed the strange hands feeling up my bum.

"Time for the front now!" Dan said. My bikini top was still undone. "Aren't you
going to do it up again?" I asked Jon. "I'm sure you can do it. If you want," he
said. I turned over on my back, my loose bikini top covering my breasts. "Off
you go then!" I said, and they started to put sunscreen on my belly and legs. I
admit it felt good and I was enjoying their attentions. My eyes went to their
shorts again which clearly housed large erections. Dan was rubbing cream into
my thighs and his hand briefly went between my legs. He shot me a glance and I
met his gaze, neither confirming nor denying the idea we both knew was in his
mind. Jon had done my belly and then I said "What about my breasts? Do you
think they need it too?" Jon and Dan looked at each other, unsure about the
next move. "Yes," they said. "Give me the cream then," I said, teasing them, "Or
do you want to do it?" "We want to do it" was their unanimous reply. I asked
Dan to pass me the towel from my bag.

"Come over here and lie down beside me," I said, "One on each side." They did
as requested and, removing my bikini top, I placed the towel over my exposed
breasts. "Ready when you are," I said. "What about the sun cream?" asked Jon.
"I don't think we need that," I said, grinning. Two young hands snaked under
the towel and began groping my bare breasts and this progressed to full
squeezes and pinching my easily aroused nipples. I felt a wave of excitement
rush through me. "Suck them," I said, and they pressed closer to me, eager to
comply with my request. The towel was not doing a lot to hide what was going
on but I assumed everyone else in the park, most who were at least 100 meters
away from us anyway, would not notice as they were going about their daily
business. Meanwhile Jon and Dan feasted on my erect nipples and aroused
breasts, leaving a trail of saliva on them which betrayed their desire.
Getting bolder, and much more aroused, I reached down with my hands into
their shorts. Neither resisted as my eager hands searched for their stiff young
cocks. When I found them I gripped them and began to rub them as best I
could. They continued sucking on my pert tits but hands started going between
my legs and I could feel my mound being caressed. It was only a matter of time
before those hungry hands would be wanting more. "Are you a married slut?"
Jon asked. "Make me one!" I shot back. I was getting quite caught up in my
moment now and was just about to tell them to put their hands inside my bikini
bottoms when one of them did. I wanted their filthy young hands touching my
married cunt. I moaned as I felt fingers caressing my pussy lips and when one of
the hands came out, glistening and wet, it was clear that my juices were flowing.
"Finger me," I said. And they did.

We moved slightly to make it a bit less obvious what was going on using the
cover of some nearby trees. One of the lads lay in front of us with the towel
whilst, behind this makeshift barrier, I sucked the cock of the other one. Dan got
really frisky as I sucked his cock and pulled my bikini bottoms off. He threw
them a few meters away, laughing, and I was butt naked in the park. I carried
on sucking his eager young dick and he violently fingered my juicy hole. Jon
moved closer as he did this and began licking my asshole. This made me crazy
but I did not have too long to enjoy it before Dan's load flooded my mouth. I
gulped it down as best I could with only a little dripping down onto my tits. I
eagerly sucked the cum off of his cock before he withdrew. Next Jon wanted his
turn and so I knelt in front of him and he stuck his cock into my married mouth.
Dan, being mischievous again, went behind me and started fingering my asshole
then he lay down and put his face underneath me, licking my pussy and ass. By
this time I'd lost all sense of my surroundings and ground down my pussy on his
face like a dirty, married whore. My cum made it look like he'd been pissed on.
Jon grabbed my hair getting ready to shoot his load and as he came he held his
thick young dick in the back of my throat as he emptied his balls into me. I was
cleaning his cock off too when my phone rang.

"Don't answer it," said Dan, but I ignored him and went in my bag anyway. It
was my husband. "Shhh!" I motioned to the guys. "Hi," I said to my husband,
noncommittally. " I need to go out," he said, "So I won't be back until tonight."
"Ok," I replied. "I'll see you later." The line went dead and there I was, a naked
married woman in the public park with a wet pussy and cum round her mouth
and some on her tits. "Do you want to come back to my place?" I asked Jon and
Dan.

But that's another story.

SIXTY ONE

The Zero Theorem is a film directed by Terry Gilliam (of Brazil and 12 Monkeys
fame) that, depending where you live, was released late in 2013 or in 2014. It is
set in a surreal version of now and in it we follow the journey of Qohen Leth
(played by Christoph Waltz), a reclusive computer genius who "crunches
entities" for a generic super corporation, Mancom. The story is a fable, an
allegory, and in watching it we are meant to take the issues it raises as
existential ones.

Qohen Leth has a problem. Some years ago he took a phone call and that call
was going to tell him what the meaning of existence was. But he got so excited
at the prospect that he dropped the phone. When he picked it up his caller was
gone. Ever since he has been waiting for a call back. But the call back never
comes. So day by day he faces an existential struggle because he desperately
does want to know what the meaning of life is. His life, you see, is dominated by
a vision of a giant black hole into which all things inevitably go. His work life is
shown to be much like everyone else's in this parody of our world. People are
"tools" and work is a meaningless task serving only to enrich those far above
their pay grade. Workers are replaceable cogs who must be pushed as hard as
possible to achieve maximum productivity. Their value is in their productivity.

This world is run by corporations and the one that stands in for them all in the
film is Mancom. Mancom have a special task for Qohen. They want him to work
on an equation proving that "Everything adds up to nothing." That is, they want
him to prove that existence is meaningless. Why do they want him to do this?
Because, as the head of Mancom says in the film, in a meaningless universe of
chaos there would be money to be made selling order. The point seems to be
that commercial enterprises can make money from meaninglessness by
providing any number of distractions or things to fill the hole at the centre of
Being. Distractions are what stands in for meaning in such a world.

The film paints the picture of a world full of personalized advertising that is
thrust at you from all angles. Everywhere there are screens that are either
pushing something into your face or serving as conduits to an online escape
world where you can create a new you and escape the existential questions of
existence that the real world thrusts upon you. There is a scene in which people
are at a party but, instead of interacting with each other, they all dance around
looking into tablets whilst wearing headphones. Further to this, there are
cameras all around. If it's not the ones we are using to broadcast ourselves into
a cyber world, it's the ones our bosses are using to watch us at work or the ones
in the street that can recognise us and beam personalized advertisements
straight at us as we walk. This is the surveillance state for company profit that
records and archives our existence, the Hell is other people world that Sartre
envisaged in his play, No Exit. It is the life in the gaze of others or as broadcast
to others. And youre not the same person when someone is watching, are you?

And what of the people in this place? Most of them seem to be infantilized,
lacking of any genuine ambition and placated by the "bread and circuses". Their
lives are a mixture of apathy and misdirection. They seek meaning in screens
with virtual friends or in virtual worlds and, presumably, a lot of them take
advantage of the constant advertisements they are bombarded with. When
Qohen has something of a crisis early on in the film "Management" send along
Bainsley to his house (Qohen doesn't like going out or being touched and so he
negotiates to work from home). Bainsley, unbeknownst to Qohen, is a sex
worker in the employ of Mancom. She is sent along as stress relief (so that this
malfunctioning "tool" can be got back to productive work) and inveigles him into
a virtual reality sex site which, in this case, has been tailored to Qohen's specific
needs. (This is to say it is enticing but not overtly sexual to give the game away.
In essence, Bainsley becomes his sexy friend.) Other characters drop hints that
Bainsley is just another tool but Qohen doesn't want to accept it. She is
becoming something that might actually have meaning for him. But then, one
day, Qohen goes back to the site and, in error, the truth of who Bainsley is is
revealed and all his trust in this potential meaning evaporates. (One wonders
how many people are online at pornography sites filling the meaning-shaped
hole by trying to find or foster such fake attachments?)

So what are we to make of this in our Google-ified, Facebooked, Game of


Thrones watching, Angry Birds playing, online pornography soaked, world of
Tweeters, Instagrammers and Snapchatters? I find it notable that Terry Gilliam
says his film is about OUR world and not a future dystopia. And I agree with
him. The trouble is I can sense a lot of people are probably shrugging and/or
sighing now. This kind of point is often made and often apathetically agreed with
with a casual nod of the head. But not many people ever really seem to care.
Why should we really care if hundreds of millions of us have willingly handed
over the keys to our lives to a few super corporations who provide certain
services to us - but only on the basis we give them our identities and start to fill
up their servers with not just the details of our lives but the content of them as
well? The technologization of our lives and the provision of a connectedness that
interferes with face to face connectedness seems to be something no one really
cares about. Life through a screen, or a succession of screens, is now a reality
for an increasing number of people. In the UK there is a TV show called
"Gogglebox" (which I've never watched) but no one ever seems to realise that
they might be the ones who are spending their lives goggling.

So let's try and take off the rose-tinted specs and see things as they are once all
the screens go black and all that's reflected at us are our real world faces and
our real world lives. I wonder, what does life offer you? Thinking realistically,
what ambitions do you have? (I don't mean some dumb bucket list here.) When
you look at life without any products or games or TV shows or movies or online
role playing games or social media to fill it with, when you throw away your
iPhone and your iWatch, your Google Glass, and all your online identities, where
is the meaning in your life to be found? When you look at life as it extends from
your school days, through your working life to inevitable old age (if you are
"lucky", of course), what meaning does that hold for you? Would you agree that
this timeline is essentially banal, an existence which, by itself, is quite
mechanical? Have you ever asked yourself what the point of this all is? Have you
ever tried to fit the point of your life into a larger narrative? Do you look at life
and see a lot of people who don't know what they are doing, or what for,
allowing themselves to be taken through life on a conveyor belt, entertained as
they pass through by Simon Cowell and Ant and Dec? Do you sometimes think
that life is just a succession of disparate experiences with little or no lasting
significance?

The Zero Theorem is essentially a film about the meaning of life. Gilliam, of
course, made another film that was actually called The Meaning of Life with the
rest of his Monty Python colleagues. But now you might be wondering why the
question is even raised. Perhaps, for you, life has no meaning and that's not
very controversial. You shrug off all my questions as not really very important.
But I would reply to that person by asking them if meaning has no meaning. For,
put simply, there isn't a person alive that doesn't want something to mean
something. Human beings just do need meaning in their lives. So Qohen Leth,
for me, functions as an "Everyman" in this story. For we all want to know what
things mean. And, without giving away the ending of the film, I think that, in the
end, we all have to face up to the twin questions of meaning itself and of things
meaning nothing. We all have to address the question that values devalue
themselves, that meanings are just things that we give and that nothing, as
Qohen hoped for, was given from above, set in stone, a god before which we
could bow and feel safe that order was secured.

For order is not secured. Some people might try to sell it to you. (In truth, many
companies are trying to right now.) Others might try to convince you that
they've got the meaning and order you need in your life and you can have it too.
But they haven't and you can't. That black hole that Qohen Leth keeps seeing is
out there and everything goes into it. Our lives are lived in the void. The
question then becomes can you find meaning and purpose in the here and now,
in the experience of living your life, or will you just pass through empty and
confused, or perhaps hoping that someone else can come along and provide you
with meaning without you having to do any work? Who takes responsibility for
finding that meaning? Is it someone else, as Qohen Leth with his phone call
hoped, or is it you?

The question of meaning is, in the end, one that never goes away for any of us.
Not whilst you're alive anyway.

SIXTEEN

I drove my car into the service area at the side of the motorway and found a
spot near to the section marked off for trucks. I was looking for Jake, a youngish
trucker I'd hooked up with online a couple of weeks before. Jake was a
dirty-minded driver who had a nice, long, hard cock and a liking for married
women with a peachy arse. When he found out during our conversations, during
which he showed me this cock, that I fit the bill, he constantly pestered me in
our daily chats about meeting him. As soon as I parked up Jake saw me. It
seemed he had been eagerly on the lookout for my arrival. He motioned me over
to where his and some other trucks were parked. I ignored the rules about "NO
CARS" in the trucks area and parked up next to his vehicle.

Jake strode towards me and opened my car door. "Hello sexy lady," he said with
a huge smile on his face. This was quickly followed up with a "Fuck me!" as he
took in the details of my outfit. My black dress hitched up as I got out of the car,
exposing my stocking tops with a hint of my panties. "Red panties," he said. I
flashed him a smile. Pleasantries were exchanged as we walked to the door of
his cab at the front of his truck. I thought he would open the door and climb in
but instead he turned and kissed me. Pressing me against the side of his vehicle,
he began to run his hands over my body with increasing urgency. He told me to
lift up my dress, turn around and drop my panties a little. As I did he took out
his cock, which was rock hard, and, holding my panties open, he jerked it off
into them there in the open. Thick shots of semen hit my back and dribbled
down to my ass whilst other, sticky ropes of jizz arced directly over my panties
and onto my peachy cheeks. "That's just for starters," he said, wiping his dick on
my ass crack before opening the door to his cab. He climbed up. I followed,
excitedly, the cum covering my behind. I'd never been in a big truck before.

Jake was quite a hairy man and a thick fur covered his torso and upper thighs.
He got into the back of his cab and removed his trousers. He eager cock stood
straight up, exposed and attention-seeking. "Come and sit on me," said Jake. I
clambered over to him, pulling my panties to one side, and sat down on him. His
solid shaft forced a path into my sticky jizz tunnel, stretching me apart. I
moaned as I rode him and slowly my cum started to make his cock wet as my
thirsty cunt became saturated. He was bucking underneath me, pushing into me
repeatedly as I sat down on him over and over again. My lips and my clit
swelled, engorged with blood and enjoying the rogering I was getting. "I want
your cum dripping down over my balls," he said. And he drove himself into me
even deeper.

As he was about to cum he pulled out and shot his second load over my knickers
which were now covered front and back with cum. He told me to take them off
and, as I did so, he took them from me. He checked them for his sperm then
told me to lie on my back in his cab. When I was in position he gave me the red
cum stained undies back and told me to lick them clean. As I began to lick them
he lifted up my legs, exposing my ass, and he stuck his now very wet dick into
me once more. He gripped my legs tightly to him and gave me some
hammer-like, solid thrusts using the leverage he'd created to fuck me very
deeply. His balls were slapping my ass. He leaned forward at one point and,
grabbing the cum-soaked knickers, he rubbed them in my face, calling me a
filthy cum whore as he did so. He withdrew from my ass and probed the
entrance to my asshole. It was sticky with cum from earlier. Taking his time, he
slowly worked his way into my tightest hole until he was balls deep. I rubbed my
clit, the taste of his cum in my mouth.
He pulled out and turned me around to 69 him. I took his dick, now a mixture of
his cum and mine, and let it fill my mouth. Behind me his tongue began to lick
my holes, emptying them of what he had deposited there. His tongue probed
deep inside me, taking his own cum back, feasting on my insides. He licked
between my legs and on the upper insides of my thighs too and the sensation
was arousing, partly ticklish and partly erotic. Jake wasn't cultured. He licked me
like he was taking big slurps on his favourite lolly, his rough tongue covering all
the ground in my nethers that he could find. I found his roughness hugely
enjoyable. He began slapping my ass as he tongued my arsehole then he
stretched it wide apart and voraciously cleaned out the crack of my ass of any
traces of cum. Meanwhile, I lazily sucked on his still hard cock, sometimes
teasing the head and sometimes licking the shaft. Occasionally I'd go right down
on it until it hit my throat.

I had to go. My visit was timed to take advantage of my husband being out and I
needed to be back before him. But Jake wouldn't let me go yet. "I want to watch
you piss," he said. I guess he thought I might get dressed first but I clambered
to the door and climbed down without my panties on with him in close
attendance and squatted down by a wheel of his rig, hitching up my dress once
more. There were a couple of other truck drivers somewhere in the dusky light
talking and they looked across at me and my bare ass. Jake came close and the
piss began to flow in a powerful jet of warm liquid and steam. A river slowly
found its way across the broken surface of the truck stop until the flow stopped.
As I stood up his hand went between my legs from behind wiping the last drops
of piss from my lips. He tasted them. "Thanks babe," said Jake, and he reached
in the truck to hand me my panties. "Keep them," I said. Then I got in my car
and drove away.

SEVENTY ONE

Continuing with my series of blogs about life, consciousness and being, today I
want to write about issues raised in the 2015 science fiction film, Chappie.
Chappie is a film by South African writer and director, Neill Blomkamp, who also
made District 9 and Elysium earlier in his career. Chappie is a film about a
weapons company, Tetravaal, and specifically a young programmer there called
Deon who is trying to create robot AI. He has already created police robots with
a limited AI called scouts but he wants to go further than this and create one in
which the AI would be self aware. This self aware robot turns out to be the
"Chappie" of the title. Before I go further I should point out that, as with my
article on Ex Machina previously, if you don't want to know anything more about
this film you should go and watch it first. Discussing the film below will require
me to reveal plot points.

As a film Chappie lies somewhere between past robot films Robocop and Short
Circuit from the 80s. It is a little rough around the edges and the thought
animating the film is nothing like as polished or as philosophical as, say, Ex
Machina. If the subject is robot consciousness then this is the mainstream
version and Ex Machina is for the deep thinkers. Where Ex Machina has deep
conversations about chess computers and the origin of sexuality, Chappie has
some fight scenes and explosions. This is presented as a more middle of the
road attempt to cover some similar ground. But readers shouldn't let that
deceive them into thinking that there is not much covered here as there are still
a few things to chew on. Some of these issues are ones parallel to the more
cerebral Ex Machina. I'll go through them one at a time.

1. Property

It is stated from the outset that the robots in Chappie are the property of
Tetravaal. Deon, their creator, works for them but it is Tetravaal's money and
Tetravaal's insurance risk should any of the robots malfunction. This becomes a
plot point later in the film as Deon uses a damaged scout to try out his
completed AI program. This robot, regarded in the film as but a child after he is
switched on with his new AI for the first time, falls into the hands of gangsters
and is then schooled by them into criminal habits. From this point on two
disparate and opposing points of view are presented. First, we have the
company view represented by company CEO Michelle Bradley (played by
Sigourney Weaver) and another robotics expert, Vincent (played by Hugh
Jackman). Vincent, in particular, has spiritual issues with robotic AI and has,
instead, created a robot called "Moose" which is controlled mentally by a human
being using a special helmet. For the purposes of this point, though, it is notable
that both these company representatives regard robots as machines and as
property. They are tools to be used, pure and simple.

The opposing view is represented by Deon, the creator of the robot and the AI,
and by the gangsters, Ninja, Yolandi and Amerika. Here we find the view
represented that intelligent, self aware robots can be treated as, and regarded
as, beings in their own right. They are things that need to be reasoned with,
persuaded or shown how to do things. They are things which can learn or have a
sense of personhood. It may be suggested that the criminals manipulate and
cajole Chappie (rightly so) but they never seem to regard him as simply an
object which belongs to them now since they stole him.

An issue that follows from these opposing opinions is that of how AI and robots
come to be. They are expensive things requiring extensive resources. Can we
imagine a world in which mega-corporations create these beings at their
expense and then just decide to regard them as independent beings and respect
their freedom for nothing over the problems of insurance, red tape and
paperwork? Can we expect such companies to spend money and then not claim
ownership rights? What about if such companies grew, even farmed, human
beings?
2. Personhood and Rights

Chappie, early on in the film after he has been switched on for the first time
after Deon has been captured by the gangsters, is regarded as a child with
barely any knowledge of the world. He is regarded, from the first though, as a
being with personhood, a sense of individuality, by Deon and by the gangsters.
His maker Deon tells him to do good and not bad and not to let people take him
down a wrong path, something you would tell a being you thought could be
responsible for itself and around others. Chappie also comes to accept Ninja and
Yolandi as "Daddy" and "Mommy". On the other hand, company man Vincent
seems to regard AI beings as not humane or moral and, crucially, as not "human
beings" (whom he seems to see as more responsible). But with personhood, if
Chappie be granted that, also comes rights.

There is a scene where Chappie is left to fend for himself by Ninja in his "cruel to
be kind" style of parenting and is consequently attacked by a gang of youths and
then captured and accosted by Vincent in scenes meant to elicit some sympathy
for the character. By this point we are also meant to be thinking of Chappie as a
developing being with feelings and attitudes and opinions. (Chappie says as
Vincent attempts to cut off his arm with an angle grinder "Chappie has fears".)
So the question becomes is Chappie just a collection of software and circuitry in
a metal chassis, just a more complicated laptop? (Vincent says to Chappie "This
program makes you think you're real. But in here *tap tap* there's just a bunch
of wires.) Is it the case that, no matter how a complex AI like Chappie appears,
we should never really regard him as a person? Is Chappie a person or not and
what would it mean if he was? Do such beings, whatever their physical makeup
or the circumstances of their creation, have rights? Does every kind of being that
can think for itself and have opinions and intentions have rights?

3. Finitude and Physicality

Chappie becomes acquainted with the idea of finitude (death) throughout the
film when he learns that his battery is fused to his chassis and so can never be
replaced when it runs out after 5 days. This, we may say, is one consequence of
being a robot. Chappie's response is to find a technological way to live on and
this leads us into the "big ideas" of the film regarding the nature of
consciousness. (The program that Deon has created giving Chappie "life" is
consciousness.dat.) It may be questioned whether the film takes bodies
seriously though. On a number of occasions Chappie raises the question of body
issues. Chappie has his arm cut off with an angle grinder and experiences fear.
Due to his battery issue, he also needs to swap bodies completely. Human
characters also "become" robots. Does this film take corporeality seriously? Does
it address such issues appropriately? Aren't we also our bodies and aren't we,
thus, profoundly attached to them? Isn't making consciousness "essential" but
bodies not somewhat gnostic, emphasizing the incorporeal over the corporeal?
This attitude is mirrored, somewhat, in the real world by those like Ray Kurzweil
who want to do a similar thing with our biological circumstances. He hopes for a
future where his own identifiable consciousness could be "uploaded" to a robot
body. But isn't finitude, an end, a part of being alive? Shouldn't life have an end?
And to what extent is our consciousness based around our very specific physical
circumstances? For me this is one area where Chappie is not like a human being
but a different kind of life. His physical circumstances are completely different.
Brains, I think, are not simply a kind of biological circuit board.

4. Morality

Chappie is lied to and deceived in the film by Ninja and Amerika and he steals
cars and robs an armoured car. He injures other people in the carrying out of
these crimes which, although he knows them to be wrong, he does because he is
told it will get him a new body so he can live on. (Ninja teaches him that survival
is the greatest value in a scene involving two fighting dogs, one of which is still
alive and one of which is dead. "Which dog do you want to be Chappie?")
Nevertheless, throughout the film Chappie becomes increasingly frustrated with
human beings and their illogical or immoral behaviour. Now we, as human
beings, have moral codes and are taught right from wrong but, clearly, we have
the ability to override what we have learned as we have the ability to choose.
With AI's the situation is somewhat different as they could clearly be
programmed with instructions they can't break (e.g. Asimov's Three Laws)
although Chappie appears not to have been. The question becomes, though,
what is the morality of robot beings utilizing AI and how closely does it mirror
our own? Would it be immoral to create beings that can be immoral? How could
we control robot beings who can make immoral decisions and maybe develop
beyond our intellectual abilities? With new beings do you create new and
uncharted moralities too? It should be noted, again, that in this film Chappie
steals, injures people and destroys property. Is he learning just exactly what
human morality is all about? (A further, interesting, point is that I don't think we
see Chappie kill anybody on screen. We do see human beings kill others. And as
a less developed and not self aware scout he would have done so performing his
police duties.)

5. What is consciousness?

Consciousness in Chappie is, in the end, regarded as data that can potentially be
saved on a USB stick or a computer hard drive. Is this right? Can it be captured
or recorded or transferred? Can it be modeled as Chappie does with his own and
with Yolandi's and Deon's? Is consciousness just a case of capturing what is
there and hosting it somewhere else suitable? In addition, there is more than
one kind of AI in evidence in this film. The scouts themselves have AI but it
seems not to be at a fully conscious level. They are merely able to carry out
their police activities. Chappie, however, is capable of feeling, having intentions
and forming attitudes (amongst other things). Is this film then saying that
consciousness appears at some tipping point along a scale of AI? Is intelligence,
artificial or biological, consciousness? What is consciousness?

The film itself seems somewhat confused by this admittedly large question.
There is a scene in the film when Vincent, who has got wind of Chappie,
deactivates all the scouts in an attempt to derail Deon's project completely.
Deon takes Chappie to Tetravaal to try and fix him. There he tells Chappie that
"consciousness is not data" and that we don't know what it is so you can't move
it. In another scene, Chappie tells Yolandi that "consciousness is like energy" as
he sets about trying to modify one of the helmets Vincent has developed for
controlling his own robot, "Moose". Chappie also speaks of "getting his
consciousness out" as if it was "in" somewhere and says "That's me" the first
time he manages to capture his consciousness in data on a laptop and has it
displayed on the screen. All this is, I think, somewhat of a mess although, in the
context of a rollicking action film, you don't notice it so much as you would if the
plot were more cerebral. But the questions are left hanging. Just what is
consciousness? It's a point the film really does need to get right because the
entire plot depends upon it. In the end, I think they fudge the discussion and
just make consciousness something you can have on a USB stick for plot
purposes.

But it goes further than this. At the end of the film (big spoiler!) it takes another
leap when human consciousness, in the case of characters Deon and Yolandi
(the first of whom is dying, the second of whom is dead), have their
consciousness captured and transferred into robot bodies. That is, human beings
become consciousness within robot bodies. For Yolandi this would be something
different than for Deon in that Yolandi has died. Thus, it would seem that a
"snapshot" of her consciousness is to be the basis of the robot version of her.
But in the case of Deon an existing living consciousness is transferred from his
still living, biological body into a robot scout "on the fly". The philosophical
question this raises for me is this: is Being consciousness or mind? Is it really
that simple? My concerns regarding physicality from point three above reassert
themselves here.

I found Chappie to be an interesting and enjoyable film. I will keep repeating


that it does not set out to be at the same level of debate about robots and AI as
does something like Ex Machina though. It is primarily a mainstream science
fiction action film. But it does cover issues that touch on the rights of the
individual, morality, what being alive means and what makes something a living
being worthy of respect. As such, it deserves to be thought about and pondered
over. The most interesting thing for me is what happens next now that not only
Chappie is a robot but his maker Deon and his "mommy" Yolandi are too!
EIGHTEEN

Stefan Lynd settled down on the bed in his hotel room and switched on his tablet
computer. Once more he found himself with time to kill on a weekend away. He
thought of Jessica at home and wondered what she was doing. Well, he
wondered momentarily for he knew that she would be marking work, preparing
lessons and all the other things that overworked teachers in an under-resourced
education system had to do. He thought about calling her on Skype but felt
guilty about interrupting her even though it was a Sunday. She was so diligent
at her job and he didnt want to disturb her. Instead, he signed into Skype and
ran through his contacts list. There was one name - Foxy - that he didnt really
recognise. He had vague memories of adding the contact but couldnt remember
where from. The green light indicated she, if the display picture was accurate at
least, was online. He decided to say hello as he had nothing to lose. At worst it
was just another contact to delete.

Stefan 12:27 PM: Hi


Foxy 12:27 PM: Hi
Stefan 12:28 PM: 20 M Aus here
Foxy 12:28 PM: gday. Or gnight as the case may be
Stefan 12:28 PM: Yeah it's night time here lol
Foxy 12:28 PM: right
Stefan 12:28 PM: What do you wanna talk about?
Foxy 12:29 PM: dont know. you choose.
Foxy 12:31 PM: do you have a gf?
Stefan 12:31 PM: Nah never had one
Foxy 12:31 PM: why not?
Stefan 12:31 PM: I'm shy
Foxy 12:31 PM: what do u have to be shy about?
Stefan 12:32 PM: I'm not good looking and am not well equipped if you catch
my drift.
Foxy 12:33 PM: you need tweezers to pee. if I catch your drift.
Stefan 12:33 PM: Yeah something like that... Ever been with a below average
guy?
Foxy 12:33 PM: not really no
Stefan 12:34 PM: Oh. Do you think it would bother you?
Foxy 12:34 PM: yes I do
Stefan 12:34 PM: I knew it. Girls would laugh at me.
Foxy 12:35 PM: I wouldn't laugh. You didn't ask if I'd laugh.
Stefan 12:35 PM: Not saying you exactly. I mean that's why I'm shy with
most girls.
Foxy 12:35 PM: well I'm sure there will be girls who don't mind. I'm just not
one of them.
Stefan 12:36 PM: Fair enough. It's still hard for me to get a girlfriend though.
Foxy 12:37 PM: Well if you start off by saying you have a small dick it will be.
Stefan 12:37 PM: Lol of course not, but it hurts my overall confidence
because I'm scared to get that far with someone.
Foxy 12:38 PM: I think if you've got far enough to be showing your dick you
might just have to take the chance.
Stefan 12:39 PM: Probably. But still there's the not good looking part... I've
seen the face of genuine disgust in some girls I've talked too, I feel like that's
not a good sign.
Foxy 12:40 PM: If it was really disgust probably not. but that is just personal
taste. remember, even fat ugly people have sex. so you need to find the
person who finds you attractive.
Stefan 12:42 PM: I probably need to lower my standards. But I honestly
would rather not have sex than have sex with a fat ugly person and I'd
certainly rather not have my first time with someone like that.
Foxy 12:42 PM: whoever its with the first time is not the best time. so dont
build up your hopes.
Stefan 12:43 PM: I see. Sorry for this weird conversation lol.
Foxy 12:44 PM: its not weird. this is an anonymous chat site. anything could
happen.
Stefan 12:44 PM: True. Okay now you know some stuff about me, tell me
some stuff about you.
Foxy 12:45 PM: what stuff do you want to know?
Stefan 12:46 PM: Idk. Do you have big boobs?
Foxy 12:46 PM: yes I do
Stefan 12:46 PM: What colour hair?
Foxy 12:46 PM: brown
Stefan 12:47 PM: Are you fit?
Foxy 12:47 PM: aesthetically or physically?
Stefan 12:47 PM: I meant physically I forgot fit is used differently in the UK...
But both I guess.
Foxy 12:48 PM: Yes.
Stefan 12:48 PM: What brings you to an anonymous chat site?
Foxy 12:48 PM: A desire for anonymous chat.
Stefan 12:49 PM: Makes sense.
Stefan 12:49 PM: What's your name?
Foxy 12:49 PM: Jenny.
Stefan 12:50 PM: Nice name.
Foxy 12:50 PM: Thank you. Whats yours?
Stefan 12:50 PM: Matt.
Foxy 12:50 PM: Matt's not bad either.
Stefan 12:50 PM: Thanks.

Foxy 12:51 PM: So anymore questions Matt besides the size of my boobs and
my health?
Stefan 12:52 PM: Did you wanna try some dirty talk with me?
Foxy 12:53 PM: Are you any good at dirty talk?
Stefan 12:53 PM: Probably as good as this conversation has gone so far... so
you be the judge.
Foxy 12:54 PM: Well we are still talking after 10 or 15 minutes which must be
a record around here.
Stefan 12:54 PM: I've had a few longish conversations on here before...
Foxy 12:55 PM: lucky you. I never get very far.
Stefan 12:55 PM: Really? I thought if I were a girl it'd be way easier on here,
I get skipped by 80% of people.
Foxy 12:56 PM: well no because the first thing most guys say is "show me
your tits" and if you say no thats the end of the convo.
Stefan 12:56 PM: I've never tried that strategy, for pretty much that reason.
It usually takes more tact.
Foxy 12:57 PM: well if you want to really see a girl's tits it will probably take
a bit more skill than it being the first thing before you say hello.
Stefan 12:57 PM: Yeah I figured that much.
Foxy 12:58 PM: Any tits you get that way are probably just any old tits from
online. And if you wanted to see that there are about 10 billion pairs you
could have looked at without even asking.
Stefan 12:59 PM: You might think that, but there's something strangely
satisfying in getting a picture from a girl. Also I reverse image search any
pictures that girls send to make sure.
Foxy 12:59 PM: well aren't you a suspicious one lol
Stefan 1:00 PM: I'm just careful is all.
Foxy 1:00 PM: Of course, really clever fakers will have factored that in and
changed the pics they send so that they can't be found.
Stefan 1:01 PM: It's pretty hard to do though. Reverse image searching has
come a long way.
Foxy 1:01 PM: No, not really. Even a 10 degree tilt renders pics unfindable.
Stefan 1:02 PM: I see. Still I'm careful lol.
Foxy 1:02 PM: Yes, but you can't reverse engineer every possible change.
Stefan 1:03 PM: Of course not.
Foxy 1:04 PM: So take your search results with a pinch of salt.
Stefan 1:04 PM: It's still the best I've got. You seem to have given this some
thought >_>.
Foxy 1:05 PM: I've been receiving pics for over 15 years. You start to learn
how people trick you.
Stefan 1:06 PM: If you're talking about receiving pics from dudes, I'd be
surprised if even 10% of them were fake. The average horny man doesn't
think much.
Stefan 1:06 PM: Pretty sure at least 50% of girls I meet on here are fake,
from what I can tell.
Foxy 1:07 PM: And you'd be wrong. Probably more than half the guys who
send me pics send me fake cock pics. Usually a bigger one than theirs.
Foxy 1:07 PM: Not everyone can be 10 inches right?
Stefan 1:08 PM: I wish. That surprises me though, honestly sending a dick pic
doesn't really have much information in it, there's not that much harm in
sending one (to the appropriate person of course lol).
Foxy 1:08 PM: Its not about information. Its about making an impression.
Stefan 1:09 PM: Oh I'm more scared about information.
Stefan 1:09 PM: Maybe I should care more about impression.
Foxy 1:09 PM: Make a good impression and the information matters less.
Why do you think PR exists?
Stefan 1:10 PM: Again, does the average horny man think about this before
sending a dick pic?
Foxy 1:11 PM: They think they want to see my tits and ask themselves what
will impress me. A fake 10 inch cock is the wrong answer.
Stefan 1:11 PM: Fair enough. I suppose I don't even think close to how the
average man does then.
Foxy 1:12 PM: maybe not no. But then I guess you wouldn't send a fake
cock.
Stefan 1:12 PM: I've never sent any cocks.
Stefan 1:12 PM: I have thought about it though.
Foxy 1:12 PM: well there you go.
Stefan 1:12 PM: Normally I just finish jacking off then the thought goes
away.
Foxy 1:13 PM: yes I guess it would lol
Stefan 1:14 PM: So why do you think the ratio of men to women on this site
is so heavily male dominated To the point where even half of the "women"
are men faking?
Foxy 1:16 PM: Well thats an interesting question and I'm not sure I have an
answer. Perhaps men have less attention span and a quick hit satisfies them
more than women. Most chats here are very short.
Stefan 1:17 PM: It's a question that extends to almost all of the NSFW parts
of the internet. So I believe it's more than attention span.
Foxy 1:18 PM: Sex is about men impregnating women. So the men are the
proactive side of the deal. The answer is in your genes.
Stefan 1:18 PM: You're exactly right. Men have significantly more sex drive.
Foxy 1:19 PM: I wouldn't put it like that. I'd say their impetus to find partners
is better actualized. They have focus.
Stefan 1:20 PM: I'm pretty sure that's essentially the same thing.
Stefan 1:20 PM: But sure.
Foxy 1:21 PM: Well no. "Sex drive" is a bit undefined. I can assure you there
are lots of women who have a strong interest in sex.
Stefan 1:22 PM: Of course. For me though, I'm not particularly interested in
sex so much. Yet I feel these uncontrollable urges so frequently that it drives
me mad. I literally cannot walk down the street without undressing 10 girls in
my mind.
Foxy 1:23 PM: Well you were made at the genetic level to impregnate as
many of them as possible . So you're feeling what you're supposed to feel.
Stefan 1:23 PM: I understand that. It distracts me from real life though, I
wish that I didn't have to feel those things.
Foxy 1:24 PM: That is as "real life" as it gets. The veneer of personal interests
you spread over that is just artificial window dressing.
Stefan 1:24 PM: Except in our society it's not. If I get so distracted chasing
girls that I fail my degree, I'm financially fucked.
Foxy 1:25 PM: Take a look around you. From citizens to corporations to
nations, everyone lives on credit.
Stefan 1:27 PM: I really wish life was as simple as you describe, truly I do.
Maybe it is in the UK.
Stefan 1:27 PM: Life should just be all good times and plenty of girls to fuck.
Foxy 1:27 PM: I don't think the humans born on one patch of land are
different to those born on another.
Foxy 1:28 PM: And if life were all good times they wouldn't be good. They'd
be normal.
Stefan 1:28 PM: Damn you really think about things on a different level... You
have to be realistic about things.
Stefan 1:29 PM: Here's how life as an individual is. You go to school for
however many years, you do well in school otherwise you're fucked, you go
to university, otherwise you're fucked, you work 40 HOURS A WEEK at least
in a job you hate just to sustain a life you're not even sure you want.
Foxy 1:30 PM: Why not start out from the position that you're fucked? Then
anything else is a win.
Stefan 1:31 PM: I've been there, done that. Fucked up my first degree real
bad, lost the best friends I ever had. So far, it doesn't get better, I'm starting
a new degree getting new friends, you never stopping thinking about what
could have been or what you are missing out on.
Foxy 1:32 PM: Yes, maybe YOU never stop. But don't lose sight of the fact
that what you do is up to you. Its one thing to say you never forget. Its
another entirely to say you couldn't choose to.
Stefan 1:33 PM: I'm not sure how your brain works, but I can't just forget a
major portion of my life just because it causes me pain... in fact that makes it
even harder to forget.
Stefan 1:34 PM: My high school years were the best of my life and I can
barely remember a day of it.
Foxy 1:34 PM: There is a human phenomenon where people get attached to
their pain because it is familiar to them and familiarity, even painful
familiarity, is a kind of perverse comfort. It becomes easier to bear than lack
of it.
Stefan 1:35 PM: I know, but knowing this doesn't really change anything.
Foxy 1:35 PM: And I disagree you can't just forget a portion of your life. You
can. But you may not want to or be in the position to.
Stefan 1:36 PM: You're right. I don't want to forget my friends that I'll never
speak to again, as strange as that is.
Stefan 1:37 PM: Because if I do forget about them then I truly have nothing.
Foxy 1:37 PM: I think thats called nostalgia. But as much as you want to
hold the feeling, its gone. Let me ask you something, if letting that go totally
improved your future, would you do it?
Stefan 1:39 PM: I wouldn't. I'm not a perfect human, and I never will be. Our
connections and friendships we make with others is what makes us human.
Foxy 1:40 PM: So what you are saying to me now, truly, honestly, is that you
would rather wall yourself up in a hopeless, pointless forever version of the
past that is never coming back just to feel like you felt in some perfect long
gone moment, than give yourself any chance of an unfucked future you seem
to say you'd rather have? You are telling me you've locked yourself in a
self-made prison and you don't want to come out?
Stefan 1:41 PM: I'm trying to fix my life, forgetting the bad things that have
happened won't change anything. It's the actions I take from now on that
matter.
Foxy 1:42 PM: But surely they can be put in a storeroom for later use at a
better time?
Stefan 1:43 PM: Sure. You know talking about this stuff makes me really sad,
I didn't really want to feel sad right now ya know.
Stefan 1:44 PM: I'm only human, I can't do all this crazy shit with my
memories and just make things better, it takes time.
Foxy 1:44 PM: Well, look, Im sorry about that. I didn't know this was going
to happen.
Stefan 1:45 PM: It's alright, not your fault of course.
Foxy 1:45 PM: There is one fact of life no one escapes. Living leaves scars.
Stefan 1:46 PM: Yeah I would never have understood that until recently.
Foxy 1:47 PM: The "positive" way to view that is that scars means you have
lived.
Stefan 1:48 PM: It's definitely changed me. I suppose over time I'll know if
it's for the best or not.
Stefan 1:48 PM: Anyway can we please change the topic?
Foxy 1:49 PM: Sure.
Stefan 1:50 PM: Can you show me your tits now please?
Foxy 1:50 PM: lol
Stefan 1:51 PM: Haha damn I wasn't skillful enough.
Foxy 1:51 PM: *SENDS PICTURE OF BREASTS IN A SPORTS BRA*
Stefan 1:52 PM: Is this a test for my reverse image searching skills or legit?
Foxy 1:53 PM: Since I know you test the pics anyway then I assume you'll
test this one.
Stefan 1:54 PM: I'm gonna say its legit.
Foxy 1:54 PM: The thing about any information though is not what the
information is. Its what you interpret it to mean.
Foxy 1:54 PM: What I can tell you is that they are all natural.
Stefan 1:55 PM: They look nice.
Stefan 1:55 PM: I like them.
Foxy 1:55 PM: Thank you.
Stefan 1:55 PM: Would you show me them without the bra?
Foxy 1:56 PM: Now why would I do that?
Stefan 1:56 PM: Because I would like a picture of your lovely bare breasts to
get me hard again?
Foxy 1:57 PM: And why do I want to get you hard exactly?
Stefan 1:58 PM: I dunno. Don't you like the thought of helping me get off?
Foxy 1:58 PM: Not in the abstract, no.
Stefan 1:59 PM: I can tell you it's not abstract.
Stefan 1:59 PM: Let me ask this, if we lived near each other would you meet
up with me?
Foxy 1:59 PM: Yes.
Foxy 1:59 PM: And it is abstract if its happening through a text box on a
screen.
Stefan 2:00 PM: As long as you believe that I'm real it's not abstract.
Stefan 2:01 PM: I believe that you are real. Should I believe that?
Foxy 2:01 PM: I have no reason to believe you're real. Everything you have
done here could have been computer-generated.
Stefan 2:02 PM: Is there a way that I could prove I'm real? Even more to the
point, would that even help?
Foxy 2:03 PM: It wouldn't make any difference at all unless you intend this
relationship to last beyond one of us logging off.
Stefan 2:04 PM: I see, I thought as much.
Foxy 2:04 PM: Isn't that the point of this place?
Stefan 2:04 PM: Isn't what the point?
Foxy 2:04 PM: The empty exchange. The contextlessness. The irrelatability.
Stefan 2:05 PM: Well yeah but usually I think of the person I'm talking to as
a real person.
Stefan 2:05 PM: There are plenty of chatbot websites you can talk to if
human interaction is not what you crave.
Foxy 2:05 PM: Well you can choose to think its a person. But you can also
choose not to. And, due to the place, its basically inconsequential which you
choose.
Stefan 2:06 PM: Not in this case, it's denying me from seeing nipples.
Foxy 2:06 PM: But what if i'm a computer? Its denying you seeing nipples the
computer will select for you to see. Perhaps you need to say or do the right
thing to unlock nipples. Level up.
Stefan 2:07 PM: So long as I believe you are a real woman, I want to see
nipples. Doesn't even matter if you are a computer.
Foxy 2:08 PM: How can I be a computer AND a real woman?
Stefan 2:08 PM: If you were a computer that sends people pictures of
nipples, but I thought you were a woman, that's enough for me.
Stefan 2:09 PM: As shallow as that may be.
Stefan 2:09 PM: But my extreme lack of nipples in real life leaves me with a
desire.
Foxy 2:09 PM: That's not exactly the same as a real woman though, is it? I
believe you are simply attached to the form of the woman in the picture I
sent you.
Foxy 2:10 PM: And, sure, your perceived lack of nipples drives a hunger.
Foxy 2:10 PM: But that leaves you open to manipulation.
Stefan 2:11 PM: It sure does. You might have figured there's another reason
I wanted to see another picture.
Foxy 2:11 PM: I was too busy thinking how clever I am. Which is my own
weakness. What's the other reason? You want to masturbate to it?
Stefan 2:12 PM: That's not the other reason.
Stefan 2:12 PM: If I ask you an innocent question will you be 100% honest
with me?
Foxy 2:12 PM: Yes, although you realize you have no way to know I am
being. You have to accept I will be.
Stefan 2:13 PM: I will also say that you probably are the smartest person I've
talked to on here.
Stefan 2:13 PM: My question is, are you really a female?
Stefan 2:13 PM: Most others I've met aren't even close.
Foxy 2:13 PM: The bar is pretty low here but thank you. The answer is yes.
Stefan 2:14 PM: Was that picture you sent really of you?
Foxy 2:14 PM: Yes.
Stefan 2:15 PM: Alright. Have you ever met someone on here like me before?
Foxy 2:16 PM: I've never met anyone who stayed with the conversation so
long. So, no.
Stefan 2:16 PM: Interesting.
Foxy 2:16 PM: How so?
Stefan 2:17 PM: I just thought that more men would try and play the long
game on here.
Foxy 2:17 PM: Afraid not. They have short dicks and even shorter fuses.
Stefan 2:17 PM: Maybe I should try being a female in my next chat what do
you think?
Foxy 2:18 PM: You are free to try what you like. Whether you're any good at
it or not you'll soon find out. But remember, it may be a real girl the other
end.
Stefan 2:19 PM: I think I'd be good at it. I mainly just want to see how
quickly guys ask for nudes and stuff like that, I don't wanna trick anyone
really.
Foxy 2:19 PM: So a social experiment then. You'll end up thinking worse of
men at the end of it.
Stefan 2:20 PM: Yes. And I probably will, but I would still like to know.
Foxy 2:20 PM: I hope you enjoy your female self's experiences then.
Stefan 2:21 PM: I'm not done with this experience first though.
Stefan 2:21 PM: I haven't made myself "experience" yet.
Foxy 2:21 PM: Of course, I wasn't suggesting you were.
Foxy 2:22 PM: But I imagine that right now you're wondering how you level
up, as it were.
Stefan 2:22 PM: I figure I already have.
Foxy 2:23 PM: Is your plan now active?
Stefan 2:24 PM: My plan is activating...
Foxy 2:24 PM: Should I now feel manipulated for the purposes of sexual
gratification?
Stefan 2:25 PM: Perhaps, I can say I've been honest with you so far, if that
means anything to you.
Foxy 2:25 PM: It lacks real world context so is merely a logical statement.
Stefan 2:26 PM: Again, I should have expected as much coming from you.
Stefan 2:27 PM: Everytime I type something like that my plan slightly
deactivates by the way...
Foxy 2:27 PM: You feel you are getting to know me then?
Stefan 2:27 PM: In a way, maybe.
Foxy 2:28 PM: And you have seen my breasts in a sports bra.
Stefan 2:28 PM: So you say.
Stefan 2:29 PM: But yes, sure.
Foxy 2:30 PM: That's the first time you've verbalized doubt. That's
interesting.
Stefan 2:31 PM: Probably because that part of the conversation I was the
most unsure of.
Foxy 2:32 PM: So where are we at now. Are you just stalling hoping I'll just
post nipples? Or do you concede I might need to be cajoled to such an
outcome?
Stefan 2:33 PM: I've pretty much run out of interesting topics. Normally,
conversations with girls go in a completely different direction, they are easier
to control. What I'd normally say won't work.
Foxy 2:34 PM: Ah so you've decided youre dealing with someone you're not
used to and this has knocked your confidence. What if you stop believing that
and carry on regardless?
Stefan 2:35 PM: If I were to carry on, as I said before, I've kind of run out of
topics. I wish I had more in me. Also, it doesn't help that it's starting to get
late here, I did plan on sleeping at some stage.
Foxy 2:36 PM: But I'm figuring you also planned on nipples first
Stefan 2:36 PM: Yeah, I did, it's kind of why I do this type of thing at this
time.
Foxy 2:38 PM: Ah! So now you're revealing more. You come here to be
aroused by pics of girls. So the question for me is do I play my designated
role and show nipples or do I teach you a lesson that nipples have to be
worked for or may not be given at all? What's your view?
Stefan 2:39 PM: You think I haven't worked for these? You've said yourself
that most dudes just ask straight away, and you know what? Sometimes that
works and that ain't work at all.
Foxy 2:39 PM: It works in getting a pic. But of who? And this might work yet.
So the jury is out.
Stefan 2:40 PM: So, actually, YOU should tell me, why should I work for
YOUR nipples when I could easily ask blindly instead until it works?
Stefan 2:40 PM: As I've said before, just getting a picture at all from a real
person is really good.
Foxy 2:41 PM: I have no reason for you. The log off button is right there. The
Internet is full of nipples. But I have a pic of these nipples ready to send at
my discretion. And that is the truth. If you go you will certainly never see it.
Stefan 2:42 PM: I've stayed this long so you must know that I don't just want
to see random nipples.
Foxy 2:43 PM: I think you have an emotional investment in seeing these
particular ones yes.
Stefan 2:43 PM: The question is do you wish to indulge me?
Foxy 2:44 PM: I do. But when I feel you've played your part. I'm not wanting
to be cruel.
Stefan 2:45 PM: I suppose that is fair.
Foxy 2:46 PM: So I have one task for you and then you will receive the
picture of my nipples. The task is that you must write a paragraph describing
me as you have experienced me in this conversation.
Stefan 2:47 PM: I will perform this task, but only in exchange for 2 pictures.
One of your nipples, another of your ass. Agree?
Foxy 2:48 PM: You are confused. This is not a negotiation. I have a log off
button as well you know. Are you prepared to lose the nipples out of greed?
Stefan 2:49 PM: That wasn't clear beforehand. I came here to bust a nut not
try and remember what I learned in high school debating class.
Foxy 2:50 PM: Nevertheless, you are an intelligent man. I will agree to a pic
of my ass as well. But that means I have a choice of extra task for you too.
Agree?
Stefan 2:50 PM: What's the extra task?
Foxy 2:51 PM: You will send a pic of your cock.
Foxy 2:52 PM: Furthermore, things will proceed as follows: Your paragraph,
my breasts. Your cock, my ass. Do we have an understanding?
Stefan 2:52 PM: Alright. Give me some time to write. It's not gonna be the
lengthiest of paragraphs.
Foxy 2:53 PM: I expect a paragraph not War and Peace.
Stefan 2:59 PM: Today I met Jenny, a female from the UK. She is the most
intelligent person I've met on this site before. I can tell she is a well educated
individual. I believe she has an optimistic outlook on life, the opposite to
myself. She has a manipulative personality, for better or for worse, and she
often analyses my messages to a level that I was barely prepared for. I think
she struggles to trust people, and has a somewhat warped perception of
reality, from what exactly I could not say. This very site could be part of the
reason. I think she is mentally tough and unforgiving, craving a mind to
converse with that she can call an equal. I also very much so want to see the
breasts of this woman. Is she satisfied with my efforts?
Foxy 3:00 PM: *belly laughs* She is.
Foxy 3:02 PM: The pic I'm going to send you of my breasts now will set your
Spidey senses tingling because a Google search will generate pages of FALSE
POSITIVES which I think is quite funny. But if you go to the bother of
investigating the hits you will see that Google's search has got it wrong as
none of the hits are my breasts. Here it comes.
Foxy 3:02 PM: *SENDS PICTURE OF BREASTS*
Foxy 3:02 PM: I await your penis and my ass is on standby.
Stefan 3:03 PM: Just gotta get it hard, won't be long with this kind of
material to work with.
Foxy 3:03 PM: 40F breasts tend to have that effect.
Stefan 3:06 PM: Alright one sec.
Stefan 3:09 PM: *SENDS PICTURE OF COCK*
Stefan 3:10 PM: You still there?
Foxy 3:10 PM: Of course.
Foxy 3:10 PM: Why would I leave now and change your view of me? I will see
this through to the end.
Foxy 3:11 PM: *SENDS PICTURE OF ASS*
Foxy 3:11 PM: So do you feel your discussion with me tonight was worth your
time?
Stefan 3:12 PM: These pictures are amazing. I have one question though,
how did you take them?
Foxy 3:12 PM: A timer.
Stefan 3:12 PM: Very nice. Youre amazingly hot.
Stefan 3:12 PM: What do you think of my cock?
Stefan 3:12 PM: I know it's small.
Foxy 3:13 PM: I have nothing to say about it except it is small. But I am now
very certain that you could find a girl it would please. So don't give up just
yet.
Stefan 3:14 PM: Thanks Jenny. Do you wanna stay chatting while I finish it
off?
Foxy 3:14 PM: I have to go but there is one thing I want to say. None of the
pics I sent you were of me. How do you feel?
Stefan 3:15 PM: Not great. I always knew this was a possibility of course
though.
Foxy 3:15 PM: There is a golden rule of gambling: the house always wins.
Take care xx
Foxy 3:15 PM *LOGS OFF*

NINE

There is a scene near the beginning of classic science fiction film Blade Runner
where our hero, Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, has gone to the headquarters
of the Tyrell Corporation to meet its head, Eldon Tyrell. He is met there by a
stunningly beautiful assistant called Rachael. Deckard is there to perform tests
on the employees to discover if any might be replicants, synthetic beings created
by the Tyrell Corporation, some of which have rebelled and become dangerous
to humans. Specifically, he needs to know if the tests he has available to him will
work on the new Nexus 6 type replicants that have escaped. Tyrell wants to see
Deckard perform his tests on a test subject before he allows the tests to
continue. Deckard asks for such a test subject and Tyrell suggests Rachael. The
test being completed, Tyrell asks Rachael to step outside for a moment. Deckard
suggests that Rachael is a replicant and Tyrell confirms this and that she is not
aware of it. How can it not know what it is? replies a bemused Deckard.

This question, in the wider context of the film and the history of its reception, is
ironic. Blade Runner was not a massively popular film at the time of its cinematic
release and was thought to have underperformed. But, over the years, it has
become a classic, often placed in the top three science fiction films ever made.
That popularity and focus on it as a serious film of the genre has, in turn,
produced an engaged fan community. One issue regarding the film has always
been the status of Deckard himself. Could it be that Deckard was himself a
replicant? Interestingly, those involved with the production of the film have
differing views.

Back in 2002 the director, Ridley Scott, confirmed that, for him, Deckard was
indeed a replicant and that he had made the film in such a way as this was made
explicit. However, screenwriter Hampton Fancher, who wrote the basic plot of
the film, does not agree with this. For him the question of Deckards status must
forever stay mysterious and in question. It should be forever an eternal
question that doesnt have an answer. Interestingly, for Harrison Ford
Deckard was, and always should be, a human. Ford has stated that this was his
main area of contention with Ridley Scott when making the film. Ford believed
that the viewing audience needed at least one human on the screen to build an
emotional relationship with. Finally, in Philip K. Dicks original story, on which
Blade Runner is based, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Deckard is a
human. At this point I playfully need to ask how can they not agree what it is?

Of course, in the context of the film Deckards question now takes on a new level
of meaning. Deckard is asking straightforwardly about the status of Rachael
while, perhaps, having no idea himself what he is. The irony should not be lost
on us. But let us take the question and apply it more widely. Indeed, lets turn it
around and put it again: how can he know what he is? This question is very
relevant and it applies to us too. How can we know what we are? We see a world
around us with numerous forms of life upon it and, we would assume, most if
not all of them have no idea what they are. And so it comes to be the case that
actually knowing what you are would be very unusual if not unique. How can it
not know what it is? starts to look like a very naive question (even though
Deckard takes it for granted that Rachael should know and assumes that he does
of himself). But if you could know you would be the exception not the rule.

Now I was enjoying a walk yesterday evening and, as usual, it set my mind to
thinking going through the process of the walk. My mind settled on the subject
of Fibromyalgia, a medical condition often characterised by chronic widespread
pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. Symptoms other than
pain may occur, however, from unexplained sweats, headaches and tingling to
muscle spasms, sleep disturbance and fatigue. (There are a host of other things
besides.) The cause of this condition is unknown but Fibromyalgia is frequently
associated with psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety and
among its causes are believed to be psychological and neurobiological factors.
One simple thesis is that in vulnerable individuals psychological stress or illness
can cause abnormalities in inflammatory and stress pathways which regulate
mood and pain. This leads to the widespread symptoms then evidenced.
Essentially, certain neurons in the brain are set too high and trigger physical
responses. Or, to put it another way more suitable to my point here, the brain is
the cause of the issues it then registers as a problem.

The problem here is that the brain does not know that it was some part of itself
that caused the issue in the first place. It is just an unexplained physical
symptom being registered as far as it is concerned. If the brain was aware and
conscious surely it would know that some part of it was the problem? But the
brain is not conscious: I am. It was at this point in my walk that I stopped and
laughed to myself at the absurdity of this. I am conscious. Not only did I laugh
at the notion of consciousness and what it might be but I also laughed at this
notion of the I. What do I mean when I say I? What is this I? And that was
when the question popped into my head: how can it not know what it is?

The question is very on point. If I was to say to you right now that you were
merely a puppet, some character in a divinely created show for the amusement
of some evil god you couldnt prove me wrong. Because you may be. If I was to
say that you are a character in some future computer game a thousand years
from now you couldnt prove me wrong either. Because, again, you could be.
How you feel about it and what you think you know notwithstanding. Because we
know that there are limits to our knowledge and we know that it is easy to fool a
human being. We have neither the knowledge nor the capacity for the
knowledge to feel even remotely sure that we know what we are or what I
might refer to. We have merely comforting notions which help us to get by,
something far from the level of insight required to start being sure.

How can it not know what it is? now seems almost to be a very dumb question.
How can it know what it is? now seems much more relevant and important. For
how can we know? Of course Rachael didnt know what she was. That is to be
normal. We, in the normal course of our lives, gain a sense of self and our place
in the world and this is enough for us. We never strive for ultimate answers
(because, like Deckard, we already think we know) and, to be frank, we do not
have the resources for it anyway. Who we think we are is always enough and
anything else is beyond our pay grade. Deckard, then, is an everyman in Blade
Runner, one who finds security in what he knows he knows yet really doesnt
know. It enables him to get through the day and perform his function. It enables
him to function. He is a reminder that this I is always both a presence and an
absence, both there and yet not. He is a reminder that who we are is always a
feels to be and never yet an is. Subjectivity abounds.

How can it not know what it is? How, indeed, could it know?

TWENTY

Jessica was trying to think of an excuse as she drove along the main road but
she couldnt. Her knowledge of the workings of cars was zero. If she had known
a little more about them she could have faked some problem and thought no
more about it, reckoning that she had done enough to get her foot in the door.
For her purposes, it was absolutely vital that the initial reason for turning up at
her brother-in-laws garage was genuine and reasonable. She didnt want any
suspicion that it was some elegant trap or set up. She pulled into the petrol
station and parked up, popping the hood as she did. She didnt know if loosening
one of the spark plugs would damage her car but she consoled herself that she
only had to get half a mile to the garage and a mechanic would fix it once there.

As she turned off the road into her brother-in-laws property she was glad she
hadnt had to go far. The engine had sounded broken with one less spark plug
working. Jessica was worried she might actually have broken something. It
would serve her right, the lying, cheating, deceiving cow that she was (she
thought to herself). Still, she was more at ease now since she had a genuine
problem to report and this would make her seem honest and authentic in a few
moments when she spoke to Dave. It was after 6PM and she expected to find
him here working alone, once more, on some project he couldnt leave alone.
Mechanic seemed to be one of those professions where those so employed
couldnt leave their work alone. She looked at the piles of school books in the
foot well beside her and a wry smile crossed her face. The same applied to
teachers.

Shapely legs clothed in white stockings with lace tops swung themselves out of
the drivers side door. She was wearing black, strappy shoes with a modest heel.
Anything more would just seem like shameless showing off for a teacher of
teenage boys. Already, on two occasions, the Headmaster had had to speak to
Jessica about dress appropriate for a teaching professional. This was mostly
short skirt related. It was OK to have stocking tops but not to show stocking
tops. Jessica had been smiling inwardly as he addressed her both times, both
because she could tell he wanted her over his desk and because she had hardly
dressed as a slut as it was. Jessica knew there was a line and she also knew that
she would feel most alive when closest to it. As she locked her car she
remembered the time she had got to her class early last week and found that
someone had written Jessucker on her desk in rushed biro. She hoped to be
able to tease and play with that reputation but the key was keeping it as a
fantasy. Miss Lynd was not really a cocksucker (for professional reasons) but
someone who didnt mind you imagining her sucking your cock. Or so the
fantasy would have you believe
Jessica struggled with the door to Daves garage, which was always difficult to
open, and fought her way inside. She checked her blouse and undid an extra
button. Nothing wrong with putting ideas into peoples heads, she thought. The
bell rung as a warning to any mechanics in the place that their dirty and
sometimes noisy work was being interrupted by a customer. It was often not
obvious on entering the garage that anyone else was even there, the radio
playing seemingly without human interference. Anyone working there (Dave had
two assistants) was often inside a car, with their head under a bonnet or even
under the car itself. The light inside the building was not exactly fulsome either.
Mechanics seem to like working in half light for some reason. Dave? Are you
there Dave? shouted Jessica. A mucky face appeared from behind an Audi
towards the back of the room. It was Dave. All alone? asked Jessica cheekily,
walking towards him. Yes, Tom and Marek have gone home, he
straightforwardly replied before adding, What are you doing here? My cars
got a problem. Can you take a quick look? she asked. You know how important
it is for school, she added, hoping to make it sound plausible and important.
Sure, no problem, said Dave, heading for the door. They went back outside
and Dave asked Jessica to pop the bonnet which she did. With a practiced eye
he quickly scanned the engine. The spark plug immediately caught his eye.
Looks like a loose lead, he said, re-fixing it. Nothing too serious, I reckon.

The lead once more properly seated, Dave suggested to Jessica that she might
bring the car in one day next week just so that he could give it a proper service.
A loose lead was nothing to worry about but you never know why these things
happen, he explained, and there may be a more underlying problem that needs
to be nipped in the bud. Jessica nodded and agreed, taking things all very
seriously. The I have a problem with my car can you help me? part of her plan
had gone very well. She was sure it seemed genuine. Now it was time for phase
two, she mused, as Dave said he needed to go back to his office to see when he
could fit her in. As they walked back inside Jessica stifled a giggle wondering if
she would be able to fit Dave in sometime very, very soon indeed. Dave sat
down on a very old office chair, all squeaks and cracked leather, his big, dirty
hands rummaging between filthy invoices on an unkempt desk. Not a man for
computers, he at last found a scruffy A4-sized diary he used for marking
appointments. Is next Wednesday alright Jess? he asked. So long as its after
school, sure, she replied. Jessica had sat down on a scruffy armchair opposite
Dave. Her skirt, which wasnt the longest, had hitched up but she didnt make
any attempt to pull it down. Those forbidden stocking tops were just peeking out
from under it. She imagined that if she sat legs apart Dave might be able to see
the golden triangle of her white thong if he looked in the right place. He flashed
it a glance and looked away, realising what he had seen. Jessica knew this was
going to be so easy.

So how are you anyway Jessica, Dave asked, probably trying to change the
subject and remove the image of a triangle of white silk thong from his mind.
Not too great really, Jessica replied, now in hunt mode. Whats up? asked
Dave, concerned. Jessica hoped that very soon it would be his dick that was up
but she said, Things arent too great at home really. The spark seems to have
gone. We dont have much sex. Dave didnt know what to say for a second. He
had not expected so blunt or detailed an answer. His eyes once more flashed
between Jessicas legs. He could still see the triangle of white material and
couldnt help imagining what lay beneath it. He suddenly felt warm although the
garage was notorious for its lack of heating. Im sorry to hear that was the
noncommittal, neutral answer that came out of his mouth. But Jessica wasnt in
any mood to let the subject change and so she fired off another bullet from her
sex gun. Its a long time since Ive had some really great sex Dave. You know
what I mean? Im the kind of woman that needs a good shag. Jessica crossed
her legs revealing all of the lace stocking top on her left thigh. Mmmmm, a
good shag was all that Dave could now imagine. He felt a stiffening in his
boxers.

Do you fancy me? asked Jessica, now making her words even more direct. She
let the question hang in the air, forcing Dave to a position where he had to
answer her. Yes, of course, said Dave, his cock now very hard but hidden
behind a desk and his baggy overall. But.. Jessica cut him off from continuing.
Im glad you do, she said, Because right now you turn me on a lot. Jessica
stood up and took a step towards the desk, undoing her blouse as she did.
Come round here and help me, she invited. Dave found himself standing up
and walking to the other side of the desk, his actions not exactly a conscious
decision but more dream-like actions he didnt feel fully involved with. He was
caught up in the flow of something greater than himself. What happens here,
stays here, OK? said Jessica as Dave reached her. Dave said, Yeah, in
response as Jessica removed the jacket and blouse she was wearing to reveal a
white, lace bra. Dave raised his hands involuntarily to cup her breasts but then
stopped mid-action and said, My hands are dirty, referring to the oil which
covered them. So? said Jessica.
Emboldened, Dave stepped forward and kissed his sister-in-law. She tasted
sweet and his cock was throbbing for her now. Jessicas hand went straight for
the appropriate area, popping a couple of the press studs that protected Daves
modesty. Once inside the overall she felt the biggest hard cock she thought she
had ever felt. It supercharged her feeling of horniness and she became sex
crazed. Stepping back she pulled Daves overall apart, revealing the T-shirt and
boxers that was all Dave wore underneath. Take it off, she said, and Dave
responded by kicking off his boots and slipping out of the oily garment. She
dropped down on her haunches and slipped down the boxers. What must have
been a full 10 inches of white cock sprang out and hit her in the face. Jesus
Dave! she said, I chose the wrong brother! Jessica then grasped the horny
beast in her right hand and guided it into her mouth. It only just fit as she
opened her mouth wide, pre-cum already seeping from the end. Jessica sucked
it greedily. Her plan had worked. She couldnt believe the size of his cock!

What she really wanted though was to be plowed by this monstrous appendage.
She bent over the desk, pulling up her skirt. I want your cum in me, she said,
now a bitch in heat. Dave grabbed her thong and moved it to one side so that it
now arched over her pert left buttock. Her juicy, wet cunt and puckered arsehole
were revealed. Dave, not thinking, bent forward and began licking her from cunt
to arsehole. This was like some sex dream you wake up from and, just for a
second, it seems so real you wonder if, in fact, it really happened. Oww, oh
god! erupted from Jessicas lips as Dave continued licking her happy valley.
Daves dick was like a solid column of rock that reached past his belly button by
now. He took it and began to tease Jessicas cunt with it, probing her entrance.
Jessica pushed back, trying to preempt the joy she knew she would feel as the
monster entered her but Dave, hanging onto the sex dream as much as he
could, just held back a little out of range. Then the nuclear button was pressed
and Dave pushed his cock into Jessicas wet fuck hole.

It felt to Jessica like something massive was being forced between her legs as
her vaginal walls stretched to take the 10 incher. She let out some
indecipherable cry, held onto the desk and bore down on it with all the force she
could muster. A hand smacked her pert, symmetrical arse cheeks a couple of
times and she half said, half shouted, More, smack me more! as the huge dick
began to plow her. She was pleased when her cries were heard and she enjoyed
the stinging of hand on arse. Since she was also very wet, her cum began to
coat the thick cock inside her which quickly accumulated a creamy coating. Dave
now held her hips in the firm grip of a workmans hands and the oil on them
stained her body where he touched it. His massive dick was now pumping her
like a piston and she pushed back enthusiastically dreaming of being flooded
with his cum. Hands reached forward, pawing at her bra, and her tits were
released from their fabric prisons to receive oily squeezes.

She knew when Dave was about to cum because he became very loud. He also
stopped pumping at the moment of ejaculation when Jessica felt what seemed
like several huge shots of cum inside her. Dave withdrew the battering ram and
almost immediately a deluge of creamy goodness peeped out from inside her. He
sat down in the armchair and wiped off the cock with his hand, lazily then wiping
what was on his hand onto the side of the chair. Jessica reached for a roll of
paper towels that was casually tossed on the desk, tore off a strip and wiped
between her legs. Then, rearranging her clothes, she picked up the white blouse
and her jacket from the dirty floor, brushed them off and put them back on.
See you next Wednesday then, she said. Dave nodded and she left.

ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTEEN (THE THOUGHTS OF A MADE UP PERSON)

1.

Still the same room. Still the same things. Still the same external conditions.
And yet now I feel more hopeful. A sense of finitude can do that to a Man. Of
course, my question concerning what the point of me is has not been
answered. I currently think its one of those questions that can never be
answered. To seek after generalised meaning or reason is a fools errand.
Perhaps now I see life as a process of understanding, an awakening from an
Edenic innocence, in which you try to make sense of who you are, where you are
and why. This, you may agree, is basically a study of Being and what it means in
a world without purpose or meaning beyond the local and contingent. I meditate,
sometimes daily, on the fact that my life is but an Augenblick and my
non-existence will be an eternity. In that perspective, how can any earthly,
human, cares of the living really be that troublesome?

2.

Anything that can be thought of must certainly be a fiction, so wrote Nietzsche.


How can my self-understanding, my telling of the paths and conduits of my life,
be any less so? It is no privileged account to be sure. Its merely my own as it
occurs to me at a point in time. But I am lying to you and I do have my reasons.
How could I not? And how could you not read me with your own needs to be
satisfied? We are none of us here blank slates.

3.

The clock is ticking. Thats how important you are.

4.

Innerspace and Outer Space. Within your own imagination you can dream a
billion dreams. Without, there are a billion truths you will never guess at. Each of
us is stuck between the world within and the world without, an insignificant point
of contact between the two. To one, you are of utmost importance. To the other,
you are almost an insignificance. It is a source of wonder and mystery how
consciousness could come of something so unconscious as the Universe.

5.

I got my wish. Am I happier? No. It remains a truism that people have little idea
what is best for them. As a species, we are half blind in the fog, scrabbling
around. For me, relationships are an excellent example of my blindness. The
scars of bad ones get deeper and have more long-lasting effects over time. Of
course, isolation is no solution.It merely solves one problem by creating another
one. I console myself that at least no one else is involved in that case. But its a
sticking plaster to deal with a broken bone.

6.

Are people basically honest with each other, or basically dishonest with each
other? I come down on the side of the latter. Oh, I know that from time to time
some people (perhaps Christian types) try to show that human beings are good
and basically altruistic. However, I think they are pissing into the wind on this
one. Of course, people CAN be altruistic but it seems to me that the fact you
need to point this out speaks against it. The fact is that altruism is occasionally
useful. But its the whats useful to me? mentality that prevails overall.

7.
Not so much crying these days. Over the past year or two Ive become very
attuned to the solar cycle. Currently, as I write, we are heading towards the
summer solstice. The days are long and the light hangs on into the night. I
awake to sun beams through a gap in the curtain. I experience the beneficial
effects of extra electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum (thats light to
you and me). Ive noticed over the years that I seem very sensitive to the
amount of light that is around. Its no coincidence, in my mind, that my worst
episodes of panic occur in early Autumn when light disappears. I know that there
is a disorder for this (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and I think that I might fall
within that category. Like everything else, Ive never been diagnosed though.

8.

Power. In the end, I think that quite a lot comes down to this. Having it. Wanting
it. To feel it, just for a moment. A lot of things can be explained by the idea of
power. And thats without being Foucauldian about it. Power, and powerlessness,
are things that you could get very philosophical about if you wanted to.

9.

Im still impotent, of course. But I wonder if I might not have settled for less. I
was embroiled in an internet conversation in which I had taken on a false
identity and I revealed myself to my unfortunate and unwilling victim. He took it
quite magnanimously, considering, but then left a landmine of his own behind by
suggesting that if only I used my clear powers of intelligence positively I might
actually achieve something in life. It came to me as a slap in the face, I must
admit. Its good to hear contrary points of view. Humans are self-deceptive.
They need it.

10.

Death can be a shadow, there is no doubt of that. And we can live in that
shadow. I had always wanted to be able to die happy, joyously, having, as it
were, howling into the void that I had existed. It would have been futile of
course. But it would also have been my victory cry. I existed! Fuck you all!

11.
I am XXXX years old. Still NO actual friends. A lot of the time it isnt that bad. I
have time, such as now, to think and write. Life without other people is certainly
less complicated. In an ideal world of my imaginings I wouldnt have lots of
friends coming round anyway. I like (or, I have learned) to keep myself largely
to myself. And I dont dislike that fact.

12.

The record shows I took the blows and did it my way. And isnt that all that
one can ask for in life? Its easy to be negative. My autobiography gives some
examples of where I am certainly that. But how about biting back? There can be
no more perfect life but than that you took hold of your circumstances and lived
the life you wanted to live considering the circumstances you had. I dont mean
this in some secular, economic sense. I dont mean it in the shallow terms of
capitalist society either. I mean that you followed your own beliefs and
motivations through. Authenticity to yourself, thats surely what counts when
you have to look yourself in the mirror? On your death bed what comfort would
it be that you had achieved material possessions or a life enviable to others in
the world? Id much rather lie there thinking I had been true to myself. You may
occasionally need to justify yourself to others. But you will need to justify
yourself to yourself every day.

13.

My life and my music are truly intertwined. For those with ears to hear, my
music is the best guide to what goes on with me internally. Its the escape valve.

14.

I dont honestly think that I have any duty to justify myself to anyone. Oh, of
course, it may be that this is sometimes expedient. Sometimes, it may even be
due to power and authority taking me in hand. But its all a joke, isnt it? A
game? I return to a perpetual thought of mine right now: my life is an
Augenblick and my death will be forever. What do I care what you think about
me? If you honestly wanted a genuine assessment from the horses mouth, I
could give you one. It wouldnt be pretty because I know the things I have done.
But Im not a very convinced bad person. When I do wrong its because Im
bored, because I can or because I thought it clever to do so. I often regret bad
things Ive done. My heart isnt in it. I just want to be left alone really and live
and let live seems to be the best policy for that.

15.

Physician, heal thyself. Pulling threads from the twisted haystack of life is
certainly a perilous thing. I should heed my own, unasked for, advice. The
women were largely a mistake and responsible for massive scars on my psyche.
Do good times ever outweigh the bad? I find it hard to think so. If only there
was a way to have good times WITHOUT the bad. A solution to this problem has
not yet been discovered.
16.

Knowledge is not all its cracked up to be. This is a conclusion that gains more
force the longer I live. Whats more, knowledge without wisdom is next to
useless and dangerous. There is little good in the bare knowing of something. At
a bare minimum you also need to know where it fits and what to do with it. This
is why choosing not to know things is often the better course. It is hard to
unknow and such is our make up that we often feel the need to do things
about what we know. This way many bad things have happened and not just for
me but in general.

17.

My origins are an absurdity to me. It must be true, I muse, that absurdity is the
principle of the Universe.

18.

I dont think that it occurs to people very much just how temporary and fragile
they really are. Of course, the old and the sick have this reality impressed upon
them more frequently and with more force. But, in general, we seem to have a
consciousness which, on the good days, operates as if we are in some way
eternal. And I suppose that makes sense. How could you live on an even keel if
your every other thought was of how vulnerable and contingent you are? Well,
let me tell you from experience that the answer is Not very well.

19.
The crisis of Being. Only now, as I keep reading, in fits and starts, do I learn
that people have been discussing this for decades, if not centuries. Perhaps Im
not so weird and individual after all? This year Ive written a suite of music in 10
parts called Human/Being which really functions as a musical meditation on
what it means to be human and the whole subject of Being. If my life is become
anything to me it is a process of self- Enlightenment, a process that will one day
just be snuffed out. Gone. Unimportant. Another example of the concerns of the
living.

20.

The Wanderer. He who has come only in part to a freedom of reason cannot
feel on earth otherwise than as a wanderer - though not as a traveler towards a
final goal, for this does not exist. But he does want to observe, and keep his
eyes open for everything that actually occurs in the world; therefore he must not
attach his heart too firmly to any individual thing; there must be something
wandering within him, which takes its joy in change and transitoriness. -
Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human, #638.

I could accept this quite well as a description of me. If I am anything at all it is a


wanderer.

21.

I dont understand the sense of ungratefulness some people feel (or accuse you
of) when you say that you wish you had never been born. Life, for these people,
is regarded as some kind of sacred gift and you are meant to feel, first of all,
profoundly thankful for it. Is this the overflow of some religious sentimentality? I
honestly dont understand it at all. Life is random, an accident. It might never
have happened, as I mused in one of my musical pieces called Point Zero.
Point Zero, I considered, was that moment at which you were conceived. But
what if it had never happened? What if mum had been washing her hair that
night? What if dad had been tired and turned over and went to sleep? Its not as
if any of us are fated to exist, much less willed by a higher power. Nothing chose
you. We just are, a cosmic accident, the work of a moment that might never
have been and yet, right in one moment, was.

22.
Life is a large pool of clear, refreshing water. But it only takes a little piss (or
one conspicuous turd) to contaminate the whole pool.

23.

We all have drives and sometimes the desire to satiate them can be
overwhelming. Experience is one means by which to counter them. Providing we
can learn from it!

24.

I suppose I do not really regret the things that have happened to me. Its
natural to wish things had turned out differently but, then again, each situation
is an opportunity for many things and not just one. There is always the
opportunity to learn, whatever happens. Things are never uniformly good or bad.

25.

Travel broadens the mind is a truism. And true. It should be compulsory.


Isolation breeds only mistrust and easy lack of empathy.

26.

I have an inkling that the most important of philosophical subjects is our human
relationship with time. Temporality is a subject that towers over us, much as
space puts us in our true place in the physical realm. Even thinking that all our
sense perceptions, intuitions and thought processes are time-bound and time
affected is a huge subject. We are defined as beings and as Being by our
relationship to time. It makes sense why Heidegger would write a book called
Being and Time and why it would be a pre-eminent philosophical topic of
discussion. And yet its all relative. What is the meaning of time in the
context of infinity? (Irony: my song Stream of Consciousness plays as I write
this.)

27.

I still have great moments of ego. I should keep working on it. The Ego is
natures gift to us for survival but the way it operates is most strange and
completely selfish. Its literally there to ensure your survival. and thats it. I
would like to think, in my more cerebral moments, that I am learning to
countermand and control it. But maybe this is yet more self-deception. I would
like to think I can rise above it but then I ask myself why I would even want to
do this. Is conscious thought somehow more pure or noble than the unconscious
prods of Ego? What version of me is it trying to save? In every sense "I" is a
fiction.

28.

The human being is a random beast. In public they prefer order, considered
thought and coherence of thought with action. In reality, they are vain creatures
of habit, drive and inconsistency. Its a consistent phenomena we see through
the history of human thought to find an ideal of their own making which human
beings do not live up to.

29.

Freedom is what you do with whats been done to you. - Jean-Paul Sartre

30.

Humans have a will to meaning that mere beasts, perhaps, do not have. This
throws them into a game they have no choice about - to make things mean
something. Where meaning gaps or deficits appear this can only manifest itself
as a crisis.

31.

Beware the lures of knowing

Imagine, if you will, 100 country mansions. In these country mansions are 100
libraries.

Every room in these country mansions is a library and each one of the mansions
has 100 of them. In this great space you spend your life storing up all the things
you learn, all your knowledge collected together. But what you don't have, in
this fable, is any inkling as to what any of it means. What, then, I ask you, is the
point of all this collected knowledge? Have you not simply spent your life
collecting useless facts? Is it not just so much jumble? Is knowing an end in
itself?
We switch focus. Consider the biblical tale of Eden, a place of innocence and
freedom from the burden of knowing. But its carefree inhabitants lose their
innocence and become burdened with knowledge. And now, as knowers, they
are burdened with what to do about what they know. Their crime, if crime there
was, was in wanting to know too much and our intrepid gatherers of knowledge
and eaters of fruit did not realize the consequences of knowing. Human beings
have a need to act when they know. And this knowing will lead to acting and, if
they do not have other necessary qualities, their knowing will lead to bad and
negatively consequential actions. Perhaps now we understand why the biblical
innocence was to be preferred?

There is a traditional dichotomy between knowledge and wisdom. Some people


(and, indeed, communities) prefer one over the other - and there are various
intellectual and/or religious shrines to both in various places. Some people
venerate knowing, and the need to know, above all else. (Examples could be
those who wear scientism heavy on their brow or certain essentialist and
foundationalist philosophers.) And I take issue with this. For knowing is not, and
cannot, be an end in itself.

There is, of course, no end to knowing. We cannot imagine that there would ever
be an end to all the facts. But the situation is more dire than simply letting a
drive to know have its head. (I ask myself here what the outcome of letting a
drive to eat have its head would result in - by way of analogy.) There is what we
may call a crisis of knowledge - and a crisis of knowing - in that knowing is
simply not enough. Knowing, of course, does not realize this itself because in its
knowing it does not have the wisdom to know that knowing is not enough. (In
the same way, Reason often doesn't realize that reason is not very reasonable,
rationality doesnt realize that it is not very rational, etc., ad infinitum.) And its
not a case of the amount of knowing but of what simply knowing is able to
achieve. A collection of facts, as I hope my parables illustrate, is actually a
pretty useless (but also burdensome) thing. Knowing, by itself, is in the end both
impotent and potentially dangerous. Other things, perhaps we may describe
them collectively as wisdom, are needed to enable us to appropriately deal with
the things we know. I can immediately think of 3 strands here:

1. You need to know what knowledge means (the question of meaning).

2. You need to know how to appropriately use the knowledge (experience).


3. You need to know how things fit together, or can fit together (understanding).

An issue with knowledge will always be that the knowing and the collecting of
knowledge will never be enough. Knowledge leads inevitably to action and
people almost always feel the need to do something about the things they know.
And its precisely here where knowing, by itself, is impotent because knowledge
does not tell you what to do with it. Its not part of the package but, instead, a
separate skill and not one anyone is forced to have - regardless of how many of
their 100 houses with 100 libraries is full of knowledge. The second issue is that
that need to do something about the knowing is experienced as a burden for, in
reality, people do not simply store what they know in libraries. This leads to the
spectre of doing the wrong thing or using the knowledge badly. Knowledge is
dynamite, its a dangerous thing with consequences.

In the light of these twin issues (and the at least three other separate
requirements I mentioned above) it seems to me that wisdom dictates we can
know too much. The drive to knowledge, if given its head, is a bad thing with a
negative impact. It produces more data than a person (or community) can
handle. The appropriate response is to curb the drive to know and, instead, have
a sober and reflective innocence. Without the extra tools that wisdom provides
knowledge becomes but a blunt instrument of possible self-harm. What those
who wrote the story of Eden saw was the dangers of an inappropriate lust for
knowledge, a lust which raised up knowledge and knowing above its station and
made it the god at whose temple we all now had to worship. In those
circumstances, knowledge and knowing were always going to be capricious gods
who abused their power and destroyed us by virtue of attenuating our all too
corruptible egos. In the end, the moral of the story of Eden is both that you can
know too much and that knowing is not without burdensome consequences. It's
a message we need to hear again and again.

32.

PS Who amongst us knows things they wish they didn't know?

33.

What is the point of my life? update! There is not, nor can there be, any
antecedent point, of course. Im currently drawing breath on the basis it is at
least an opportunity to try and understand something, anything. Maybe myself
or the world of my experience? Once all the metanarratives and metaphysics
have been burned away by an innocent honesty whats left is an empty space to
fill. So rock on as much as the world of experience allows. You may end up
trapped within a bubble of your own making (and without really knowing it) but
whats the alternative? Or the harm?

34.

Two people share the same belief but have completely different behaviour as a
result. Would this not show that beliefs do not determine behaviour? Would it
further show that beliefs and behaviour, theory and practice, are simply different
and not necessarily related things? If you cannot determine someones practice
from their beliefs then, with that, the idea of a one-to-one correlation is put in
doubt. Where that leaves the idea of a coherence of beliefs with behaviour is
then also a matter for discussion.

35.

I have mellowed (in my own way). I have grown more appreciative and
reflective with age. Maybe this is natural and what happens to all human beings
as they get older. I wouldnt know about that though as Ive never done it
before.

36.

I am reminded about just how few crumbs a dream can actually feed on. There
is something to be said for the human spirit. Or is it a (sometimes necessary)
blind stupidity?

37.

Philosophy as music is my motto for my musical output. Its thought in sounds.


Alternatively, think of my music as my opening a conduit to my insides and what
is there flows out in chunks. Its not necessarily good but its honest is another
way I have described it. Such naivety is my authentic signature. Im like some
dumb, fluffy creature unaware there are so many bad things that can happen to
me in the world.

38.
Contradiction corner. - Is my musical practice a result of my anti-foundational,
anti-essentialist beliefs? Is my focus on its directness and honesty, at the cost of
professionalism or doing it right according to antecedent standards, because of
what I value and what I dont? Have I created an existential form of music or, as
my friend on Twitter says, a toe-tapping nihilism?

39.

Suffer is what human beings do. Its the downside of feeling and thinking.
Anyone who thinks for long enough will meet a crisis. Evolutionary fate has dealt
us the cards and we must play our hand and suffer the consequences.

40.

Enough said.

41.

The stream of consciousness. Isnt everyone an accident? Isnt everything? Isnt


the idea of causal relations just another mirage? As Nietzsche showed, its a
concentrating on some things and not others.

42.

They say that time heals all wounds. Is it not rather that it just causes you to
forget, to lose the detail and be left with a vaguer outline?

43.

Whats the difference between willed ignorance and willed innocence? And what
are their relative merits? Fine margins.

44.

See comment 31.

45.

The problem, as I see it, is many-fold but, at bottom, arrives at a basic lack of
the necessary tools and insights to be able to account for our Being, for meaning
in an empty Universe, for giving any thoroughgoing purpose to anything.
Change and transitoriness is all around after the metanarratives and
metaphysics die, after all the false gods of knowledge, reason and rationality are
exposed as insubstantial, after the crisis of (lack of) meaning has become
apparent. We are nihilists in a world of nihilism.

The caveat to this is that this is not wholly true. There is still your situation,
culture, society, options, opportunities, personality and motivations - even at
bare minimum. Nihilism is the non-existence of universals and not the
non-existence of anything at all. You are, in that sense, fated to the perilous
path of freedom and creation. Seek only not after universals.

As a result it is not clear to me immediately why the response to Nihilism should


be despair - although it often is. Might it not be seen as an opportunity, a place
for creation and re-creation, a place where you can cut your cloth accordingly?
This is not to say that the life of our lived experience is a playground where
anything goes. Anything that can be made to go, goes (as Stanley Fish said).
But if things can be made then they can be re-made.

46.

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a beguiling enigma
that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an
underlying truth. That, in retrospect, is probably the fatal mistake, to think there
is a truth, reason, rationality or a necessary amount of knowledge to find. We
need to stop up our ears to the siren songs.

47.

Life is the process whereby infinity constantly slips through our fingers.

48.

Life is a fate you can escape. Living is the price you pay for it.

49.

Can it be doubted that people are their own worst enemies? If you were creating
a species you wouldnt create a human being. What mixtures of wonder and
madness we are!
50.

Its been hell ever since.

51.

Its not that I am frustrated and defeated; its that my own thinking, choices and
actions are what must bring it about. The world is so (dis)ordered and
(dis)arranged that every good turns out to be a seed of destruction. Here are
perfect grounds for becoming an absurdist - for all is absurd.

52.

The stealing of innocence is the saddest thing of all. Im always brought to tears
when I see examples of it.

53.

Memories to me are often like wounds. Pain is so close to pleasure.

54.

The effort required in life is often more than I am prepared to give. The lazy die
as surely as the motivated. In all things there is an internal cost/benefit analysis.

55.

Silence. It cleanses the soul.

56.

Your story is the story of your imperfections. Imperfection has the benefit of
authenticity and authenticity, it turns out, is more valuable than an unattainable
perfection could ever be.

57.

It is good that lived experience is a constraint and limiting. It is foolish and


deliberate misunderstanding from those who would have us believe that
anything goes. The very idea makes no sense. There is a world and it impinges
upon us. It is good that we dont control it. Many times the world has brushed up
against me, often harshly, but it has made me think and examine. We should
welcome such occasions, though they be painful, as aids to our progress along
the way.

58.

I have no doubt that every single human being maintains themselves by use of
illusions with which they are wont to delude themselves. Not every statement or
thought need be perspicuous to some imagined reality. It would be an illusion to
think it did need to be.

59.

In a world become mechanism, we are all aliens.

60.

Everybodys different.

61.

In the practice of understanding your illusions you emancipate yourself from


yourself. That is, rightly done, you engage in a constant practice of surmounting
your own limitations. And it must certainly be assumed from the very beginning
that you are a mass of limitations.

62.

All those who would try to codify and, formally and logically, delineate the world
need to remember one thing: the Universe abhors predictability but it loves the
unexpected. It might also help to have an entirely appropriate humility. Do we
ever really KNOW whats coming next?

63.

Mine has been an often solitary walk down the path of life. Im not sorry for that
and, reflecting, I dont have any real feeling that I would want to change it. In
any life there will be pluses and minuses for there is no perfect way to live and
mistakes will always be part of the game.
64.

People who learn habits of self-reliance (learn to) need other people less. But
they should continue to remember the benefits of another point of view,
something they will never be able to supply for themselves.

65.

Innocence is something I value so very highly. I wonder now about its


relationship to naivety, speaking as a man who has written music titled Im
Naive about himself.

66.

Sometimes I wonder if I have not just been numb since I was pulled, screaming,
into this world. I lie at night and worry that I will be pulled, screaming, out of it
too.

67.

Can people be blamed for who they are? It would seem an oversimplification.

68.

I once knew someone who felt beguiled by going astray. I actually am astray
and the thought terrified her. Maybe it should terrify me too but I just think
Whats the worst that can happen?

69.

Why dont more people revolt from their lives of minimum-waged servitude? Is a
diet of X Factor and Premier League really that worthwhile?

70.

The end is not always known from the beginning. Warning for fools.

71.

Revenge is really a matter of ego and ego, quite often, is not a very helpful thing
in a social context. Winning can happen in such as way that the win is both
entirely sour and entirely hollow. And what good is a win that doesnt feel like a
win?

72.

There is no feeling so powerless as not being able to communicate. Spare a


moments thought for the voiceless.

73.

The criminal prospers, and the just are brought low. True enough, life is not
organised on strict moral principles. People do not pay for their crimes and often
misdeeds result in earthly success. I wish I could ascribe to one of these
figmentary flights of fanciful imagination that religionists have where they
extend earthly justice into some ethereal realm where justice always happens
and criminals always pay. Alas, I think the law of the universe is Take your
chances, you might get away with it.

74.

I know there are things I am good at. My problem is that I can think of no
reason why anyone else should care about that.

75.

It was suggested to me the other day that even the amoral have morals. That
may well be true but I dont think that understands the term amoral correctly.
To be amoral is to eschew public values and, instead, to take your own without
regard to others. Now does anyone truly act without regard to others? Not if
they have any mind for consequences, no.

76.

Death as comfort. The big escape. Perhaps this is the hell and that the
paradise.. of nothingness?

77.

I have some sympathy with those spiritual people who speak of emptying
yourself and of nothingness. It can be seen as a foretaste of the hereafter.
78.

So many words. And yet, there are always more.

79.

With maturity comes the expectation to act and think for oneself. So why then
do so many still try to influence and cajole you?

80.

I will try not to use my upbringing as an excuse. But, you know, you are the
sum of where youve come from.. or something.

81.

There is a certain kind of naive political campaigner who bemoans the fact that
there are the powerful and the powerless. Their hearts are in the right place but
its as if they dont realise that the world is a dirty place and their opponents will
be more than happy to get down and dirty. Good is not achieved with your head
in the clouds but with your hands in the muck.

82.

When I think how many times in life Ive been hugged or embraced Im
staggered by how startlingly few times it is. This causes me to reflect on my
form of life again and its relation to my views. As it should.

83.

I stood in Tempelhofer Feld again, all too briefly. I cycled there especially in a 50
kilometer round trip. There was an hours worth of torrential rain. I didnt really
care even as the rain worked its way through my clothes and I stood there
literally dripping wet. The Feld was almost completely deserted, as you might
expect, and I stood under a tree which was not up to the task of shielding me
from the downpour. Then, when the rain ceased, I did one more lap of that
special place on my bike in soaking wet clothes. I have a kind of romantic glow
about it even as I write now. If there was a heaven that would be it.
84.

Is life a constant struggle to be yourself, unashamed and unbending to social


pressures and mores? It can seem that way. I cut my own hair the other day, as
I have done for decades now. I wasnt very careful because I could care less
what it really looks like. But I went out and wore a hat. I didnt want people to
laugh and point. I hate myself a little bit for that show of insecurity. I was just
saving myself the little bit of stress that comes from having to deal with it. Ive
been laughed at in the street just for wearing cargo shorts when the weather
was thought not suitable for such things!

85.

What would real isolation be like? I obviously have no idea. Ive lived a one foot
in, one foot out kind of life.

86.

What is worst in life? To be merely tolerated.

87.

I dont want a tombstone. I want to be forgotten. I want time and space to rush
and claim me and wash over me, blotting out that I ever existed.

88.

Living life with your eyes shut sets up some strange conditions of life.

89.

Honesty to yourself is perhaps the most important thing you can ever cultivate.

90.

In life you often need to accept loss or lack of control. If maturity is about
accommodation to the circumstances of existence, then this is surely a decent
part of it.

91.
When youve had enough of rejection, you stop trying to be accepted. But Id be
a liar if I said you ever completely give it up. But its head and heart. My heart
would risk it all again. My head is determined I will never ever let that happen
again.

92.

Better to dislike oneself and question yourself than to think you are the greatest
thing since sliced bread.

93.

The key to happiness: peace and enjoyment in yourself in the moment, creating
a self that is not at odds with your existence. Happiness can never be about the
external situations of life, although they can obviously affect you. Cultivate your
being.

94.

The 9 year old has sat down, the tears have run out. What is left is a child sitting
by the roadside, resigned to never reaching his destination. (Confession of a boy
who got lost aged 9 and was found in the street crying.)

95.

People dont choose the path of their lives. They will kid themselves that they
do, but they dont. So dont listen to the (often American) preachers of
positivity who say you can do anything you want and its all up to you. Even an
idiot can figure out some of the myriad things in life you do not control. Take
me. I do not control even the thoughts in my head, affected as they are by
mental illness in the form of anxiety and depression.

96.

One of the things that makes you feel most powerless is realising that you
cannot grasp time. You cannot stop the clock. It ticks, and only in one direction.
Human finitude is a deeply profound thing.

97.
I think these people should mostly forget me. Oh, they have.

98.

I find this comment exceedingly strange. Its a rare example of me looking


forwards. Something I hardly ever do.

99.

Its easy to be negative about the human race, very easy. And so we are. Rightly
so.

100.

It is a fact that I am much more popular as several fictional Internet characters I


play than as the physical being I legally am. What does this mean?

TWENTY TWO

Jessica pulled into the driveway and parked up behind Stefans Audi. Any
number of flimsy excuses for her later than usual arrival home were competing
in her head for the prize of Most Believable Flimsy Excuse of The Day. She
hadnt yet decided which one would win and none of them were particularly
convincing. She would probably decide in the moment if Stefan even cared to
ask which wasnt a certainty by any means. One of them was even sort of the
truth that she had been to Daves garage as her car was faulty. Jessica loved the
deliciousness of sort of telling the truth but not quite. It tickled her vanity and
tweaked the pert nipples of her belief that she was so wickedly clever to trick her
husband like that. Hello darling. Yes, I was at Daves because my big end
needed attention. Oh, and by the way, whilst there I got him to fuck me
furiously over his filthy desk. Sometimes Jessica fantasized about getting
caught. How close to the edge can you get and yet still save yourself? To be
alive is one thing but to feel alive is what counts.

The door closed behind her as she entered the hallway. She could hear the TV in
the distance and assumed Stefan must be watching it. The smell of food hung in
the air so she assumed, yet again, that Stefan must have either made food or,
more likely, bought some. It smelled vaguely like something from the Chip Shop.
Jessica wanted to investigate but she figured hers would be keeping warm
somewhere so she tip-toed upstairs to freshen herself up after her sex
adventures at the garage. This was what she told herself anyway. The untold
story was that although Jessica liked to think of herself as this smart, sassy,
sexy and devious woman in actual fact she was also a coward, a pussy in the
insulting sense of the word. She told herself a story about sailing close to the
wind but what she often didnt admit was that this self-deceptive fantasy only
worked if she never got caught. It might be a fantasy to get caught and revel,
for an eternal second, in the beams of light revealing her dirty secrets but, in
reality, it would be disaster. It had to be the illusion of sailing closer to the wind
than it actually was or she would be blown onto the rocks of random chance
which would ruin everything.

The bedroom door was slightly ajar and she swiftly entered the room and
dumped her handbag on the bed. Her skirt and blouse quickly followed. She
thought a shower now was best. She could tell Stefan she was washing the
tiredness of the day away when she went down shortly, wearing something
distracting. She turned around to go into the en-suite bathroom and paused to
look in the full length mirror that hung on the wall opposite the end of their bed.
Daves dark, oily handprints told a story only the most naive choirboy could not
have retold in intimate detail. Her white panties were oily and her hips bore the
indelible marks of having been held roughly and tightly by someone needing
purchase for a pumping action. The white cups of her bra bore dirty handprints
that strayed onto her breasts as well. This underwear needs to be thrown
away, thought Jessica. She sat on the bed and then, finding her phone, quickly
sent a text message to Dave, reading it out loud as she typed it throwing my
underwear away because your dirty, oily hands are all over it you beast, love
Jess xx. Then Stefan walked out of the bathroom into the bedroom. Jessica
dropped her phone.

How long has it been going on? asked Stefan, his face red and bewildered.
Jessica stood and weighed up the options in her mind at lightning speed. Would
flat denial work? Was now the time to try out some outrageous lie and dare him
not to believe it? She knew very well that the truth was not just a matter of
what was true and what was a lie. No one really cares about that. What people
care about are the stakes, the consequences, of the truth. It was Nietzsche who
had said that people do not flee from being tricked so much as from being
harmed by being tricked. Nietzsche thought that what people liked about
truth, as opposed to what is actually true, was its life preserving
consequences. So lets believe the safe things, the things that make us feel
secure. Away with this abstract but what is actually true? nonsense. No one
really cares about that. Truth with consequences, now thats what really
matters. So Jessica knew that the consequences of pushing his questions would
be weighing on Stefans mind very heavily right now. She knew he must know
that everything could explode into a thousand pieces very quickly if he pushed it
too far. There was a point of no return.

But in the end she just said, Once, just now. Thats the only time it has ever
happened. I was tired and he came onto me. I should have done more to stop
him. Im sorry. Once? asked Stefan, clearly not believing a word of it. Once,
and you send him a love Jess text from our bedroom with his oily hands all over
your body? I dont believe you. Thats up to you, shot back Jessica, shuffling
the responsibility for pushing this conversation into the land of no return back
onto him. Why were you even there? asked Stefan, the questions beginning to
multiply inside his head. I had a problem with my car. I didnt want it to get
worse and so I popped in hoping to catch him before he went home, explained
Jessica. She had actually convinced herself inside that this was even partly true
now and then it occurred to her that this was actually the story she had made up
for herself. Strange that she was now coming to believe it was sort of true. The
mind plays tricks. You popped in hoping to suck my brothers cock and get
fucked by him from behind by the looks of it. And you got what you wanted.
Stefan moved to the wardrobe and grabbed a jacket. Well Im not letting it go.
Im going round to see Dave and see what he has to say about it, Stefan
announced. As you wish, said Jessica, who was now starting to think ahead to
where this might lead. Dave would surely not talk the encounter up. Best to let
Stefan go through the motions and see where things settled in time. Ill be here
when you get back, she said, more meekly than her self-image would have
believed possible. Stefan didnt answer and he was already marching downstairs.

Stefan got into his car and turned the key. The engine purred into life. He was
about to take off the handbrake but then stopped and just sat there. The shock
hit him like a wave and, for a few minutes, he sat there motionless, random
thoughts rolling through his mind. Thankfully, none of them stuck around
because most of them were thoughts he did not want to have let alone keep. He
was glad they kept on rolling through rather than hanging around to really bring
him down. He brought both hands down sharply on the steering wheel and then
did it again, over and over nine or ten times before lying motionless with his
head resting on it. Suddenly, he got out his phone. He searched the contacts and
came to one that read Foxy. I need to meet you now. Is it possible? typed
Stefan. The reply was almost instant as an address came back to his message
inbox. Be there in 30, he replied and then he drove out of the driveway.
Upstairs, Jessica was typing too: Stefan knows. Say nothing. Just act guilty and
sheepish. Be apologetic and do nothing to provoke him. It will blow over, love
Jess. Then she took off her oily underwear, threw it in the bin and went for a
long, hot shower. She was a pragmatist. What else would she do?

ELEVEN

Today's blog is about the subject of meaning and its a fairly "stream of
consciousness" type of a blog. As I write I am just back from my daily exercise
which is my chance to blow some cobwebs out of my mind and loosen up my
body. It happens quite often in these times that thoughts come to mind and
coalesce in ways that are fruitful and many of the blogs you see here are a result
of such times. This is going to be another one like that.

So if you have been reading this blog at any time during this year you will know
that my grand subject has been human being. I have been asking myself what it
means to be human, where humans might be going and what the difference
might be between a human being and the possible technological beings that we
might become in the future. There has also been a strand of that which
concentrated on consciousness. I have found it all greatly stimulating and it has
brought me forward in my own thinking and inspired much new music from me
that led me down new paths.

It was a couple of weeks ago, however, that it finally dawned on me what this
was all about though. It was then that I realized that the great question here,
perhaps the greatest question of all, was the question of meaning. Read back
through some of my earlier blogs if you like and confirm this for yourself. It
further dawned on me at that time that the question of meaning had really been
the question that has animated me from my earliest days as a thinker back
when I was 8, 9 and 10 reading biblical stories or The Odyssey which I read
aged 10 at school. There was always a sense of wonder with me (a naive sense
of wonder, I might add) and that has probably not served me very well in the
long run but it has meant that I wanted to try and get answers to the questions
that have animated my life.

Fast forward to today when Im a teacher in her late twenties with a few years
more reading and experience under her belt. Meaning, why things mean, how
things mean, what things mean, have come to be the central questions of my
existence. Perhaps they are, in various forms, for everyone. Not everyone
confronts these questions of course. Some try to hide from them or run away
from them, scared of the possible answers. But I take a more prosaic and
present view of things. Life would be hell if I didn't try to work out some
answers. My thinking and reading this year have brought some progress for me
it seems. At least, it feels that way. And as those writing about consciousness
know very well, how things feel is very important to we humans. This, too, is
something else caught up in all the "meaning" questions.

So what of "meaning"? Why do things mean? This, it seems to me, is a problem


of consciousness. Neuroscientist Christof Koch sees consciousness as a feature
of complex enough systems, systems, for example, such as the human brain.
Koch himself does not limit the possibility of such consciousness to the human
brain alone. He conceives it is possible that machine networks, if complex
enough, could also become conscious. He also suggests that other animals with
brains not so different from ours could be conscious - if in not quite the same
way or to the same extent. For my purposes here the relevance of this is that
with a developed enough consciousness comes the problem of meaning.

For with a consciousness such as ours, one that is self-aware, aware of its
surroundings, able to extrapolate and problem solve, able to refer back to
previous events and project forward into future ones, meaning floods in. Why is
this? It is because meaning-making is a matter of relating things one to another,
a matter of contextualizing things with other things, a matter of giving things a
situation, a matter of relating and relationships, of networks. It just so happens
that the universe bequeathed to us consciousness, quite blindly, and, in so
doing, meaning flooded into our lives and all the problems that go with it.
Meaning is what happens when conscious minds start going about their business.
It is what happens when you take one object or idea, something that means
nothing at all in itself or in isolation, and then relate it to something else. Or
anything else. It is in the interactions of things and ideas that meaning is
produced. As beings with a developed consciousness this was something we just
couldn't help doing - the making of meaning.

In recent centuries our great thinkers have had problems with meaning though.
Some wanted to try and fix meaning, believing that in so doing they could get
things "right". Time and time again that project has failed but there are still
those who believe that there is "a way things are" that could fix meanings. I am
not one of those. Others have seen a problem with "nihilism" which is the lack of
meaning. This issue is tied to the first inasmuch as by their constant failure to fix
meaning it seemed to some that there was no fixed meaning to be found. I don't
think that there is but I also don't think this should be cause for despair. Coming
from a different angle, there were others who said that the problem wasn't that
there was no meaning but that, instead, there was too much! These
"poststructuralists" argued that the issue wasn't a lack of meaning but that there
was so much it could never be fixed. Meaning was a matter of the "play" of
many different meanings.

It seems to me that if you follow my basic ideas above of how meaning arises at
all then it is no surprise that meanings are not fixed. It seems to me that if I am
anywhere close then it would be impossible to fix meaning in the first place. For
if meaning is simply a matter of relating things to other things then there are as
many meanings as there are things to be related and in as many ways as you
can relate them. In that, context may sometimes guide but it can never be
determinative. We would still end up with as many meanings as it would be
possible for people to have in any given scenario. It would seem that the
poststructuralists were onto something with their ideas of a superfluity of
meaning.

This, of course, brings its own issues. How is such a superfluity to be controlled?
After all, we all need meaning and meanings for things but we all also need to
live. In this I find something that the recently departed neuroscientist Oliver
Sacks said deeply relevant. He wrote that "Each of us constructs and lives a
narrative and is defined by this narrative." I find this to be intuitively and
reflectively true. Sachs is here saying that we all build a story of our lives as we
grow up and develop, one that gets added to every day with each event,
thought, idea, that happens. This comes to be the story we tell ourselves about
ourselves, about our circumstances, our possibilities, our past, our future. This
forms a major context for all the meaning-making that we will do in life. It
becomes the borders of what things can mean and acts as a stabilizing, if also
sometimes an imprisoning, force. It is the boundaries of our thought. But these
are not to be thought of as hard and impervious boundaries. The boundary can
sometimes move and new meanings become possible. It is a movable border but
a border nevertheless.

One corollary of this is that things will not mean the same thing for everyone.
Nor, if this is right, should they. Difference is in-built into this understanding of
things and is something to be negotiated rather than denied or avoided. We will
tell completely different stories about ourselves and live individual lives and this
will add to the list of possible meanings that can be made. This in turn speaks to
an amazing plurality of lives and of meaning-making that often scares those who
want to fix things or find a "way things are". There is no "way things are". And
this is why there can also be no gods. Gods are used to try and fix meaning.
They are there as guarantors of "the way things are" and act as a kind of
ber-context for everything. But there is no ber-context. The universe did not
come with meanings attached. It merely blindly created beings for whom things
must mean.

This is what is bequeathed to us: to make things mean something useful to us,
something that we can understand and live with. That may be a struggle but we
cannot avoid it unless we die or go mad. I hope to study meaning and its making
further over the coming days and weeks. There are those, such as Nietzsche or
Foucault, who studied how things mean in more detail, for example, by using
"genealogical" or "archaeological" techniques - but upon knowledge and its
meaning itself. Nietzsche did great studies into the history of morality,
something he saw as a problem, whilst Foucault, amongst other things, studied
the history of prisons, sexuality, the treatment of mental illness and even
scientific knowledge itself. None of these things, or their meanings, are givens.
The idea of the "given" is one that those who want to fix things one way (and its
always their way!) would like us to have. But following the path I have that
seems crazy and to be rejected. What intellectual studies such of those of
Nietzsche and Foucault have shown us is that no knowledge and no meaning is a
given, Rather, it is all created and with a very specific history that was necessary
for its formation. We would do well to remember this.

So we are in a world of play, the play of meanings. We are free to make ours to
the extent that our lives, and the stories we tell about them, allow us. Meanings
do not come with things so the idea of an "in-itself" with a meaning attached is
silly. The meaning comes in the relating of one thing to another, in the activity
of our conscious minds.

It is a fact of life that we don't see problems or issues with something until some
event or insight allows us to see things from a different point of view, not the
one we hold, not the one we regard as "normal". So it was that yesterday I
found myself reading Albert Camus' short novel, The Stranger. The Stranger is
an existentialist story about a character called Mersault. Mersault is in almost
every respect an unspectacular and ordinary man living in French Algeria (much
as Camus himself did). He has a mother (who has just died when the story
begins), a job and lives in a room in a building that also allows him to mix with
others and notice their habits. He is neither an idealist nor particularly active in
any other sense. He is just a guy living his life, an everyman.

But Mersault is also the "stranger" of the book's title. He is this stranger
because, from the existential point of view of the book, Mersault is a man who
simply refuses to pretend. He is honest, so most others would say, to a fault. If
someone is addressing him or talking to him and he has no thought or response
he simply says nothing back, leaving an ugly silence. When thinking how to act
in public he doesn't generally bother thinking how to act in public. He just
unreflectively does what he wants - unlike pretty much everyone else who has
been socialized into public expectations. At his mother's funeral he never cries
and sits by the coffin drinking coffee and smoking. He leaves as soon as possible
after giving the impression of little remorse and having imparted the fact that he
doesn't even know her age. When he gets a girlfriend she asks him to marry her
and he agrees but concedes to her that he'd marry any girl he liked in the same
way.

So Mersault is a man who absolutely refuses to pretend. It is not that he is doing


it for effect but that he himself refuses the pretense that is living as a social
being. He ignores expectations whether they be to do with funerals, business or
personal relationships. He doesn't really care for social consequences in any
sphere of life. He speaks and acts a bald, unfettered truth as if this should have
no further, social implications. Mersault is a man literally out of phase with the
world around him. He is in it but not of it. Its every day concerns and its ways
make no impact on him except to irritate or bore him. He comes across as a
lackadaisical individual whose own world is a completely different set of signs,
symbols and significances. For this Camus calls him "the stranger" since, to
everyone else who is "normal", he seems passing strange. Its also worth
pointing out that in the course of the story all this comes to be used against
Mersault so being strange is not without dire consequences.

It is, of course, Mersault's own strangeness that shines the light back onto the
rest of society for in Mersault's character we see its opposite, the socialized
character that society expects, in sharper relief. As Hannah Arendt saw it,
writing about the book in 1946, "the stranger is an average man who simply
refuses to submit to the serious-mindedness of society, he refuses to live as any
of his allotted functions." And its this last point which starts to tweak my ever
sensitive nipples in regards to the subject of personal identity, my subject for
today.

We all are assigned a number of functions by society. I'm male so that could be
son, father, brother, co-worker, citizen, British, English speaker, etc., etc. There
are a number that apply to each of us and maybe you can think of roles which
would apply to you. But these are socialized roles and each one of them has
expectations attached because in each of them we can think of stereotypical
ways in which each of them should be acted out in various situations. Yet if we
read The Stranger we find that Mersault is oblivious to people's views about him
or expectations for him. Indeed, it seems as if he never even cares to consider
the question. It is because of this that Arendt can go on to write in her review
that "Because he does not pretend, he is a stranger whom no one understands...
he refuses to play the game, he is isolated from his fellow men to the point of
incomprehensibility." One insight that the story gives us is that in public or with
others you really shouldn't say what you really think - for this will have social
consequences. And so the existentialist novel is starting to weave its particular
concerns into the fabric of story. Its asking "Must you be dishonest and
inauthentic to be a person in society?" There can be no doubt that you must. But
is this a good thing?

And so I find myself asking "Who am I?" And, to be honest, I wish that more
people would ask it of themselves too. There is a great strand of philosophy
extending right back to Socrates with his "The unexamined life is not worth
living" that encourages if not demands that people know themselves better.
("Know thyself" is, itself, a ubiquitous Greek maxim that has been attributed to
many.) The great Friedrich Nietzsche has a strand of his philosophy that is about
"becom(ing) what you are" but you cannot do this unless you know what it is
you are. Well, that's not quite correct. Its truer to say that you cannot become
what you are unless you drop all the pretense and expectations that others exert
upon you and begin to live authentically as yourself. To do this is not without its
price though because you can be sure that others will not do the same. You will
then appear, once more, as Mersault did to his fellow Algerians, strange,
different, aloof, a bit of an oddball. But it is the testimony of Mersault that all
you can do is be yourself. So why do so many play at being like others and
fitting in? What is thereby gained?

And its with this that we come to the meat. The conclusion of The Stranger
seems to pose a dilemma. Already in the book it has been hinted that choices in
life, the path we take through its shadowy corridors, maybe doesn't make that
much difference. I write notes as I read, things I need to remember or important
points that I'm gleaning from the text. I had already written midway through the
novel "Recurring theme: this option or that one, it makes no difference." With
the ending of the novel I think this is made more explicit. The Stranger poses all
readers a challenge. It asks them to consider life as going from Point A, your
birth, to Point B, your death. These are the only fixed points. It then challenges
you to answer the question: What does it really matter how you get from Point A
to Point B? And, I think, it asks you to consider that question primarily from the
position of Point B.
And we can make this quite extreme. Think of yourself as anything and taking
ANY possible path from Point A to Point B. Living life as a criminal, a thief, a
cheat, a murderer, a philanderer, a pimp, a confidence trickster. How about a
terrorist or a pedophile? I am not saying these are good things to be or urging
any choices here. I'm trying to be extreme in order to make Camus' question in
The Stranger more pointed. People are many things in life and have many
experiences. They make many choices. A number of them most would call
immoral or even evil. Many religious people would hope and believe that their
god punishes such things. Failing that, the State may punish people for certain
life choices. Mersault himself is sentenced to death in The Stranger for shooting
an Arab and its from his cell that the question is framed. The point is not the
details of the life you lead. The point is what difference does it really make how
you get from Point A to Point B?

It seems to me that, in this way, Camus offers the question "Everything you are,
everything you do, leads up to nothing, Point B. So what matters the route?"
Indeed, in the story Mersault starts to understand why his dead mother now
seemingly took a close male friend near to her death. Mersault imagines that
seeing the door to life closing and the door to oblivion opening, she felt a new
freedom. Mersault, in his cell, says that "for the first time, the first, I laid my
heart open to the benign indifference of the universe". This, it seems to me, is
death as the release, death as the escape from life. This is death as freedom and
life as always a somewhat constricting prison.

And so my question to you, my readers, is this: Who are you? Who are you
really? Are you a person who fits in, or someone who is going to be you
regardless of those around you? And what difference do you think it makes how
you get from Point A to Point B?

PS On this occasion I have need for a postscript. For when I read the story of
Mersault I felt like I was reading an alternative biography of my own life. I am,
myself, a stranger and much of Mersault's characterization could equally apply to
me. I don't fit in socially and very often don't try. I'd be the worst employee in
the world and am, no doubt, not the best as it is, a terrible wife and daughter. I
have been in the past a girlfriend and felt very much the way Mersault does
towards his girlfriend in the story, Marie. Indeed, I recall telling my last
boyfriend, when he stupidly asked, that the boyfriend before him was the best
looking boyfriend I had ever had. This, of course, was not the answer he
expected nor the answer that people would expect me to give. But I
straightforwardly told him what I regarded as the truth. Shouldn't that be
enough? No, for in a social world there are expectations and, reading this story,
I feel the weight of them, and my own strangeness, all the more.
"With authenticity" is the existential answer to the old, old question "What is the
right way to live?" "Existential" here is a term used to denote certain thinkers of
the 19th and 20th centuries who were noted for concentrating on human
subjectivity, the human individual as a subject in the world and the felt absurdity
of the individual as a being who has come into existence. These thinkers by no
means all had the same ideas and existentialism itself is neither a school of
thought nor a doctrine of any kind. It is merely a term to denote these kinds of
thinkers from the given time period and would include people such as
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Jaspers, Sartre, de Beauvoir and Camus as
well as writers like Kafka and Dostoyevsky for those who are familiar with
philosophical literature. All that aside, what I want to do in my blog today is
discuss authenticity as something that matters greatly to me. It is worth noting
before I continue, however, that authenticity is probably regarded as the
existentialist's number one virtue. We might well ask, then, why this is and what
is so important about living authentically that it recommends itself so highly.

It is as well to start by asking what authenticity might be before we go on to


discuss it any further. I've already said in my first paragraph that it is regarded
as a, if not the, existentialist answer to the question "What is the right way to
live?" This is the old question Greeks used to ponder when they were concerned
to find "the good life" and ponder questions of ethics and conduct. So we can see
that this is a question with some history, what we might call a humanist question
since it concerns human life. Authenticity is a quality that those with an
existentialist leaning think brings us nearer to this right way to live. Put simply,
"authenticity" is living true to yourself and in balance with what you know of
yourself, not just post-reflectively but also instinctively. Inasmuch as it is an
answer to that old question I have referred to it is also a moral decision. This is
so for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we take the true to be valuable and so to seek
it is to make a moral choice and, secondly, because in seeking a "good life" or
"right way to live" we are making judgments that can affect ourselves and
potentially be applicable to others as well. This clearly has moral implications.

There is a further thing to note about authenticity though and especially as to


why existentialist thinkers are drawn to it. For Sartre it seems that most things
about existence have some kind of moral dimension. He always thinks that
people should have to acknowledge what they are doing with their lives. This
opens that up to moral judgment. For Nietzsche a person is that being who,
should they have their "why" of life, they can put up with almost any "how". This
opens up vistas of purpose and meaning. Meanwhile for Camus, as I showed in a
blog a few days ago, he remarks that "the determined soul will manage" with life
despite its absurdity. You may recall if you read that blog that he thinks we
should roll our metaphorical rock with some moral purpose. Kierkegaard is one
famous for his formula "Subjectivity is truth" and writes at length about human
individuals as ones who must make their own truth.
If we see these varying positions as nodes on a net what we get is a major
junction where all these points (and others not mentioned) meet. Authenticity,
as these thinkers each elucidate in their own ways as they apply to their
particular concerns, is about what Nietzsche terms the "how" of life. This "how"
is a moral thing, a way of life, a manner of existing, subjectively. Each individual
human subject has a way of being in the world and each can reflect on what that
is. We can perhaps better shine a light on authenticity by asking what its
opposite would be. That is to be fake. We all understand what a fake is and most
people would frown on the idea. Authenticity is primarily a matter of not being a
fake to yourself. Its a matter of morality and responsibility to yourself.
Authenticity is your duty not to be a fake, faking your way through life.

But there are a few issues here after what I admit is not necessarily an easily
expressed idea. Lauren Bialystok, an assistant professor at the University of
Toronto, wrote a PhD thesis on the subject of authenticity which I came across
online the other day. She raises a couple of relevant points here when thinking
about authenticity. These are about considering notions of identity and selfhood.
To be authentic to yourself you have to have a self and an identity to be
authentic to. But this is not simply formulated. "Who am I?" is a very basic
question but it seems that often many people are not sure about the details.
Many people go through a crisis of identity where they are not sure where they
fit in with the world. Authenticity should be, as Bialystok says, "a convergence
between how something presents itself and what it actually is". But there is a
second point and that is that the idea of being oneself also requires that it be
possible not to be yourself. But it is not clear that this is even possible. Even
"odd" behavior is still "our" behavior... whatever we take "our" to refer to.
People can be multi-faceted or, more negatively, two-faced. But all facets and
faces are still theirs. Being a human being is not about being a clone or filling
out a mold. We are not undifferentiated members of a species. To lead a human
life requires honoring what it means to be a once-occurring person.

There are further identity issues to consider. Martin Heidegger spoke of three:
our "thrownness" into life as beings with a concrete and individual past, our
ek-sistence, a future that stands out before as possibility that is not yet set, and
our immersion in the flood of our unique every day concerns. These are all
time-based factors constitutive of the fact that we exist in a situation in time,
one unique to us in all its specificity. What is important for authenticity in this
context is that we can always move beyond our "facticity" in the situation, the
unique nexus of past, present and future which we inhabit. It is, as Sartre said,
about "what we do with what's been done to us". Humans are not stable,
timeless identities. We are always a story in the process of being written, a
thought which reminds us of Kierkegaard's saying that we "live forwards but
understand backwards". But we are also always beings in time. Once we realize
that we are not necessary and need not have existed, once we realize that to be
alive is to exist and have a time limit on our existence, a past and present and a
future that exists always only as possibility, then we gain some insight into what
it means to exist at all and of our responsibility for ourselves. This all informs
our authenticity.

One aspect of this discussion that may be familiar to you is the concept of "bad
faith". This was talked about a lot by Jean-Paul Sartre who is largely responsible
for its modern familiarity. Acting in "bad faith", in terms of authenticity, is when
you knowingly act contrary to what you know your own stance, values and
beliefs to be. It is ordering your life according to certain principles when you
know you have not been persuaded of their truth or value. On the other hand,
acting in good faith is when you act in accordance with these things or have
been persuaded. But what might cause us to act in bad faith? For Heidegger the
original sin of bad faith is exceeding to the will of others, fitting in in ways you
know are contrary to you yourself. But its not just a matter of other people.
Existentialists know well that we lie and deceive ourselves just as well as others.
You can lie to yourself about who you are or try and tell yourself you are
someone you are not, perhaps because you might want to be. These are issues
of choice and responsibility and are one of the reasons authenticity is such a big
deal in terms of us as individuals. We have what Kierkegaard envisioned as an
anguish because of our freedom to act in such ways. He thought of it like the
man who is on the edge of the cliff. He fears falling but he also has an anguish,
the knowledge that he could just choose to jump. "Bad faith" is a way in which
we deal with this ambiguous anguish of existence.

And so we come to the meat. One is not born authentic. One becomes it by
conscious choice and practice as one who takes responsibility for their own life,
eschewing a fitting in contrary to what we know of ourselves and learning to
recognize the ways in which we lie to ourselves about who we are, where we
have come from and what we value. In so doing one becomes an individual, a
person responsible for and to themselves. Here we see aspects of Camus'
lucidity, that open-eyed knowing that was so important regarding our response
to the absurdity of life. The person who is happy to be a cog, unthinking, not
responsible, is inauthentic. Nietzsche has a saying in his book Human, All Too
Human which goes like this:

However far a man may extend himself with his knowledge, however objective
he may appear to himself - ultimately he reaps nothing but his own biography.

I read this as Nietzsche saying that all we are is slugs leaving a trail. The
authentic person takes responsibility for what that trail might tell someone
seeing it about us. To have authenticity is to embrace, to take responsibility, to
make a choice about our life as a whole. Inauthenticity is to let things happen.

Why is this important? Its because having woken up, having seen, you have to
choose to be Neo rather than choosing to be Cypher, to use an analogy from the
film The Matrix. You may remember that Neo was told he was "The One" and
finally embraced his calling after some initial doubt. Cypher, on the other hand,
had been woken from his life of servitude to the machines but rejected it and
convinced himself he would be better off being asleep again. Neo was authentic,
Cypher was not. Neo took responsibility, Cypher did not. But why do you have to
do this? Because doing this constitutes your being responsible which is an action
not merely a realization. In this sense we train ourselves to be authentic like
choosing a path or a way. But we must still walk it daily. Nothing here is given or
automatic. Authenticity functions as owning our own individuality and specificity.
We are not generic humans. We are who we are and, as Nietzsche said, should
"become who we are" and find our why of life and then live our manner of life.
Inauthenticity, then, consists in fleeing our individuality (and our responsibility
for it) by diluting being human into an event that happens to everyone. This
neglects the contingency that made us who we are and not just some human
clone. We are not human clones. We are individual beings with personal
identities and senses of self.

Authenticity, its necessity and the fact of it as an issue, is an aspect of the


absurd conditions of life - specifically of our futile pursuit of being consciously
self-identical. Our quest for identity collides with the fact that we can deceive
ourselves and lie to ourselves quite deliberately and yet that be hidden from us.
It is an expression of the nature of a being that can not know what it is and take
(moral) responsibility for itself nevertheless. How and why this is is
unexplainable to date and absurd. We are self-contradictory and inconsistent
beings who knit thoughts, feelings and actions together to make of them some
identity we can live with. This is not always easy and often not possible - which
can result in a personal crisis of selfhood. These things, again, are an aspect of
the absurd conditions of our life and the kinds of freedom of which we are
capable, specifically, the freedom to not identify with our ideas of self. "We are
condemned to be free" as Sartre notes. Here again, as with Camus and the
absurd, we find that the absurd does not liberate but binds. Once again, our
response is the courage and responsibility to live, to embrace our contingency.
This constitutes our authenticity.

This is basically all I wanted to say about this subject and I appreciate that this
has perhaps been one of my heavier blogs. So a pat on the back to anyone who
got this far! It remains only for me to say that the longer I have lived the more
important being authentic has become to me. This constitutes the core element
of my self-identity and my responsibility for myself as a valid human being. It
now remains only to raise a question: if this is meant to be an existentialist
answer to "what is the good life?" and the answer is claimed to be moral and
coming from a moral impulse then how does this fit into a scheme of social
morality? The vast majority of us live as social beings in a society. Are we all just
to live as individuals cultivating our authenticity? How would this work? Could it
even work? Does this answer social moral questions?

But that's for another day.

TWENTY FOUR

As he drove through the rapidly fading light, Stefan Lynds head was a shed. He
concluded, as one of many conclusions he was making as he drove, that people
do not know whats best for them. They are moths drawn to flames they cannot
ignore. Oh, sure enough, they have the ability to make choices. But its without
most of the knowledge required to make them because thats often something
they could never have anyway. Instead, people justify themselves after the fact
for things they chose by instinct, intuition, desire or lust. Which is, of course, to
say they didnt really choose them at all for these things are not choice but
something else. Its funny how people talk about it though and how we conceive
of ourselves as reasoning machines, free reasoning machines. But its a fantasy,
a piece of flim-flam, a modesty screen to hide the fact that, more often than not,
we just do things and make up reasons for why on the hoof. The imagined deep
thought, reasoning and application of logic that might exist in an ideal or
notional vision of how we operate doesnt really exist at all. We are liars. To
ourselves. The whole basis of Western society, whose values have permeated
the world, rests on an image of human beings which is simply untrue. Humans:
the great hypocrites.

As he drove further he came to the conclusion that he didnt care about what
Dave had to say anymore. Or Jessica really. The truth was something he would
never know, could never know, because he wasnt there. He was reminded of a
story hed overheard in the canteen at work. A woman was breaking up with her
boyfriend and after she had told him she wanted to break it off he had, so she
understood, gone and flirted with one of her friends, someone they had once
talked about having a threesome with. The threesome hadnt worked out
because she was unsure about it but now her not quite boyfriend had contacted
her friend on Facebook and was being suggestive to her, egging her on, maybe
trying to start something with her. This had escalated a few days later when he
had lied to her about where he was, saying he was at a city park when in fact
hed gone to her house. Then, apparently, he started playing mind games with
the possibly ex-girlfriend, making outrageous claims about having had sex with
her friend amongst other things. Her problem was it could all be true, in which
case what was it to do with her anyway because she wanted to break up with
him, or it could all be false, in which case she just had a mischievous
ex-boyfriend who was trying to mess with her mind and somewhat succeeding.
Since she had broke it off with him it wasnt really even any of her business
anyway but she had this itch she couldnt scratch which is that she would never
know the truth as she hadnt been there and neither person could be trusted to
truthfully recount events. Both would bat the ball away defensively, looking after
number one. Stefan Lynd felt himself to be in just this position now. So to hell
with what either of them might say.

Foxy lived in a very upscale house in a rich part of the city. It was quite
surprising since she was only an overworked, underpaid teacher like Jessica, or
so she said. Stefan wondered how she could afford such a place and mused that
perhaps she had a rich husband or parents. In any case, he was glad he hadnt
deleted the contact after his mysterious but very stimulating first conversation
with her. She came across as a very guarded person who kept things very close
to her ample chest (if it was her chest hed ever really seen, that is) but this only
added to the enigma she was becoming. He had become slightly addicted to
talking to her and was always looking for her green light to be lit up on Skype
indicating she was online. He sent her messages sometimes during the day
hoping to provoke a reply. They rarely ever did but even the idea of being in
touch with her stroked his ego.

Having located her house, he parked in a space right outside and approached
the high wrought iron gate of the fenced property. A console to the side
suggested he should ring for attention and so he pressed the button. A
deliciously creamy female voice oozed out of the speaker, Hello. Can I help
you? Stefan pressed again and said, Its Stefan. Are you alone, he asked,
nervously. Yes, the creamy voice replied and with a buzz the gate swung open.
Stefan walked in and up the hill to a door at the side of the house. Through the
glass to either side of it he spied a small vestibule and soon enough a tall,
brunette woman appeared. He fought back a brief wave of panic as he realised
hed never actually heard Foxy speak before so he couldnt actually be sure it
was her he was about to meet. The door opened and the woman who greeted
him with a big smile had the same face as the display picture of the woman
known simply as Foxy on Skype. So at least that matched up. Are you Foxy?
he asked, tentatively, but hoping not to sound too credulous. That depends if
you are Stefan or not, the woman shot back with a flirty flash of green eyes.
Yes, Im definitely Stefan, he said. And Im Foxy, she replied. You certainly
are, he thought to himself.

Come through to the living room, Foxy invited. Would you like a drink? she
asked. Ill have what youre having, said Stefan, feeling an erection forming in
his pants but not wanting to ask for something she might not have. Foxy went
across to the bar area and poured something indistinct and alcoholic into two
glasses from a decanter. A pill was dropped into one and it quickly dissolved.
She stirred that particular glass surreptitiously with a glass stirrer and, when she
was satisfied the secret additive was properly dissolved, she approached Stefan
and offered him the appropriate glass. Bottoms up! she said and took a hearty
swig of her drink, hoping thereby to encourage Stefan to a similar action. She
smiled as Stefan did the same, swallowing at least 80% of the contents of the
glass in one go. Did you find it easy enough to get here? asked Foxy. I was a
little bit surprised to get your message, she continued. Yes, it wasnt to diff
to diff to difficu.. Stefan suddenly seemed drowsy and confused. Are you
alright Stefan? asked Foxy, innocently. Im Im.. Whatever Stefan was going
to say never came out as this Foxy lady raised her hand high and smashed the
bottom of her glass down on Stefans head. He fell backwards onto the sofa, a
mass of uncoordinated limbs and, looking up from his stupor, he saw Foxy
bringing the half full decanter down on his head as well. He lost consciousness
and blood oozed from a deep head wound.

The belligerent Fox smiled and dragged the lifeless body to the carpet where she
undressed it. She arranged it with legs slightly spread and arms at ninety
degrees like a bloody Vitruvian Man. The head wound continued to leak deep red
lifeforce all over the carpet. Foxy seemed unconcerned. Next she slowly and very
deliberately undressed herself and neatly laid her folded clothes on a nearby
chair. She returned to the lifeless corpse and stood over it, her loins above
Stefans now flaccid, useless penis. There was a moments silent stillness, as if
she was praying or communing with something, then she began to masturbate,
a vision of dark olive skin, full breasts and neatly trimmed pussy. She became
slick and wet until she ejaculated profusely over the corpse at which point she
lay her naked body on top of Stefans and energetically simulated sex with it.
Stefan suddenly came to life with a loud shout, Arghhhh! Foxy lurched forward,
biting deep into his neck, ripping out his carotid artery. Stefan became limp once
more underneath her still writhing body, hideously dead, as fountains of blood
pissed from the bite wound in his neck. Miss Fox looked up with sated bloodlust,
her mouth a bloody smear, and screamed a cry that would have chilled the
bones of the dead.

FIFTEEN

1. The greatest enemy to you learning something Is what you think you already
know.

2. Imagine if everyone Tomorrow went out and made a new friend, someone
who was NOT like them. Would that change things?

3. What did you do yeSterday that made a difference?

4. If its so easy for Us to see what is wrong with the world why does no one ever
fix it?
5. What is more imPortant, people or things?
6. If people gave up believing in gods and spirits how much more would they
achieve realizing that iTs
in human hands to make things better?

7. If you were a Prime Minister or a President cOuld you give the order to kill
people?

8. There are millions of people on Earth who don't understand what You are
talking about.

9. Everything that lives alsO dies.

10. Why would anyone ever have thoUght it was OK to have slaves.... or kill
people for some imagined deficiency of race, creed, colour or orientation?

TWENTY SIX

Foxy, now dressed in a tight black leather suit consisting of jacket and short
skirt, her breasts barely contained in the black lace half cup bra that was all she
was wearing underneath, put the telephone receiver down. She was satisfied
that the body in the living room would be dealt with and the necessary cleaning
arrangements seen to. Whoever this house actually belonged to would be paid
off or disposed of by her associates. Loose ends would be tied off. They were
always tied off. Her cell phone lit up and vibrated. It was Jessica. Hi Jess, she
said in a totally different voice. How are you? Not great, actually, Jessica
replied. The Doomsday Scenario has occurred. Stefan has found me out. Well,
partially, she continued. I wouldnt worry too much about Stefan, Foxy
replied. Im sure he has other things to worry about instead. And he wouldnt
want to give up a hottie like you. Not unless he had no choice anyway. Foxy
looked over her shoulder at Stefans corpse on the carpet, a chunk of flesh
ripped from the left side of his neck. Whats the worst that could happen? she
asked through a smile. A messy divorce, said Jessica. I wouldnt worry about
that, said Foxy, to which Jessica replied, Do you have time to come over?
Sure, just give me half an hour, OK? said Foxy, looking for her car keys.

The doorbell rang and Jessica went into the hall and answered it. Miss Fox was
wearing a tight black leather suit consisting of a matching jacket and short skirt.
Her large, voluptuous breasts were barely contained by the black lace half cup
bra that she was wearing underneath the jacket. Jessica was pleased to see her
but found the outfit a little strange. It was hardly the kind of thing youd put on
to go and meet a friend on the spur of the moment and it didnt make you think
teacher at all. Miss Fox came in and they embraced and exchanged a kiss.
How are you? asked the strangely dressed guest. I dont real feel anything to
be honest, Jessica replied. What can I feel? she continued. I just have to wait
and see how things play out. Yet, in a sense, Jessica knew that the party was
over because it was all based on Stefan not knowing but now he did know so
where was the fun in that? The thought of doing something naughty behind
someones back was now destroyed. Now it was just sex with people, empty,
vacuous sex. The thought disgusted her for a moment and images of various
men pushing their soggy erections at her filled her head like a filthy phallus
collage. She must have looked said because Miss Fox said, Awww, you poor
thing and moved in for another hug.

It was during the embrace that Jessica noticed a change in her Foxy guest. She
opened her eyes from the hug that she was enjoying and fell back, startled. Miss
Fox had transformed into some kind of tentacled beast. She was no longer
wearing a leather suit. She no longer had brunette hair or even human skin. She
had no face. It was too much for Jessica to take. She fled to the living room
hoping that maybe it was some sort of shock that had affected her mind or
vision. Miss Fox was going to come through the living room door in a leather
suit. Everything would be fine. Perhaps she needed a sleep. Things were usually
better in the morning. But Miss Fox didnt come through the living room door.
The tentacled thing did...

THIRTY THREE

Earlier this week I wrote a blog about what I called "human exceptionalism". I
could also have referred to "speciesism", it later occurred to me. The term would
have done equally well for the phenomenon I was talking about. But it occurs to
me that I can go further in my thinking than I did in that earlier blog, a blog
which asked why we find it relatively easy to denominate some beings as lesser
beings than ourselves and then commit atrocities upon them. The direction that
we can go further in is that one which asks us to address human beings as a
species in themselves. We can do this whilst at the same time recognizing that
our species, the human being, is just one of millions that this planet has
produced, the vast majority of which have been and gone again, vanished from
the planet that once gave them birth. Indeed, a wide spectrum view of life on
Earth, if not elsewhere in the universe, seems to suggest that life forms in
general have their time and then they vanish, a cosmic version of Andy Warhol's
"famous for fifteen minutes".

Outside of the pride and ego of the human consciousness there is no reason to
think that we, the humans, will be any different. But due to the way we have
developed, and the higher brain functions that have come along with it, we can
imagine other futures, ones in which the humans survive. Indeed, some imagine
futures in which the humans become the first creatures to leave this planet and
colonise others, heading out into the vastness of space. As time passes by there
will certainly be an increasing urgency to do that and a scenario somewhat like
the plot for the film Interstellar may arise. This is because space, that still, quiet,
unchanging void, is actually none of these things. Things are changing in space
all the time, constantly. Its moving. Its just that this change occurs over such
unimaginably long periods of time that our tiny species, that lives for a few
decades, never really lives long enough to notice the difference. One of the
changes that will have occurred in what we would call the far future is that our
sun will have grown in luminosity to such an extent that the heat it gives off will
terminally threaten our existence.

And this is what the universe is like. Its a dangerous, changing, chaotic place.
From a universal perspective what are human beings but just another form of
life? What are you and I but just individual examples of this "just another form
of life"? You and I are as an individual ant is to us. Or a worm. Or a slug. There
is, from this perspective, nothing special or remarkable about us. There's no
reason to want to treat the humans differently to the worms or the slugs. We
can be sure that the rest of the universe, in all its physical processes, will not
spare us over them either. It would also be quite easy to imagine that other
forms of life on other planets would not share our high regard for ourselves as
well. Indeed, from an alien perspective we might not even be the dominant form
of life on our own planet because who knows what they might see with their
eyes? Perhaps, for them, the insects are king. Or the rats. My point is that our
vision is uniquely human-shaped. We are prepped and primed by our human
form of life to value and prefer human things and to weigh things to human
advantage. But no other form of life is.

Imagine, for a moment, that humans had never come to pass. This is a live
scenario because the fact that humans did come to pass is not to say that they
had to. Evolution is a blind process and has no purpose. Neither is any divine
figure guiding it. So our species did not have to be. It is contingent. It just
happened because it could, because earlier versions of us survived that became
us. And, who knows, some contingent event may yet wipe us out in one fell
swoop. If that happened who in this universe of ours would miss us? No one
would. Our planet wouldn't. The universe wouldn't. Both would just carry on. We
are not necessary to everything else that exists in order to give it some meaning
and purpose. Indeed, as far as we know, meaning and purpose are things unique
to our species. When a dog sees a ball we do not imagine it asks itself what a
ball means even though the dog may link the ball with play through memory. We
do not think that the cat that sits purring in front of the fire is asking itself about
its purpose in life as it purrs. We as humans have a tendency to think about
things by analogy to ourselves. This is perhaps understandable. But it can also
be somewhat arrogant and its certainly wrong-headed.

There are those among us who like to accentuate the progress our species
makes. Five hundred years ago, however, there were very powerful bodies who
thought that our planet was the centre of the universe, then thought of as God's
creation, a place he made for human beings, his finest achievement and pinnacle
of his creation. But our growing capabilities shattered such notions and now we
know we are but a pinprick in a vast void. We are not in the centre of anything.
Indeed, there is nothing special or remarkable about us or our solar system. We
just are, one of billions like us, lost in the anonymity of it all. And yet the notion
that we are somehow different, special, persists. Perhaps we may regard this as
but the ego necessary to survive. It can be imagined that if you thought of
yourself as nothing special and had a kind of species-based lack of self-esteem
that this would be to the detriment of our primary evolutionary purpose which is
to exist long enough to multiply. And maybe this is so. But does this mandate
the ideas of some who see us as future lords of the universe and, worse, lords of
our planet right now? On what basis is a human being lord of anything?

So what I have a problem with here is a speciesist egocentrism that we humans


possess. I want to see we humans as but another animal, something as
contingent as bees, sharks and those horrible crawly things that come out from
under rocks. We had as much to do with our existence as they did. We are
largely as powerless in the face of an uncaring universe as they are. We live and
die (so far) as they do. In short, we share very much in common with all other
living things on planet Earth. But I don't think we have the required humility that
that should entail. And that becomes a problem when you start to regard the
planet that birthed you as your own species' bank of resources such as we
clearly do. Of course, there is little, at this point, to stop us. "Nature is red in
tooth and claw", "survival of the fittest", "might is right" and all other such
vulgar notions spring to mind and do so because there is a grain of truth in
them. But we can, perhaps, turn the argument of those who think humans are
special and different back on them. For if this is so then maybe, just maybe, we
have a responsibility to use our specialness, our special powers over and above
those the rest of this planet's inhabitants have, for good.

It is not impossible to imagine that our increasing technological knowledge will


bequeath us ways to extend our lives. We even have members of our species,
the Transhumanists and Futurists of which I have spoken earlier in the year on
this blog, who are actively looking at how technology may both extend and
transform our lives. But, if this is so, then surely some of these technologies will
be useful for the rest of our world. It would be a very solipsistic vision of the
future if it did not. We, as humans, have always, up until now, been biological
beings that lived in a biological world. This presents problems to be sure
(disease and decay being just two pressing ones) but it also constitutes the only
situation of life we have ever known. We appreciate the fact of sun and rain on
our skin, the feel of the wind, walking across a grassy field, interaction with
other animal species, and these sensations engender feelings and emotions and
constitute part of what it feels like to be a human being. Any future iteration of
the human consciousness, whether that be as some kind of robot or even as a
computer program, must account for this if we are to retain any link to our past
human development. So I would argue that the human future is not just about
preserving a personal human identity, or even a collection of personal human
identities. It is about preserving our world in all its biological variety.
Another way to say this is that as we destroy our world we destroy ourselves,
piece by piece, tree by tree, hedgerow by hedgerow, field by field, river by river,
sea by sea. Of course, things change over time. But changes have consequences
and there is all the difference in the world between things that happen and
things you cause, perhaps by not thinking it through or even not thinking at all.
We recognize the difference in human thought between an accident, something
unforeseen and something done as a deliberate act of vandalism. My argument
here is that we, as a species, have some humility, recognize our contingency and
how bound up we are with the planet that gave us life and even now sustains us,
and use the advantage our evolution has given us to make the world better for
everything that lives here. Because, in the end, helping others is really just
helping yourself. Its a recognition that you are truly not an island, you're part of
a bio-system, a circle of life, a community of life. A life without everything else
this planet holds would not be a human life at all because we do not and have
never existed in isolation.

We may think we can throw off such notions and that our ingenuity can prosper
us even whilst everything else is sacrificed or fails to survive. Should that
happen then it may yet be, as some say, that the "human beings" were only a
phase and the post-humans, beings who once were us, take our place instead. If
that did happen it would be yet another demonstration that the universe doesn't
need us and that all things must pass.

TWENTY EIGHT

Sit down Jessica! Miss Foxs voice was quietly menacing and authoritative. She
shimmered and hovered imperceptibly above the carpet like a phantom, her
tentacles hypnotically waving in an imaginary breeze. In her current form she
had no obvious mouth opening and yet Jessica could hear her speaking just as
when she had falsely imagined they were members of the same species. Jessica
didnt feel terrified by the current situation but she did feel in the presence of
something much greater than herself and she realised a respectful need to pay it
attention. She wondered if she should perhaps feel more afraid and she was
certainly aware that she should obey Miss Fox for fear of repercussions. But this
was more a simple realisation than terror. It was analogous to being in close
proximity to a lion. You would recognise its danger and the safety implications
for yourself and your lack of control of this primal creature and pay it heed
accordingly.

Miss Foxs tentacles were moving in waves and patterns back and forth across
her physical form - if what she was even knew of genders and sexuality.
Suddenly, the room they were in changed appearance, no longer Jessicas living
room but now some kind of disco cave. Lights swirled around and Jessica was
now sitting on a long silver couch. Right in the middle of it, in fact. Miss Fox
hovered slightly closer but Jessica wasnt disturbed by this. Presumably, Miss
Fox could erase her in a moments notice if she wanted to anyway so why
worry? She was in a situation beyond her control and sometimes when thats
your situation you should just abandon yourself to it. Miss Fox clearly wasnt just
going to blast her from existence otherwise why was she still here? So Jessica
waited to see what would happen next and, sure enough, Miss Fox began to
speak:

Hello Jessica. Dont worry about all this. Just listen, think and consider. Do you
remember when you first met me? It was at a party. Yes, I know that first we
met at the school when you came in before term started to orientate yourself to
your surroundings. But we first really met at the party I took you to at the
community centre. Do you remember how we were that night, how we danced,
the look in my eyes, the way we kissed, how my hand slipped under your skirt
and inside your panties? That was when we first made contact, when we noticed
each other and formed a connection. That was when I started to learn all about
you and what drives you and motivates you. I am not human nor of this world
as, by now, must be manifestly obvious to you. I have lived longer than you can
imagine but I am not a god, as you would understand it. I am just another form
of life that exists in the same universe as you. I saw you from afar, across time
and space, and was attracted to you. I wanted to know more about you and so I
am here to meet you. I read your blogs and articles, I followed your online
activities and listened to your thoughts. Finally, I met you and got, quite
literally, inside you. I enjoyed it all.

But what is your life about Jessica? What is it all for? As I watch you, I see an
emptiness at the heart of it all. You have been living for desire and attention and
I see it in every message you write to yet another suitor, every filthy story you
write to stoke up the fires and fan the flames of those driven by their uncultured
instincts to have you. Desire is your goal, to feel wanted, needed, lusted after.
Attention is what gives the meaning to your life. You think that if people want
you then your life has meaning and purpose and you find reason to wake up
every morning because of it. Your life is a hunt and you constantly make
yourself the prey of the hunters. Its not even that you want to get caught just so
long as there are always more hunters to chase you. And, of course, there
always will be because there will always be more men who want someone to
chase, some female figure on which to wager all their hopes that their own lives
contain something worth living for.

But, I wonder, do you ever ask yourself what would happen if the hunt stopped?
Do you ever ask why you are doing what you are doing? I think you do because
I hear your thoughts and I see the things you write. You wonder if there is more
and you ask what things are for and why people think the things, and the ways,
that they do. The answer is that, of course, there is more than this. Of course
there is more than you or any other human can know. It is a special kind of
human arrogance which thinks that only what humans can understand is in
existence. It is a special kind of human arrogance that considers that making the
universe ever more anthropocentric is the same as the unveiling of truth and
knowledge. What, indeed, are these things truth and knowledge but what
your human philosopher called the history of Mans irrefutable errors? Do you
not think that other beings in other, as yet undiscovered by your species,
corners of the universe have their own versions of truth and knowledge too? And
why would they be forced to be human versions of these things? Do you not
think that there are beings and phenomena as yet unimagined and, indeed,
unimaginable by you and your kind? The universe was not made for human
beings to understand nor is it the case that it must be understandable by them.

But, of course, every member of your species likes to know its place, as it were.
You ask yourselves, implicitly if not always explicitly, Where do I fit into the
order of things? This is not just in political and socio-cultural contexts but also
in the context of what you consider to be everything that there is. But do you
ask yourselves what you are? Why are all these men online like rabid dogs
hunting for anyone that will say Yes or anyone that they can persuade to say
Yes? Is it just to fight back the emptiness they would feel if there was no
longer a hunt to take part in? Or is it perhaps because human beings are nothing
more than ego machines, DNA spreaders imbued from birth with the need and
desire, which they did not create, to carry on, genetically if not personally? Why
do humans feel that they, collectively, must carry on? Why do people feel the
need to create little versions of themselves? Do you know? What is this survival
instinct they have which, by the way, is something they certainly had nothing to
do with creating?

Let us hold all this to one side for the moment, all the desire, purpose, need for
meaning and attention, need to survive, ideas of your place in the world and
associated things. Let us think, instead, about consciousness for this is where
your species flounders. Some of you, regarded by some as your highest minds,
are trapped in a physical world even though this gives these same people often
seemingly insurmountable problems of explanation when it comes to saying how
things work. Then they have to posit undiscovered things to fit into their models
to even make them perform their allotted functions! But there are others of your
species who talk about consciousness and this is one way in which your species
can open a door into a different kind of world. It has been imagined by some of
your thinkers that consciousness exists as a separate entity rather than a
developmental function or a useful illusion. Perhaps, some suggest,
consciousness, which could be thought of as mind or self-awareness, exists in
disembodied states. If it did, of course, your species would have scant
knowledge of it because you are physical beings. This sways your species
towards a need for physical explanations for things. You are encased in matter.
How else would you expect to explain things?

And yet what if I told you that right now at the command of my will I could
physically disappear and yet remain here as consciousness? You probably
wouldnt believe me because how could any of your species prove the truth of
what I was saying? And yet its true. You will have to take my word for that, of
course. And so I must tell you again that of course millions of things exist that
your species wrapped in flesh has never even dreamed of. And not just things
but dimensions. If you open your mind to the possibilities then there is really no
reason to think otherwise and you start to see how narrow human thinking, the
thinking of a species encased in certain unavoidable assumptions, really is. You
start to see the wisdom of those of your species that have said that you see
through a glass, darkly. Imagine what you humorously refer to as the lesser
species of your own home planet. You conceive that they know little of
themselves and the world around them, you are superior to them, yet do you
really think that you are so unlike them and so much more like something else?
Do you really think the difference is one of kind rather than degree? Are you all
not just things clinging to a rock in space hoping to survive, barely
understanding anything about what is going on?

It is both ironic and completely understandable that we met due to sex. Sex is
perhaps the reason for all of this and why it was so easy to catch you. Sex is
something else that human beings did not invent nor are they the only beings
that partake in it. You are now the first human being to have taken part in
interplanetary sexual relations. You are not the only one though. Sex is what
drives you on. Its why you are here and, for very many of your species, it is
what animates you from day to day. But doesnt it feel empty? Isnt something
missing? Isnt it the case that the more you chase it then the more the thing you
chase because of it, meaning, purpose, making sense of who you are,
knowledge, truth, evades your grasp? Even as you seek to be chased, caught,
and fertilised once more so, because of this activity, you find that you are
yourself looking to chase things and fertilise them for your own good. Yet you
never catch them because, like the eternal chase that you seek to give your own
life a reason to be, you are yourself caught up in a chase for things that you will
never catch either. Your human life is circular. You chase your tails and call it
meaning. You chase your tails and call it purpose. Your chase your tails and call
it understanding. You chase your tails and calling it knowing. You chase your
tails. Your human world is smaller and more insignificant than you could ever
imagine, a self-propagating dream you call reality.

I must leave you now but I am afraid I cannot leave you as you are. Your mind
has been opened and this has changed you irrevocably. You must leave your
body now and exist in another way. I cannot explain to you what this way will be
because, even if I did, you could not understand it. Your language does not even
contain the means to explain it because, of course, your language only contains
the means to explain human experience by reference to the same experience.
But, as I hope you now understand, the totality of human experience is but a dot
in comparison to the whole much as your planet is but a dot in comparison to
the totality of universe. Do not worry about what you will feel as this happens or
in your future. Your sense of feeling has been a thing tailored to the physical life
you have lived here on Earth but, from now on, you will no longer be bound to
one place or to a physical sense of feeling. From now on your life will be
something you could never have imagined. You go from a bounded existence to
just existing. The adventure has just begun.

ONE

I pick up the knife, check my grip and dig it slowly into the inside of my left
wrist. I push the tip of the knife about an inch into my flesh. It stings like Ive
always known it would in every single one of the hundreds of times Ive
imagined this moment. But I am not thinking now. I am doing. I draw the knife
quite quickly up the inside of my arm to the elbow. It is quickly crimson. The
blood runs down, flowing over my hand and covering my wedding ring. I swap
hands and repeat the action, digging the knife into the inside of my right arm
now instead with my bloody left hand. One should always slit ones wrists
lengthways, not across. To slash across will cut the tendons and render your
hand useless. But to do it lengthways leaves the tendons untouched and your
hands still functional. Although, hopefully, you wont be conscious too much
longer to need them.

I drop the knife to the ground and sit back against the tree and close my eyes.
Come on unconsciousness. Come and wash over me. End this, this, whatever it
was. And, as my mind filled with strange thoughts, it did.

POSTSCRIPT

It happens semi-regularly. And I find it very annoying. But what is this irritation
that gets under my skin? Often it is manifested as the incoherent ramblings of
some guilty-feeling person who takes it upon themselves to make the whole of
humanity responsible for some negative they see in the world. A good candidate
here, and the one which motivates this blog, is climate change. Some Twitter
person, who I am clearly following in error under the mistaken belief that he
might have interesting things to say (the only reason to follow anyone on
Twitter), was last night weeping and wailing for Hurricane Matthew which, said
he, was "the fault of humans". I assume he meant to suggest that it was caused
by anthropogenic climate change, the scientific notion that human activity has
warmed planet Earth and materially affected its climate in certain ways. Its very
important to be careful when talking about this because you can very soon be
talking nonsense (in numerous directions) if you do. Let me explain.

The notion that human activity might affect the climate I do not find to be an
outrageous one. I believe, through common sense as much as scientific
demonstration, in the principle of "cause and effect". That is, stuff affects other
stuff and so on. The idea of human-initiated climate change is therefore not
outlandish. It fits within a world of cause and effect. Now this is not to say that
the cause human beings has the effect climate change. But, to quell the fears of
any liberals or climate scientists reading, I'm not about to give you a
Trump-inspired climate change denying rhetoric. I leave it to others to
demonstrate if we humans are affecting the climate or not. If they say we are
then I can accept that as within the realms of possibility. However, this is not to
say that any weather event from here on in is "caused by climate change". We
had hurricanes before humanity's recent spurt of industrial development. Floods
occurred before we had factories. It got a bit hot before the combustion engine
was invented. Indeed, whisper it quietly, our planet was once upon a time
nothing but volcanoes. And trust me when I tell you that polite middle-class
society could not have existed in that either.

So let us be sensible here, as I imagine climate scientists generally to be if not


their environmentally leaning popularizers. Individual events cannot be ascribed
to climate change even though all kinds of populists and their media outlets now
seem to do this more and more. The science of the climate is about trends and
generalities and not "you driving your car every day caused a hurricane in
Miami". The very notion of this is stupid and inane. But, for my purposes, this
kind of thinking only acts as a prod to thinking more about what motivates this
type of thought - besides the lack of any decent grip on the science about it. I
locate in the type of thinking that wants to blame the weather on us a couple of
things. Firstly, I notice guilt. People who say stuff like this always want someone
to blame. When it comes to the weather they conveniently stick the blame at our
door in general. So Hurricane Matthew is OUR fault. That means you specifically
and everyone in general. If only you didn't have a 4x4 vehicle, a tablet
computer, a smartphone and a 42 inch TV it wouldn't have been windy in Mickey
Mouse Land yesterday. But there's a second thing too which motivates this guilt:
human self-importance.

I'm noticing this human self-importance more and more and it irritates the hell
out of me. I've written about it on this blog before too, the overwhelming human
exceptionalism that some of our race seem to have taken on board as a matter
of faith. In the case under discussion here this human self-importance takes a
modern, technological form. We are getting to the point now where human
consciousness is starting to believe that, instead of us being like the rest of
creation, subservient to conditions, reactive to the world around us which we do
not control, that we might be able to actually start taking the lead, actively
controlling and creating what is around us. This is based, I believe, very strongly
on an unspoken thought that, somehow in ways never explained, we are the
pinnacle of creation. And, so some of us think and others assume, we can
become gods, masters of our destiny. So, of course, to this type of person, the
weather is always our fault. We have become so powerful we can affect planets
now. Yet, I wonder, even the lowly cow farts out hundreds of tons of greenhouse
gas every day and that affects the climate too. No one thinks the cow has
become god.

But then no one would because cows aren't people and people are what is
important. The Western instrumental mentality sees cows only as a means to an
end, food and milk in this case. But let me continue with the mentality I see
around climate discussions because in it I find many insidious and unhelpful
thoughts. Most of the people who will mention climate change seem to have a
very narrow focus. As I have already said, this focus is all to do with human
beings; the focus is climate change as the fault of human action in the world.
But it seems to happen in a vacuum as if weather wouldn't happen without us.
Now I live in the UK and if I'd been in exactly the same place 12,000 years ago it
would have been during an ice age. The North Sea, to the east of me, would
have been frozen and a piece of land called Doggerland, which is now
underwater, would have linked the east of England to northern continental
Europe such that you could just walk across (a Brexit voter's nightmare!). This is
to say that the geography of my location would have been completely different
to the "normal" which is what I, with my puny human grasp of events, regard as
"what is the case" today. But, completely oblivious to the fact that human beings
exist, our planet's natural processes melted all that ice, created a vast new sea,
cut a channel between southern England and northern France, and made the UK
an island. We didn't cause this. It happened all by itself. And, guess what, given
enough time there will be another ice age too. Indeed, North America may yet
again be under an ice sheet meters thick. It was before. (Imagine a world in
which human beings SHOULD affect the climate because otherwise the world
may quite naturally become difficult to inhabit for a few thousand years!)

What the irritating people don't seem to grasp is lots of things which come from
the notion, the very important notion, that TIME = CHANGE. The world is not
standing still waiting for the self-important human beings to do something to
affect it. The climate is not passively standing by seeing which way human
decisions will make it go. The world itself is a living, breathing ecosystem that
we just happen to be a part of. Indeed, that's why we can affect (and are
affected by) it at all! We live in a physical world of causes and effects, causes,
incidentally, that go far beyond this planet and our ability to affect them. Our
very sun, which now in our current sense of normal pleasantly warms us, will,
with scientific certainly, one day grow so large that it fries us. This won't be our
fault. Its the physical world doing what it does. You see this very planet, and
assumedly us with it, was targeted for deletion long before the physical
processes of the universe had swung into action and, unbelievably, produced
human beings. When it did produce us nothing and no one thought that it had
done something special, unusual or different. It was just the universe doing what
it does on its way to a postulated heat death in some trillions of years. Physical
things don't survive; they decay over time. Time is the name we give to the
process of change and decay and it is functionally equivalent. But often we
simply don't realize this. Stuff is ALWAYS changing, always decaying. Its just we
rarely focus on this fact or live too slowly and too briefly to notice.

So this is partly why I don't understand the very, very conservative tendency of
environmentalists who always seem to want to preserve things exactly as they
are right now. But, I ask you, who canonized this particular point in time and
made it holy? Why is now special apart from our self-important and
self-regarding need to make special that which we regard as normality? And, no,
its not my desire to trash everything, kill animals, poison the planet or anything
like that that motivates this point for me. I'd very much like to live and let live if
we have a choice. I don't see a monkey much different to a lion, a fly or a
crocodile in the "life forms that deserve to keep living" stakes. This is because
every life form gets brought to life without consent and is then thrust into a
world so much beyond its own capacity to comprehend. All are equally as
deserving or undeserving of life. All must equally adapt to their circumstances in
the ways that nature has equipped them with. There is no arbiter over and
above us designating what is worth its existence and what is not. Stuff just plays
out as it will as each has ability to affect it. Personally speaking, I don't think
that other forms of life are our's to do with as we will or that, even more
preposterously, they somehow belong to us. All you are seeing there is the
simple principle of "might is right". And this is how much of the world of our
experience plays out in both human and animal spheres. Evolution. The
strongest (which is the best adapted) survive. What can happen will happen. All
that good stuff.
It would probably be terribly bad form now to list all the things human beings
have destroyed on this planet. But its a lot of things. The trouble is its not nearly
so many things as the planet destroyed all by itself. (By the way, I reject the
notion that we should separate human beings and the planet out as if we were
somehow not of the planet or part of it. My express belief here is that there is
but one system and we are a part of it. My comments here, then, are rhetorical
in purpose.) Well over 90% of species that ever lived on Earth are gone forever,
so I'm told. They did that without our action or interference. Its almost as if
nature is a machine for giving birth to things and then, as night follows day,
killing them off again. Hey, it is exactly that. But this doesn't sit well with the
so-called educated environmentalist tendency which is the expression of a
conservative preservational tendency which I cannot but see as, rather than in
tandem with nature, totally contrary to it. Nature, like time, is change. No one
thinks that, left to its own devices, nature would just keep everything as it is
right now. Everyone knows very well that if things were left alone then they
would change themselves. Landscapes would alter, species would come and go.
Things would carry on under the auspices of the actual normal which, contrary to
puny human thought, is NOT the world as it looks out of my window during my
pathetically small life. It is, instead, the whole vast sweep of events which make
up the life of an on-going universe, a physical universe of change and decay AS
CONSTANTS.

I think that what is needed here is a total change of perspective in many people,
people who have started off with human beings at the top of a pyramid they
designate "the Universe," and then designate everything else as somewhere
below that as if it were merely there only to inevitably lead to us. Let me be as
plain as I can be: we are not special, not the pinnacle of anything. In fact, if
evolution is allowed to roll on we will, INEVITABLY, be superceded. And, in any
case, even if it were the case that a narrow-minded preservation of the way
things are right now was to be desired, we are doing a completely shitty job of
making it so. We live in a world in which serious-minded, educated,
environmentalists can drive high powered cars, use computerised devices full of
precious metals that have travelled around the world to get to them, take
multiple flights on aeroplanes and then whine that "humanity is killing the
planet". Well, yes, it may be. But then maybe you should get rid of your car,
stop using computers, TVs, modern communications devices, mass
transportation systems and the capitalist economic system as a whole if you
want our chosen lifestyle to affect the planet less. I note that most
environmentalists seem not to preach this though. Because they love the
perceived benefits as much as the next person. Human beings are deeply flawed
creatures who will habitually preach one thing whilst doing another. They also
seem to have desired a technological and industrial form of life which cannot but
consume, pollute and destroy. Oh, and one last kick in the teeth, if you want to
"save the planet" you shouldn't have kids. Producing more people is about the
worst thing you can do in terms of your carbon footprint.

Were I someone else, I could say this, smugly, as a man who has no car, TV or
tablet. I might have a smartphone but never use it because I have no friends or
contacts and so no one to call. My computer may have been bought in 2009 and
with no prospect of my getting a new one. I might probably be the most
environmentally friendly person you know (I have no kids and never travel
anywhere either that isn't on foot) which is ironic since I don't share this
perverse, conservative-preservational tendency of the environmentalists. And
yet here I am making as small an impact as possible upon this world I share
with you (for a person who lives in a developed country). So when it came to the
environment in this case, and there will be someone out there in the real world
who is this person, I could actually point fingers if that is the game people want
me to play. But I find the whole game to be bizarre and wrong-headed and full
of curious if not preposterous notions. The truth is things change and I see little
point in changing the game to "but whose fault was it they changed?". This is
but the narcissistic preening of people who always need someone to blame and
unreflectively regard human beings as the reason that everything exists.

These people make me sick.

Instead, we need to start seeing everything much more holistically, as a system.


We are a part, an insignificant, tiny part, of this system, of a whole much bigger
than us. We aren't the reason for its existence or its purpose. We need to start
seeing change and decay as normal processes, the real normal as opposed to
the ossified, static, fake normal we think we see when we look out of the window
with a field of vision so small that we think that because something is like this
now then it always was and always should be. Come back to where you are now
in 10, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000 and 1,000,000 years time and things will
have gone through numerous changes because, newsflash, change is inevitable.
Change is normal. Things do NOT stay the same. The preservational tendency in
some human beings is contrary to this physical reality and to the on-going
processes of a physical universe. Species will come and go. Things will die.
That's normal! Its also normal, by the way, that things that have developed
higher brain function and self-awareness might want to avoid the inevitable. The
evolutionary story has not yet all been told.

On the whole, however, its time to once again remind ourselves that human
beings are temporary, contingent, insignificant. No good can come of making
one self-important species that might never have existed the center of all that is.

Now take a look at the following set of images:

The picture, as you can see, is a series of photos that blend from one of a man
standing on what appears to be a train platform to a picture of a galaxy in space.
The whole is titled "The Human Condition" but why? What is the point that the
creator, Duane Michals, wants to make here?
The first thing it says to me is "perspective". We are subjective beings with an
ego. This means we focus on ourselves a lot and we see with and through our
eyes. The world, in many respects, is our world, the world we see with our eyes
as we relate it to us. This is not just a matter of eyes but of knowledge and
understanding too. These are equally "our's". We aren't seeing through the eyes
of other people or using some generic, much less a universal, understanding. Its
all very, very personal. This also means its very, very narrow. How many people
are there in the world, each with their own eyes? No one thinks that they all see
what we see. In fact, we know they don't. This should promote humility. Quite
often it doesn't and we go the other way. What we see is truth. What anyone
else sees is dubious at best. But take a look at the picture again. In theory you
could imagine the man in all of them. But what is he in the final picture
compared to the first?

The second thing this picture says to me, building on the idea of perspective, is
that we are all so small and inconsequential. Taking that first person point of
view we all usually have we all seem so terribly important to ourselves. Some
people even act this way, as if its all about them. But get to the last part of the
picture. Now try and convince yourself you even matter at all. You might as well
be nothing. If this were a statistics class you would be nothing for your
contribution to the vastness of the universe is functionally zero. Think about it.
The Universe is so big and we are so small that you basically have to be on top
of someone to even see them, to notice they even exist. We stand here on this
equally inconsequential planet and feel so important, like the Universe is there
for our taking. But we have no clue. We aren't even ants. I don't think that this
fact is contemplated nearly enough. We are so concentrated on ourselves as the
be all and end all. What happens, what changes, if we start to think of ourselves
as nothing, as cosmic dust, as those who change nothing? We invest our actions
with so much significance and yet, in the end, do they even have any at all? I
love this wide view of space. Because it changes everything about us and who
we are. Or, it should. In that context, no Earth-bound agenda is of any
consequence at all. Its just lost in the vastness.

I was thinking about morality yesterday, spurred on by reading more Friedrich


Nietzsche books. His books aren't actually that long but take a long time to read
because they must be read slowly, one sentence at a time. They require a lot of
thinking time. He has a lot to say about morality and especially about how, as a
herd phenomenon, it works against us being the best people we can be, which is
a shorthand version of saying what I think Nietzsche actually wants. Nietzsche
sees modern Western society as under the rule of a Christianized morality which
is utterly destructive. It weakens rather than strengthens. It is characteristic of
"decadence" and is contrary to nature. Nietzsche conceives of the best of us as
warriors who do not want to be spared. We become intoxicated with life and
drive ourselves on to be the best we can be. Its true to say that in many
respects Nietzsche sees "the herd" as holding such strong individuals back and
much he says about morals and morality is very much at odds with common
thinking, thinking he would ascribe to the prevailing Christian narrative.
Christian morality, for Nietzsche, has nothing to recommend it and is
characteristic of people who are afraid of death and so engage in flights of fancy.
It is an infection, a virus in all human thought. More than this, people so
influenced are not even living whilst they are nominally alive. Nietzsche regards
"freedom" as "the will to self-responsibility" but regards Christianity as the
resignation of the weak.

Reading Nietzsche on morality, and remembering that in one book, Beyond Good
and Evil, he even tries to invent a form of life that goes beyond such a thing, is
challenging. This, indeed, is why I read him. He asks the right questions or, at
least, the ones this reader finds pertinent to her own life. Nietzsche is a very
biologistic philosopher. He ploughs that furrow which says that knowledge, our
knowledge, is life-shaped. Like a plant that grows by reaching out towards the
sun, so we seek to prosper ourselves by reaching for what we perceive as the
warmth and light. But note that this says nothing of absolutes. It doesn't, for
example, suggest that because we think we know something, and have feelings
that we know, that we actually know anything at all. It could be, as Nietzsche
writes elsewhere, just a "history of Man's errors". Nietzsche thinks that morality
is such a thing, the history of an error that has infected everything and
fabricated an "artificial, falsified world". We take so much for true or as read due
to moral valuations and choices without even really realizing that this is what we
are doing. Nietzsche has a book on this, On The Genealogy of Morals, which
excavates beneath morality and shows it, at bottom, to be baseless and empty.
He shows morality to be a domestication of Man, an abnegation of our species'
animal vitality. "There are no moral phenomena at all," he writes, "only a moral
interpretation of phenomena".
"Morality" seems very much to do with the human condition. You will never stop
hearing people tell you to be moral, whatever that means, from the first moment
you can understand others to probably your last. And very soon you will catch on
that this is usually done with varying levels of sincerity, hypocrisy and honesty.
But, nevertheless, and despite the obvious fact that pretty much everyone else
is moral only to a certain degree, morality will be pushed forward as something
vitally important and usually absolute in ways never explained. But I honestly
question this because, looking at that picture again, I ask myself how I can even
regard any human thought or action as having even a simple consequence. This
picture makes me wonder if the human condition is not to give importance to
things that just don't matter at all. And so much of human morality is saying
what matters and so this picture directly intersects with such a valuation. It
almost stares back at you and interrogates you and dares you to say any
fabricated, human rules or valuations count in its contexts. To be sure, this is
scary. It removes all boundaries. It begs the question of if there are any rules or
standards at all. To be sure, there are none that we don't make. But why should
anyone care about that?

Nietzsche distinguishes between moralists and amoralists in terms of courage.


Moralists are cowards. They cannot cope with reality as it presents itself to us in
all its particularity and so they flee into the Ideal. Witness here your Christianity
again. The world does not teach us that the good prosper and the evil suffer.
Often it teaches us the exact opposite. Or that good and evil have no relation to
life outcomes at all because its just random and complicated. So what reason is
there to be "good"? But for the Christian moralist, however, that lesson must be
true and so they create an imaginary realm where that is in fact the case and
argue that we will all be subject to it in the end. An invented divine Arbiter
guarantees this. Thus, their cowardice speaks as they run from a world they do
not want to comprehend. The Amoralists, in turn, such as Nietzsche would want
to be, do not deceive themselves willingly in such ways. They do not seek to
escape into the Ideal nor do they wrap themselves up in Man-made morality and
then posit it as innate, eternal or binding. Such people are seen, on this
Nietzschean view, as courageous for they must live in a world devoid of these
so-called comforts. They are warriors, sophists (whom Nietzsche sees as
realists) and matter-of-fact. They do not create realms that do not exist and
then judge life in the fictional light it creates.
All of this asks very deep questions of "The Human Condition". It suggests there
is no duty to be good, to love or to care. But, looking at that picture again, I am
constantly being reminded how unimportant I am. This is not in a depressive
sense, which it easily could be. But its in a way which almost lifts the burden of
existence from me. And, make no mistake, existence can certainly be a burden.
Mattering and caring can be burdens. This picture suggests they need not be and
shows this view up as the choice, the moral choice, it clearly is. All of morality is
a choice and often one in which we do not even ask ourselves what we are
gaining or losing by choosing one thing over another. Morality is often lazy and
unexplored and this is because it is idealism, its not real. Its a creation. It cannot
stand any serious probing or investigation. Every time this is done it just falls
apart and reveals itself as insubstantial nonsense. It is like our picture. We see
ourselves and our lives as like frame one. Its all about us, our world, those we
bump into day to day and how we relate ourselves to them. This would suggest
morality as merely practical rules that simplify life, the line of least resistance.
But the view gets wider and these things become less and less important. Our
views, based on our insular world, become less and less relevant. By the time
we get to frame six none of these things matter at all and the idea of the
idealists, that these rules needed to be innate and eternally binding, just seems
silly and ridiculous.

So what is the human condition? Thinking you matter when really you don't?
Creating ways to cope with a universe which is nothing like the fabrications we
have explained to "make sense" of it? To be lost and yet to imagine you are
found? To have invested things with meaning that really have none? To make of
yourself something permanent when you were always only temporary?

Sometimes I think it would be better to be anything other than a human being.


And now I am.

JESSICA

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