Charades

As domesticated apes we do strange things.

We have these cultural structures; clothing, hairstyle, societal norms, or “acceptable emotional outlets”. They’re all just memetic representations of basic animal behavior. Lust, companionship, dominance, nesting, hunger; our needs are quite simple. We express them in complex ways, which may be because we don’t want to be aware of the simplicity or if that behavior is a memetic structure itself. Option A means we have a collective denial issue, that we don’t want to accept our animal nature. Option B would be an example of Memetic Driving (to take a term from Blackmore), where a meme is pushing us towards prioritizing memetics over genetics.

I think I’d settle with a Discordian answer that both are true in some sense.

Taking this to the practical, individual level can be difficult. Do you just reject the collective facade? Do you feign ignorance? The social norms are required for normal human interaction. Ignoring that can be isolating. Seriously isolating, which from an animal perspective is intensely terrifying. Instead of rejecting it, you can instead accept it, while being aware of it. Understanding something gives you power over it, you’re able to appreciate the times it’s positive and the times it’s negative. You can see it’s limitations so you know the extent of the problems it can cause you.

I’m acting; putting on the agreed upon show, but it’s not the real me. No one is really that person, they’re always something different at heart. They change because of socializing. When you think that person and your True Self are the same, you’re going to get hurt. It’s inevitable.

So I get to play a role. I’m a fun person, I rant and drink and don’t give a shit. It’s like the play acting we did as kids.

I’ll admit, it sounds a little like being a sociopath. It’s not. I have emotions and empathy, I’d even like to engage them more than society traditionally allows. But people don’t want that. Stark honesty is scary, it’s jarring, even insulting at times. When someone says “How’s your day?”, they don’t want to hear about your sick cat or your struggles with depression. They’re being polite.

Silence is bad, it’s forbidden. It could lead to self reflection and awareness. Instead, we’ll chat about the weather or trivial aspects of our days. Trivial because serious topic require honesty. And I don’t trust you yet, you’re some scary Other animal in this chaotic Savannah of concrete.

We might as well have fun while we continue this 10,000 year old charade.

Stormy Weather

We hide from our environment. Our homes are warm and dry and calm. It gives us this sense of comfort, that we control it, that it’s separate from the chaos that is weather. And we’re wrong. We are still semi-conscious apes hiding in caves. Our homes are in cities, our cities are in nature, so we are a part of it all.

When we forget this, we forget about floods and earthquakes. We forget we’re vulnerable.

When we forget this, we forget that our environment is affected by our actions. That we may damage that which sustains us.

When we forget this, we forget that we’re living creatures, made of the same fundamental parts as all Terran life. We forget how fragile life is.

So remind yourself. Don’t hide in your cave all the time, experience your greater environment. It’s easy to do safely using proper clothing and limited exposure. Go out for a stroll at night or in the winter. Experience the storms that come to you. Dance in the downpour, fight the torrential winds, and laugh at the lightning.

Do not hide from life.

Resource Management P2: Entropy

Last time I was talking about how since nothing is created or destroyed, we can always return the earth to it’s previous state, no matter how much damage we’ve done (assuming we live long enough to improve our technology). Now I’m going to explain how that’s not true. It’s because of the universal downer of physics; Entropy.

So here’s the thing about that hydrocarbons example and the CO2 we release into the air; there’s a crucial element that’s changed and it’s not matter. The fossil fuels we dig out of the ground are in a highly concentrated state of energy. That’s why we love burning them, they release a massive amount of energy per weight. That energy is ultimately from the sun; first plants concentrated the solar energy into sugars, then animals ate them and further concentrated them into fats, then the animals died and were compressed over a long time into the sludge we pump out of the ground. That energy is in a low entropy state. When we burn them, the resulting energy is in a higher entropy state.

Entropy can be created. In fact, it’s always being created, you can’t stop it. Everything that happens in the universe is a gradual shift from low entropy to high entropy. Every chemical reaction will tend to disperse the energy over a larger area; high concentrations always flow to low concentrations, never the reverse.

Well, that is if you look at the system as a whole. So life on earth is able to concentrate energy because the sun is gradually dispersing it’s energy throughout the solar system. The entire closed system, the solar system, is gradually increasing in entropy over time. Now this is a very, very long term problem. It’s not a pressing issue. It’s not even a problem for humans because if our decedents actually survive to the point that they must grapple with this, they will no longer be humans. Either evolution or technology will have rendered them completely alien to us. Not really our problem then.

What is our problem is the short term supply of low entropy chemicals. Hydrocarbons are so attractive because they’ve concentrated the energy we so love into such a small package. Until we can recreate those forces which replenish them, we will be depleting our supply. And without that low entropy energy, we can’t power our technology. And our technology is the only thing that can save civilization as we know it.

Then again, maybe it’s better if our civilization doesn’t survive. Maybe we want something better?