I am fascinated by the whole process of what it means to be alive.
How do you do?
"Life's perhaps the only riddle that we shrink from giving up" W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan) wrote. As time goes by life is becoming more and more of a riddle. Most of us live theoretical lives; that is, we live according to theories of life that are based on conclusions reached from observations of the world around us. Every time a discovery is made, the theories change a little bit and hence so does life.
Ever since space exploration began our theories about life have had to include some universal concepts. We can no longer think of life as something that is purely earth bound. But understanding the universe is about as easy as pitching a baseball to the moon.
As if to complicate matters further, scientists are now telling us about the existence of parallel universes. Frankly that complication delights me. Beth says that some of my entries make the brain hurt. Well Beth, get the aspirin ready, folks may be calling on you.
Is it possible that there is another paper clip, identical to the one in front of you, existing in the same time and space, but in another universe? The answer is yes, if there are parallel universes. And if so, is it also possible that when you pick it up (go on, pick it up) there is another you, identical to you, existing in the same place and time, but in another universe, picking up the other, identical paper clip?
These are not questions that concern us in our mundane, earth and gravity bound lives. But should they be? The reason I find this fascinating is because I have noticed that there are things in our mundane lives that hint at, and even illustrate, some of these subjects.
Can a thing exist in two different places at the same time? Can a thing exist at different times at once? Can a thing exist and also not exist. Hang on! Don't quit now. It's going to get interesting.
I'm going to draw from my own career as an actor to illustrate the possibilities I've thrown in your face. "What! What could mere actors know about the physics of time/space or anything else for that matter?"
If, in a play, I pick up an object on the stage, let's say a book, it exists in reality, because it is a real book. But it is also a fictional book, because the play is a fiction. It is most likely not the book discussed in the play, but whatever book it is it has loaned itself to the fiction to represent the fictional book.
Now let's suppose during the course of the play my character eats an apple. It is a real apple and I am really eating it. Nevertheless it is a fictional apple because it is being eaten as part of the fiction, it has been made fictional, to be eaten by a fictional character.
Now since I am the fictional character eating the apple and holding the book my thoughts, feelings, actions and voice, even though they are mine as the actor, are also thoughts, feelings, etc. of the fiction, that is, of the life of the fictional character that isn't real. In short they are both real and fictional, they exist and don't exist, at the same time, in the same place.
Now an actor has two tapes, two consciousnesses, running through his head at the same time. One is the performance of the fiction, the thoughts, feelings, actions and words of the character in the fiction. And the other is the monitoring of his performance. The artist observing himself as he works through the story. Which is the fact? Which is the reality? Well, they both are. You see the man standing there with a book in his hand. It is a real actor with a real book. It is also a fictional character with a fictional book. Within the mundane, earth and gravity bound limits of the stage, they are parallel universes.
And finally there is the metaphysical tunnel leading to the questions of how much of ourselves is a fictional character in our own drama, how much of our lives is spent being there and not being there, how do we know if we are who we are or if we are the other self in the other universe?
These may seem, today, like silly wasting-of-time questions for a boring class in philosophy, but the answers may have a much broader impact on "the whole process of what it means to be alive" than we can even imagine.
May flowers and fruit bedeck your day.