Friday, November 20, 2015

Arland , Slaughterhouse Five (Vonnegut)

This post may or may not be the start of my book and my blog becoming one. It's 3:15 AM ... the spirits that wake old men and speak to them in the middle of the night are at best untested.

As over 3K blog entries might tell you, I love to write ... or maybe more precisely, I HAVE to write. I also love to read ... as much as I love to write, I love to read far more. If I just wrote from now on I would never come close to writing as much text as I have read. Which is good I believe.

I don't like to proofread my own work, nor coherently organize disjoint chapters of it nearly as much.

I've read Vonnegut before. I find him cranky,  nihilistic,  disjoint and iconoclastic. I believe I share all of those save the nihilistic -- and that I fight with a passion because I believe that question of meaning or no meaning to be the true ultimate question of "Life, The Universe, and Everything", to quote Douglas Adams.

Vonnegut was captured in the Battle of the Bulge and ended up in a basement slaughterhouse numbered five in Dresden as a POW. Allies firebombed Dresden, killing 130K people ... the highest bombing total in history. More than Tokyo, more than either of the A-bombs, and likely more that both -- supposedly the A-bomb total for Hiroshima and Nagasaki together was 129K. In the book, Vonnegut would now say "and so it goes" ... because he decided to say that over and over after recounting death or deaths.

The slaughterhouse was basically an underground bunker, so the prisoners survived and ended up digging out bodies for days, and when that got too putrid to accomplish, digging holes and using flamethrowers to incinerate the corpses. Such things often have strong effects on people. In my universe, they are a message from God to "be ye not of this world", but to Vonnegut it seems to have explained this world as random, meaningless, and utterly lacking in even free will.

Part of his conception of the universe however weirdly lines up exactly with mine, which is the result of both imagination and actual physics. Vonnegut's main character, "Billy Pilgrim", travels through time and space randomly ... partially he exists as part of Vonnegut's group of prisoners in WWII, partially he is a man living a life in Illium NY at various points from his birth, marriage, life as an optometrist to his murder in Chicago IL after giving a speech. He also was kidnapped by aliens -- "Tralfamadorians" who explain one way that physics (and I) see space and time as "everything that happens has always happened and always will be happening". You can visualize it as your consciousness moving through a 3D movie, where your consciousness moving from moment to are the "frames" and which you see as "time".

Vonnegut stops there, but Hugh Everett, quantum computing, and myself believe that not only "everything" is happening always, but a very great number of options at every "decision point" are now, have always, and will forever be happening. For a programmer, what happens at these decision points is "simple" -- the Universe "forks", like a form of Unix process creation, and "everything is the same ... only different" in each of the now multiple universes ... as in different in that "both", or "N" of the "decisions" have ALL happened and are expressed accordingly in the now multiple universes.

This theory "explains" quantum effects because rather than there being "spooky effects at a distance" (which Einstein loathed) when there is a quantum "entanglement" (superposition) which "collapses", or "resolves", in the Many Worlds view, the apparent instantaneous effects that violate the speed of light limit are not needed ... at the "slight cost" of the creation of another universe where any set of entangled potentials have each happened accordingly!

From a philosophical POV, the single universe theory negates free will -- everything just IS, always has been, and always will be. We are, always have and always will be doing whatever -- it just "is that way", and it could be no other way. We have no "free will".

In my universe(s), our decisions create new universes, including new copies of us.  I believe our consciousness "forks" along with the universe -- and that is a base premise of MY book, and to some degree starts to make me a philosophical anti-Vonnegut.

Anyway, back to Billy Pilgrim ... he keeps popping back and forth in time in his life, including being mated to a porn star also kidnapped by the Tralfamadorian aliens in a "Zoo" on Tralfamadore. The tale is full of gallows humor and dark satire as Vonnegut is wont to be. I find him moderately entertaining ... as a "guilty pleasure" when I was younger, and with a decent amount of pity for his soul now that I am older.

So what woke me up is that the working title of my book is "Arland" ... as in a play on "Our Land" and "Are Land", and also because it is the name of the Township I grew up in, as well as that of tiny town that used to be a church or two, couple bars, store, etc, but is now very close to being a sign on  county trunk "D".

PERHAPS I will have the "courage, gall, stupidity, "testicular capacity" to start dumping snippets of what bangs around in my head with dreams to be a book out here tagged as "Arland" to be "assembled later". Or probably not ... the whole thing seems to be less "stunningly brilliant" than it was an hour ago when the muse told me I was not getting back to sleep until I wrote it down.

I'm tired now.

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