* 200 articles. Two years. Whelk. The best of Upsideclown. Might be reprinted.

What is real?

14 July 2003
Matt has had dinner

The two of us are in a restaurant.

Think of all the things that go to make this meal: all the food, the work, the industries. The factories that produce the detergent that is used to clean the floor -- the slow accretion of scientific discoveries that made cleaning the floor a priority in the first place: microbes, the causes of disease, the fact that life is everywhere. The legal systems that make cleaning the floor an obligation.

And then the inferences that surround us. The salt on the table mirroring the salinity of the oceans and of our blood, the blood that itself is mimicking the chemical composition of Earth's proto-ocean in which, two billion years ago, life emerged. So we are inside-out creatures, containing the whole history of the biosphere in our veins. Starships, rising out of the Earth and going on life-long voyages with untold generations of enormous populations of yet more life inside us, then in the end landing on the Earth again, returning them to it.

What is a restaurant anyway? The space, the social expectation? The walls that surround me could be conceived as surrounding the outside, you and me and the table sitting outside infinity. These walls that striate the city: enclosing and honeycombing, a filing cabinet of property. Outside, the road is a conductor on the urban integrated circuit, doing who-knows-what calculations, performing unknown and unknowable operations for an even more unknowable purpose: here we are, sitting in a memory register perhaps, with each tick of the city's clock we bump through the flip-flops until eventually (at the end of dinner) we'll be out of the shift register and back into the calculator.

Or maybe the city is just extelligence made solid, expectations made flesh and calcified, and that which would have disappeared if we lived further apart has self-resonated and created itself. The city as interference pattern. The city isn't a computer because the computer is more like a combination of water-wheels: push the water in on one side, and it gushes through channels, spinning wheels and turning levers, driving from every contact point the tiny machine which is interconnected with axles and ropes, turning tiny shutters to present different colours, which synchronise and so the minute rivulets - being really forced through, imagine pushing it hard with your hands - cause a pattern which looks like the Mona Lisa, say, or Microsoft Word.

In the old days we'd share meat on the savannah, if caught, but not vegetables, because meat is a rare good. Politeness as the solution to the game theory equations (outside time in the eternity of mathematics), iteratively and numerically solved by evolution in hardware (I think, as I pour the wine), hard-wired cooperation in the hunter-gatherer Prisoners' Dilemma in order to provide a suitable diet to the tribe. Diet, or is this weather and geology to the hordes of replicators each of us really comprises?

The restaurant as abstracted hunter-gathering. The chair to abstract kneeling on the ground around the campfire. The chair is paid for now so my knees last longer so I can live and work longer and in my old age, finally pay for the chair of my youth. Effort never disappears, it is only transformed and redistributed: I didn't catch, kill or cook this chicken, but I'll pay for it somehow.

Embedded, caught up in the geography of the city, the flows of relationships, the transactional nature of the distribution of effort. Is there any progress, or has it always been this nuanced, this subtle? Is it more complex, or just differently complex? We are humans of the Holocene, but maybe the Holocene has been changing around us as we litter the artifacts of humanity: buildings, laws, time itself is differentiated by our creations. Does a restaurant mean to me the same as it meant to one in ancient Egypt? How about physics, the way a stone falls?

My point of view, my consciousness is inseparable from the very universe I attempt to describe, so I can only describe the triumvirate intertwined, together: there are no edges, there are no objects. What is the restaurant I am in? Where does it end? What history has gone to create it, what will it cause? Is it entirely a local effect, or is it relevant to the central black hole of the Milky Way? And if that black hole doesn't exist, is that important: to the galaxy, to the restaurant, to the previous sentence? The word 'in' is wrong, the label 'word' is wrong, wrongness is relative, I wish I could speak in the Adamic language and let you understand what I mean. There's too much to say so I'm bursting with silence, I've so far, still, said nothing; the minimum way of expressing what I want to say is to live this life from this point of view.

There is no structure. I drown in narrative. Am engulfed.

What there is, is boundary conditions. To all of the above: Etc. To all of the above: Whatever. To all of the above: Fuck you. The boundary condition is: Here we are, here we are!, here we are.

The two of us are together; we're in a restaurant; we're eating dinner; we're in love.


This is the fucking archive

Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
23 October 2003. Matt writes: Topology
2 October 2003. Matt writes: Haunted
8 September 2003. Matt writes: The Gardener's Diary
21 August 2003. Matt writes: The Starling Variable
31 July 2003. Matt writes: Two stories
14 July 2003. Matt writes: What is real?
23 June 2003. Matt writes: Mapping and journeys
29 May 2003. Matt writes: Extelligence
5 May 2003. Matt writes: Religious experiences
17 April 2003. Matt writes: Seeing the Light
27 March 2003. Matt writes: Flowering
10 March 2003. Matt writes: Climax state
10 February 2003. Matt writes: The Role of Cooperation in Human Interaction
20 January 2003. Matt writes: The same old subroutine
2 January 2003. Matt writes: New beginnings
9 December 2002. Matt writes: Packet Loss
18 November 2002. Matt writes: Wonderland
31 October 2002. Matt writes: Having and losing
10 October 2002. Matt writes: Trees of Knowledge
19 September 2002. Matt writes: The online life of bigplaty47
29 August 2002. Matt writes: Divorce
8 August 2002. Matt writes: How to get exactly what you want
18 July 2002. Matt writes: Eleven Graceland endings
27 June 2002. Matt writes: Listopad, Prague 1989
3 June 2002. Matt writes: Engram bullets
6 May 2002. Matt writes: Sound advice
15 April 2002. Matt writes: How it all works: Cars
21 March 2002. Matt writes: Proceeding to the next stage
25 February 2002. Matt writes: Spam quartet
31 January 2002. Matt writes: Person to person
7 January 2002. Matt writes: All for the best
13 December 2001. Matt writes: Life
19 November 2001. Matt writes: Giving is better than receiving
25 October 2001. Matt writes: Ludo
1 October 2001. Matt writes: Gifts, contracts, and whispers
6 September 2001. Matt writes: The world is ending
13 August 2001. Matt writes: The Church of Mrs Bins
16 July 2001. Matt writes: Things I Don't Have
25 June 2001. Matt writes: Fighting the Good Fight
31 May 2001. Matt writes: Code dependency
7 May 2001. Matt writes: Up The Arse, Or Not At All
5 April 2001. Matt writes: The increasing nonlinearity of time
19 March 2001. Matt writes: Hit Me Baby, One More Time
22 February 2001. Matt writes: Space, Matter, Cities, Sausages
29 January 2001. Matt writes: Truth in Advertising
1 January 2001. Matt writes: Six predictions for tomorrow
7 December 2000. Matt writes: You must reach this line to ride
16 November 2000. Matt writes: The truth about the leopard
23 October 2000. Matt writes: Shopping mauls
28 September 2000. Matt writes: Heavy traffic on the road to Utopia
4 September 2000. Matt writes: Sixty worlds a minute
17 July 2000. Matt writes: You, Me, and Face-space

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