sábado, dezembro 10, 2016

The Nature of Reality: "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" by Philip K. Dick

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Flow, my tears, fall from your springs!
Exiled forever, let me mourn;
Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings,
There let me live forlorn.

Down vain lights, shine you no more!
No nights are dark enough for those
That in despair their lost fortunes deplore.
Light doth but shame disclose.

Never may my woes be relieved,
Since pity is fled;
And tears and sighs and groans my weary days
Of all joys have deprived.

From the highest spire of contentment
My fortune is thrown;
And fear and grief and pain for my deserts
Are my hopes, since hope is gone.

Hark! you shadows that in darkness dwell,
Learn to contemn light
Happy, happy they that in hell
Feel not the world's despite.

In “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said”, taken from “Flow My Tears” by John Dowland

This is one of the books that changed me in ways I’m still trying to come to terms with, and I’ve read it more than 30 years ago. At the time I lacked the tools to properly tackle this. That’s why I’ve been wanting to re-read it and analyse it in the light what I currently know. I still remember the feeling I had the first time I read it back in the day. Mind-boggling to say the least. 30 years later, can I define what reality is? Doesn’t reality belong to the subjective objectivity realm, i.e., isn’t it the highest degree of objectivity possible for a human being? Reality can only be a subjective objectivity as it falls back on whether I chose to accept it as the truth or deny it completely. This means objective reality does exist, but I can only perceive it with my own perception filters. I have to decide what is reality as best I can, and may choose to assert some prepositions even though everyone else denies it (Copernicus comes to mind). It’s to my advantage to seek to make my perception filters as little distorting as possible, but I doubt I could ever achieve that completely, because I’m the product of my own culture to start with, to say the least.  This leads me to the question whether uncertainty in reality is a psychological phenomenon. Does it exist only in the mind, and not in the world? We’re dangerously delving into the quantum universe continuum…Schrödinger, Heisenberg, Dirac, dudes who I think knew what they talking about. At the time I knew zilch about these matters. Now I only know little bit more. Now I know reality does not exist until it’s measured. Regardless of that, I firmly believe in the fact that asymptotic convergence theorems are meaningful. Even in the realm of quantum physics, I believe that through asymptotic convergence I can get very meaningful on some states of information, but that state of information is sometimes not maximal, i.e., deterministic for observables. When the best I can do is some probabilistic function over observables, it's because I've left out essential details, not because the observables are random. That’s the nature of the quantum world for you. Quantum mechanics tells me I only perceive at most a tiny sliver of reality. The rest is just fuzzy stuff…The direct consequence of this is that the world of our perception is just a projection of a fantastical high dimensional space continuum.  The space of all those space continuums has its existence and properties quite independent from our observations, i.e., from the “objective” reality as perceived by us. But once again, this n-dimensional space is unavailable to us — we can only see the ripple effects it has within our much smaller 3-dimensional space.

One of my plans for 2017 is to re-read some of my old-time favourites, being Phil Dick one of them. As I was reading “Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said” I kept thinking and trying to pinpoint what makes Phil Dick the writer he was. A hasty analysis tells me he had a peculiar way of delivering information (what some of us call “the act of writing” …). Dick usually set up an ecosystem that seems pretty much ordinary, except for a few tiny, bitsy details that on first reading go unnoticed (e.g., remember the electric animals in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”); everything else about the universe created and depicted is relatively unchanged. This way of keeping things down-to-earth except for a few changes creates a bounded sense of realism in his writing; this is a very smart way to tell me not dismiss anything unusual. He uses this approach of make-believe realism to uproot his own philosophies on a subject into my head. What he does is he gives the main character a common frame-of-reference on something, and utilizes the other characters to change the main character’s frame-of-reference to what the minor characters are thinking. He does this with Taverner in “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” regarding love. Pretty smart for a SF writer, don’t you think? Many Mundane Fiction writers are incapable of doing this successfully.

Coming to the theme of what reality is. Reality is being able to find beauty in Andreas Scholl singing several John Dowland ayres, particularly “Flow my Tears” while reading this novel.

6 comentários:

Luís Filipe Franco disse...

Maybe soon I'll find time to update my readings! Found your examination on objective reality extremely acurate. It checks neatly with NLP neuro linguistic programming techniques on the filters we have in place and how to control our unconscious self.

Because of your reference I found this Andreas Scholl in meo music... Sehr gut! Estou a ouvir o álbum The Best of Andreas Scholl de Andreas Scholl no MEO Music http://meomusic.pt/album/F4V7H0vPy6IwE2Ac.xS1tA

Book Stooge disse...

Ok, I'm unfollowing your wordpress variant and just following your blogspot account. I'll follow you on BL as well, at least until I figure out exactly how the wordpress feed and blogger play together.

Manuel Antão disse...

Book Stooge. WP also sucks...

Manuel Antão disse...

Luis. Reading Phil Dick is almost a religious experience in itself... I hope you're able to read some Phil Dick. Still unsurpassed after all these years...

Peter D. Tillman disse...


Of course, now, every time I see the photo of your library, I have to think how much its looks would be improved, with the no-pants model in the foreground!

As for "Flow My Tears", I too must have read it back in the day. Um. No memory of it now. I've always preferred his short fiction, and reread my favorites pretty regularly. They hold up. What is reality, anyway? The Yellow Pill!

Manuel Antão disse...

I think my wife wouldn't approve of the no-pants model...