Problems

Cantor’s infinities are meaningless and stupid

Overall, this video provides a good intro to some important math ideas:

Here are some random thoughts on the video:

I don’t think principles like undecidability necessarily imply a “hole” or “flaw” in mathematics. It only appears to be a “hole” if you’re assuming something should be there, like decidability. But that’s based on your assumption that it should exist in the first place.

The video soon turns to Cantor, giving me the perfect opportunity to finally rant about how foolish he was! (I’ve been intending to do so for some time.)

Cantor’s infinities are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. His foolishness, and the foolishness of those who nod in bedazzled wonder and agreement with his nonsense, stem from a lack of understanding the implications of infinity. Infinite size means no size. That can be confusing, because in this instance “no size” does not mean a size of 0. So how can something have no size without the size being 0? By being infinity. One must stop thinking about infinity as a number, but as a concept parallel to that of number.

So when Cantor asks (at 4:30 in the video): “Are there more natural numbers or more real numbers between 0 and 1?”

Woah, back it up, back it up, beep, beep, beep!

That is a nonsense question. It’s like asking: “What is five divided by green?” By definition, there cannot be “more” or “less” of something that has no amount to begin with. There are infinite natural numbers. There is not an amount of natural numbers, because there are an infinite amount, which means there is no amount. So there cannot be more, or less, or the same. There can be no comparison whatsoever because what you’re trying to compare is the amount, which does not exist.

Does infinity equal infinity? If you’re intending to compare amounts, the question is again meaningless nonsense. Infinity cannot, in this sense, equal or not equal infinity because you cannot compare them like finite amounts.

As the video shows, Cantor goes on to (rather stupidly) compare two lists. His methods are meaningless because his premise (that infinities can be compared) is already flawed. He then finds with his “diagonalization proof” that you can’t logically define a pairing between every natural number and every real number between 0 and 1, and in the depths of his infinite stupidity thinks that this somehow proves that there are “more” real numbers than natural numbers.

Uh, no it doesn’t, Mr Georg without an “e”. All you’ve shown is that you didn’t actually succeed in defining a pairing. You haven’t proven anything about sizes because infinite sets do not have sizes. Whether or not you can rigorously define a pairing (a one-to-one corresponce) implies nothing at all about sizes. It only proves your definition of the pairing to be paradoxical nonsense. You can’t say “let’s assume we’ve paired all natural numbers to real numbers between 0 and 1” and then say “here’s a real number that can’t be in the list!” That just means we didn’t actually pair the sets to begin with!

The crux of the paradox doesn’t lie in the “sizes” of the sets anyway (which don’t exist). It lies in the inability to express all real numbers with finite decimal places in the decimal system. If we take for granted that we could instead express some otherwise undefined real number with an arbitrary symbol (like, gee I don’t know, a natural number), the paradox is completely resolved. There is nothing to “diagonalize” and the one-to-one corresponse is complete. Logic 1, Cantor 0.

At 6:45: “Cantor’s work was just the latest blow to mathematics…” Perhaps more of a blow to mathematical philosophies than to math itself. Aside from being complete nonsense, it had no implications aside from morons thinking “oh wow, different size infinities sure is amazing, derp!” which is about as meaningful as thinking, “oh wow, five sure is colorful, derp!”

At 7:27: “On the one side were the intuitionists who thought that Cantor’s work was nonsense. They were convinced that math was a pure creation of the human mind and that infinities like Cantor’s weren’t real.”

Perhaps, but whether or not an infinity can be “real” is really not the issue with Cantor’s illogic. Also, his lack of logic in this particular area does not necessarily imply inherent weakness with set theory in general.

The video goes on to speak of set theory’s self-reference paradox. It is indeed a paradox, but is by itself really no weakness of set theory anymore than the existence of paradox itself is somehow a weakness of the human mind that conceives of them. In fact, one could say the ability of a system to define a paradox is actually a strength.  It’s like trying to make a programming language that doesn’t allow for infinite loops by taking out the ability to have any loops at all.

I really like the video’s explanation of Gödel’s work with using; actually, perhaps because it’s visual and tangible, I think it may be the best explanation I’ve seen!

At 31:34: Haha, what is this artsy-fartsy shot? “Look at my back as I gaze at the sky and ponder the deep thoughts of the world…”

The video ends by circling back to the “hole” in math, which is now defined as not being able to know everything with certainty, which seems a rather imprecise way of summing up undecidability and incompleteness as it takes for granted the meaning of “certainty”. I guess we could say: “Hey, Gödel, if math is incomplete, then your proof is incomplete and therefore not a proof! Hyuck hyuck!”

By S P Hannifin, ago
Interesting things

UFOs: Are they projections?

I was just randomly thinking about the strange ways in which UFOs seem to defy the laws of physics:

  • Anti-gravity
  • No visual propulsion system
  • Maintain insane speeds
  • Accelerate with insane force
  • Observed in air and water

But what if we’re taking it for granted that the UFO is a unit unto itself?

This isn’t a perfect analogy, but think about shining a laser pointer on the wall. With the rotation of the wrist, we can give the dot of light similar physics weirdness, albeit limited to two dimensions. The point of light doesn’t propel itself, so it doesn’t need a propulsion system. Likewise, insane speeds and accelerations are actually derived from magnified wrist rotations, and so are not nearly as insane as they seem.

Granted, this doesn’t quite explain the anti-gravity. Gravity’s effect on light is negligible from our typical standpoint; it’s generally not until we’re studying blackholes or light across galactic distances through telescopes that gravity’s effect on light becomes measurable. Assuming UFOs are not just light, it seems they’d still have to contend with gravity. Still, maybe whatever is “projecting” them provides the force needed to hold them aloft.

The analogy also breaks down dimensionally. The dot of light from a laser pointer projects onto a wall and bounces to our eyes. Without the wall, the light would just keep travelling and disappating into space. If UFOs are projections, what are they projecting onto? (This is also the obvious challenge of developing the sort of 3D hologram systems often seen in movies like Star Wars. How can we seemingly get light to reflect at a specific point in empty space?) And, for that matter, how can one project actual physical matter rather than just light?

I have no clue, I just thought it was an interesting idea.

Regardless, I’d love to know what their weird UFO things are and what exactly they’re doing out there.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Movies

Movies watched in April 2021

I haven’t done a “movies I watched” post on this blog in something like 8 or 9 years. But let’s get back to it, shall we? So here are the films I watched for this first time in April 2021:

The Sign of Four

This is a made-for-British-TV Sherlock Holmes film, based on the Arthur Conan Doyle story of the same name. The mystery itself was not very deep or engaging, but the film was entertaining mostly because of its dated cheesiness. A digression: I’ve never been quite impressed with Holmes as a character, as his deductive powers mostly rely on the author giving him the power to correctly guess what the author wants him to based on the clues the author gives him for that exact purpose; that is, it’s all what I call a “cleverness cheat“; making successful deductions in the real world is hardly so convenient. Anyway, they also filmed The Hound of Baskervilles the same year with the same actor playing Holmes, so I hope to watch that at some point as well. (According to Wikipedia, they originally intended to film six Sherlock Holmes stories, but I guess that didn’t work out for complicated business reasons.)

Greyhound

This 2020 war film starring Tom Hanks is based on the 1955 novel The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester (best known for his other book The African Queen, the classic movie adaptation of which I still haven’t seen). The film is about a bunch of ships fighting in the Atlantic during World War II. And “fighting in the Atlantic” is really all the plot consists of. The screenplay was written by Tom Hanks himself, and I guess it shows, because it’s really not that great; no change in pacing, no character development, no subtext. Just a bunch of commands from military people and boats fighting.

One Hundred and One Dalmations

I of course have seen this 1961 Disney animated classic before, but it’s been a long time. If I recall my Disney animation trivia correctly, this was their first film to use Xerox machines to transfer the animators’ line drawings to cel sheets for coloring, a process which had to be done by hand before. This saved them a lot of time and gave the drawings a bit more of an organic look, which of course blends well with the film’s jazzy blocky-colored backgrounds. Everyone probably knows the story: a bunch of puppy dalmations are kidnapped by Cruella de Vil (you know you’re asking for trouble when you name your kid something like that), who wants their fur. They are then rescued, along with a bunch of other puppies that had been stolen. By the way, why does Roger assume he gets to keep so many stolen puppies? One thing I noticed that I never had before was the What’s My Line? parody that the puppies watch on TV while kidnapped, called What’s My Crime? That must’ve been completely over my head as a kid.

Rat Race

This 2001 comedy, very obviously inspired by the star-studded 1963 comedy It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, features a bunch of people racing from Nevada to New Mexico in hopes of being first to nab some treasure for the entertainment of a bunch of wealthy people betting on them. Nothing profound, but a fun comedy.

Godzilla vs Kong

This is the first film I’ve watched in theaters since the beginning of 2020. I mostly wanted to see it in theaters because it was in 3D, and there have been hardly any releases in 3D for the past year, thanks to both the pandemic and dwindling interest in 3D movies in general. Unfortunately the 3D conversion was not great, nor was the weird story, which involved taking Kong to the mystical realm deep inside the earth to find a mystical weapon to defend the world from Godzilla’s destruction. It really made no sense, but I suppose one must not think too much with a movie like this.

WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn

This 2021 documentary tells the bizarre tale of the company WeWork, whose phenomenal valuation came mostly from a bizarre CEO’s ability to convince investors of it. As far as I can tell, nothing illegal actually happened; a lot of people just got drunk on the promises, perception, and larger-than-life energy of a CEO, only to realize the company wasn’t nearly as valuable as it seemed. Interesting story, but I still get the sense there’s a lot more to the over-valuation than just what the documentary presents. What really made people believe the company’s crazy valuation without solid verification?

Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037

This 2007 documentary chronicles the creation of a Steinway piano from start to finish. Unfortunately it’s not very informative in terms of the how’s and why’s of piano building. Instead we just watch the workers doing random work while listening to them talk about their backgrounds and how they got into piano building. This is spliced with interviews of famous musicians waxing poetic about how pianos have their own personalities, as though anyone willing to watch a documentary on piano creation would think otherwise. I don’t think I learned anything interesting from this film.

Boss Level

This 2021 action-comedy is about a man who’s stuck in a time loop. Everytime he dies, he wakes up to start the same day again. The day mostly consists of assassins trying to kill him as he in turn tries to figure out why they want him dead, and why he’s stuck in a time loop. It’s a bit like Edge of Tomorrow, but without aliens. It’s a fun popcorn movie, but don’t expect anything deep or profound.

Suspiria

This 1977 Italian horror (though it’s in English) is considered a classic among horror fans, though it was too cheesy for me. It’s about a girl who enters a ballet school and slowly discovers its sinister (albeit chiché) secrets. Not sure why it’s considered such a classic; nothing about it seemed all that interesting to me.

Grand Isle

In this 2019 drama, a young man has the misfortune of being stuck with a creepy crazy Nicolas Cage and his crazy wife during a storm. Hilarity ensues. Actual, a rather dull and bland story ensues. This one’s pretty forgettable.

The Darkness

This 2016 horror is also bland and forgettable. A young autistic boy finds some weird stones in the wilderness. When he brings them home, the spirits of evil Native Americans begin to haunt the house. It follows the standard horror movie template. Not much of interest here.

Captain Phillips

“I am the captain now.” This 2013 action drama starring Tom Hanks tells the true story of how Captain Phillips narrowly survived his cargo ship being hijacked by Somali pirates. Things get especially tense when, having failed to steal much of value from the ship itself, they take Phillips hostage and wind up in a long stand-off with the US military. An interesting story but a mostly average film. Not bad, but not great.

Agenda: Payback

This 2018 action drama mostly consists of an unsavory Sean Patrick Flanery getting tied up and tortured by various figures in his life who seek vengeance on him for past misdoings. There’s a lot you can do with a minimal set and cast. Misery for example. But you’ve gotta pace yourself, vary the dramatic arcs, give it space to rise and fall. This movie is a great example of how not to do it. It’s bland, boring, and forgettable.

The Boys from Brazil

This 1978 thriller follows an old Laurence Olivier as a Nazi hunter investigating some Nazi activity and uncovers a shocking and horrible Nazi plot! I won’t spoil it, but the plot turns out to be more ridiculous, silly, and convoluted than it is all that shocking or horrible. Laurence Olivier and Gregory Peck don some rather silly-sounding German accents as well.

Dolphin Tale

Watched this in my search for family friendly films. This 2011 drama is loosely inspired by the true story of a dolphin being rescued and given an prosthetic tail after being found trapped in ropes on the shore. A rather low-stakes cheesy story, but a nice family film I suppose. It’s also a rare film that was actually filmed in 3D, and so offers a very good 3D picture. The extra dimension doesn’t add much to the story here, but I still love 3D movies, especially ones actually filmed in 3D (rather than cheap conversions, like Godzilla vs Kong).

Awakenings

This 1990 drama stars Robin Williams as a doctor and Robert De Niro as a catatonic patient in a New York City hospital. After an experimental treatment, De Niro gains control over his body again and is eager to explore the world after decades stuck in the hospital. It’s based on a book by Oliver Sacks, so is supposedly a true story, yet it’s very obviously Hollywood-ized. Also, De Niro did not seem right for the role. Not sure if it was his acting or just the association of his persona with his more famous roles, but I just couldn’t see him as the character he was trying to portray. (Robin Williams, on the other hand, always seems to play doctors very well.)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Tunesage

TuneSage progress update 4

It’s already been two weeks since the previous update? Bleh, I program too slowly. The undo / redo system was a bit tricky to implement, as was exporting MIDI files. The saving and loading pieces from a MongoDB database is also tricky, but that’s mostly because I’m having to reacquaint myself with how it works. It should only take about another day’s worth of work to finish that up, I hope.

I’ve added just one more thing to the list that I want to finish before I start focusing more on the back-end, and that’s implementing chord markers. The first thing I’ll implement on the back-end is a chord progression generator, since that’s pretty easy (and hardly innovative), so of course I’ll need a way to display them.

After chords, I can move on to melodies and accompaniment, which is where I hope things will get more interesting.

  • Playing features
    • Play from a selected position 
    • Play or loop a selection (skip!)
    • Show play location in minutes / seconds (skip!)
    • Pause play (saves play position) 
    • Show / hide measure numbers 
  • Move / create tempos (or tempo groups for accelerandos?) (skip!)
  • Note editing
    • Move / create / delete / edit notes or note groups (skip!)
    • Copy / paste notes or note groups (skip!)
    • Edit note velocities (skip!)
  • Measure editing
    • Delete / create / edit measures 
    • Delete / create / edit sections (measure groups)
  • Track editing
    • Load track instrument from MIDI file 
    • Edit track instrument 
    • Edit track volume / stereo positions (skip!)
    • Auto-color tracks differently (skip!)
  • Chords
    • Create / delete chord marks (only triads and 7ths for now)
    • Color lines by chord voice
  • Load / display / edit key signatures (skip!)
  • MIDI loading
    • Load note velocities from MIDI 
    • Fix MIDI loading bug: Extra note at end of file (skip!)
  • Saving / exporting
    • Save / load music pieces to / from personal database
    • Import / Export MIDI files
    • Export music to WAV or MP3 (skip!)
  • Bookmark sections of a piece (skip!)
  • Zoom in and out (horizontally) 
  • Undo / redo support (Ctrl+Z) ✓
  • Import soundfonts from computer (low priority) (skip!)
  • Account
    • Confirm email (if necessary) (skip!)
    • Log in / out / reset password (skip!)
    • Edit optional personal info (skip!)
    • Usage stats (skip!)
  • Final design pass (make everything look good) (skip!)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Tunesage

TuneSage progress update 3

A few more things checked off the list. Added a couple “measure editing” tasks. Quite a few tasks I think can probably be skipped for now, as I’d like to get back to working on the back-end so I can then work on integrating the back-end with the front-end. Most of the skipped items should not be overly difficult anyway (though difficulty is always easy to underestimate). Excluding the skipped items leaves the items in bold: measure editing, save / load / export stuff, and an “undo” system, which I guess will be better to tackle earlier than later.

I still need to have a good think about what features the back-end should include at launch; that is, what specific music-generating features would be most useful. I’ll do that in another post a bit later, I suppose.

  • Playing features
    • Play from a selected position 
    • Play or loop a selection (skip!)
    • Show play location in minutes / seconds (skip!)
    • Pause play (saves play position) 
    • Show / hide measure numbers 
  • Move / create tempos (or tempo groups for accelerandos?) (skip!)
  • Note editing
    • Move / create / delete / edit notes or note groups (skip!)
    • Copy / paste notes or note groups (skip!)
    • Edit note velocities (skip!)
  • Measure editing
    • Delete / create / edit measures
    • Delete / create / edit sections (measure groups)
  • Track editing
    • Load track instrument from MIDI file 
    • Edit track instrument 
    • Edit track volume / stereo positions (skip!)
    • Auto-color tracks differently (skip!)
  • Load / display / edit key signatures (skip!)
  • MIDI loading
    • Load note velocities from MIDI 
    • Fix MIDI loading bug: Extra note at end of file (skip!)
  • Saving / exporting
    • Save / load music pieces to / from personal database
    • Export music to MIDI
    • Export music to WAV or MP3 (skip!)
  • Bookmark sections of a piece (skip!)
  • Zoom in and out (horizontally) 
  • Undo / redo support (Ctrl+Z)
  • Import soundfonts from computer (low priority) (skip!)
  • Account
    • Confirm email (if necessary) (skip!)
    • Log in / out / reset password (skip!)
    • Edit optional personal info (skip!)
    • Usage stats (skip!)
  • Final design pass (make everything look good) (skip!)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Tunesage

TuneSage progress update 2

It’s been five days and, judging by the to-do list, it doesn’t look like I’ve done much. I actually spent a bunch of time fixing various bugs.

Also I added a few new things to the to-do list; “auto-color tracks differently” will be easy; that’s just a matter of cycling through hues when a MIDI is loaded, the same sort of thing I did in the Java-based MIDI animator.

I also want to allow the user to import their own soundfont from their computer. (Although honestly that’s probably a feature that can wait until after launch, so that one’s iffy.)

Finally, we’ll need an “undo / redo” feature so that when the user presses Ctrl+Z, it will undo the last change. Not really sure of the best way to implement that, but we’ll figure it out.

  • Playing features
    • Play from a selected position 
    • Play or loop a selection
    • Show play location in minutes / seconds
    • Pause play (saves play position) 
    • Show / hide measure numbers 
  • Move / create tempos (or tempo groups for accelerandos?)
  • Note editing
    • Move / create / delete / edit notes or note groups
    • Copy / paste notes or note groups
    • Edit note velocities
  • Track editing
    • Load track instrument from MIDI file 
    • Edit track instrument
    • Edit track volume / stereo positions
    • Auto-color tracks differently
  • Load / display / edit key signatures
  • MIDI loading
    • Load note velocities from MIDI
    • Fix MIDI loading bug: Extra note at end of file
  • Saving / exporting
    • Save / load music pieces to / from personal database
    • Export music to MIDI
    • Export music to WAV or MP3
  • Bookmark sections of a piece
  • Zoom in and out (horizontally)
  • Undo / redo support (Ctrl+Z)
  • Import soundfonts from computer (low priority)
  • Account
    • Confirm email (if necessary)
    • Log in / out / reset password
    • Edit optional personal info
    • Usage stats
  • Final design pass (make everything look good)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Programming

TuneSage progress update 1

There’s still lots of work to do on TuneSage. I’m hoping if I regularly blog some short progress updates, it may encourage productivity, as it did last year with Trovedex.1

Right now I’m working on the front-end. As always, it’s a bit of a balancing act deciding what features need to be included and what features can wait to be added after launch. So far, the completed features include:

  • Load a MIDI from file
  • Mute / solo tracks
  • Change track colors
  • Show / hide tempo marks (from MIDI)
  • Edit / delete tempos
  • Show / hide measure lines
  • Show / hide pitch lines
  • Play MIDI

Features on the to-do list:

  • Playing features
    • Play from a selected position
    • Play or loop a selection
    • Show play location in minutes / seconds
    • Pause play (saves play position)
  • Move / create tempos (or tempo groups for accelerandos?)
  • Note editing
    • Move / create / delete / edit notes or note groups
    • Copy / paste notes or note groups
    • Edit note velocities
  • Track editing
    • Load track instrument from MIDI file
    • Edit track instrument
    • Edit track volume / stereo positions
  • Load / display / edit key signatures
  • MIDI loading
    • Load note velocities from MIDI
    • Fix MIDI loading bug: Extra note at end of file
  • Saving / exporting
    • Save / load music pieces to / from personal database
    • Export music to MIDI
    • Export music to WAV or MP3
  • Bookmark sections of a piece
  • Zoom in and out (horizontally)
  • Account
    • Confirm email (if necessary)
    • Log in / out / reset password
    • Edit optional personal info
    • Usage stats
  • Final design pass (make everything look good)

That’s not counting the further work of integrating the back-end with the front-end.

Anyway, my goal is to finish all the above before the end of this month (April 2021), and then I can move on to integrating the back-end (which still needs a good bit of work itself).

Feel free to suggest any features you’d like; though, like I said, I’m only trying to do the minimum needed to launch.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

Biden’s impossible microphones

Hahaha! I’m not advocating for any elaborate conspiracy theories here, I just thought this was funny. This short video has appeared on a couple professional news feeds (The Hill, Bloomberg) and it features some blatantly obvious horrible CGI microphones:

With his hand miraculously overlapping the microphones at the 8 second mark, something is definitely fake. Who edited and released this, and why?

Someone is trolling someone with this video!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Stupid things

That stupid equality vs equity picture

You may have seen this sort of graphic succinctly illustrating the difference between “equality” and “equity”:

It’s actually completely unhelpful in the context of the discussions it’s usually utilized in, as it takes completely for granted the main issues with setting any sort of policy based on such a distinction, namely:

  1. Who precisely gets to determine for what disparities “equity” is needed?
  2. Who precisely gets to determine by what metrics “equity” will be measured?
  3. Who precisely gets to determine by what means “equity” will be determined, produced, and distributed?
  4. Who precisely must pay for production and distribution of these means of “equity”?

Each question is so easily corruptible that the entire distinction is, in general, of little practical value. Unless the context is defined as narrowly as illustrated, the difference between “equality” and “equity” is a frivolous point.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Dreams

Weird thoughts from weird dreams

I took a nap this afternoon for two reasons. Firstly, my internal clock has been completely out of whack for about the last week and my body seems to think that 2 PM is bed time, and secondly because I had a headache that made doing just about anything else painful. (And I still have it; it’s diminished, but won’t go away.)

During this nap I had some weird dreams. It begins with me walking through a huge crowded city with enormous skyscrapers lining the streets. I’m trying to get somewhere, back to a hotel or something. And as I’m walking down a sidewalk, a huge storm of comes barrelling out of nowhere, tearing apart buildings and obliterating everything in its path, and voosh, it kills me.

I wake up, still tired with a headache, so I roll over and go back to sleep.

I return to the city. Same place. Same thing happens. Storm comes out of nowhere, wrecks the city and kills me.

Then I restart the dream in a different place, and the dream becomes semi-lucid, I’m aware that I’m in a dream and that a storm is going to come out of nowhere and kill me, so it becomes sort of like a game. I try running into a building before the storm hits me, but it still kills me. I try getting on a train, but the storm still kills me. I try talking to other people, warning them that a storm is coming, but that doesn’t help.

Then I start moving toward the storm to find out where it’s coming from, and I find that it’s being created at the top of a tall skyscraper where people are partying and a rock band is playing; it’s like they’re summoning it, stirring up the clouds above them with their noises.

Having discovered the source of the storm, I am somehow able to evade its path of destruction, but something else ends up killing me anyway. I fall out of a window or a building topples on me.

And now for the finale of the dream, which makes no sense.

Finally, after having been killed many times in this city, I find myself in a large white room with two others (who took on the bodily forms of two old dead actors, whom I won’t name because it seems ridiculous in waking life). We were looking at a slide presented on a projection screen which displayed a little squiggle at the center of a large circle.

“We did it!” one of the old guys said, smiling and giving me a hug. I had a vision that the city was now completely devoid of all life and motion; it was empty and still. Somehow this was a victory.

Looking at the slide, I understood that the squiggle in the center represented the storm, while the large circle around it represented… our soul’s understanding and experience of it, or something. So we had gained victory over the storm not by destroying the storm, but by growing the circle around it large enough that it diminished in its relative significance. And we had grown the metaphorical circle by continually trying to escape the storm, even though the storm always won.

At this moment I had a few insights, which seemed profound in the dream:

One insight was that the soul “solves” problems (at least certain sorts of problems) by growing around them, not by annihilating them (which it does not have the power to do by itself).

“Aha,” I said, trying to put this realization into words, “The bridge one must cross becomes the cross one must bear.” I thought that was very profound.

The old guy laughed and replied, “Yes, but don’t say that; it won’t make sense to anyone.”

In the dream, I thought, but I must share it, it’s so profound! Upon waking, I realize that “bearing your cross” is already filled with enough varied meaning for people that adding the metaphor of crossing a bridge is only likely to obfuscate it. (Although I thought the double meaning of the word “cross” was interesting.)

Another insight was that life experiences are like movies on a screen. The soul, or the consciousness, or whatever, is like the movie screen, while the movie is the experience of life. The screen is necessary for the movie to exist, it remains existing even after the movie’s over, and the movie can never hurt or damage the screen. The sufferings of life are like the conflicts in the movie; they’re real from the point of view of the movie, but they’re illusory from the point of view of the screen. The screen remains pure and untouched. (How to actually separate what is the movie and what is the screen is perhaps very difficult while the movie is still playing; it’s hard to really see the screen “behind” the movie, they seem like one thing while the movie is playing.)

The final insight is the most difficult to express in words, but I will try. The soul does not solve its problems with logic, but rather with experience and Free Will. Actually everyone probably intuitively understands this when it comes to something like love. Where does love for someone come from? It’s not the result of some kind of logical deduction. But the insight is more than that; it’s that everything the soul grows or becomes is “beyond” logic. This is not to say that logic is “wrong” or unimportant; it is useful, important, and an undeniable part of worldly existence. The soul still “contains” logic. But soul growth comes from the use of Free Will in response to experiences, from decisions of the heart, on which logic itself is founded in first place.

Another example may be: why do you enjoy a piece of music? You don’t follow logical arguments for or against it; it is simply in the nature of the music to emotionally move you. There may be some logical basis for the music, the mathematical structures behind the harmonies of the sound, the physical nature of the neurons firing in your brain as the sounds vibrate through your ear’s cochlea. But the emotional experience of the music is beyond all that, even if it depends on it for its physical manifestation.

Reading back over all that, I’m not sure if any of it is interesting or makes much sense, but I thought it worth writing about for at least my own interest.

I still often think back to that strangely vivid dream I had in 2018, Two weeks in another world, in which I thought the dream lasted for an entire two weeks. Obviously I was not in a coma for two weeks; the dream really only lasted a few hours or perhaps even a few minutes. But what exactly does “really” even mean? In waking life, we perceive a world through our senses and derive meaning out of it, but just how “real” is that meaning? We could say it is not real at all, because it is entirely open to interpretation; different interpretations of the same set of perceptions create different meanings. On the other hand, we could say those meanings are the ultimate reality, because it is with and through those meanings that we experience the world and exercise our Free Will, our very being. So if defining the nature of reality is difficult enough with waking life, what about dreams?

The experience of speaking with others in dreams is what mystifies me the most. In a dream, I am not consciously thinking or deciding what another being says, so just where the heck do his words come from?! I suppose it could be something like GPT-3, just a bunch of connections in the language part of the brain firing randomly? And perhaps when it says something seemingly profound, it’s just a matter of survivorship bias; it outputs mostly nonsense, but when it outputs something that the conscious mind responds well to, it gets remembered and seems more mystifying than it actually is. That might be it.

Dreaming is fun! More dreams please!

By S P Hannifin, ago