The first ever computer was Charles
Babbage's 19th century Difference Engine. A beautiful
machine consisting of twisting brass gears, the Difference Engine
solved equations and it changed the world. Soon the world will change
again. We'll invent a quantum computer that will solve everything
that remains unsolved in any given field. The quantum computer will
be able to perform infinite calculations infinitely, sorting out
everything at once with its omnitask ability. All ailments will be
cured and even death will be overcome. All questions will be answered
and there'll be nothing left to wonder about. There'll be world peace
because everyone will be in perfect agreement. There'll be nothing
that can't be done.
However, one unsolvable problem will
result from this solving of all problems. The ultimate problem of
eternal boredom. We'll be rendered yawning
immortals sat in front of portals that look onto the past, watching
the human race when it used be confused and beset with problems.
We'll envy our ancestors the struggles that were their reasons for being.
We'll long for the days when we had real feelings. There'll no longer
seem to be a point in anything when we know the point of everything
and there'll no longer be a reason to go on when life just goes on
and on and on and on. Pity the gods that we are destined to become, as
superfluous as they are superior in the
shadow of their Indifference Engine.
He loved to look at the lovely moon in
the sky above him and dream that he would one day go to the moon and then
one day he got in a rocket and went to the moon and he landed on the
moon and lived on the moon and he became unhappy on the moon because
he could no longer see the lovely moon in the sky above him and dream of
one day going to the moon because he was on the moon and all it was
was rocks in the dark and powdery shite.
Now, that's a little story for you.
What does it mean? Well, I suppose it's just a long way of saying 'be
careful what you wish for and be content with what you have.' Trite
but perhaps true enough and maybe you should apply it to your life.
Unless of course you are a two year old Sub-Saharan sucking on an
energy biscuit and dying of Malaria. I doubt the moon story would
bring much comfort to such a person. It's hard to imagine what kind
of story would. I suppose stories are just comforting little
indulgences for those who are not in such dire circumstances. I
suppose, the less you suffer the more time you have to contemplate
suffering. It might even be a case of the less you suffer the more
you seek out suffering and then have to reckon with it, the very
nature of it, so you need stories to explain it. Converse kind of
stuff that, perverse even. There might even be a story in it. A story
about an adored king who lives in luxury but all he can do is dwell
on the slightly frayed trimmings on one of his robes and compose
stories about them.
I'm not saying we're all crybabies. I'm
just saying, well, imagine your heart is broken. That stings doesn't
it? It does. Well, bad and all as that is, you probably wouldn't be
worrying about it all that much if you were being chased by a lion
would you? You wouldn't be going 'I wonder what she/he is doing right now,' with some roaring clawed fucker of a giant cat charging after you. I doubt you'd be remotely interested in hearing a parable involving someone overcoming their lovelorn predicament if you
were involved in a predicament involving a lion.
What I'm saying here is that we have
stories to comfort the comfortable and the truly uncomfortable don't
get any stories, which is fine because they're too distracted to heed
them anyway. If you're listening to a story, well, then things mustn't
be going so bad for you and maybe you shouldn't take the story too
seriously because, when things get serious, stories aren't much use
at all. For example, I've never seen anyone put out a blazing
building with a story about a brave firefighter. And I've never seen
a man successfully wrestle a lion into submission by recounting The
Epic of Gilgamesh. Stories are just made up things. They are only
stories. Even the ones on the news. Even the ones God told. Even the
ones you tell yourself about yourself. Instead of listening to
stories, you'd be better off going outdoors and looking up and
contemplating the moon and being happy to be under it and not on it,
gasping for breath and crawling over rocks in the dark, being in no
mood for stories and choking on powdery shite.
There's tremendous relief to be found
upon discovering that you were wrong about everything. It's initially
jarring, sure, but after that there is a sense of great excitement
that everything is up for rediscovery. The boredom of thinking you
had it all figured out and things would always be thus vanishes and
the world begins again. It's like the reboot of some franchise. It
would be good for our jaded species to have such an epiphany,
communally. It would both invigorate us and
cut us down to size. It would unite us in confusion as we drop our
respective dogmas. All that is required is for something remarkable
to happen. Something that causes such a paradigm shift that it shifts
all the other paradigms into obsolescence.
What we need is an inexplicable event. An event that defies all
scientific understanding and proves both the existence and
nonexistence of God at the same time. What could such an event be?
I've never told anyone what I'm about
to tell you now. When I was a child, myself and my brother had an
argument in our garden. I can't remember what the row was about but
we soon stopped fighting when our dog got up on a Triumph 20 and
started cycling around the lawn. We never had a disagreement again after
that. Everything seemed trivial. That dog brought peace to our
household and rebooted both our realities. Maybe the dogs of the
world should do similar, at some synchronised
time. Some quiet afternoon as people go about their business and
international tensions simmer and the rich rip off the poor and
people kneel to God and families dine in silence. Imagine the collective gasp if the dogs of the world suddenly
mounted whatever bike was nearest and started peddling about and
maybe even doing the odd wheelie. World news would broadcast
identical events as they occurred globally. Then, as suddenly as they
got on the bikes, the dogs would dismount and one would look straight
into a television camera and say, 'there now, what do you humans make
of that? That's softened your cough for you hasn't it?' And indeed,
at last and long overdue, humanity's cough would be softened.
The dogs of the world would then resume acting thick and never
explain what happened and we'd all be left as we should be, humbled
but curious and feeling very much alive. Set free of certainty and
happy to be wrong about everything.