My inventive friend Tom placed Lawrence Kuhn’s ‘what if’ piece in front of me. It appears to be science and fiction. More or less the article asks if we, like Neo and Agent Smith, are pieces in a grand simulation, elements in a Gamer’s gambit?
While Kuhn ultimately rejects the idea that the earth’s population is the equivalent of Sim City for higher life forms he somehow feels beholden to acknowledge that the scenario does “seem to work.” I vouchsafe his existential position as a scientist and question his priorities: just where the heck is this guy’s head at?
Is Kuhn a proxy provocateur? A messenger for meta-magnitude tinkerers? Or is the fake fakes universe precept just more mental masturbation, an alien gambol, a human end run around a crowded conclusion: the earth is fucked.
It is lovely to think that somehow a race track has been created and that all of the actors at the track are infinitely malleable. Imagine that kind of endowment. A collective ‘we’, each with a bonnet to be lifted by one or more mechanics and messed with; a desire stroked, an excuse invented, a compassion curtailed, a notion enlivened.
Having encoded us inside and out our betters become our bettors. Like the pygmy at the Bronx Zoo, we are an object of transactional interest, something to be placed, positioned and prodded.
And once we’re in play we gain access to a tiny war chest of inversions: fight and flight, affability and insufferability, mania and quietude, curiosity and disinterest, ignorance and ambition. Whether we’re Dead or Alive we never ever really know where we’re located: on the rail, 2 furlongs behind, under the stands lighting a wick… Perhaps some gin-swilling poseur has abstracted our noesis and made dadism faceless after all.
What great fun the speculative worm hole presents. But is it reasonable at this climate-changing moment for the Scientiferatti to propose that our heart beating hamster wheel can be reduced to a mortal coil app for Others to shuffle? And if so, should we assume that when meta-multiversalist players roll the brontobytes there is – could be – even the slimmest possibility for us – nay, for just one of us – to influence positive change? Can we humans outwit the house? Might we register parsec level gains? Or is our due the simulacrumbs that fall from the table?
It may be that I discovered human agency too late in life. I adore the mystery that we’ve invested in being and becoming: a clumsy spiral of unintended consequences emanating from simple questions. “And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife. And you may ask yourself-Well…How did I get here?” But in this particular ring of hell you may well not ask.
The maw on our modern content hole is fabulously large. It’s a demand algorithm inviting polyglottalists to make shit up and an error-inducing dome of silence that tastes and replicates its own leavings. Kuhn’s academic authorities – you will note no philosophers in that gaggle – speculate about interventions by otherworldly civilizations with the same kind of reverence as biblical scholars who suggest a heavenly puppet master.
Whether its for Gaming or Evangelizing, the Fundamentalists who advance these views share an overpowering nihilism. They let us off the hook. “To hell with the planet,” they seem to say, “the next level looks really cool, four horsemen and an apocalypse!”