Vanishing points

This must surely be what happens when picking blackberries. You see the best ones first, then after you take those, others appear “out of nowhere”. There are spots at all the junctions in the image but “your brain won’t let you see them all at once”. This could be an advantage when many other hands are competing for the best fruit, allowing you to home in on one you’ve identified.

Other ideas I’ve had about evolutionary traits. I don’t know if they are common knowledge anyway:

  • The horrible feeling of scratching your nails on a blackboard, which sets your teeth on edge, must be a protection against damaging your teeth or nails on stones when biting or scratching in the ground for food.
  • The hypnic jerk (“sleep start”) just before falling asleep, forces you to check that you are not in a position to fall out of bed, or – way back – to fall out of the branches of a tree in which you are nesting.
  • The eyelids are the first part to become paralysed on beginning to fall asleep.

From the night thoughts notebook

Given that there is something and something cannot come from nothing, there can have been no beginning.

Given that there is something and something cannot turn into nothing, there can be no end.

There has to be either something or nothing.

There cannot be nothing because there would be nowhere for there to be nothing.

There cannot be nothing because there is something and something cannot become nothing.

You cannot say there was a god who created something from nothing, because if there was a god then there was something. A god would be something. There was never nothing.

Something cannot become nothing but something can become something else.

We are part of the ever-changing something that always was and ever shall be.

This is the something that there is.

There is no nothing.

Events as governing points

As events happen and things move, at all times all of the relative views are calculable. All relatives hold true. But there is a governing point at the locus of an event. Each governing point is an event. The governing points are authoritative. Until the event occurs it cannot give any relative appearance to any other entity. It occurs once, establishing a governing point, a fixed authority. No other entity can gainsay the governing point. It owns inherent objectivity.

We cannot trap these governing points because they are evanescent and distant. Before we know about them they have already gone. We can’t know them before they occur, can’t know them at the same time they occur unless even if they are part of our own internal world, only after they have already occurred. Each container can hold within it innumerable transient events and each person as a container of thoughts has access to authoritative sources. The box knows what happened to Schrodinger’s cat.


From where A stands, B looks one inch tall. From where B stands, A looks one inch tall. They are both sixty inches tall and N metres apart. A is right about himself and wrong about B. B is right about himself and wrong about A. Rightness is inherent in the entity itself. Each entity is its own truth but no other can know it exactly. That doesn’t mean there is no truth, only that it’s hard to know.

That takes care of what is outside. What is inside an entity is carried there blind and impervious to what’s outside. The mind, being inside of one, is in its own world, the world of oneself. However, the mind has windows onto the outside, in the form of eyesight, hearing etc. We apply our minds to understanding what is outside and calculating what the truth might be.

It is a mistake to say that each viewpoint is equally valid, the prime example being whether A and B are dead or alive. It makes no difference what A thinks about B being dead or alive [or rather it doesn’t help us know what is true]. It only matters whether B as B is dead or alive. B is the absolute authority on whether he is dead or alive. No relative impression has any authority. B owns the attribute “dead or alive”. That is a governing point.

Governing points are start points and the world is continually emergent in the form of new governing points. All else relating to a point is governed by the point. It is instantaneous and transient. The traces it leaves are like ripples after a pebble falls in a pond, except that the pebble vanishes in no time. One nanosecond after the pebble strikes, it is a different pebble that continues to make its way through the surface of the water. We can hypothesize that like points in geometry, controlling points are infinitesimally small. We might call them events, except that the everyday sense of the word “event” creates a misleading impression. So I will call them points.

The world consists of continually emergent infinitesimal points, each of which is the authority on itself. The point governs its own existence. No entity can make any observation or conclusion about a point, until the point emerges. Because its existence is infinitesimally small, it is gone before any entity can exert any control over it. A point has power, it is authoritative and conclusive. But when it comes to knowing about governing points, we are all at sea. Truth is a moving target.

From nothing to nothing

To realise that things we habitually say and do and think are actually wrong. You walk down the street, looking this way and that. You think you’re a geezer. That woman’s pants are too tight. You look over the railway bridge and you think somebody said something interesting.

But really you have no idea whether these things are right or not. Your consciousness is so thin as to barely exist. You are a watchman who tries to make sentences span the disappearance into nothing of the past and the nothing that comprises the future, to carry them over the line between those two nothings, an imaginary concept called the present. When in reality there is nothing at all because the past is always gone, the future is never here and there is no interval between them, no space where something can exist that is neither past nor future. And how can you carry something from nowhere to nowhere? What can persist across the line between two empty zones with no gap between them? But something does, apparently.

But there is no other copy in a different zone, is there?, only this one that keeps changing its configuration. Everything is still here only in different arrangements. Something about change. If nothing changed, time would perhaps not exist. There would be nothing to count it by. Counting could not occur because counting itself involves change. To count is to see different things. If you see different things, your vision is changing. It takes time to exist. No time, no time to exist. It takes space to exist. No space, nowhere to exist, no existence. And so what we have is existence because equally without the existence of something, and its somewhere, there can be no time and no space. What could time possibly mean without anything in existence? And without time, no space, no time for space to exist. We might just as well call time/space existence.

There is no past somewhere else. There is no future waiting in the wings. Only the perpetually changing present. In existence. Tumbling.


Time is not a separate thing with attributes. It’s a measure of things. You can’t get a bottle of time, just as you can’t get a bottle of length. Things have length and things likewise have time. Therefore time is a property of things, the fourth dimension. We are not equipped to see the fourth dimension. If we could, we could turn our attention through past and future, just like we look at a huge ocean liner in port, turning to the prow, looking along the side with all its portholes, scanning along and looking down to the stern. We could look towards how it was last week, when there was no ship here, scan along as it sailed this way until it arrived here where we are now and by continuing to turn forward in time, we might see it sailing away again. But we can’t!

Yet in a sense we can – by staying put and waiting. We get to see the ship arriving and departing. So perhaps what we see is whatever intersects with our own time. We see all of our time in a way we can’t see all of other things’ or people’s time. We only see them when their time intersects with ours.


It’s time that is passing through us. It changes and rearranges all, while we never move any more than a tree moves, or a rock in a stream.

Human pyramid

This is a grizzly image but can you calculate the height, area or extent in space that would be occupied if you could connect the first umbilical cords of the first humans, starting from their mother, if there was only one (?), and connect a given size of human to them another level down and then continue through all the generations to the present day? It’s tempting to say that the area of the ground floor, i.e. our generation would be the space needed for 6 billion people to stand, which I believe is approx. The Isle of Wight. That doesn’t seem enough somehow. None of the males would have any connections coming down in this layout. They would of course have umbilical cords upwards but obviously do not have any downwards.*

Of course the umbilical cord is an aid to visualising the problem, it’s not strictly necessary in fact it makes the problem impossible if actual umbilical cord length had to be used, so instead of that we would probably use an average human height, weighted for the change in that over time or just averaged out or anyway taken into account. So instead of joining the people physically, you could just stand them on levels, not equating to generations but equating the the number of people generated by the initial number of people. So from one we maybe get two, or five or whatever it was. Then from those five we get 20 or whatever it was, etc. They’re not generations because the ages are all combined and put on the same level. But that should work, should it not or is there a fatal flaw in trying to do that?

So you get something like:

Of course the men in this only have upward connections (the umbilical principle) and no downward ones*. In a way, we could omit the men from the levels and then at the bottom level, just bring all the present day men back in to give us a base approximately equal to The Isle of Wight. Then if we knew the number of levels (but is that even possible, or is there a glitch there?) and an average height, we could work out the height of the whole cone, and then assume it must be equal numbers of men and women on each level, approx, so just connect lines from the base up to the top.

Another point: if we start working back from the present level (everyone alive today) … ah but here’s the glitch: You can’t put everyone alive today on the same level, because some of them are grandparents, parents or children of others alive today. That is the glitch.

Why then, if we start from the top does it feel like we can force it into levels? How would it end up to the present stage. Oh I know, it’s because all of those alive today is not one of the levels. The levels are different things that don’t correspond to temporal locations, they are abstract concepts. The people alive today span several levels, not just one.

If we forget the men and say they are just ballast, then it is women who define generations. Every woman alive today had a mother who had a mother and so on. It’s a many-to-one relationship going backwards. Everyone has precisely one mother. Some women have daughters but some don’t; not everyone links both ways in this. If we could say that there are more girls with each generation then it would be clear that the population decreases going backwards. This is known or anyway believed to be true. If every woman had precisely one daughter then there would still only be one woman alive plus her mother and grandmother perhaps, maybe even great grandmother so at most four or five women in the whole world.

It’s simpler to think of the question as how many generations there have been since the first humans. We could answer if we knew the average number of girls born to each mother. We could extrapolate from the present number of females by using the average increase per generation to work out the total number of generations to date.

We could define the present generation as the set of all females (and males but they are irrelevant) who have not yet had any children. That gives us an unentangled set because they are not the parents of anyone alive at present. Of course the set is changing from minute to minute. Anyway we take a cutoff (no pun intended). Now we can neatly take the mothers of each of these (the present generation) and trace back to an imaginary “level” (not a real time) before any of those mothers had had any children. Repeat and that gives us our generation counter or visualiser.

* Another truism: Everyone has precisely one father and one mother (no clones as yet). So even though there is no umbilical cord to connect a child to its father, the scenario is the same. Everything that could be calculated concerning mothers could be calculated concerning fathers. It is only when combining the two that some tangling occurs. However for a complete model, we would need everyone to have two umbilical cords, one to a father and one to a mother.

But you cannot separate all the progeny “connected by two strings” of the previous level into one next level because some of them might have a relationship upwards and be ancestors of some of the progeny on their own level. That is why it complicates it bringing in two parents. This does not arise in following only the matriarchal or only the patriarchal links.

ANOTHER THOUGHT: We could combine the two models, the male and female “trees” with their perfectly untangled levels but the levels do not map across exactly, so they would look like two cones with their points leaning together. They don’t fit but if the male one has less levels the space between them must be stretched so both the models reach from the first humans to the present day, giving us a different average “generation length” for males and females. Model F + model M = everyone who ever lived.

We may tend to assume that population has been increasing steadily but it might have gone down due to problems at various times, for example during the bubonic plague. The amount by which it increases or decreases could vary over time so there must be wavy edges to the pyramid but we know that over the long term it has been increasing.

If archaeology can tell us when the first humans appeared, and we combine with where we are now, which we know about, we could work out a pyramid shape. I think it would be a very tall narrow pyramid. I’m only guessing but it might reach from the Isle of Wight as the base to the Moon, maybe.

I remember reading an article in Atlantic Monthly by a leading mathematician specialising in the maths of heredity, which he said was exceedingly complicated. It turns out that everyone alive today has a common ancestor about 10,000 years ago. Anyone who was reasonably prolific, like Nefertiti or Genghis Khan for example, is most likely ancestor to everyone alive today. This effect leads to the seemingly marvellous result that everyone who researches their ancestry discovers that they are related to some famous forebear. Also he found that 3,000 years from now, everyone alive today will either have no descendants at all or will be ancestor to everyone then alive. (Ref: Joseph Chang, Yale University quoted by Steve Olsen in “The Royal We” Atlantic May 2002 Monthly

A few maybes about fiction

The joy of fiction is not in finding out what the writer knows, it’s the writer finding out what we know. Characters the writer hated turn out to be better than the writer imagined. Characters the writer loved were not all they were cracked-up to be. If non-fiction is for us to find out what the author knows then maybe fiction is an exploration in which the author sets out to discover what we know. Then like other discoveries, it sounds obvious when we hear it. We knew that all along.

Reading fiction is following with the logic of music, notes that establish a theme, counterpoint, development, allegro, largo, andante, the theme returns, resolution… The music is out there; it’s David in a block of marble, stories in the burble of a cafĂ©, the susurration of congregants, the gull cries of a spoon stirring medicine in a glass, the sound of a small hammer on tin, which turns out to be a finch, the train sound from miles away that only carries on moonless nights…

(And always a basketball bouncing, though nobody round here plays basketball. Always children babbling and shrieking, though there are no children round here. Sometimes a jet flies low overhead though we’re not on any flight path. Helicopters hovering where the streets are too small to land. The same Jehovah’s witnesses call every couple of months, disbelieving the mezzuzah. Visits by the Seventh Day Adventists are settling into a pattern. The Church of Latter Day Saints is overstretched. A hungry teen with crow’s feet round his eyes sells flannels from a tray while a Merc. waits round the corner. The parcelmen knock and run away.)

But what does it matter? Turn the page, our hero is going somewhere, to where people are and there will be tea, JD, opium and lashings of ginger ale.

We are the lost tribe, the lost tribe of us, enrapt in a florid delusion of consciousness, where spirits live in history, and offerings are made on stage to gods of theatre, and there are such laughable concepts as careers, status, security and wisdom. Where everyone is a shaman drunk on industry, spinning in train carriages of spear carrying accountants, trouping in powdery makeup through jungles of wire.

How not to think

“thinking is unnecessary. just work, eat, drink, sleep, excrete, repeat, not necessarily in that order. all thought is redundant because it cannot be but what blather o reilly to horse me charger killiraggert snortdorgel”

we know before we think. it has been proven experimentally anyway, but just (er) think about it. there is no need for the time-consuming thought. all can be at light speed as long as we don’t think. this is the reason for beginner’s luck, for example. as soon as they interpose the delayed and faulty thought, having “learned” how to play, players lose their beginner’s luck. it is a one-time only gift. usually.

whatever you think you thought, you already thought before you thought you thought. how can it be otherwise. if i can stop thinking i can fly at light speed through where thought plods and get outside the earth’s gravitation (so to speak, and speaking is even more redundant, especially on the internet where we are all trees falling in forests with nobody around except other trees who are falling themselves and so do not make good listeners.

(anyway listening is pointless as well. you cannot listen to what you have not already heard. listening is a form of thinking and so should be eliminated. (but elimination of thought and listening is pointless, because nature eliminates them by making them pointless and redundant, in other words they are self-eliminating. therefore to try and eliminate them is itself further redundancy piled on the initial redundancy. (whether you think or not is immaterial. (so you thought? so what? i thought and that was a nanosecond i’ll never see again.

(but seeing – now that’s a waste of pixels (which are themselves dismal ineffectual redundant representations of entities that preexisted the pixels (entities like trees that do not waste their time thinking (feverish thinking (a disease of the mind (before thought was the same animal, the bald ape (adam and eve, like laurel and hardy, “two heads without a single thought”.

it’s just a hop across a slippery stepping stone to genesis and adam and eve eating from the tree of knowledge, which is where all our troubles supposedly originated, otherwise we’d have been coasting along on beginners’ luck, millions (billions) of us fololoping around in pristine ignorance, always landing the rolled up scroll in the waste paper bin first time and having comprehended the universe just by or at the same time as opening our eyes.

Against the gregarious indifferent

Woke up with a few more thoughts on loneliness etc. For argument sake let’s divide humanity into two types, the gregarious and the solitary. People may move from one group to the other over time and certainly there will be degrees in both.

Next consider how the solitary and the gregarious regard other people. I’m interested in the concept of “caring what other people say”. Thinking about permutations of this attribute between the two types I suggest that being gregarious and caring what people say is good and that being solitary and not caring what people say is also good, though I’m not going to try and justify that here.

That leaves us with two other categories: the solitary who care what people say, whose condition I suggest is somewhat tragic, pitiable if you like and the gregarious who don’t care what people say, whose condition I suggest is despicable. The latter are what I call the gregarious indifferent. Their condition is despicable because they foist themselves on others, intrude, trample, disport themselves generally without any concern for what others say.

This condition of gregarious indifference is what is so objectionable about alcoholics. You will note the one-sided conversations, the drunken midnight phone call that’s all “me me me”, demanding interaction and repetitive but utterly indifferent and unreceptive to any response. The purblind, gregarious indifferent are to be avoided like the plague.

Anticipating the objection that one can care about people but not care what they say: I’m not suggesting that caring what people say is the same as caring about other people but it’s a bit more than just “being a good listener”. I think caring what people say is at least part of the way down the road to caring about other people in general (whatever that entails).

My conclusion is either to care what people say and be gregarious or, if you prefer to be solitary for the time being, not to care what anybody says. Do not fall into the opposite situations, namely being solitary and caring what people say – which is tragic – or being gregarious and not caring what people say – which is despicable.

May 2011: Re-reading this I’m thinking either everyone should care what people say, or possibly nobody should care what anybody says and so the whole thing collapses. It’s all tendentious, I think. I could have made it much simpler: I just don’t like drunks who want to talk but not to listen.

World of light?

If the uttermost particles are twists of energy, then matter is made of energy and energy is not made of anything else (though it must be, perhaps) then the world is made out of energy and if light is energy too, then you could say the world is made out of light. Then light doesn’t just illuminate and reveal the world, it is the world. Which ancient Greek philosopher was that one? They took turns at saying the world was made out of different things: fire, water, air, butter, lemon drops…