It’s Tuesday morning, in case you somehow didn’t know—or, I guess, in case you’re reading this at some time in the future, six sevenths of which will not be on a Tuesday. Actually, in the long future, presumably, the concept of Tuesday will cease to be relevant; indeed, it will cease to exist, and certainly once the Earth has been incinerated by the sun when it goes red giant, such things won’t matter. But then again, presumably no one will be reading this blog at that point. It’s hard to consider seriously the possibility that my blog might outlive the very Earth itself. It’s not impossible in the sense of being against the laws of physics, but it seems vanishingly unlikely.
Of course, if the Many Worlds (or as I like to say, the Everettian) interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct, then in some branches of the future my blog will probably still be read even beyond the days after the Earth in incinerated. Perhaps this will be because, in that branch (or, rather, that particular subset of the branches of the Everettian Multiverse) I am considered the savior of the human race, or the prophet of some new religion or something.
Now that’s a dystopian future!
As for the here and now, in case it’s not evident, I had a worse sleep last night even than I normally do. I feel vaguely as if I’m living in more than one of the many worlds of quantum mechanics at once as it is; certainly everything seems quite surreal and slightly distorted. I’m reminded of the line from Fight Club (the movie) in which the narrator says that, with insomnia, everything is a copy of a copy of a copy of itself. It’s not quite exactly the way I feel, but it captures some of the spirit of it. Anyway, I’m very foggy and ever-so-slightly delirious—more so than usual, I mean. So please excuse me if I seem even more absurd than usual.
If I seem less absurd than usual, then, well, I don’t know what that might indicate. I doubt that it would imply in any way that insomnia is good for me. More likely it would just highlight the chaotic nature of its effects on my nervous system and the rest of my body, giving superficial outcomes that might, on initial inspection, seem to be an improvement.
Believe me, though, they are not.
It would be one thing if I were going to eventually get the ability to see all the colors and auras and everything in the world, like in the Stephen King book Insomnia, including getting the ability to suck excess, unused energy from people and get healthier and “younger”. But, of course, I suppose then I’d probably be caught up in events that threatened the fate of all realities or something, and that would just be annoying.
Not that the real world is mundane or anything, except perhaps in the literal definition of the word*. The laws of physics, mathematics, the facts of chemistry and biology, astronomy, cosmology…these things are all quite amazing. It’s too bad so much of human history, and the human race in general, doesn’t quite live up to the universe.
Okay, well, I guess that’s a bit unfair. Humanity is whatever it is in the universe, and it could not be otherwise than it is, by the laws of physics. Everettian Many Worlds might seem to make things a bit questionable here, but General Relativity (which has a much more confirmed status) certainly seems to show that the past, the present, and the future** all already exist, or still exist, or “always” exist, whatever that even means when you’re talking about the totality of space and time itself.
And, yes, this implies that free will, in the purest sense, does not exist. But then again, how could it? It’s not even coherent from a philosophical or psychological point of view, let alone from that of physics. If you think you have free will that somehow rises above the laws of physics, then try drinking three martinis within the course of an hour on an empty stomach and choose not to be drunk. Your brain is a physical organ, and your personality, your alertness, your willpower, your self-control are all dependent on the state of that brain—indeed, they are part of the state of that brain.
For that matter, try having long-term insomnia and a neurodevelopmental disorder and chronic mood disorder and and see if it doesn’t affect your outlook and your ability to tolerate and deal with the slings and arrows of day to day life. Try not to be grumpy and impatient and diffident and anxious and stressed-out. Maybe the insomnia will be part of the cause of a chronic mood disorder for you; or maybe the chronic mood disorder causes it. Or, more likely, the things feed back on each other in the ridiculously complex system that is the brain, like a hurricane that becomes self-sustaining in the right conditions. Anyway, it’ll make you think and feel stupid things that will make you hate yourself even more than you already do, believe me.
At least, that’s the way it’ll work if you’re identical to me. Which you’re not, of course. Unless you are me, from the future, looking back and rereading this former blog post at some later time. But then, of course, you still won’t be identical to the me that’s writing this, will you? You’ll be a future version of me, later in my timeline, in the one future that exists, if there is only one, or in some subset of the many worlds of quantum mechanics, if that is the correct description of quantum mechanics. But whatever that future is or is not, whether there are many versions of it or just one, it will be whatever it will be, and the nature of it is and will be whatever it is and will be, and I do not have any choice in that matter.
Neither do you.
*From the Latin mundus for “the world”.
**Which, by the way, are not universal concepts but are applicable only with reference to any given world line, and any point, arbitrarily chosen, in spacetime. What’s past to some might be future to others, yet they all might be thought to be simultaneous to yet a third observer.