A rough bot slouching through the murk

It’s Wednesday morning, and though it’s actually slightly after six o’clock, I think it’s still reasonable to add, “as the day begins”.  Certainly the sun is not yet rising; the eastern sky isn’t even lightening yet.  I’m waiting at the train station, as I was when I began writing yesterday, and I’ve already walked five miles so far today (having walked a total of about eleven yesterday).

My endurance is definitely improving over these past few weeks, which is good.  It would be puzzling and perhaps even distressing if my endurance were getting worse.  I can, however, imagine my ability to walk long distances deteriorating because of injury or arthropathy—also, blisters and similar, and indeed I’ve had to deal with those over recent months, which is why it has taken me so long to get even to the point at which I currently reside.

But I think I’m getting past that particular barrier.  In fact, this Sunday, while my clothes were washing, I walked to the local convenience store barefoot, just to see how sturdy my feet were*.  It was fine, though I walked more slowly than usual.  I also, apparently, walked quite differently, with my left foot at least, than I do when I’m wearing shoes, because my left foot and hip got quite achy and sore a bit later that day, as though I’d put unusual strain on joints and muscles.  It’s an interesting realization, and it makes me want to experiment a bit more with barefoot walking.

One good aspect of all this walking is that I can listen to audio books and, to a lesser extent, podcasts as I do it.  I like audio books; the experience of listening to an audio book is very similar for me to the experience of reading a book in print.  I tend to read books in a very “audible” way, in that I tend to sound out the words in my head as I go along.  I think they call that “subvocalization”.

Apparently the old “speed reading” concepts recommended against this habit, but I disagree completely.  I don’t read particularly speedily, though I don’t read slowly, either.  But I do read deeply.  My ex-wife was always a very fast reader—she even took speed reading courses when she was younger—but she often did not recall many details of the things that she read for very long.  At least, she didn’t recall them the way I recall them.

I think one learns better with the combination of visible and audible (even if imagined audible) processing of the information.

That being said, even when solely using audible input, I of course form visual images—not of the words, usually, but of the ideas, or of the scenes, or what have you, depending on the subject matter.  There are also books and podcasts that I’ve listened to multiple times, and I think—as I do with books—that I get more out of them because of the repetition.  It may not be super-fast or anything, but I am pretty sure that I understand the things I take in more deeply than many people do, and I make connections rather easily from one area of knowledge to another.

Today I listened to Sean Carroll’s most recent podcast—about artificial intelligence, which is of course an au courant subject.  I also recently listened to a “Making Sense” podcast by Sam Harris in which two AI specialists had a discussion with him, and I subsequently bought their most recent books:  Human Compatible, by Stuart Russell, and Rebooting AI by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis.  I’ve read the first and begun the second.  It’s certainly a fascinating subject.  I don’t think it’ll ever be as interesting as fundamental physics, but that’s not a terrible insult.  What is, after all?

It’s all pretty pointless no matter what, but at least it’s distracting.  I need something to pass the time, since I don’t have any friends or anything—other than “work friends” I guess, but that’s not exactly the same thing.  I’m still very discouraged and despondent, and I see no future** for myself.

I feel rather as though I’m walking in a metaphorical fog.  I don’t even have any image of my immediate surroundings, nor of anything that lies ahead.  As far as I can tell, there is nothing that lies ahead.  There is certainly nothing toward which I can make any deliberate path.  I know the ground about may well be treacherous, with pitfalls and cliffs and quicksand and even dangerous predators; and I am not-so-secretly disappointed that I haven’t encountered any of the f*cking things yet.  Dangerous wildernesses aren’t what they used to be, it seems.

Well, that was a wholesale slide into clunky metaphor overlapping with reality and with slightly abstract conceptual space, and it’s a bit opaque, I’m sure (though I guess that is appropriate, given my metaphor).  Sorry about that.  Even I’m not sure what I mean.  I’m not sure about much.

I need to quit this stupid world.  Every day, its idiocy seems to grow—“the best lack all conviction, while the worst / are full of passionate intensity.”  But no revelation is at hand, I’m afraid.  There’s nothing waiting to be revealed.  Behind the curtain is just another curtain, and another one after that, ad infinitum—row upon row of tattered, moth-eaten, pseudo-velvet, gaudy and tacky material.

Wait, what the hell do I even mean by all that?  Sorry, I’m just indulging my own stupidity here.  Try not to let it bother you.

foggy road

*I brought a pair of crocks with me to put on once I got to the store, because they don’t want people without shoes to come in.

**Though I do pay rent.

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