Well, it’s Friday again, and so tomorrow is Saturday, in the system by which we name our days.
The days themselves don’t know or care about what we call them, anymore than all the various plants and animals and fungi in the world care—as far as anyone can tell—what we call them. Our names of things are solely for our convenience, to make communication easier and more streamlined—paintbrush handles of thought, as I think Eliezer Yudkowsky described them.
But, of course, having finite minds, as surely do all creatures, we tend to get so used to thinking of things by their names that we think the names and the things are interconnected in and of themselves, and even that the names have inherent power. This is akin to all the old magical ideas that knowing someone’s or something’s true name gives you power over them in some mystical fashion. It’s also related to our (depressingly) current notions of names or other words being capable of causing actual, physical harm, and being taboo—even words that are basically innocuous.
I can certainly understand why people might want to avoid using a term that’s been almost exclusively associated with historical injustice, oppression, and literal violence; that’s just a matter of trying to be polite, as far as I can see, and politeness is rarely a bad thing, as long as people don’t get too carried away. But the tendency of humans to get hung up on some mystical (and fictional) power of names often becomes a problem, and is the error of thought which required the creation of the formerly popular and very important corrective, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
That’s very true—unless you’re dealing with Paul Atreides or some other Bene Gesserit person. Alas, those are fictional beings. I say “alas” not because I think that it’s too bad that we don’t have the Bene Gesserit and so on, but because it would be great if there really were people/creatures like the Guild Navigators, with the ability to fold space thanks to long exposure to the spice mélange. That would be tremendously useful for space travel, obviously. In our world, though, “He who controls the spice controls the universe” just refers to KFC and Colonel Sanders’s secret original recipe for fried chicken, which is tasty, but is not going to get us interstellar travel, at least not anytime soon.
Similarly, as far as we know, in our particular brane-world, there are no orcterlolets, with their ability to manipulate space directly (no spice needed). And if Simon Belmont is real in our universe, he’s keeping his knowledge and abilities quiet, probably wisely*.
Anyway, coming back to the subject of the day and days, I hope you all are going to have a good weekend, and that you get some time off from work and so on. I’m going to work tomorrow, unless some highly unusual situation develops, and so I will be writing a blog post tomorrow.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been using my laptop all this week to write, and it’s definitely helping my thumbs, though they are not fully recovered yet. I will say, even I am struck by how much faster and more eloquently I “speak” when typing than in any other fashion, including actual speech, as far as I can see. As you may know, I’ve tried to work on doing “audio blogs”, since more people seem to like to listen and to watch things than to read—see yesterday’s post for my lament about that fact—but it’s not nearly as natural to me. I did find it gratifying to read aloud my last post from Iterations of Zero, which I turned into a “video” on YouTube and embedded here, but that’s as much because I really was trying to get that message out…yet again, perhaps for the last time, after so many, repeated failures.
Apparently, I’m not very good at making myself clear. Then again, the reason for that, and the emphasis on that reason, was a big part of the point of that last IoZ blog post and the fact that I read it aloud and shared it in different format. I’m probably wasting my time, though. Even if someone actually gets the point I’m trying to make, why on Earth would anyone act on it? Why would anyone even try to save the prisoner in my thought experiment?
Let him die, I say. He’s a worthless little piece of shit, anyway. I hate him.
With that, I’ll wrap up this rather bizarre and somewhat short Friday blog post. I didn’t have any agenda going in, and I think I’ve achieved that agenda nicely, and in fewer words than I usually take to do it. If you’re spending the weekend with family and/or friends, please do your best to appreciate your time with them. Make the most of it. Don’t take them for granted. Take nothing for granted. The universe only makes one promise to everyone—and we can’t even be completely, mathematically, epistemically certain of that one.
*The immediately preceding few sentences were references to my “fantasy” adventure book, The Chasm and the Collision, in case anyone was confused more by them than by references to Dune. To learn more about what those references mean, you should buy and read my book! Heck, buy them all! They will change your life, I promise you…at the very least in the sense that you will own several more books than you had owned previously. That’s technically a change, right?