An Open Letter to Crazy Cat Ladies

June 22, 2017

Dear Crazy Cat Ladies,

I’m all for equal rights. I’m really behind the LGBTQI movement and the progressive direction feminism is heading. I have hope we can address the concerns intersectionality raise in an empathetic and articulate way. And to live in a future where the highest virtue, freely apprehended by all, is one of compassionate equality. I’m all for it.

But I am going to miss one little thing. Something that I had never realised I had until one day I was told it would be taken away. Something that was gifted to me as a child, without me even asking for it. I had been using it all my life, for my enjoyment, at the expense of a minority. And it will soon be gone: Crazy cat ladies.

In a future where everyone is compassionately equal the term “crazy cat lady”, will be a thing of the past. Like the gesture of a backhand slap; it feels good to do, but you know its a little wrong.

And I’ll miss that. I love the crazy cat lady. Recently, on tinder, I matched with a person and their bio read “future career goals: crazy cat lady”. I swiped right, it was funny… But that was the first red flag. And, unfortunately for her, we dont yet live in a world that agrees with all “alternative lifestyles”.

And that’s why the crazy cat lady has to go. Because the joke I just wrote had sexual innuendo. Yet, the truth is, due to unresolved trauma she would push people away when they got too close. In turn she found that her need for affection and nurturing was met in adopting and caring for rescue kittens. She was only on tinder to see if her own affirmation of this “alternative lifestyle” was genuine.

So the term “crazy cat lady” has to go. And yet, something will be missing. Because we won’t be able to write in our tinder bio “future goals: crazy cat-person”, that sounds like a person who is trying to surgically resemble a cat. Whereas a “crazy cat-man”, sounds like a maniac in a cat suit… or a superhero. And that’s why the crazy cat lady has got to go.

So long crazy cat lady, you were good to me but I know in my heart it’s not right. I will miss you like I will miss easy job interviews, automatic loan approvals, and justifying myself and patronising people at the same time.

And whenever we meet someone who is single, over 30, lives alone, and has more than two cats,

We will fondly remember you.
Regards,

crazy-cat-lady

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The Big Scale

December 10, 2014

Contemporary physics on the nature of reality and the vast array of discoveries and inventions that ensued over the past few hundred years have shaped an understanding of the world that has transformed the planet (for better or worse) and improved and lengthened the lives of countless inhabitants (It has no doubt been the source of immense destruction of which I am aware but I don’t want to waste too many words giving equal measure to “good and evil” in this particular post). It has been the source of an immense transformation of a species. But today, in the most modern moment possible, it is still glaringly false. The laws of everyday life don’t work the same as the laws observed in the everyday life of the matter deep inside us.

General relativity and quantum physics don’t sync up. How can this be? How can hundreds of years of careful measurement, countless observation, and the lives and collective effort of millions of people get the most basic rules of our existence so irreparably wrong?

Maybe the answer lies, or part thereof, in the foundations. The rules that are so intuitively simple that they were never questioned in the first place.

Maybe a part of the answer lies in the limiting and arbitrary practice of defining scale.

I don’t have a degree in physics, or chemistry or maths nor am I up to date with all the research going on in those fields. But I do have a brain. So I guess I’d like to class myself as a philosopher of sorts. Credibility aside, education aside and all ego aside I feel the human mind is inherently powerful in its current design to tackle seemingly incomprehensible problems and arrive at answers that at least deserve further speculation, if not hint at Truth. With introspection, a desire to learn, a curiosity of the unknown and a healthy dose of imagination these are some of my ideas of how the universe may be assembled and understood so that our predictions meet our observations. Maybe even discover something that is truly True.

The Chaotic Theory of Nature

Patterns of self replication across all scales.

Firstly, to try to solve any problem lets start at the basics. Words. We use words to describe the things we can interact with in the world. We name objects. We define properties and create values for phenomenon. Very intuitive. But by doing this, we are locking the complexity of nature to the human construction of scale. We are taking the form of matter within a certain size, attributing a definition for this object at this current size and locking it to a world of rules and systems. The apple will fall, the apple will taste like an apple. But as discoveries and experiment have helped us understand an apple is not really an apple. An apple could be described as a vast collection of cells, proteins, enzymes and processes that result in an organism that can reproduce and photosynthesise. Or we could call it a collection of molecules prey to entropy and the fundamental physical laws. The smaller we go down the harder it becomes to pin down exactly what an apple actually is. We merely move from biology to chemistry to particle physics to theoretical particle physics to philosophy, where surely it all ends.

So lets think on a completely different tangent for a moment before we fall too far down that rabbit hole. How can we free ourselves from these conceptual boundaries of how to accurately perceive reality and the universe around us? What are some concepts that can exist regardless of scale?

Shapes are an example. Numbers another. Values exist without scale. Values is a tricky word and it’s a placeholder until I can think of a better one but I would like values to be attributed to what I would describe as the “harmony within nature”(still no clearer). The values are the physical laws, like gravity and electromagnetism, but in this sense they exist as something more too. Attributing the word value rather than fundamental law helps keep a scaleless perspective on these pervasive forces. These values guide the physical movements of matter within the world. These movements just so happen to be responsible for this planet, the sun, the galaxies and all the life and things living in it too. These values are more than mathematical formulas that can predict scaleless physical phenomena; they have guided this collection of molecules to behave, to seek comfort, to eat, to live and almost most importantly: to think.

So we have shapes, numbers, and values in our cookpot of scalelessness. The next two on the list are time and probability. Time is a no-brainer but I would like to explain why I think probability is important. Brian Greene and Lawrence Krauss have a lot to say about Nothing and reading their work on the subject got me wondering. Like the Higgs field could there exist a probability field? We know of virtual particles and their almost impossibly tiny lifespans. Could it also be possible that these virtual particles are the result of a field of probability that when excited produce points of concentrated density that fluctuate to a probability of One.

(I’m just going to add that the next bit does have a point, mind the pun. It may be stretched out and I will probably write about the entirety of it within a few posts but for now humour me. This is going somewhere tangible, real, applicable to our observations of everyday life. For me thinking like this helped broaden my perspective, appreciation, insatiable curiosity and imagination on everything from a plume of smoke to the turbulent ripples in a flowing river.  Being aware of the world around us on a rational, emotional and philosophical perspective I believe helps me live a subjectively longer, more satisfying and more fulfilling life. )

So back to it. One being that within a particular boundary that point exists. It exists in a way that stands in contrast to the nothing that now surrounds it. As when there is nothing the only thing that can happen is that something can then within that nothing exist to define the boundary between the two. The only question is how the nothing produces time if itself is timeless. The probability of an event occurs without the boundary of time. The probability of me rolling a certain number on a die is not fixed to obey any constraints within time. It changes relative to the variables in the matter. Time affects matter, and matter affects the probability, but the probability itself exists timelessly. Flipping a coin will always have same probability, from the very beginning of universe to the very end.

So a timeless, spaceless, lawless void could exist if we can expand our mind to try to comprehend the idea of a dimension of probability. Its where numbers exist, it’s where the true nature of time exists (again with the tricky words. Try not to think of existing as living. More as being able to exert influence but not be tied to the causality of a matter filled universe). And it was there first. So my answer to the question raised long ago; how is it nothing can produce time? is that the nothing before the big bang was actually a dimensional field of probability, the probabilities can fluctuate and those fluctuations will at some point, at some place equal One, or the antithesis of no-thing, and thus defining the very nature of a thing and a place as the thing in the first place. Anyone who is familiar with the double slit experiment understands the probabilistic nature of the constituents of matter.

A field of probability can only do two things: fluctuate below the probability of a single point existing and fluctuate TO the probability of a single point existing. Nothing, or the empty space of the cosmic vacuum, exist as a field of probabilities whose locations do not fluctuate to the probability of one.

Phew. For now I will leave it there. If you’re reading this after reading that thank you for indulging me. And I shall continue to connect this idea to the marvellous beauty of the intricately vast universe around us.

Is Gravity’s Effect on Time Perceptible?

November 28, 2014

The recent release of Interstellar has gotten a lot of people thinking heavily about gravity. And it’s about time! Yes maybe I’m just tagging linkable references in hopes of boosting my blog posts’ reach but I think the next idea is intriguing and want to hear what people think.

Gravity has an effect on time. The peculiarities of the fundamental force cause it to speed up or slow down the perception and ageing of an object relative to its strength. A recent clock has been made that is so sensitive it is failing to give an accurate “time” because the position of the clock relative to the earth causes it to tick at different rates, thanks to gravity. Other than this being a potentially incredible discovery into discovering the intricacies of gravity, this also tells us that time is sensitive.

As a subjective observer, how fast do you “feel” or “know” time is ticking. We all have the shared experience of a really stimulating and entertaining day as fast and a boring dreary one as slow. Our memories can be recalled irrespective of time. An entire day can be remembered in an instant, or we can drag out a faux pas and have it play for hours.

It may then not be so unimaginable to imagine that maybe our brains perception of time, the electrochemical signals travelling through neurons, may be sensitive to how fast we move and our generally relative gravity. Does a person sitting in a plane count his internal seconds ever so slightly slower than his grounded counterpart? Do two people sitting next to each other, over the course of a lifetime, ever so slightly feel as if they’ve lived longer than two people sitting apart?

Who knows. But they’re interesting questions nonetheless.

Feeling Better

November 23, 2014

I wake up. The day before I was unable to get out of bed for 5 hours. Apathy, boredom and self doubt keeping me motionless as if a large lion was sitting on me, crushing me before the devour. But today my head feels lighter. My feet don’t sink into the floor as heavily, my hair doesn’t look that bad (and I never cared anyway) and wouldn’t it be great to cook eggs for breakfast?

This renewed excitement, this fresh clear breath of day is not unexpected. The days prior (see previous posts for context) felt as if spent in shadow. Rationality and reason doing nothing to aid my perspective or offer insight about how to behave but I knew I had to ride it out. Whatever physiological, circumstantial, environmental influences were putting me in a funk were only temporary. The feelings were very real.

The actions related to judgements made in this headspace resulted in:

  • staring at things
  • staring at no things
  • checking clocks
  • sleeping

And it’s basically rinse and repeat until the cycle breaks and gives way to the larger, much more enjoyable cycle where I feel great again and get my shit together.

It’s the freshness, the renewed vigour that gets me. You come out of a funk and things feel good again but freshly so. I’ve had some time where the natural grandeur inherent in nature has been invisible. Muted information. The sensory data was all there but my brain took away some crucial element. The part that makes me “stop and smell the roses” wasn’t getting any love up in that three pound organic electrochemical computer inside my skull. I was aware of this but helpless to change it. I mean I did what I could, I talked to my friends and family, I ate right, I exercised and I tried to continue creating. It would serve to not make things worse but it didn’t bring back the awe. That would have to wait.

So when the good wave returns, when the plateau is over and the roller coaster begins its exhilarating ascent to the free-fall drop and the loop de loop, it all feels new again. I will never get tired of feeling good after feeling bad. It will never pale in comparison. Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, these feelings are never experienced dully. I am reminded by these fluctuations in happy and sadness, in boredom and excitement and apathy and motivation, that our emotions are consistent. The FEELING is always relative. Someone complimenting me on my superman drawing as a six year old feels just as good as being told that my cabinet making skills are are professionally adequate.

We focus on being Happy. We always want to be happy. But we know deep down that we can’t. Anything done long enough is adapted to. We change to our environment. But as we change hopefully so does our emotional response. If we can cycle through our emotional ranges throughout day to day life then we get to experience the rich and colourful tapestry of that life for its true grandeur. We awe at the tragedy, grieve at loss, We relish freedom and embrace love, and if these were to ever lessen with each experience then THAT would be something to despair about.

Bad Habits

November 21, 2014

I will refrain from only venting my thoughts on this website when I’m feeling like shit. But not tonight. How to conquer apathy is my current riddle to solve, maze to traverse, clue to decipher. I’m feeling a great cloak of the stuff, apathy. I can’t seem to motivate myself to feel. My desires for anything stimulating have all but disappeared, I would like a substance to do the stimulating for me if possible but that’s not healthy. The information that my five senses are giving my brain right now is just not very interesting. There is beauty in the world, I know this. I’ve just watched a series of TED talks telling me all about the hidden beauty in the world right around us. But it does nothing for me.

Even this uninspired blog post is beginning to feel like a waste of time. HA wasting time. What a strange thought to have when feeling this way. All time is being wasted by me right now, all the unnoticed beauty is sitting there being ignored. Even if I were to notice it the part of my brain that transmits data into my perception of beauty is not working at full capacity. I want to sleep. I want to turn off and back on again later. Preferably when this feeling has passed. But what on earth could I possibly do right now that would excite me? There are answers. But I cannot reach them. I can’t muster the energy. All my brain and body wants to do is find its rest state and stay there until it dies. I’ll eventually get horny or hungry or thirsty and be motivated to move then but I do wish I could imagine some non-primal push doing it instead.

Jumping out of bed to read a book, or go for a walk or even just to taste some cofffee. That would be nice.

Enough of this self defeating brain slosh. I came here for therapeutic purposes and the only therapy I’m receiving is that I should go outside right now and force myself to be in the real world. Just for a little. Take some fresh air in, look at the neighbourhood. I’m going to go see if this cheers me up.

It is relevant to remember that a series of unfortunate events, mixed with a sparse diet (I need to eat more), a nonproductive day and a planless weekend have all congealed to blur my future, fog my previous accomplishments and supress the usual optimistic hope I have. This is the roller coaster and I’m currently on the plateau. Give me a loop the loop, give me a 30 foot freefall. I’ll take on the challenges but sitting idle either after the worst or before it changes, is something I would much rather be without.

Adventure Imperialism

November 19, 2014

I want to go outside. I want to see the sun hit the decks of old houses built in my neighbourhood. I want to swing by the local bar and mosey in for a drink. I want to walk past shopfronts and kids’ soccer practise, busy banks and empty libraries; I want to take in the world, each person and moment at a time.

The company I keep do not want this. Or maybe not that they don’t want it but that they haven’t had the experience to have noticed it and no reason to look. My housemate, my old housemate, my closest friends they are all still where I was four months ago; they sit and watch TV, play video games and generally let the hours of their “free” time dissipate into changing pixels and simple visual reward systems. Once the game is turned off, no evidence of achievement or labour exist. Only in the minds of the players. It’s so fucking arbitrary. To see a person invest hours upon hours of repetitive gameplay into something that does nothing for their “real life” is strange. The only thing you see objectively is a person controlling a digital surrogate walk and fight. The rewards are not clear, the journey is the same no matter what the exposition has revealed and the rewards they receive help the character to increase his skill level as the required skill to defeat the next villian is too increased. A simple reward system that gives the player no discernable benefit outside the gameplay itself. It’s so fucking redundant.

I used to watch TV to pass the time, telling myself I was interested in the expression of the human condition, that I was addicted to the writing and performances. That I was some scholar watching and taking notes so that one day I too could create a masterpiece.

But no. I was stuck. I would watch TV because that way I could let writers, actors and directors spoon me dialogue and story, to which I could resonate with emotionally. I wouldn’t have to do a thing.

Travelling changed all that. The dependence on myself to find entertainment, the lack of TV being an option, the long summer days and new neighbourhoods. Aprile played a big part too. She’s not into television or movies and reminded me of the joy and pleasure that just being in the present moment could bring. I wanted to bring that back to my friends. I want to show them how easy it is to enjoy things for free, without reward, without prizes and money, without having to “earn” it. It’s all there for the taking. You just have to open your eyes.

Yet I contradict myself. I am assuming that if people merely acted like me then they too would feel the same way but this is not true. I am only feeling this way because of the EXPERIENCE, not the mindset. No one convinced me to love aimless wandering, no one convinced me to walk around a neighbourhood experiencing it with all five senses on fire. I discovered it, firstly by chance, then by the shape of my environment and the people in it and finally, after being exposed and transformed, then by choice. I also happen to still love vegging out in front of a tv, letting myself laugh and feel for the actors on the screen. I’ve watched more tv than gone on walks since I’ve been back I shamefully admit.

So I’ve fallen into choosing comfort rather than truth from time to time. I can be a slave to my desires, those that request a non energy state. I’ve spent the last twenty four hours moving from various positions of rest from the couch, to the armchair, to the toilet seat, to the bed. Forty five minutes each at least. And what did I do with that time? With that freedom? I sat and I pondered. I sat and I wasted my time. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t bring myself to waste away in front of a TV but also couldn’t find it in me to experience the real world as it is. So I was left to seek out the least expenditure of energy: not moving. But my brain doesn’t have that luxury, its movement is hardwired into its functionality. So while I sat there like some paralysed lump my brained whirred and buzzed. It fed me guilt. It fed me content. It fed me apathy. Maybe I shouldn’t beat myself up for a days worth of laziness but I cannot help it. I can’t find the perspective that influences my brain enough to shoot me out of bed and spread my arms wide singing “carpe diem” into the mirror. Not today anyway.

And in much the same way that people force their religious beliefs onto others I was starting to try to enforce my adventurous beliefs. And my friends are just not interested. They can’t see the point in walking, in wandering, in talking, in taking in the world. There is no reward. There is no golden chest or distressed damsel. There is no way to convince someone that walking through a quiet street is its own fulfilment when the person you’re talking to knows only how to spend their time trying to win something or figure something out. Or want something at the end.

The trick for me was discovering not to want. In a True sense. Then I could release my mind from chasing a goal, earning a prize, finding the answer and solving the mystery to just being in the damn moment. To seeing what the sunlight does when it falls through the leaves of an elm as its turns into fall in Middle America. To hear the ripping and tearing of a thick freshwater river outside my tent as its turbulent mass cascades down a million smooth stones. To see the dilapidated housing of a neighbourhood hit hard by the last five years and wonder about the lives and people who had to escape the slow relentless nightmare of the recession. These awarenesses were fulfilling in a way that no solved mystery, or sacred battleaxe or defeated villian could provide. Because to feel fulfilment from these experiences required something more. It was the quest for Truth, it was a seeking of knowledge that was led by the world itself and not some preconceived goal.

I want to get back to this. It is difficult to do alone. The rejection of my friends working to unground me from this simple reality. The rejection of my friends isolating me. The adherence to the screen doing the same.

I don’t want to force my worldview, I don’t want to isolate myself from my friends and I definitely don’t want to create a mindset that attacks it or is predjudiced against something they all hold dear.

So I must adventure alone. The seeking of my own truths has become a solo endeavour yet again. My momentary insight that I gathered through sharing has transformed me. But I need to be fulfilled on my own. And continue to find people that are looking for something more in this life, as I was, and are willing to take on my ideas. As I will be theirs.

Aimless Pondering

November 19, 2014

Hmm. Never a good word to start a blog post with but it’s all I can seem to muster. As far as first words go. I’m in a little rut at the moment, a writing rut. A creative outpouring rut I guess. I find my voice while I’m in the shower, driving to work, at work, driving home from work. Yet when I sit down at the laptop to finally let it all pour out I halter. Like stage fright or not being able to pee when there’s a guy in the urinal next you. I dam up.

My fingers float aimlessly above the keys as I wait for the guy next to me to finish his piss and fuck off so I can let the magic pour freely. To stretch the metaphor: I pull out my phone and start chronicling my annoyance instead. This blog post is such an outlet. I’m hoping that by keeping my fingers active and my mind localized into stringing a slew of words together in some order that I will be able to reignite my desire.

The book. So I’ve decided to write about my trip across America by condensing what I judge were the most poignant, transformative, visceral and entertaining stories from the experience and pasting them together as chapters with the eventual hope of it resembling a novel of sorts.

But I am feeling deflated. I am feeling dumb and lazy and frustrated. My time is spent letting my brain idle, peppered with moments of self awareness where I ask myself (rhetorically) what the fuck I am doing?

This blog will be an outpouring of any attempts to keep the practise alive. I never intend for anyone to read it, gain insight, improve their life in anyway but I’m making it public nonetheless.

Happy reading

James,