Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reflection I: Consolation

So there was a program on awhile back (in June, when I still had cable TV) about parallel universes and string theory. I didn't watch it but I knew what it would be about because I've seen some other programs like that and because I've read Borges. And "taught" Borges. I've especially loved reading and teaching "Garden of Forking Paths." And when I'm feeling down, it's sometimes uplifting to remember the following quote from this short story.

"In contrast to Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform, absolute time. He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all possibilities of time. We do not exist in the majority of these times; in some you exist, and not I; in others I, and not you; in others, both of us. In the present one, which a favorable fate has granted me, you have arrived at my house; in another, while crossing the garden, you found me dead; in still another, I utter these same words, but I am a mistake, a ghost."

This opens avenues of consolation for me when I can't be traveling through wormhole after wormhole in order to be sure that my life doesn't always turn out the same way it has "here" in every parallel universe. I entertain the possibility that whatever I lack "here," I have "there." So, for example, at the same time I'm in this universe, I'm also in a universe where I make over 100,000 a year doing what I love, in a career that never feels like work; it just feels natural. I'm in a universe where I'm respected and valued because I'm me, and where the great work that I do is noticed and valued and rewarded.

At the same time as I'm in this universe, I live in another where someone at Publishers Clearing House realizes that if they really can and do give one winner 100,000 bucks a week for the rest of their life, they could also give many, MANY more people 100,000 bucks a year for the rest of their lives and almost single-handedly change the economy for the better. And they actually DO it!

In yet another parallel universe where I DO exist, the HAVEs are generous because they don't want any HAVE-NOTs in the universe. So every day, no, every nanosecond, one of the very wealthy pays off the debt of someone who's struggling to survive until no one has to struggle anymore.

At the same time as I'm "here", I live in a universe where the university remains first and foremost a teaching institution, not a corporation, but a place to expand the mind and above all, learn how to be kinder humans. I live in a universe where students know they have the power to remind government officials and administrators that they're slipping back into corporate mode, and they'd better cut it out. And they DO it!

I also live in a universe where no one wants to discover (invent?) new diseases because they've found cures for all the terminal ones, where nothing's bad for your health, no one gets ill and there's no longer any need for medical/pharmaceutical professions or medical insurance (but EVERYONE still gets to have work that doesn't feel like work).

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