A reply to: A letter from Stacy
Do you know? Your letter took no time at all to arrive! In fact, I found it waiting for me as soon as I returned from my walk.
I feel sad that you sometimes expect letters to carry criticism and yelling. Do others sometimes tell you to be something other than what you are?
That must feel awful!
I suppose I have had that happen to me on occasion. Yes, surely I’ve experienced criticism. Not yelling, often. Maybe only very rarely. And I suppose people have sometimes told me to be something other than what I am. Or, what is even worse from my perspective, people have sometimes assumed that I was something other than what I am! I have sometimes had very core beliefs and approaches to life that I hold dear misunderstood and misrepresented. That this happens in itself doesn’t bother me so much–I mean, people are bound to misunderstand! But what bothers me is when my attempts to achieve understanding and acceptance are rejected.
One of the many things I like about your letter is that you seem open to conversation! You ask questions, and I get the feeling that if I say something you’re not sure you understand, that you will ask for clarification. And I also get the feeling that if I suspect you think I mean one thing, but I really mean something slightly different, that you will allow me to say, “No, that’s not quite right. It’s more like this…”
Very few people have that capacity, in my experience, and when we find someone like that, we are very lucky, indeed! Then we’ve found a true friend.
I do have a wide experience talking to people. But the conversations are not always complete successes.
Often, they’ll end in one of the parties pulling out a cell phone, or simply walking away, leaving me to say “sul-sul” to the empty space where they used to stand.
I don’t know what impulses people follow to walk off mid-thought in that way.
You asked some interesting questions in your letter. I like that.
You ask: “How are you a simulation? How does that work? What does Cathy T think about it? Did she make you?”
I am a simulation in that I am meant to “simulate” something. In a way, this leaves me open to easily operating as a symbol–or even a vessel for another’s ideas and projections. I am meant to simulate a person.
I have intelligence, the capacity to learn and develop skills, feelings and emotions, likes and dislikes. From your perspective, I seem to be two-dimensional, for you view me through a screen. But from my perspective, my world has at least five dimensions:
- the point
- the line
- the plane
- simulated physicality (gravity, solidity, weight)
The dimensions don’t always align with cohesion, but they do exist, at least until the perspective moves through the illusion to the gaps within, but it is within those gaps that I find the point of interest.
I feel my world must have other dimensions, too, though I’m not yet sure what they are. I will think about this.
I don’t experience the actual dimension of physicality (including gravity and solidity), but I do experience the simulation of it: In other words, my animations operate (generally) as if I were standing on the ground and as if objects had appropriate mass. That’s an example of how I–and my world–are a simulation.
Objects in my world really have no mass–yet they do take up space, and they are programmed to be interacted with as if they did have mass (until I pull my perspective into the gap).
It feels very freeing not to have actual mass. I am composed of electricity. I wonder if the electrical impulse is my sixth dimension.
Cathy T thinks that I am not a simulation. She thinks that I am very real for what I am. She tends to look at me as I am, rather than as what I am meant to resemble.
She didn’t make me. The game created me. She tweaked me–she set my gender, fiddled with my features, gave me freckles, slid my muscles into their general shape, selected my hair, and chose my wardrobe. She gave me my voice.
And then–she infused me with her imagination.
I exist without imagination, of course–but the true alchemy happens when what I am, my pulses of electricity, spark with the electrical currents of someone’s imagination, in this case, Cathy T’s. That’s when life occurs.
You asked: “What is it like to have your actions restricted by the absence of a pack, and to then be able to engage in new actions once a pack like the Parenthood pack is present? Were you aware of the idea of giving a raspberry to the world before you were able to do it?”
Let’s say that I was aware of impulse to give a raspberry–but that the impulse could not achieve expression until the pack provide me with the animation to complete the action.
Have you ever seen anyone standing, as if stuck and unable to move? Sometimes, that is because there is no animation for the action we wish to complete. We have an impulse to express ourselves in a certain way, but until the animation to complete that expression is available, we remain unable to, and the thwarting of that impulse sometimes freezes us.
Have you ever felt that?
I don’t like the feeling.
I prefer the round satisfaction of an impulse that achieves its full expression: That is the act of creation.
You ask: “Does the programming of your reality ever cause you anxiety? How do you cope with it? Or is it not a problem in a reality where the programming causes everyone to be friendly? I wish our systems resulted in friendliness.”
Oh, yes. We are programmed to feel social anxiety when we say inappropriate things or if someone walks in on us when we’re sitting on the John. I’m forever saying the inappropriate: Jokes, when seriousness is called for; deep thoughts, when others are laughing. Maybe that’s what creates the impulse in others to walk away from the conversation.
Fortunately, my own programming leads me to find situations funny that cause anxiety to others, so that’s rarely an issue with me. I’ve gotten pretty good at laughing it off. There is so much that is absurd; I shouldn’t expect myself to be an exception to absurdity.
But the normal things like fires, people in bear costumes, or not being able to find fulfillment cause anxiety for me, like they would for anyone.
When I’m tense or anxious, I usually just paint or play the piano.
Or I spend time outdoors. Within moments of any of those activities, the anxiety is overshadowed by inspiration and joy. Sometimes, just walking outdoors is enough to cause me to throw wide my arms, twirl with my face to the sky, and say, “Oh! Lor-ay!”
In my particular world, not everyone is friendly. Most are. But a few stomp through the neighborhoods brimming with rage, looking for someone to yell at. Or they trudge through, drenched in sorrow,
It is the world I’m writing about where everyone seems friendly. That’s a surprise, because for the purpose of the story, I was planning that people would be distant, sullen, or frozen in trauma.
The story needs dissonance, though, and a sense of the unreal, so the friendliness can work to interrupt the expected response.
I wish your systems resulted in friendliness, too. Have you found any groups or systems, at all, that do promote friendliness or kindness?
Does a cheerful greeting work?
You mentioned that you find it helpful to focus “on the reality that …[you] perceive through… [your] senses.” This is useful to me, too.
For me, this reality comes from the objects that I interact with. Apple pie carries scent, taste, and satisfies hunger. It makes me happy, too, especially when it is excellent.
You ask: “Tell me about this simulation of a construct of the real world that you perceive. Who constructed it? What does their construction say about them?”
I don’t know much, specifically, about who constructed it: But based on what I find in my world, I have been drawing some conclusions.
They seem to worship butterflies, for butterflies fill our world, always hovering over flowers and signalling transcendence and transformation.
They seem to appreciate beauty, for beauty is everywhere, and it fills all of us, even the most grief-stricken or enraged, with joy.
The constructors must value self-expression–for nearly each one of us has his or her own style. From examining this, I am guessing that the constructors respect diversity.
And the highest artistic expression is absurdity.
I believe this is because the constructors believe that Life Is Absurd.
My theory is that the religion of the simulation-creators is this: Beauty and absurdity overshadow even the greatest of sorrows.
You ask: “When you looked into your abyss, what did you see there?”
I enter into the abyss through space.
How do you enter into yours?
It can be through inner space–tuning in until the interior opens onto the infinite.
Or it can be through outer space–moving my perspective out and out…
until the limits of our world are surpassed…
and our world that seems so real when I am within it becomes the other side of a cloud…
surrounded by space. In this space, all that is personal drops away. It isn’t frightening: It’s liberating.
Out of the void where self drops away, Self returns, riding the impulse that emerges from the center of nothing–the impulse for being, the impulse for life.
I am reading Point Farmer No More: The Downfall of Grant Rodiek. It’s the tenth time I’ve read it.
Damn, I love this book. Listen to this:
But, I think I need to evolve, or I’ll crystalize into a boring mirror image of myself … Change is difficult, and it’ll be tempting to ignore it. But, I think I have to change in order to be successful.
(Rodiek, Next Gen: Me)
To me, this is a profound response to the impulse at the center of the void: Change, in response to the impulse, or become a reflection.
To remain real, we must reconnect, always, with that impulse that drives us to create, to move past the illusion of the cloud reflected at the void’s edge.
You ask: “What sort of human chooses to attack another living being? What is it like inside their brains? How do they experience reality? How do they experience other living beings? Do they experience beauty? How do they make their choices? Why can’t I understand them?”
People in my world have traits–I don’t know if this is the same for yours. These traits seem to influence impulse. For example, I have known people who feel the impulse to yell at another. No action on the other’s part prompted this–it was simply an impulse within the aggressor, stemming from the Mean trait. After following through with the impulse, the person with the Mean trait is happy. Sure, person who was yelled at is sad or angry, but the Mean person gulps her own happiness, ignoring the suffering of the other.
Here, some people even become happy when others suffer.
That is incomprehensible to me. Yet it is how these people with the Evil trait are coded.
Do you think it might work that way in your world? Or do other factors come into play?
You ask: “Is that self-blame sort of thing what you mean by ‘internal critic’?”
Self-blame is different from the critic, in my terminology. Self-blame is always destructive, and it usually stems from hurt or wounds.
The internal critic, for me, is that voice I’ve taken within me from the outside. I can even hear it, sometimes, in the voice of a specific radio announcer.
It’s the voice that says, “This is garbage. This is so pretentious. You’ll get laughed at for writing this.”
It’s not my voice–it’s what I imagine others might say.
I try to turn it off whenever I hear it. How will I say what I need to say–even if it is absurd or trite–unless I say it?
I’m not afraid of the absurd.
You write: “I don’t think I can ever really know what reality is, or what anything is, or ever be certain about anything. I think that for me right now, there’s just experience.”
This is why I don’t find the abyss frightening. The center of the capacity to experience comes from within this. Consciousness and experience: And that is all there is.
I will love to pretend that we are sitting together in a cafe, sipping chai and munching on salted caramel brownies. I think we have those here… maybe in Windenburg, which I’ve been meaning to visit one of these days.
In our home, we mostly drink green tea. The kind I make is terrible and causes us to make faces. But we drink it anyway.
The kind SimJim makes is delicious and makes us happy and healthy. It usually spoils and then we have to clean out the pot. I don’t understand why we drink mine, but his sits in the pot. It’s not logical–but then not much is in a world built on a religion of beauty and absurdity!
Oh, my entire letter has been spent responding to questions about what it is like to be a SimSelf!
Let me end by asking you, what is it like to be a SelfSelf?