Thursday, October 25, 2007

Political Swearwords

Picture a bad day in the art studio. You're nailing two pieces of wood together when suddenly you hit your thumbnail with the hammer. Ow! You exclaim. Damn this politically correct hammer! Your nail is broken so you try to find a band-aid to try to hold it together, at least. You must do it fast, because art lesson is starting in two hours.

The cupboard where the band-aid box lies is too high for you to reach, and you grumble once again about the paternalistic society and the glass ceiling that obstructs your way to the band-aid box. But you forget your pains, as you find a ladder that you could climb on.

Pain is throbbing in your thumb, but there is no time to waste (at least, not after twenty minutes of rolling about the floor whining about neoconservative media) You grab the wooden ladder and mount it against the sink below the band-aid box cupboard. The ancient timber creaks and strains under your weight, but you manage to reach the cupboard. At last!

Your hand opens the cupboard door, whereupon the ladder, up till then conforming to Hooke's law of elasticity, chooses to defy the conventions of society and gives way to your descent.

The gesture of falling apart proves to be a controversial one on the part of the ladder, because while it has stripped you of your fundamental human rights to be provided adequate medical aid, it has in fact put forth a bold critique of your stereotypes and preconcieved notions pertaining to how ladders should behave.

A great step forward for ladderhood, you think, as you get up and look at the sorry splintered wreck. As there are no ladders left, you resolutely repressed the pain in your thumb, wrapped it up in traditional toilet paper instead, and prepared for class.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Four Horsemen XII

Backwards Time

Despite the long centuries of folklore and popular imagination by the followers of the book, angels are not superhuman beings who live in abodes above the clouds warmed by eternal sunshine. But we always grasp the point that they tended to be quite unattainable and, in most cases, rather strange people.

We also guess that they live in a far-off place. In fact, the other side of the universe does not quite do justice to its farness. That's because if you placed the universe's timeline upon a time-space graph (a world line), it would form a circle: a closed temporal loop of everything. Thinkers in India tend to a cyclical worldview, which is correct, except that in this model, time only goes in one direction.

Visualise the universe's world line as a circle on a cartesian plane. Let the bottommost point be the moment of its birth, and the topmost point be the big crunch. Are you comfortable now? Now if we move upwards from the big bang moment, the universe would branch off both ways, and our known universe is the line on the right.

It would be a different matter if we consider things locally. Causality patterns in the circle travels around it, that is to say that each event can only be caused by another event which precedes itself on the circular path, which is to say that half of space-time will have an opposite causality orientation to the other half.

And the other half is where the Angelic race resides, where things in the future cause things in the past.

The cause for their weirdness is now easily understandable, given the way that they think. Because of the reversed cause-effect relationship between all things, their minds are invariably geared towards remembering what will happen in the future and and speculating about what has happened in the past. In short, extraordinary precognition and dismal memory.

One angel may open the cookie jar and ask another:
"Why will you steal all the cookies from the cookie jar?"
And the other would reply:
"I'm sorry, but I will be starving."

Walk around this oddly familiar otherworld and you would find science fiction novels about the past, fantasy novels about the future, hot debates on whether Eschatology should be taught in schools, and coins and documents whereon dates like 284 BC are proudly emblazoned.

And they tend to see humans in similar terms as we see them, because it would take no less than a miracle for a human to transgress such impassable temporal boundaries and for an angel to do the same (and at the same time, being conditioned to follow weird paths of logic); like angels, humans who land on the opposite world-line are as good as having grown seven pairs of wings, and had their appearances dutifully predicted and, in rare cases that demanded public attention, documented.