Saturday, November 17, 2007


So I've been watching Heroes, catching up and all, and I keep catching little bits and pieces of other writers' work throughout the series. Aside from the elements of Warren Ellis' work, I also see a lot of Grant Morrison's work and ethos when he wrote New X-Men. One thing he wrote when he was first handed the assignment was how he wanted to create a series about "beautiful people with incredible powers doing startling, diverting things!" Which is exactly what Heroes is doing. Moreover, Morrison used the idea that the transition from one species to the next is generally quick and violent as the newer, stronger species eliminates the slower, weaker species.
While the characters in Heroes are not like the X-Men, not even the leather-clothed, day-glow neon jacketed versions, they are like the type of characters with special powers who don't know what do with them or how they can use them to help. The elements that Ellis use in series like Planetary or Newuniversal are about those people who are special and how they deal with their abilities. The most interesting aspect is how certain characters develop powers that are essentially new senses. Micha can talk to technology, must like the character The Drummer in Planetary while Syler can intuitively figure out how things work.
Personally I think DNA evolution will take this path to new senses. Reading information like we see, hear and taste things. This is the kind of evolution that makes sense considering the environmental pressures on the human species at the present moment. Of course, this is the sort of thing I love.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Moment, the Collapse, and the Angel of the Nebula

The image above is of the Bug Nebula in which a dying star blasting superhot gases is shrouded by a cloud of icy 'hailstones'. (Credit: ESA/NASA and Albert Zijlstra)

Consciousness Causes Collapse - Wikipedia
Mediations by Marcus Aurelius - Wikipedia

You know, back in the 18th century there was this philosopher--a Bishop Berkeley--argued that only through direct perception is the world made real. No abstract ideas of matter were possible, i.e. once you stepped out of a room the room ceased to exist in a real, material form. I think that's bunk, as do a lot of other philosophers, but the thought experiment behind Berkeley's thinking makes other ideas all the more interesting. Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Mediations that the only part of time we possess is the moment we have this very instant. Once that moment passes then we lose possession and of course we can't possess the future.
Another idea, not terribly well thought of, called 'consciousness caused collapse', makes the point that conscious observations cause the waveforms in quantum mechanics to collapse into a single observation. Thus all the possible waveforms collapse into a single one upon observation. It's akin to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle as the observer changes the outcome of what is observed.
How these three elements tie into the Bug Nebula photograph above is in my idea of how time moves and is perceived by our minds. As Aurelius said, all we possess is the moment we have. The entirety of the past, a mass of possibilities winnowing down to a single moment and then spreading apart again like the cosmic dust being blown away from a dying star. Berkeley would say that this is due to the immediacy of the observation, just as in the waveform collapse. The heart of this star is the nexus of time which we possess, that moment of right now of which we only can have a fleeting grasp of.
This is how I view the flow of time. Whether it is cyclical or not is beside the point. The past moves from a wide range of possibilities to a single point and then widens back out again into the potential of the future. We are constantly at that nexus, all of our pasts collapsing into this one moment and then move outward again. The further you predict into the future the less likely you will get anything right. Which reminds me of a joke I once heard: "You want to know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans." Live in the now and don't worry too much about things too far in the future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quote of the Day

Lunch Conversations # 4223: Getting in on the Ground Floor - John Rogers

Sure, the robots rend criminals with horrible tearing jaws. But if you're telling me they eat white and black criminals equally, that is a marked improvement over the situation as is --