"And when I'm gone Just carry on, don't mourn Rejoice, every time you hear the sound of my voice Just know that I'm looking down on you smiling And I didn't feel a thing So baby don't feel no pain Just smile back"
Note: If you're a serious nihilist (skeptic, cynic), I believe it's different. That could be counted as a choice, but I don't really see the point in believing nothing because even then you're strongly believing in the idea that nothing is to be believed.
I once read that language was developed to connect with others, to bond. And every time you use it to hurt someone, every time you break the silence for any other reason you are drifting away from its purpose. Soon you'll lose the connection with yourself as well and won't realise it until you're left feeling drained.
I do not know what I feel about these intelligent machines. On the one hand, it is exciting how even though you are not an artist, a program that you wrote can generate art that can make people feel something. Who or what generated that art becomes irrelevant, it is all about what that art makes people feel. And on the other hand, a few API calls can replace your whole purpose on this planet!
For me, the deeper question of existence is not about whether a program can replace you or not. The important one is how a machine ended up replacing us or specific parts of who we are? Deep down are we nothing but some predictive equations of existence with certain features that can be replicated with some lines of code?
Not everything is art, and not everyone is an artist. I think art is one of the highest forms of intelligence, just as smart as the physicists and mathematicians of the world. So when we say everything is an art and everyone is an artist, then it means that everyone is as smart as Einstein, Galileo, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Mozart, Shakespear... I know my below-average intelligent brain can easily be replaced with some lines of code.
But then again, art is not about everyone creating masterpieces like Starry Night. Sometimes we get connected to some four lines on a grey background that we came across on the internet by accident. We are somehow deeply attached to a certain part of our existence. There is something about the way art connects with people, it is like it is part of us from the very beginning. A certain way to find belongingness amidst the chaos.
But there is always a war between the underlying objective reality and the poetic side of existence.
With the current state of deep learning, a program can easily write better poems than most of the self-proclaimed poets of Instagram, we can generate paintings that are better than most of the artists out there. But, there are always outliers. A few brilliant creative minds that are hard to replicate with a few lines of code.
But creativity is simply a better feature recognition and representation, isn't it? What happens when the machines finally figure out these neural pathways and feature recognition and representation tricks? When you combine the manipulation tricks of our brain to these lines of codes, then it can create anything that can influence the masses. How far away are we from this reality?
What happens when the GitHub-Copilot starts to write better code? I do not think it will replace all the coders. But instead of fifty coders in an organization, you'd only need the brilliant five coders and a machine. What happens to the rest? What happens when one-day GPT starts writing better poems and novels on its own? The same goes for lawyers, medical staff, engineers, workers in factories, data analysts and scientists, artists, designers, drivers, and much more. Every single thing a normal human can do, there exist a machine that can do better. If you don't think so, just look at the dildo reviews on the internet. Wake up, machines are taking over.
Then again, there is this much deeper question, "Can a machine understand the poetry that it writes?" But what do we know about art in the first place?
All of this may not happen in the next couple of years or a decade. But what happens when this reality finally arrives? What's going to happen when you are in your thirties and forties, and suddenly losing your job to some API calls? What happens when there are no social systems to protect you?
I trust AI, but I do not completely trust the people that are making it and I certainly do not trust the incompetent, uneducated politicians and policymakers in power. Especially when you look at the incompetence and scientific ignorance of both the left and the right, you can only see a bleak future ahead.
There are different ways to make money when you know how to manipulate the masses tho. Just look at Rupi Kaur, zero talent in writing but smart enough to trick people into believing that she is a poet and an influencer to sell her books and merch to become a millionaire. Pretty smart salesperson indeed, isn't it? Same with all the fashion brands and artists, it is more about selling merch to make that quick bucks before it all turns into hell.
I'm always curious about what people mean when they say "that's what makes us humans". Is there any global truth to it apart from the underlying biological reality? Does this objective reality take anything away from the subjective experience that we feel so personal and connected to?
I think we romanticize too much about the flaws in evolution, yet we are in no way the best optimized elegant designs that exist in the universe or maybe even on this planet.
Language itself isn't optimized when you think about it. When you're having clear thoughts inside your head, you have a much better clarity most of the time. But when you're trying to speak or write those exact thoughts, there is always a disconnection. Often you won't find the original thoughts and the words when you try to speak or write about it, because they are part of different sets of processes inside the head. So, we end up struggling to find the right words to tell what we feel, there is always that disconnection.
So what if we could communicate directly from the origin of the thoughts to one another through neural chips? Wouldn't that be much more intelligent and optimized? Or is it gonna take away what it means to be human? A flawed creature, only at the top of the food chain because a few people figure out clever ways to get there? We are always evolving, figuring out better, creative ways to survive the physical system that we are embedded in, and as the physical system evolves we have to evolve too.
There is a lot of human bias that goes into these deep philosophical questions about existence. And these biases are a result of our innate survival instinct when you think about it. Whenever we create an intelligent machine there is always a human bias that goes into it. Be it in the data or the code or the underlying architecture or the simple thought behind it. Does that mean that it carries a certain essence of our thoughts as it evolves? Even when we are long gone, they carry certain parts of us? Now, there is a deep poetic side to machines. Maybe they are our descendants carrying a part of us through the universe till the end of time. Now that is poetic
We fear this sense of insignificance. Most of our emotions are a response to this realization, from anger to the long stretches of desolation. How far away are we from this age of insignificance? I do not know any answers to these questions. But I wish one day we will figure out the reality of things. A coexistence between man and machines and at the end, like Asimov said;
There are always these questions, questions that never lead you to any destination but leave you astray. I came to the realization that I do not know what Tolkien meant when he wrote "Not all those who wander are lost". How do you know whether you're lost or not when you don't know the destination? Even the idea of a destination sounds rather illogical, the divine purpose was always a lie to make us feel better about the mundanity.
Meaning is just a human construct, it has no validity beyond us and our subjective experience. When you dive deep into the whole "search for meaning" you end up in a state of helplessness. All I could ever comprehend at the end of the day was this reality of how everything is nothing but a result of some simple neurochemical computation. All the happiness, the sadness, the love, the despair, the calm, empathy, everything is simply the existence of certain chemicals inside the brain. When you are lucky enough to be the one with the good genes, it makes the whole survival a bit easier. Apparently, nature does have favorites.
Humans are nothing but these prediction machines that are running wild as if the subjective experience associated with these computations is blessed by the divine. There is this beautiful definition of life someone said, "Life is simply an information processing system in the flesh where we represent ideas about the world in the quaternary representation and nature is the one that selects whichever representation is better suited for passing it down".
One plus one is two, but you don't know what you feel about it. You don't really feel anything, one plus one is two and that's the end of it, there is no feeling associated with that reality (unless you are a woke Karen with a liberal arts degree, then there is this whole privilege theory and how math is racist and sexist and stuff. but let's just skip that to keep our sanity).
Maybe we are evolved to feel that way, never to understand the underlying computations but only to understand what they make us feel. It is quite a beautiful process when you think about it. An elegant reward process to make us survive the complex physical systems that we are embedded in.
Deep down you are happy only because of certain chemicals, you are miserable because you don't have certain chemicals. And when you are smart enough to figure out how to change these chemicals inside the brain for your own devious plans, the whole world is yours to play with. Smart people and corporations and the algorithms that run the world knows just enough to trap us in these illusions of choice and freedom. That is a heavy burden that we shouldn't ponder too much about it.
One of the most beautiful things about all of this existence is, how we are billions of years of lineage. Billions of years of casual history that is compressed into the genome and keep passing it down to the next generation. Maybe it could be one of the most beautiful pieces of art that were ever created, we are just too dumb to understand the beauty of it.
Maybe we do have our own ways to understand the beauty of it all. When you see that someone on the mountain top watching the sunset in silence, you don't think about the causal history of existence, you don't think about the lineage or the genome or all the computations that are happening inside the brain. All you are thinking about is the same old cliches and cringe poetries about the way they smile, their eyes, and that deep human connection that just makes sense in that simple moment.
We are always haunted by the questions to make sense of the complexities of all this. From the obvious questions like, what is intelligence to why this subjective experience is associated with the way we perceive the world to are we some agents bounded by the genome and the environment, or are we something more? One thing that I have learned over the years is that when you start asking deep questions about life, it branches into more questions rather than giving an answer that you want to hear.
We are aware of this existence but are completely oblivious to its mechanics and nature. There is this sense of helplessness about it that we rarely ponder about, yet we walk like we know the destination.
My anxiety is like a politician, a confident manipulator, a diligent liar, a poor promiser and as we have read, " bad politicians are elected by good people who don't vote" and I think I refused to vote it out every time I felt I couldn't do something, every time I felt I wasn't worth something, every time I failed at something and denied myself to accept and do better instead I called myself a loser, every time I made myself believe that loneliness is independence and traumas arent killing my childhood but making me stronger because when Andrei Tarkovsky said, "where childhood ends, poetry begins" I thought poems are making me tougher and I thanked traumas for making me mature instead of thanking myself that I survived them alone by the help of ink. I understood that I've to write because my childhood was a dense bunch of canopies that allowed no light pass through it, I knew I've to write until my brain stops fighting with me, even if I don't put my alphabets on paper, I knew I've to let the words come out of my mouth, somewhere in sense, someone would inhale them like poetry freshly written on a paper. 1. I wouldn't call myself a poet but an observant who knows why a man in that cafe is drinking his coffee resting his teeth on the cup without making a weird sound that might attract even the slightest of attention, I know his jaws are clenched and his mouth tastes salt despite putting 6 sugar sachets in his coffee, he wants to be at home and make chai for himself sitting on his couch, slurping his tea in his old favourite cup which says "Be yourself" where he could avoid the world, where he doesn't have to be anxious why the barista wrote his name wrong, and how he spelt "latte" wrong, where no one's gonna laugh at him. He feels if there is a hurricane of salty ocean water in his mouth and his tooth is holding his jaw skin tightly in case it'd go away with the flow when teeth do not wanna leave their house, why should I? 2. Why should I leave my house and it is weird because it is the same place where I wanna be and I don't wanna be, simultaneously, how to put it in words? "It is like the walls are climbers, I watch them grow, I watch them protect me but I know they are holding my legs by roots too." It makes me anxious that the scissors which I must use to get myself free from these vines are the ones that have been hurting my hands constantly defining my stress rashes and palm burns. 3. My palms burn like someone had lit a constant Diya on it to convince God for ending my struggle leaving red rashes as a witness of the times when I clenched my fist too hard to let the emotion go, when I buried my sharp nails in my skin so that I don't fall asleep, I've been so cruel to myself that I don't feel sorry anymore but I deserve an apology from everyone who did hurt me and I need to forgive myself too 4. I need to forgive myself for making the torture feel like a lifestyle as Susan Pease Bannit once said, " we often unconsciously stop feeling our trauma partway into it, like a movie that is still going after the sound has been turned off", and my therapist said the same thing that my subconscious mind thinks a lot, "A LOT", she emphasized. It sucks to know that my mind hates me, wants to trick me, wishes the worst for me, my brain, my subconscious state forces me to question my anatomy that I start feeling my heart is in my throat and any kind of input will turn out be a volcanic eruption. Raging thoughts of my brain collaborate with my digestive system and since I do not allow my feelings to leave through my mouth and eyes, they form an alliance and betray me. I vomit through my nose and mouth burning my food pipe leaving me for a minute of no oxygen shrinking my veins to death, I've faced death and I've survived it, no one is stronger than I am. 5. No one is stronger than me, a woman who wore ripped jeans to show that her knees are bleeding and she isn't ashamed of it but proud of how she held herself strong when her own body was executing conspiracies against her. How the world claimed that it values her but instead made her feel vulnerable, excluded and abandoned. And now this world is gonna lean on a glass shelf outside the room of my achievements, drooling and sliding its hand on the wall in regret and cussing itself for not being a part of my journey or should I call it a success story? Or struggle, it is the same we often tend to ignore the pain in someone's life when it is the only truth, the only way to live glory. ~rhapsodist
"once, with my dad." the leaves were rustling at every step as we headed for the river beside the woodland rays. the daylight wasn't particularly bright nor warm. just enough to spill a sight suitable to see the crooked pathway.
"he told me that there are seasons where the fishes are abundant," i continued. "and you don't need any assistive gear during those."
"assistive gear," he repeated. "like spears and arrows, axes and daggers?"
"crossbows and maces," i corrected. he smiled.
the peak of autumn meant the presence of color schemes. usually, they'd range between red and orange, yellow and brown. when the leaves overlap upon each other, as though a smaller tree grew under a slightly bigger one, they'd give off a faded golden streak of gleam like the sun's rays. i hadn't been sure if i ever told him yet, but if you put your palm precisely under that line of light beneath the leaves shone by the sun, you are, by which, a witness of a heavenly body grasping hands with a portion of this world. it's like holding a part of the sky, a similar thing made from the same element the rain gives you.
"how about you?" i asked.
"what about me?"
"have you been to a camping trip like this before?" i remembered the first time going to the mountains with my family. although the view was beautiful, exceptional, exciting, insert all other adjectives that describe the stars the same, i couldn't stop thinking about how the ground was continuously uphill. and the more we stepped, the higher we were. what exactly was the probability of us falling into this den of bushes that was actually a forest of trees below, and the number of broken bones limited to survive the way back home? yes, the journey was memorable, i could say. but breathtaking was a more fitting term to me. both literally and its figure of speech.
"i've been to high places before, and those sceneries," he looked upfront. "definitely are one of its kind. but huge forests? not as of i can remember."
"you don't overlook everything, do you?"
"like snakes being around these branches or spiders on the tree trunks. worms under your shoes?" i looked at where we were stepping, the shades of leaves reflecting on ground. it reminded me of how john green described them. the sky being split looked like traces of cassiopeia.
"no," he replied. overthinking, it might've been my middle name but i always knew he wouldn't do such a thing. "but it's just like walking at a park, don't you think?" he continued. "a city or a town park, but with maces and crossbows as you say. so it should be like taking a stroll through the woods sixty five million years ago."
"definitely to not try and steal some fishes from their ancient rivers," i uttered. we laughed.
the flowing water sounded closer the further we went. the birds were chirping as well, but not too loud either. they were dispersed high enough to stay on branches of trees median in height. this forest was always closely intertwined in equidistant symmetries, and i always thought i was the complete opposite of it.
the river was already visible upfront. we stopped by the nearest tree as i tossed my backpack, and he placed his next to mine. i retied my shoelaces tighter as i focused on a creek that laid a little upfront. we headed there.
the flowing water wasn't as strong as i expected, which was a great thing, of course, because falling into the depth of that i-don't-know-what-in-the-world-lies-in-its-dark-oblivious void was probably not a good idea. rocks were sitting by its sides and across, some huge enough for its surfaces to remain untouched by the stream. my dad once advised that between these solid platforms laid the most vulnerable paths of prey. i leaped through a few of these spaces, a meter fall by its edge, and i was going first as he followed behind. we stopped at the one with the least strong current as i could see a few fishes already jumping alongside.
"salmon," he said from my back. i faced him.
"and catfishes." i could see their whiskers flashing droplets as another jumped by. we both bent down on the rocks we were at, the space between these platforms managing as our possible source of dinner.
"i'll try to catch it first?" i said as another one leaped by. he glanced at me then back to the flowing water.
"since they're slippery, i'll serve as the second bait."
i nodded in agreement. i wiped my hands on the sides of my shirt (wasn't anxiously sweating, was i?), prepping them closely on the little space this time. i looked upfront as a salmon, which i assumed was heading to our direction, rapidly curved itself for a jump. i raised my hands just in time to catch it, trying to grip its slimy skin. it slipped up and i grabbed hold of it again before it swiveled its body, leaping towards him. he moved fast enough to clasp its body, as they fell down the edge in the water below.
there was a quote i remembered that virginia woolf said in her book "to the lighthouse." it went as, "so fine was the morning except for a streak of wind here and there that the sea and sky looked all one fabric, as if sails were stuck high up in the sky, or the clouds had dropped down into the sea." although he wasn't weightless and i knew not that he could (possibly, you know) fly, but he was like the wind virginia woolf described at that specific moment. not the clouds but the sails up on the sky, and not the sails but the clouds into these waters. and i couldn't tell if that were of any good at all.
he was glaring at me, a meter below, arms crossed with his hips down in the water, as drops of the river streamed on his forehead from his strands of wet hair. i could still see the movement of the surface as the fish hurried away from him.
"i, uh." i covered my mouth, trying to find the words at first, because i believed it was pretty much the most rude thing i could ever do to laugh at what in the world just happened. but i did, i laughed, a bit much i became teary. i looked back at him, expecting an eye roll or probably a punch or a slap (either of which i'd gladly accept), but as i did, he started laughing as well. i shook my head before kneeling down on the rock to offer him my hand.
"i'm so sorry," i said, wiping my eyes with my other hand. "i didn't think that would happen. i should've warned you that you might fall belo--" and before i could process my words, i was already beside him, drenched the same, after he took my hand and pulled it. he laughed and so did i, our voices echoing amidst the trees nearby and the sound of the flowing water.
i couldn't tell which part my head was remembering, which detail i couldn't tend to think. the ever-changing colors of light, splashes of autumn leaves' shadows falling and swaying by as they reflected on the surface of the water, or the way he was happy. i looked at him for a split second. sometimes, i whisper to God how beautiful life is, how infinite are the little things. we are tapestries, and we are astonishments of His marvelous wonder. but i glanced away just immediately as he faced me.
"i think," he said. "there are edible mushrooms we passed by earlier. we can have those for food instead." i laughed a little and nodded in reply.
the actual wind settled in, rippling the water as it did. i thought of the stars and the figures they lined we call as constellations, as if the waters don't show the same. at once, i wanted to say it out loud, how the river, this river, would take us back into the becoming of something that was beyond the lingual way of differentiating moments over photographs, something light and time couldn't capture in its exact. about how diane arbus said that "a picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know." and i knew in that moment that even if i could stick a camera under his nose, about how he was asking why i was smiling under my breath as we walked back to our bags, clothes wet and soaked, that i wanted to write my gratitude to green, woolf, arbus and more, for expressing things i myself failed to do so. that i wanted to freeze, in light and time, a genuine smile i hadn't seen yet. something i could hold to my palms, underneath the rain and the sun's rays. someday i pray for, someday i will.