Today's essay is about a message in a bottle
You are standing beside a body of water.
No, change that.
You are standing above a body of water.
Maybe the Liffey in Dublin, where books have been known to begin with their endings.
Yes, you are standing on the Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin, watching the Liffey flow.
You write a message on a piece of paper and seal it inside a bottle, and then you drop the bottle into the river.
The River Liffey will carry your words past Trinity College and Deer Park, past the Poolbeg Lighthouse, beyond the Dublin Bay, and into the choppy waters of the Irish Sea.
Your bottle is going to see the world. Let's hope you wrote something worth remembering.
It should go without saying, but this all assumes one of the men at Trinity College doesn't rush into the water and grab your bottle because a minute before he had prayed for a cold bottle of wine and then he looked at the Liffey and he saw this vibrant glass thing bobbing so he said to the skies, "Thank-you, Lord!"
Joy at the sight of free wine was followed by his hurried opening of the bottle, the tiny scroll of paper dropping into his hand...then his scanning the message and making a fist and tossing your paper into a mud puddle and complaining, "Thanks for nothin'! I already got more than I can read for class!"
Guess you picked the wrong day to write, "If you can read this, thank a teacher."
Let's assume your bottle and the message you really wrote have merged safely into the Irish Sea.
Two years later, you are visiting another body of water.
Maybe the Potomac River in Washington DC, where you have been kayaking.
There is a bottle bobbing near the water's edge. Its brilliant iridescence under the blue sky has caught your eye. It had stopped flowing because of the surrounding marsh.
You paddle near the Jefferson Memorial and fetch the bottle from the shore. The labels which identified it were washed away long ago.
You open the bottle but no wine. Just a rolled slip of paper.
You give it a look. The message reads, "Does anybody these days ever find a message in a bottle and read it?"
Well that isn't very smart. You think whoever took the time to write would have said something memorable.
On the fly, sitting in your kayak, you can think of half a dozen bottle messages better than the one you found. For example, "You look great! Have you lost weight?"
One more second later, you think of yet another smart message that beats the one you just found, "Don't you kids have something better to do?"
But then you are astonished by this piece of paper when you unfold the other half and give this a second look.
For a moment, you are caught in that state of mind known as aesthetic arrest.
This message has your handwriting. It has your email address and the date.
The message inside this bottle is the one you wrote in Dublin...two years before.
More about a message in a bottle later....
Do we live in a Matrix?
Do we live in a simulation?
That's a real question, not a simulated question. So was the question, "Are we living in a Matrix?"
Is reality real? Hope so, because I can see myself in the chrome.
Those questions begin a movie written and produced by Kent Forbes, the guest on Skeptiko episode #323, July 27th. More very soon about Skeptiko and the movie.
"Don't look at the camera!"
But first...today happens to be the birthday of Laurence Fishburne, who played Morpheus in the Matrix movies.
The first time I saw him was the movie Apocalypse Now, when he played a soldier on a boat taking a military assassin up a river to kill a renegade U.S. Army colonel.
To win that part in the Francis Ford Coppola masterpiece, he lied about his age. Young Fishburne was only 14. I hope that in the decades since that movie, Laurence has thought long and hard about the wages of sin.
Anyway, Laurence Fishburne is 55 today, and it's impossible for me to visualize anybody else in the iconic role of Morpheus.
I nearly pictured Paul McCartney once, but lost the vision.
100,331 views...that is almost a numerical palindrome...I'm 31
The most recent episode of Skeptiko, the interview show in which Alex Tsakiris talks with people about consciousness and related topics, gives us an interview with Kent Forbes.
Kent wrote and produced the movie, The Simulation Hypothesis. I'm not sure how much of it is original. For the most part, the movie is assembled from famous movie clips and previously-produced interviews and historical videos. There may have been new scenes shot, or maybe it was from start-to-finish a cut-and-paste production.
The movie, to be fair, is not a "major motion picture," but the product of a non-profit organization, Fair Wind Films. The organization is apparently an educational operation. One reason the movie exists is that a studio would never make a documentary about physics, and the types of organizations which do make science documentaries would pass on this one because it's iconoclastic. It challenges some of the concepts popular in physics.
Supported by donated time and talent, the volunteers at Fair Wind waded into cinematic waters with The Simulation Hypothesis. While made with little money, no doubt, it has a professional appearance and sound. Watching it on YouTube costs nothing.
The movie concerns the scientific support for the concept that we are living in a manufactured reality. Our universe appears real, it gives us the feedback of reality, but it may be a very intelligent creation in which we are prisoners or victims or players or game avatars.
While I opened with the question about living in a matrix, the term matrix is too hot to throw around casually. Too many instant connotations because of the movie, The Matrix, and the portrayal of “reality” as a psychic prison. For years, people have been piggybacking on the original title and issuing movies such as Matrix of Evil, so maybe it's time to retire the term.
Except people believe they get the point when they hear it. They've seen the movie.
I’ve used the term matrix before and I will use it again. But it's an instant source of bias and misunderstanding.
And it’s a crying shame there are no happy movies about living in a matrix.
What is the best movie about living in a simulation?
Probably Groundhog Day, partly because we are not superheroes on the order of Neo. We do not fight Mr. Smith, and we do not program people to dream in the way Inception's Leonardo DiCaprio does. We are not saving the planet.
In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray's character is ordinary and annoying and selfish and pompous. He is an Everyman, and then he changes.
Our lives are so much like Groundhog Day.
Alex Tsakiris was enthusiastic about the movie, so the interview was positive and informative.
But there were a couple of off-key moments when the discussion or the answers sounded odd.
For example, one of the questions concerned the claims that we live in a “pixelated” universe. When Kent answered in so many words that he was serving the narrative of the movie, that sounded like doublespeak along the lines of, “I went too far but viewers expect a great story and I gave them one.”
Mostly, though, Kent did a good job during the interview. Made me want to see the movie.
Giving the interview a second listen, though, I noticed a "glitch in the Matrix." Seconds before the two began speaking, Alex called the movie, The Simulation Experience. Not precisely the title, but close enough. A serviceable simulacrum.
It wasn't this bad
Right after listening to Skeptiko, I watched The Simulation Hypothesis on YouTube.
That was a mistake, but not because of the movie. Should have waited till I felt better.
I had a toothache.
When a toothache strikes, everything becomes a reflection of my baby universe of hurt. If I'm watching The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy will say to her dog, "Toto, I don't think we're in the dentist's chair anymore."
If I'm watching The Godfather with a toothache, Marlon Brando will say, "I'm going to make him an offer he can't rinse and spit."
Because of the toothache, I was not watching the same movie Alex had seen, and which Kent had produced. My attitude was sour, and I instantly found flaws and faults in the movie.
I even wrote notes about my problems with the movie. Alex had asked for feedback, so I organized my pitiful painful profound thoughts on a piece of paper. Unfortunately, any email would have begun, “Hey, Alex, you asked for feedback. Well, my...tooth...hurts!”
But the hurt is over.
Speaking generally, The Simulation Hypothesis is worth watching. A little too much green, though.
It’s a professional movie, with the sound and pictures and graphics you would expect. The concepts are presented in a logical fashion which allows viewers to proceed from one possibility to another. There is enough science - physics - to give at least a minimum level of support to this idea of life as a matrix or simulation. The pace was brisk enough, I never looked at the time and wondered whether to continue.
Unfortunately, I am probably not the kind of viewer the movie seemed designed for, because there was not very much new in it. I own all the Matrix movies, and Inception...even Koyaanisqatsi.
By the way, the movie Koyaanisqatsi won an Oscar in the 1980s for Best Documentary, and that is also the first time a lot of people heard the music of Philip Glass. In The Simulation Hypothesis, the brief moments when you see food being manufactured come from Koyaanisqatsi.
As for the movie's suggestion we are living in a software system, that our minds are software, that idea popped into my head in my early 20s decades ago. I used to be in the simulation business, even though it involved nuclear weapons and missiles. Before this movie, I was familiar with the astonishing simplicity and mystery of the Double Slit Experiment. For people unfamiliar with the territory, though, the movie may be an eye-popper.
I found it to be a watchable movie with flaws, and those mostly had to deal with style. There were enough, though, I found myself asking if The Simulation Hypothesis is an honest movie.
I do not mean I worried that he had failed to deliver an “objective” movie. Not a concern of mine. Documentaries and science movies such as this one by Kent Forbes probably should have a point of view. Otherwise, the facts and figures hang in a kind of suspended animation. I'd rather watch a global warming video with an opinion because I can appreciate the slant. I want them to show me where they think the information leads.
A so-called objective point of view is possible, but I never expect it these days. The people who manufacture public opinion usually do not trust us with the "truth," and truth usually depends upon money and power. And besides, there are some topics which big media will not touch at all. They are taboo. Others are classified. Major emotional bias, especially on scientific issues.
My attitude before the first viewing of The Simulation Hypothesis was, “Convince me. Show me why you’re right.”
My first concern was the relentless use of movie clips, starting in the first minute and continuing to the end. There were clips from many famous movies about altered reality: The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, The Matrix, and Inception.
In fact, the movie opens with a stage light dropping from the sky and catching Jim Carrey’s attention in The Truman Show. Good way to start, this was my favorite use of a clip. I had forgotten that scene, so I was just as perplexed as Truman to see the shattered light.
This may appear to be a disagreement about style, but a movie which advocates the position we are living in a Matrix or an Inception dream is not honest if it repeats those clips over and over. First time is illustration, seventh time is propaganda.
There are maybe twenty clips in this movie. I counted sixteen, but did not keep a total for the video game clips. In a fifty-minute movie, that's a lot. When the intent is to support a scientific hypothesis for a simulated reality, twenty clips means they've loaded the deck. The viewers are not just being shown a new way of thinking about reality, they are being shown what to think.
For example, the narrator asked a question about reality and Yoda answered the question in a clip from The Empire Strikes Back.
I never get tired of watching a good Yoda scene, but most viewers will tend to believe what Yoda has told them. You know Yoda, he would never lie. If anybody could tell the truth, it would be a Jedi.
When a science movie depends upon fictional movies this much to make its points, how does that serve its credibility?
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
In another case, there was a quotation presented on the screen. Physicist Max Planck had written, "All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force...."
The Max Planck quotation had been preceded by the famous scene in Star Wars when Obi-Wan Kenobi explains the Force to Luke Skywalker.
Too cute, too on-the-nose, and probably not the same "force."
But I'll tell you what I think is great about the quotation and the film clip, and what truly unites them: I share a name with Max Planck and a birthday with Luke Skywalker...Mark Hamill.
And who does Max Planck share a birthday with?
It's a small universe, after all. One big family.
The movie used so many moviemaking "tricks" to push the buttons of the viewer and to force the conclusion we live in a simulation, I wondered if Kent had pulled a fast one. Was this movie his version of Inception and 2001: A Space Odyssey?
I own both movies. They work on various levels, but you can also see them as movies about movies. For Inception, a clue is presented in the first scene: Leonardo DiCaprio is lying in shallow water, and you can see water drops all over the clear screen shielding the camera. Not a mistake, we were supposed to see that. For 2001? Turn the monolith sideways and you have a dark movie screen's dimensions.
When a science movie is this heavy with movie clips and references to video games, it can't help but be trapped in "movie logic." This movie may suggest a strong similarity between movies and a speculative simulated universe, but people used to argue our universe was like a magnificent clock. Now, it's a computer simulation!
If we are living in a simulation, whatever created this is not a computer or anything we can conceive a computer to be. It is not any kind of "universe factory" we can conceive. It is not even any supreme being we can conceive. It is above the mental, above the visual, above the dimensions we can discuss. Our minds are flashlights that wish they could think like the sun.
It is natural that people who want to achieve insight into the "real universe" are charmed by movie/computer analogies, but that's as realistic as the belief God is an old man who wears a beard and sits on a heavenly throne.
God does not sit on a throne. That's the old way of thinking.
God rides around in a golf cart.
This guy was an artist, a very nice one
Is The Simulation Hypothesis a con?
I doubt it, but this challenge could be irresistible to some artists: produce a movie which makes viewers believe their lives are nothing but a simulation - a Matrix - and the best evidence presented to the viewers is nothing but movies about life being a simulation! Keep up the programming by mentioning simulation over and over without providing direct evidence we live in a simulation! Use enough scientific "evidence" to keep the deception lively and to justify wild assumptions!
When a movie has at least a passing similarity to a deception, it invites scrutiny. The moviemaker Orson Welles was a magician, and he enjoyed making entertainment which used the medium to trick the radio listeners and movie viewers.
The risk in filling a movie about simulated reality with movies about simulated reality is that control of the "narrative" will be lost.
There is a principle in moviemaking - I studied moviemaking before I realized how hard it was to make a movie - and that principle concerns impossible moments. We’ve all seen movies in which a fantastic coincidence occurs. The hero’s life is saved because he falls off a building and lands on a stack of mattresses. In the movie, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the Martin Freeman character is sentenced to death and ejected from a spaceship…but his life is saved because he is instantly picked up by another spaceship that was just passing by.
The general rule is that a movie gets one unbelievable moment. I mean movies about "real life," not superhero or fantasy movies. They have their own rules.
Fantastic coincidences do occur. We've all seen some. And impossible moments do happen. But this movie takes too many leaps. It takes some information about computer imagery and leaps to the conclusion we live in a pixelated universe. With a big enough computer, so to speak, we could digitize the universe!
Proof? Evidence? Not forthcoming. But the graphics looked good.
One of the movie's biggest leaps comes after a discussion of nonlocality, a very real condition of quantum reality.
Before you know it, the movie pushes us toward past nonlocality and directly to an interpretation in which we are as real as video game people. The movie shows us how the Big Bang, which he supports all the way, is just a case of "booting up" the simulation.
Proof? Evidence? A testable hypothesis?
The evidence seems pretty conclusive regarding nonlocality, and the movie is right on that. Alain Aspect performed the now-famous entanglement experiment decades ago, and others keep building upon his breakthrough. There is a good book on the subject, The Non-Local Universe, by Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos. I own it.
But I was not happy to see the leap from a nonlocal view of reality to the simulation model. Some steps before the leap would have been nice. Warm up the old thigh muscles.
- THE BIG SWITCH? -
Something strange happens in the second half of the movie...maybe the final third... and I can’t tell if this was intentional or accidental. This may be a matter of personal interpretation only.
From the beginning, the question is asked if we live in a simulation of reality. All this time, we are treated to clips from The Matrix.
Soon, the physics question of quantum reality versus materialism is presented.
Much of the movie is about the great debate between the participants at the Solvay Conference of 1927, when Niels Bohr had his approach to reality and Einstein had his. The Bohr side argued for a reality in which particles might exist, in which nonlocal behavior was real. Einstein's approach is described in the movie as a materialist view.
Einstein had problems with the uncertainty of it all, the statistical probability of particles existing. No wonder he called this “spooky action at a distance,” and said something quoted these days as, “God does not play dice with the universe.” Even Bohr said anybody who was not deeply puzzled by quantum mechanics did not understand it.
This part of the movie is about real science. In the eyes of most observers, the “Bohr team” won the debate, and Einstein capitulated near the end of his life.
But something strange happens in this movie...a transition. The victory of the Bohr quantum model of reality seems to be portrayed as an automatic victory of the simulation model over the materialism model.
Had Bohr argued that because of the strange nature of quantum reality - entanglement and nonlocality, for example - we live in a simulation?
So why did it seem he was?
Because the movie took me in that direction. I figure a lot of viewers had the same feeling when the movie ended. The movie connected the simulation concept so tightly with the quantum reality approach, Einstein's apparent "surrender" at the end of the movie appeared to be a victory for simulation.
Dishonest moviemaking or just the way movies are?
If The Simulation Hypothesis had been another of those slick new "flat earth" movies that somebody is paying a lot of money to produce, I would consider this movie a deception.
This movie does not suggest a flat earth at all. It suggests a three-dimensional holographic reality based upon two-dimensions of coordinates and numbers.
Hmm, what about the ten dimensions of string theory? Can't forget them.
Many moviemakers have no idea how their movies will move the minds and hearts of the public. They’ve been so involved in the details, it’s hard to step back and see how somebody will see it all for the first time.
Did The Simulation Hypothesis rewrite history? Hard to tell. Maybe I did not pay enough attention, so let me ask this another way....
Does the movie create the impression the double slit experiment proves a simulation model of reality?
How many of the physicists who've accepted quantum reality and who've performed the double slit experiment would say it points right to a simulation model?
How many viewers of the movie would think less of it if they knew the people who performed the double slit experiment never said this was direct evidence or proof of a simulated reality?
More viewers would think less of it.
Whoever can prove we live in a simulated reality should be given the Nobel Prize for physics, and the one for chemistry and the one for economics. Give 'em all the prizes for that year, because that will be the moment when civilization changes in a flash.
Will never happen.
I'm getting ahead of myself, but the ultimate reality cannot be an object. The "simplest thing of all" cannot be fully explained by its derivative "things."
I could go on about my concerns with The Simulation Hypothesis, such as the logic failures, but it will convey the impression I did not like the movie.
Not so. I enjoyed it.
So why the deeper look?
I take it personally when a movie genuinely wants me to believe I am a simulation.
Maybe the movie never said that directly, but everybody around me and everything in the universe were portrayed as less-than-real. When a movie says the sun and the moon and the stars and space and the little tiny people on the planets and all the puppy dogs and the Masters golf tournament are all simulations...I think Kent Forbes was including me.
If there is something about me which is not simulated in this otherwise-total simulation, what could that be?
Now and then, the movie posits the existence of consciousness as the reality behind the simulation of everything. Fine, but it never investigates this consciousness.
That may be the hidden fatal flaw of the film. I can overlook a movie which uses movie clips to defend the premise we are living in a simulated reality...just like a movie. And I might overlook the way quantum theory's victory over the Einstein view was interpreted by the makers of this movie as a victory for simulation. It wasn't. It just made easier the leap to that conclusion.
But a movie which dangles this mysterious "consciousness" in front of us and never investigates it appears insincere, or maybe just a joke at the expense of the movie viewers.
Imagine being confined to a military prison during war, and you consider it your duty to escape.
One day, a fellow prisoner confides, "I know the way out! There's a real world out there!"
You are excited. Somebody knows how to help you leave this place for freedom!
There's just one problem. He can't stop talking about this prison. He won't even give you hints about the escape route. He won't tell you if anybody else has ever made it.
He wants you to know all about the prison!
That is where The Simulation Hypothesis takes viewers. Near the end of the film, it has another clip. This one shows Leonardo DiCaprio waking up near the end of Inception. His eyes convey it all. He knows all the levels of dreams where he had just spent 10 hours, and now he knows he is awake.
And this clip is followed by the Max Planck quotation, "I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness."
We are led to the new premise that waking up to the primacy of consciousness is waking up from the dream of reality.
Fine, except the movie ends there.
And that is why I wonder about the motives of a movie which gives viewers the impression their lives aren't real, that they really don't exist beyond this apparent reality.
This movie appears to have been made for young people who are barely figuring their way through the world. And along comes a movie that argues they are really real at all. Who benefits by a changed world view in which people over time conclude we live in a Matrix?
The implications for a new world view, in which people believe they are nothing but creations of a simulation system, are serious and probably sinister. If somebody can persuade you that your life is a manufactured reality, what can they gain by manipulating you into that opinion?
The people who created modern wartime propaganda discovered they could win battles by controlling the minds of the enemy. They could manipulate the enemy and sometimes reach their objectives without firing a single shot.
If more physicists get onboard the newest big thing - years ago it was entanglement, and then it became dark matter or dark energy or string theory or parallel universes and now it's simulation reality - whose heavy hand is behind the change of minds?
Maybe a simulation model is the basis for a new atheism. But it might also be a brilliant tool of mass control.
Despite my problems with the science and the movie clips and the logic failures and the motives and the psychology of a world view that accepts a technological simulation model...there are three points to make about the movie, and they are all positive.
- DYING IS EASY, MOVIES ARE HARD -
First, the movie has stimulated discussion. Kent “made us look.”
A lot of people got into science and space travel because of Star Trek and Star Wars. Some people watching The Simulation Hypothesis have been stimulated, also, and may now be learning about physics and related topics.
This movie was not the end of anything, not the last word, but the first sentence.
I admire anybody who makes a movie.
A writer has to stare at a blank screen and fill it with words, but a moviemaker starts with a black screen and has to make it come to life.
When I was a teenager, I got to watch the hottest movie star of the day working on a movie set.
Steve McQueen was making a movie called The Reivers. For two or three hours, I watched him and a boy co-star drive a big yellow antique convertible car up a dirt street in a small Mississippi town. That’s all they did the entire time, drive a car to the end of the street and turn around. Mostly, Steve and his co-star passed the time tossing a Frisbee while the crew prepared for the next take.
I could not believe how slow the process was, and this scene would be only ten seconds in a two-hour movie!
But it made me think about making movies.
And then I learned years later if you wanted to make a movie, you needed money and you had to have something to say. You needed a story, and people to do all the technical stuff, and money to finish the thing. And then you had to pay people to tell the public there was a movie worth watching.
I forget when, but I realized my idea of making a movie was a very poor simulation of the reality. My checking account was a very poor simulation of money.
So I admire anybody who makes a movie, especially about science and consciousness. There are so many decisions to make and tasks to perform, it’s impressive even if a mediocre movie is the result. When you realize how hard it is to shoot even a single scene well, it’s a tiny miracle that good movies and sometimes great movies come our way.
Kent can be proud of this one. It could be the start of quite a few more, who knows?
The odds of making a Citizen Kane your first time out of the gate are as good as the odds you will be ejected from one spaceship and then picked up by a randomly passing spaceship. Before Marty Scorsese made Kundun, which concerns the Dalai Lama, he made Mean Streets. You have to make a first movie to make a second, and The Simulation Hypothesis is a good start.
Made me look and made me write.
- WHERE IS THE MAGIC? -
The second major point concerning The Simulation Hypothesis: the movie may be right.
The movie may be right, but not because of the evidence he presented.
Do we live in a Matrix?
Everything depends upon the definition, of course. We have indirect knowledge of almost everything we experience…did you know that? The light you see reading this is not the light coming from the screen. Your body has converted the light into signals the brain can process. When you touch something, your fingers are not directly touching the object. The energy in your fingers - their force - is pressing against the force of the object.
We have indirect knowledge of everything because our senses convert sights and sounds and feelings into something we can perceive. But that does not mean we live in a matrix. That's just...life.
By the way, have you noticed that so many religions are based upon the concept that this world is not the real world? Christians believe they have a ticket to Heaven. Some are not so sure, but they hope they have a ticket to Heaven. Maybe they should buy trip insurance.
Right away, then, most religions create the concept of a reality simulation. They split reality into fake reality and real reality.
How funny it would be, then, if the "scientific" hypothesis for a simulated reality turns out to be nothing but a religious concept after all.
Somebody got played.
The answer is in the chrome
Could this indirectly-experienced reality of life, this possible simulation, be coming from an intelligent entity? God? The Absolute? Maybe the “Architect” in The Matrix Reloaded?
Isn't that the crux of the matter? The crucial question of any movie about this subject matter?
To answer this question, it would have been good for Kent Forbes to get some expert opinion, but he was making his movie. He had less money than he needed, less time. He had to limit his approach, perhaps. Maybe he wanted to make his movie seem "scientific."
Still...for a guy who reportedly studied theology at a school in California, why did he ignore everything involving mysticism? There is an approximate match between what the movie postulates and what the mystics have said, but you would have thought nobody exists who can confirm through experience this simulation hypothesis.
What is a mystic? To simplify, a preacher may point to the "heavens" and say there is a higher reality. The mystic has had the experience of that higher reality. Huge difference.
A couple of times in the interview with Alex, Kent Forbes mentioned religion. Did not mention Zen Buddhism, did not mention the Christian mystics, did not mention Mahayana Buddhism. I don't think he discussed any of the eight branches of yoga. Why not? Was it the old argument that meditation is too “soft” for science? Too subjective? Too hard to present in a movie?
Was he simply uninformed? It's no sin to study theology...and be unaware of the higher states of consciousness. Look at the number of people who graduate from seminaries and become functionaries in churches - priests and pastors - but know nothing about the chakras or the energy meridians. They were not trained.
Well you can't study everything, and the study of theology mostly concerns western religion and philosophy. Not much time for sitting in a cross-legged position and contemplating one's navel.
Maybe the theologians view mystical pathways as infra dig. There are some people still a little embarrassed by the stories of levitating saints.
Besides, a movie is inherently visual. A scientist can sit in front of an atom smasher, maybe wearing one of those stupid white lab coats, and say with confidence, "This atom smasher is the reason I am right. Tell me I am wrong again and it will smash the atoms in your face."
What can a mystic do? He does not have an atom smasher. That old man mystic might be be sitting in the very center of the consciousness of...everything...and we would never know.
Moviemakers inherently gravitate to the stronger image, and that creates the visual impression scientists have the inside scoop on the nature of reality. The scientist has the atom smasher, but the mystic only has a yoga mat.
The movie made the point once or twice that we may have in our "subconscious minds" a connection with the source of our "simulated" universe.
Fine, maybe a nod toward mysticism or this mysterious "consciousness," but that idea was left in the dust because the focus changed to physics and machines.
What do real mystics say? Many people considered to be enlightened have said we are in fact living in a kind of dream. We are asleep in a dream within a dream, even. We have this waking consciousness and sleeping consciousness and dreaming consciousness, but there are others. And when you reach those levels of awareness and energy, what we are doing here seems slow and dimwitted.
What you might call the testimony of the mystics - they don't have a club, don't live in the same cave - supports a simulation hypothesis from a certain point of view. Our life is real, but there are higher levels of life. They are also real. This is not a question of real vs. simulation so much as real and more real. Still, you get the impression from reading the "mystics" that certain levels of awakening take you instantly and irrevocably to a state of being which can no longer be fooled by what we call maya, the illusion of reality.
Some mystics have stated without equivocation that the reality we accept is nothing but a state of sleep, and the only way to comprehend this is to wake up.
That is a crucial idea these mystical types offer us: even if we live in a matrix, a simulation, a dream reality...we have the opportunity to reach the level at which we are no longer part of that great illusion.
In that case, maybe this simulation is not so much a prison as a college or school, a training course, a path which roughly conforms to our nature.
I've had a few experiences with telepathy, a little clairvoyance and clairaudience, etheric energy, vibrational healing, visions, precognition, and bliss. They are all real. Unlike others, though, I am not an expert. I am not skilled in the healing arts or psychic studies. But like a new golfer, play long enough and you'll get a few birdies and maybe an eagle. My experiences have come because I've hung around.
But because of those experiences, anybody who says we live in a matrix or a simulation has a high standard to meet. If you want to prove a matrix/simulation model, show me how all those phenomena operate. What's the formula for precognition? What's the frequency of bliss?
That's the problem with any simulation hypothesis being praised for its "explanatory power." How can you explain something you have never experienced? How can you explain something you cannot conceive exists? Before I felt the energy known as shakti, I had no idea what it was. I never could have predicted it. Before bliss...also known as ananda in Sanskrit...I never could have imagined it.
Am I getting through here?
- THIS IS NOT A PIPE -
Another question concerns the communication of "truth." I am inherently skeptical of explanations. Light is not the word, light. The orbit of a planetary body is not the calculation of its orbit. The reality is not the theory of it.
There is a point where words fail and numbers fail, even if somebody is correct in an overall viewpoint.
As John Davidson wrote in The Secret of the Creative Vacuum, "...if a theory is spun out in thought and we do not know what thought actually is, then how valid is it as a total answer to the puzzle of life?"
Based upon my limited experience, it seems we live in systems of consciousness and energy and matter, with ascending and descending density and lightness. There are high energies and low energies, higher levels of consciousness and lower levels. They have their own ways of manifesting and interacting. One of the great things about living in a human body is the wide range of experience. We can touch very solid objects, and we can touch the heavens.
The movie presented the argument that our simulated reality has been created by a computer. And let's concede Tom Campbell or somebody does not mean that literally. But there is an information system that creates a reality for us.
I prefer in general the approach which some mystics - especially those in Kashmir Shaivism - have offered. Reportedly, these concepts were perceived through meditation.
To put their explanation in familiar terms:
God did not create the heavens and the earth and us.
God became the heavens and the earth and us.
That is a huge difference. Consciousness at the highest level is so intelligent and powerful, it overflows with a sense of play and creative "exuberance." It cannot create anything apart from itself. All of its creations are manifestations of itself. And that means we always have a connection to "our Creator," because there is nothing which is not this creator.
And it never stops. The creation of the universe is ongoing.
This consciousness creates layers and layers of "derivative consciousness" which become space and fields and fundamental forces, and then elements and planets and us. To the extent that we are maybe living on the 31st level of this consciousness, let's say, you could say we are living in a simulated reality.
I've met a couple of people over the years who appeared to operate at a higher level of consciousness. They were adept at using the energies I've only read about or experienced infrequently. In their eyes, I probably appeared more like a simulation than the real thing.
But they had good manners and never mentioned it.
What’s wrong with science? Plenty, as Alex Tsakiris and Rupert Sheldrake have documented in their books.
So why make a case for consciousness in a movie, such as The Simulation Hypothesis, and give the high ground to the materialists?
There are tantalizing suggestions at the beginning of the film along the lines of, “If you know the true nature of reality, you can hack the universe.” Something like that. There is even the claim in the first couple of minutes that, “…we live inside a simulation…we are actually participating in the creation of the reality we live in.”
But the viewer never sees those possibilities explored. How do we "hack the universe," as the movie put it? Guess I'll never know.
Science as a whole is still stuck in the mindset that the brain makes consciousness. Making a movie which uses science’s rules to prove something that transcends them is a risk.
Another concern, and this is mostly about modern culture, not the movie in particular.
Since when are physicists the ultimate experts on reality?
Can we trust them? What if they are poor role models?
I don't mean in the money-grubbing way scientists advocate new ideas to secure funding.
I don't mean in the way big media decides one guy will be the new face of science and physics.
I don't mean in the way establishment physicists gets into a hive mind and reject outside views.
And I don't mean the way most physicists are part of the military industrial complex.
And I would never mean the way many physicists see the universe as a thing, a dead thing which exists to be manipulated. No life, no life force as far as the eye can see. Just forces and fields and frigid temperatures.
So why are we giving those guys any authority about reality?
If you give physicists the "authority" to decide what the fundamental nature of our universe is like, they have also defined you. Their universe, their rules.
This movie begins with a reasonable question: do we live in a Matrix? But in seconds, everything except science has been eliminated. Science demands evidence which can be replicated and measured, but the perception of ultimate reality seems to be a wholly subjective experience.
Put differently, if you were sitting in a state of God-realization...enlightenment...samadhi...whatever, how could a scientist detect your state of consciousness? Where you've gone, their machines can't follow.
There is a reality which most physicists know nothing about. They have busy lives and packed schedules and deadlines and responsibilities. There is almost no opportunity for them to stretch out.
Most of them are blind to the verified peer-reviewed reality of near death experiences, the survival of consciousness, precognition, divination, telepathy, subtle vision, vibrational healing, and unusual states of consciousness...but most physicists probably scoff at all that or consider it irrelevant.
A few physicists can walk in both worlds, hard science and all that stuff in the previous paragraph. Dr. Alan Wallace of the Santa Barbara Institute is one of them. Another is Dr. Fred Wolf, who had some role in this movie. I own a couple of their books and some audiobooks.
To wrap up what is actually a point of endorsement for the movie, The Simulation Hypothesis points to something beyond the current explanations of reality. It points to something which transcends the assumptions scientists have. The movie ends with quotations by Max Planck and Niels Bohr regarding the primacy of consciousness.
That's a good start. For some viewers, the movie will be their first steps into a larger world.
Which brings me to the third major positive point about the movie.
Because I watched The Simulation Hypothesis and gave it the respect of further viewings and analysis, something funny happened which connects all of this.
Had I watched it with superficial attention and concluded, "This is wonderful! Just great! I believe it all!", this funny moment never would have taken place. I would not have enjoyed this lila - a little divine play of consciousness.
This lila was not an endorsement of the movie, probably. A lila usually points you above the level of your ordinary reality. A lila shows you there is something beyond your personal universe. This lila did not appear to give me the "thumbs up" agreement with The Simulation Hypothesis. A lila is not in the business of movie reviews.
In short, this lila reminded me of the classic Irving Berlin song, Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better).
But first, a question: if we live in a simulation...a matrix...ever wonder what the simulation thinks about all of this?
What does the supreme reality behind this simulation think about all of this?
Asking the supreme reality to answer the question would be like asking a mother which of her children was simulated.
The answer might have been, "I am insulted by your question! Everything I make is real! And alive!"
To address all of this, let's go backwards a bit and then go forward....
I caught the July 27th interview Alex conducted with Kent about The Simulation Hypothesis.
The movie asked in the opening if we are living in a simulation, and played the clip from The Matrix when Neo's finger began merging with the mirror.
I took aspirin for the toothache and garlic for the swelling and a nap.
On July 28th, I watched the movie again when I felt better. The movie looked better, now.
Preparing for a walk, I photographed my Mac. Taking a photo of the subject was a way to get the mind's attention.
The purpose of the walk - besides the usual food and photography - was to find something which connected with the movie.
What did the "universe" think about the movie?
I photographed my toothache-soured notes to prepare the mind for the walk, and then I left the house.
I had no preconception about what I should see for a message. I only asked for something I could photograph.
In case I found nothing at all to photograph, not one thing, there would still be food to fill the void.
During the walk, I rarely thought about the Kent Forbes movie and the Skeptiko interview.
Most of my attention was devoted to a fascinating audiobook written by Joe McMoneagle.
Joe McMoneagle is maybe the best remote viewer in the public history of remote viewing. His successes would be legends or myths, except that his work has been thoroughly documented.
A small example of his skill...
Everybody who watches the Matrix movies knows about the color green.
Joe McMoneagle has had particular success locating "sources of radiation" around the world. I figure he means stolen or lost shipments of radioactive elements, maybe even weapons. Maybe nuclear reactors.
When he is hired to find the radioactive materials and describe their condition, they show up as glowing spots on his mental map. And in his mind's eye, those radiation sources have a greenish glow.
When Joe sees a greenish glow and draws its location, you can bet there is a radioactive source in the area.
I had just bought the audiobook, which now makes it feel a little strange in retrospect. Here I was, wondering about a simulated reality, while I walked around town and listened to Joe discuss the consciousness of a remote viewer.
This car and its plate looked familiar. Maybe something from long ago. This was a chance to update my photos because I upgrade my cameras now and then. And if this turned out to be the first time seeing it, I'd have my first photos.
I've brushed out the plate's letters because they are not relevant. Think of this as a formless plate, maybe. No form, just the ideal. Or a virtual construct.
As I would soon discover, the plate was not the key fact here...but the date was.
The plate frame mentions Texas. It has the Longhorns logo of the steer's horns. Makes me wonder if the Mazda was selected because their wings logo resembles the Texas Longhorns logo.
How it looked in 2014
Back home, I searched the archives and found the old version of the plate. I had photographed it nearly two years ago, September 27th of 2014.
So I took a glance at the photos in the folder, a walk down memory lane.
What kind of day was September 27th, besides photographing the Mazda-Longhorns car for the first time?
We know what I listened to, this audiobook of Ulysses. What's the story about? A man named Bloom walks around Dublin and returns home way after midnight and pees in the backyard.
Somebody was offering free books. I did not take any. Too many of my own to finish.
There was a balloon above Office Depot which informed us Office Max had merged with Office Depot.
A marriage made in the copier room.
I photographed this because the day was the 27th. Talk about major synchronicity. A day like this only comes around once a month! What are the odds?
I photographed this because the day was the 27th. Whew! Slow down the Force!
Of course, there was nothing synchronistic about that plastic tag on the pavement. There was nothing synchronistic about that plate.
You can call anything synchronicity these days. We see so much and hear so much and have so many chances for coincidences, I've adopted higher standards.
Given that I opened the September 27th photo folder only because I had photographed the Mazda Longhorns car after watching The Simulation Experience, there would have to be something in that folder which directly related to the movie.
Shot this the morning of September 27th, 2014. Had forgotten all about it by July 28th, 2016.
Nothing about this note came to mind when I listened to Kent Forbes and Alex Tsakiris, or when I watched that movie.
But this one turns out to be precisely relevant to both the movie and the simulation/Matrix question.
I just wish I could remember why I wrote it. Should have written a footnote that explained why.
But something happened that day in 2014, something important enough to write about and to photograph. The memory of that moment is gone, but at least I have the visual reminder of my loss of memory.
Anyway, there is a better view of it because the next photo was away from the glare of the sun.
What did it say, then, this handwritten note which I only rediscovered because of the Mazda-Longhorns car sighting during my walk after watching The Simulation Hypothesis?
Do we live in a Matrix?
© 2016 J.M. Clarke. All Rights Reserved.