This is it, my friends. After some years of incubation, ideas begat words, which begat documents, which begat schemes, which begat domain names, which begat doubts, which begat delays, which begat panics, which begat more delays, which begat reflection, which begat inspiration, which begat more domain names, which begat a WordPress installation, which begat a “coming soon” page, which begat, after a surprisingly brief interval, this post.
It was bound to happen some time, just like our fine-tuned cosmos in the universe-proliferating schemes of Max Tegmark, or every possible version of everything according to the many quantum mechanical worlds of Hugh Everett. (These are highly unparsimonious theories, but they do forward the increasing difficult and quixotic aim of keeping meaning out of science’s view of the universe; and, incidentally, of this post.)
Starting a blog is like climbing up a rocky outcropping and flinging ideas into the wide, murky ocean of the internet. They may sink, float, or, in rare cases, catch some off-shore zephyr in their gossamer thought-sails and go zooming off toward the far horizon. It can be messy, but here’s the thing: ideas don’t really do any good if they’re just sitting around getting fat and eating all the potato chips in the back of my head. They need exercise. They need to get out a bit more.
The perfect exercise machine for a flabby ol’ idea is a conversation, and I’m hoping this blog will start a few. They may be online or off, light or deep, short or long. Possibly, it will facilitate communications with various people who, noting my lack of academic qualifications, wealth, royal parentage, or Twitter followers, would hesitate to communicate otherwise.
If I’m very lucky, it may even shatter the dull poignancy of a conversation in which nobody realizes their mutual enthusiasm for evolutionary game theory, composting their own manure, or even Life the Universe and Everything; due to this, they have a brief exchange of insipidity that is of interest to no one, then go away feeling slightly more disappointed about themselves and possibly the whole universe. If this blog somehow thwarts even one such encounter, it will have paid the debt of its existence and proved a counter-example to my brother-in-law’s well-intentioned theory that talking about ideas makes me an aloof, nerd-infested brain case from which all sociable people will run away while silently clutching their heads. Disproving this theory is one of my ambitions in life.
I intend to write about some of the strange things I’ve noticed during my so-far-thirty-odd-year sojourn among the three-brained beings on this planet. Here’s one such strange thing: none of us are merely “on” the Earth; we are part of it, along with the rest of life; we are an expression of the creativity of Earth and Sun, of the miraculous propensity of the universe towards complexity and splendour. And, we are an expression of DNA, of natural selection, of genes selfish and altruistic, of the struggle for survival, of physics, chemistry, and biology. Worldviews can contain each other.
So, this blog will also be about jigsaw pieces of things — science, religion, ecology, enlightenment, politics — that seem to fit together surprisingly well, but haven’t been assembled quite yet.
You and me are like neurons in the brain of a very large creature. Each of our communications is a little action potential jumping across a synapse, contributing its minuscule vibration to the whole symphony of our sleep-walking global cranium that one way or another, through its harmony or discord, shapes the fate of the world.
Right now, that symphony isn’t sounding too good. But, the better we can each play our own instrument, and the more elegantly we can harmonize with others similar or dissimilar to ourselves, the more we can contribute to getting the whole orchestra pit back on track.
Dendrites collecting incoming signals? Check. Ion channels loaded? Check. Membrane potential approaching threshold voltage? Check. Neurotransmitters massed in the presynaptic terminal? Check. 3… 2… 1… ZAP!
Thanks for stopping by.