Having recently returned from overseas to my rural paradise, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s one thing it’s missing; people who like speculating pointlessly about abstruse subjects in which they have no appreciable expertise. People, in short, like me.

I thought that there would be lots of these people lurking about here like wood bugs, just waiting for someone to lift up the rotting log of obscurity to come scuttling out into the light. Well, there aren’t. know. I advertised. Does the universe have an edge, I asked? What is art? Will AI ever be conscious? Is morality absolute? Do you care? Then sign up for my fun and intellectually stimulating salon (in the Madame de Stael sense) and let’s have a woodbug fest!

But no, they don’t care. Nobody in my area likes this sort of thing (well, one guy does, but I think he may be planning an exchange of bits pics). I’m not sure what my next move will be, but I feel my brain slowly rotting.

And on a kinda sorta related subject…you know those women who tell everyone what a pain it is to be beautiful? Usually they get slammed because a) how vain are YOU! b) everyone knows beautiful people get better jobs so what are you complaining about and c) hang on a sec you’re not even that beautiful anyway! So how much more would you get slammed if you complained about the trials of being too bright? Of course, the tragic genius will argue thusly. If you’re brighter (in the traditional IQ based sense, which is not to say there’s not many other senses) than, let’s say, 90 percent of people, you’re going to struggle to find a guy who can keep up his end of the conversation, and will have to settle instead for one who’s good in bed or fixes things. At barbecues people will say things like ‘I read that there’s this secret bit of the Bible about aliens’ and you won’t know where to start. You’ll have lots of great chats about kids and ‘men!!!’ and practically none about the theoretical underpinnings of The Matrix (possibly just as well).

Not MY problem, I hasten to say. I might have been bright-ish thirty years ago but now my brain is a festering swamp (is there any other kind?) traversed by a few oft-trod planks (historical fiction – ie stuff I shoulda/mighta/coulda done when I was younger, future fiction – stuff I might but probably won’t do in the decade left to me, and actual fiction, which now involves a lot of google synonym searches). Apart from these few planks, it’s all a dismal fen of Things I Can’t (or can’t be arsed to) Get My Head Around – algebra, lawnmower mechanics, garden science, literary criticism, crosswords.

No, my current problem is more that – to use a phrase I despise – I haven’t found my Tribe. Don’t get me wrong, there’s loads of people I like down here. BUT. In social interactions, I’m always participating in conversations about things in which other people are interested. Compost. Inspirational biography. The Melbourne Cup. I rarely get to discuss the things in which I am interested. Quantum theory. The origin of ethics. Whether dolphins make jokes. Yes I am also slightly fascinated by compost, at times. Still…

Ergo, I am bored. What to do? For one thing, I’ve decided to only follow blogs which really interest me. Yours, obviously. I might, also, visit the Big Smoke for the purpose of attending meetings of the Humanist Society. If I’m lucky, there might be nerds there. And…I should get out more. I might find woodbugs cowering under the shelter of, for instance, the local Poetry Workshop, or a lecture on Bernard Shaw. Only, a final whinge, I’m kinda over old people. I’m an old person, nothing wrong with that, but a little variety wouldn’t go astray. Something to get the wheels out of the rut and doing burnouts on the open road.

And on a completely different topic, this week I’m hating on…Daily Calendar Wisdom. Love heals everything. Live in the moment. Three steps to a better you. Inspirational shit in general. Can’t stand it. I thought of my own inspirational quote today though, it goes, True Wisdom is when you realise you’re a fucking idiot. Socrates, if I’m not mistaken.

Unduly negative? Yeah I know. Anyway, have you found your tribe? Are you bored? Well, here’s one solution – a bunch of free books from Devious Paradoxes. Enjoy.

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26 Comments

    1. I couldn’t pass the test😃 plus a girlfriend of mine did once and she said it was full of vain people who didn’t know how to interact socially. The vain bit I’ll admit to but I’m not socially inept. Much.

  1. I loved every bit of this. I have never found a tribe. And, thankfully, I have never really wanted one. Consider the actual/factual definition of a tribe: “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”
    Eeeewww. I don’t want any of this. I like wild animals better. They are far more stable.

    1. Ha ha, yes. That’s the reason I hate the phrase. But in terms of having people you can discuss your real interests with, do you have that? Re wild… and tame… animals, ditto

  2. I never found a tribe either – on or offline. Maybe acceptance is a tribe of one? I’m interested in quantum physics too, but whenever someone tries to explain it to me, or I read books about it, I fall asleep.

      1. We do, too, love our community. I like nature and have found enough (few) who humor me by pretending to be interested in my writing/musing and philosophizing.

  3. Does the universe have an edge, I asked? No. It has an end, but no edge.

    What is art? That which pleases me, often without any obvious connection to me. It’s beyond paint and music and words – can be food, sunrise, sex, or the gestalt of a motorcycle tracking through a twisty road in a fall-flamed forest in Oklahoma on a perfect day (yesterday, to be specific).

    Will AI ever be conscious? Consciousness is emergent from more-or-less chaotic networked connections. So, probably, but not soon.

    Is morality absolute? Morality is a societal construct having as much or more impact than the equally imaginary construct of “race” and even less factual basis, if that’s possible. It barely exists at all, and is generally code for “do this thing my way or you’re wrong.”

    Do you care? I care that so many are never taught enough critical thinking skills to work their way through questions like this.

    Yeah, I know that wasn’t the purpose of your post — but the questions interested me anyhow. And I’ve never found a “tribe” either. I’d bet some safe money that if you asked a random 100 people whether they have, about 99.5% would say “no” (the 0.5% being accounted for by which personality you happen to ask). We are all islands in the end, no matter the poets.

    And I’m older than god, too, so that’s no help. Although if it matters I’ve run across a group of smokin’-hot mid-20s Bulgarian Youtube girls that I’m hoping have a firm grounding in deepthink. (sigh) Probably not. But they’re fun to look at, anyhow.

    Does that make me a bad person? (Revisiting the “morality” question here might be useful).

    1. Yeah, that makes you a bad person. My daughter asked me the other day if I thought the people in my writer’s group had fulfilled their hopes and dreams for themselves… they seem content but how would I know? Similarly with tribes. I try not to assume that just because someone farms or is interested in composting that means they’re not interested in the bigger questions. A lot of people round here would say, well what’s the point? I know what I need to know. But Australia generally is a country that despises intellectuals. Even I do, ironically.
      Re the universe, it depends whether it’s a curved spacetime outside of which nothing exists, an infinite array of alternatives, or a mental construct.
      The word art is meaningless unless it’s exclusionary. I would classify some Rembrandt portraits as art, but I don’t like them. To me, anyway, art must be intentional, skilled and visually meaningful.
      Consciousness either emerges from biological processes, in which case it’s theoretically able to be developed in ai, or it’s a non biological or externally originating function, in which case ai will likely never have it. Although…god if they exist might decide to bestow it, I suppose.
      Morality exists in all social animals, and is an evolutionary response to the need to get along and also predict the decisions of prey. It’s not necessarily consistent but the gist of it persists across cultures and species. Don’t kill randomly within your own group. Fairness matters. Empathy is useful and hard wired. Most people are more or less moral because we internalise these rules, and deviate to the extent that we can get away with it while remaining in the group, or to the degree that we personally feel comfortable with. If we all had permission to brain four year olds, I still wouldn’t, because I wouldn’t enjoy it. However when the church permitted murder and torture, some people had a ball. That’s my theory anyway.

      1. “Yeah, that makes you a bad person.”

        I suspected as much. But taking a cue from Douglas Adams (I think), my unrealized ideal is to lay about in sunny places accompanied by several beautiful women and a small team of experts whose only job is to think up new ways to be nice to me. Given the vanishingly small odds of this actually occurring, I suppose I’ll have to make peace with just being a reasonably happy and occasionally bad person.

        “…despises intellectuals…”

        I’m not sure that’s true. A matter of definitions, I suppose, but probably what they/you actually despise is academics. Anyone who is bright, inquiring, etc., can make a big enough pain in the ass out of themselves to be despised, but that’s a different class of despising (see “Smart-Ass”). But your wish to be able to engage your randomly curious brain with someone smart enough to keep up with you would probably bottom out pretty quick if they turned out to be some ivory tower Deep Thinker with as much real-world experience as a coddled 4-year-old. But still, academics and intellectuals do have enough overlap that they can be unfairly confused for one another.

        Universe: It’s probably a combination of the first two. I tend to think of it as a static, infinitely (or for-all-practical-purposes infinitely) complex superposition of all Schrodinger-branch outcomes that all instantly came into being as a result of a perfectly natural “hiccup” in the vacuum energy of a featureless pre-universe, rather like a huge, fractured, multi-dimensional jewel. Your sense of self as you read this is simply this particular always-there configuration of particles in one of the fracture-line outcomes in this Planck-time thick slice of the multiverse/jewel. There is no time — it’s just spacetime, and you are literally a different creature than the one back along the probability fracture to the one who started reading this. Superposed with all the other branches, all of you exist, permanent parts of the near-infinite dimensions of the instantly-created jewel. Importantly, you are no more or less “real” than any other universe contained in the jewel which is allowed by Schrodinger’s wave function, solely based on the initial conditions of the “hiccup”.

        Or it could be something else altogether. One of those.

        Eh, time to go home, so moving along…but perhaps another Douglas Adams quote, since I was thinking about him anyhow:

        “Perhaps I’m old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied.”

  4. Great blog-piece, and certainly one that’s got me thinking, too. That’s the second time in a week that’s happened! Someone told me a couple of days ago that she’s going to London for a year just to get out of her rut and do something different. Admittedly, she’s going with her adult daughter, so doesn’t have to wing it all by herself, but still, at just a few years younger than me she’s the one getting up and doing a few of those “burnouts on the road” we all need to do sometimes.

    1. Do you get the impulse? I’m thinking I’ll go to Greece next year and relearn Greek for three months…I used to know ancient Greek and, hey, how much can it have changed in 2500 years??

      1. I sure do get the impulse, but that’s about as far as it goes for me. I have to face the truth that, as much as the thought appeals, I’m not an intrepid explorer or adventurer 🙂 Learning ancient Greek whilst doing burnouts in Greece sounds like a very worthy endeavour indeed! Do you know of the writer’s retreat, Limnisa https://www.limnisa.com/ . The meals are vegetarian, but can be made vegan upon request (I can’t remember if you are one or other of those, or not).

      2. No, hadn’t heard of that! And you’re right, I’m vegetarian. I’m not intrepid either. I don’t dare set foot in Africa or South America. Size metre worm pulled out your eyeballs… not for me.

  5. I have no practical advice to offer, but I like your negativity. You’re always welcome at my blog. I have solved the “tribe problem” in a way that doesn’t really generalize in a helpful way to other people. I have two very close friends, and then I belong to a few groups that are not tribes; they have narrow, specific purposes. The nearest I come to having a tribe are my comrades in Palestine, but I only see them when I go there, which used to be every summer, but is now every few years. Ironically I also belong to a synagogue as a kind of honorary Jew, which I enjoy but at which I feel like a welcome outsider, not a member.

    I’m not bored because I have too much to do, but I am isolated, and lack a sense of full fledged belonging. I doubt I will ever have that, so I’ve given up on it. It’s not ideal, but it could be worse. If I had more time, I would spend more time connecting with bloggers and You Tubers I like, but unfortunately I rarely do.

    1. Yes, I think we’re in a similar position, busy but intellectually isolated. Interesting being an honorary Jew… how did that come about? I also wish I had the time and energy for interesting forays into blogs and YouTube. Old fashioned approach, apparently… the really interesting stuff is now on Reddit and substacks whatever they are and etc, according to my daughter.

  6. “being an honorary Jew… how did that come about?”

    It’s less exotic than it sounds. I lost my job and house, and went very far into debt, so I can’t afford ordinary rents anymore. I also lost my car in a hurricane, so I have to get to work by train. The solution was to move into the spare room of an old friend (an old ex) who happens to be Jewish. I’m an atheist with a sentimental attachment to religious ritual, and she is a wavering Jew who needs moral support in maintaining her attachment to her synagogue. So when I moved in, I picked up where I left off in my old role as Honorary Jewish Support Staff.

    She’s a Reconstructionist Jew. Reconstructionism is a movement (according to Wikipedia) that views Judaism as a “progressively evolving civilization rather than a religion.” In other words, the synagogue is less a place of worship than a book club featuring a single (very long) book. I like it that way, though I do wish they were a little more orthodox about scheduling issues, like figuring out ahead of time when the next meeting is to take place, e.g., date, time, etc. Organized religion has its downsides, but I sometimes prefer it to disorganized religion, which is what we often seem to get. I sometimes joke that with Jews this logistically challenged, Moses would never have left Egypt. He could have set up a charter bus to get to the Promised Land, and they’d have missed it.

    1. That’s hilarious. And I’ve never heard of being a reconstructionist Jew but there seems to be a variety of ways to be Jewish. It’s great that you can support one another despite religious differences. I’m an atheist too with mystic tendencies and a bit of a prejudice against the Old testament, as being a guide to how not to behave in the modern world. I can’t see what anyone gets out of it other than historical/mythological interest; it’s more bloodthirsty than the Iliad. But there you go.

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