Blocks and Fate

Blocks and Life

I’ll admit that I’m about three weeks behind in reading the New Yorker. Just when I get through one, another lands in my mailbox, and I’m right where I started. And if I’m three weeks behind in reading, I’m about two months behind in thinking and processing what I’ve read.

In the ‘Education Issue’ from Sept. 4, 2006 there was an article about the mountain college, Deep Springs that really struck a chord with me.

About 6 years ago, I was a senior in High School, and utterly confused and angry about having to go to 4 more years of school, I applied to Deep Springs. I had no idea what I got myself in to. After a couple months which included a total of 7 essays, including topics like ‘Describe Manhood in the 20th Century’, and a 5 day stay at the Deep Springs campus, I got the ‘thin envelope’ that meant I was not accepted. My path after that changed drastically. Instead of going directly to college, I decided to spend the year in Israel, and though I had my gripes with the program had an amazing experience.

Examining these decisions and moments in a very crucial time in my life made me think about the nature of fate and how it relates to logic and therefore code.

In any programming language, the most simple logical operator is the if/else statement. In Ruby you could represent a decision with

if College::DEEP_SPRINGS.accepted?
  College::DEEP_SPRINGS.attend
else
  Israel.live_in(1.year)
end

That is an extremely simplified version of that point in my life. Each statement within an if or else can be considered a block, though this block could also contain another decision or statement, and so on add infinitum. If we represented all the decisions in our life in this manner, as logical statements, how deep would the block go? Is it infinite? In other words can we get to the exact same place in our lives from any number of different paths, or are we forever following smaller and smaller veins of a branching tree?

Original Image Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/michekerr/173921630/

4 Responses to “Blocks and Fate”

Nate Says: #

a great post man. I’ve been on a metaphysics kick lately thanks largely to my friend Maria.
anyway, I think the answer is “yes”. certainly death is the cop-out/easy example. no matter what you do in life, you will die one day. but it’s a great question to ponder further. i’ll think on this and get back to it.

Nate Says: #

One issue is how you define “place” in life. The summation of your geographic coordinates? Or, the summation of another set of coordinates? Or the summation of ALL the coordinates in your life? For the sake of creating a fine philosophical argument, I would suggest that you take either the first or last of these possibilities: that is, measure “place” using one set or all possible sets of “coordinates.” Then to answer you question, I come to two possible answers:

1. If you’re using geographic coordinates, I would assume that life is more like a branching tree, where linear time, chance, and decisions take us to different places.

2. If you’re using the summation of all coordinates and all possible definitions of “place” to measure where you are, then I think you’ll find life to be much more fate oriented: We continuously reflect all possibilities in life, much like how each pixel of a hologram contains the entire image the hologram projects. With this view, the “place” you are is “you”, and you are always [add preposition here] you (whether you’re aware of it or not), so while some coordinates change (time, geography) you stay the same.

AQ Says: #

Nate: Good thoughts.

Though to continue the code metaphor and train of thought – I would compare ‘place’ to a state of an object in object oriented programming. So if you have and object of type ‘Person’, that object contains all the meta data and relationships to everything else in your universe. Is it possible then to reach the same ‘state’ where all of these variables that make up the ‘Person’ object are equal? Person is a class that can contain a numberless but finite number of variables. Person.location, Person.height, Person.fullness, etc.

Nate Says: #

I see.
Look what happens when post-modern sociologists read a programming blog.
I’ll have to think more about this.

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