Sad, Sad Life

by Pedro Fonseca

We have chosen to convey this information in typing because there is no other way of understanding the terrible difficulties and paradoxes in which the terrar are still immersed into, due to the lack of an adequate form of communication. Although it would be easy to convey the terror and horror we have experienced when looking at the distorted and confused way these creatures see themselves and the world, it is difficult, and we have experienced that for ourselves, to understand the extent of deep isolation and misunderstanding that a simple language leak can provoke without being ourselves in a position of solitude. We have thus replaced our thought transducers by a primitive keyboard and the full contact of thought by the english language. Although you won't feel a fraction of what we've experienced and although you will take hours to read this when only a moment would be enough, we assure you (but how can we, through mere words, unless by your trust) that it will be worth the wait. To the more worried ones, they will find, attached to this document, the common transduced data, but we warn that they will not be able, after being exposed to the data, to feel the experience that only an ignorant soul can take of this text. (The dictionary that accompanies this text and allows for its understanding is purportedly ambiguous and confused, not only to reflect the essential ambiguity of the original language, but especially to give origin, with the most fidelity, to the sense of unintelligibility and confusion that terrars usually have when they try to communicate with one another.)

Terrars, although by some considered an intelligent form of life, have not yet discovered a direct way of communicating thought directly through neural patterns. They still have their primitive brains, in their natural form, exactly as they were made by natural creation, and they know so little of how they work that, almost invariable, each time they try to arrange something in their brains, they almost always make it considerably worst. The most advanced way they have of communicating is by expressing their thoughts with fluidity and naturally, so as to impress in their listeners the same brain patterns they had when they were speaking. 'Speaking' can mean a lot of things because they have learned that they can evoke brain patterns in a lot of ways. By flashy images for instance, by a sudden light stroke, by certain harmonies or sequences of notes, by certain arrangements of concepts, etc. This they must do to communicate to others inner feelings. They must be mostly honest and accurate and rearrange their symbols until the sequence can impinge onto them the same kind of experience they want to impinge on others.

In the last centuries they have competed to excel in this art of exactness, which is perhaps a good prelude to the (near, we hope) end of the dark age they are still living. Painters and musicians try to arrange more perfect ways of describing their feelings either towards society or themselves, either towards other music or paintings. Writers divide themselves between the interior, who describe mostly people in social relations, and the ones that describe the external senses. These last ones only recently have become used to use mathematical language to depict the world of the senses, but they did not realise yet that its mathematical nature is derived from the way it becomes known.

Of course, we have records of times in which our own civilisation surpassed this great fight with the limits of our brains. But it is completely different to watch directly the unbearable suffering of these people, completely isolated one of another, trying to communicate through ways which are almost certain to lead to failure, only to get themselves misunderstood, abused and stripped off their most precious real activities. Our records of ancient times are replenished with the grief of quiet solitude, but it is a solitude seen from the eyes of everyone that is not alone. The suffering is there, but not even the hope is necessary, because, we know the solution of the puzzle, we know the other is there. Not so with these guys. They don't even have the hope. They have inverted the factors and made of their technical difficulties a discovery about the world that amounts to this single fact: sensations are not knowledge, they cannot be transmitted by 'scientific' vocabulary. At most, they can be part of a poetic language or vision of the world.

This is most dramatic. It is difficult to describe what we've felt when constricted to this image of a world of 'I''s resignating to an incomprehensible and everlasting world where they were the unique exemplars of living things to be found with certitude in the entire universe.

A specific guy, who insisted obsessively that we should call him 'Dan', tried to reduce everything that can be thought to everything that could be said at the time, with that specific language. Accordingly, he concluded that there were no difference between real and simulated feelings, that the difference itself is unimaginable, just because we cannot express it in 'scientific' words.

This idea must seem so extravagant that we must make a short incursion to show how it came about. First let's state the obvious. External senses, however rich they may be in respect to their qualia, are visible only in a relation of a self to an environment, and this experience can only be possible through natural structures such as brains or equivalent artefacts. There are several ways of transmitting these qualia, but, to the terrars, at this specific time of their history, the only way was to point to the objects that produced these experiences. So, suppose you see a door knobble. If you want to provide just a most vague and ambiguous impression of what you just saw, you say you saw a door knobble, which allows for almost any kind of form and variation due to the gigantic quantity of different knobbles that might spring to the mind when one first hears speaking of knobbles. You can be more specific by describing its structure. And you can be even more specific by describing in a more minute way its structure. And indefinitely so. But, and the point is, you can only specify structure, nothing else. Only the cause of the impression, not the impression itself. They do not use words for impressions in their scientifically minded vocabulary. All that they call 'science' is precisely based on the rejection of everything that might have to do with themselves. All they want to see is structure. Structure and dynamics, a world populated but not by we. Just an immense 'I', capable of watching all the universe, but at the same time submersed in a vision of a gigantic mantle of structure and dynamics, with nothing else to be seen, unless one puts it there oneself.

In this vision, consciousness and the 'I' becomes the grandest mystery, because anything else can be explained. Anything else is without mystery. But not consciousness. Consciousness cannot be described, and, because they cannot describe it to one another, because they cannot share it, they cannot understand it, they cannot think of it, they cannot feel it as real. They think they are hallucinating things, they thing they are being trapped in a grand illusion, they think its all their fault, for having been deceived into all kinds of talks that don't make sense, and they try to make it anew, they try to disbelieve in everything, and try to find redemption in an aseptic view of the world, expurgated of all false belief, where the price for purity and truth is the lack of sense of the entire world.

For us it's so simple to see that this as more to do with language than with anything else. Can't they see their music?, we thought, what about paintings and cinema and opera? If feelings cannot be spoken about in language how and why do these forms of communication survive? If we don't see passion in Shakespeare or Tolstoy then what do we see? Descriptions of behaviours, minute descriptions of behaviours? Cognitive acts, speech acts, etc? At this point the typical terrar (specially if he is a philosopher) becomes confused and argues in disparate directions but the bottom end is that we can describe all these things in behavioural terms. 'Passion', they say, is just a name for a collection of behaviours, that could be described by any other word. The only way to know that a feeling is associated with it is by putting it there.

Of course, the terrars do not ever think that the reason why passion is just a collection of behaviours is because of their perceptual lacks. That they must change their brains in order to get the other's brain through. And only in that way can they 'see' passion, not only as a form of behaviour, but in all its powerful feeling, in the grand illusion that is not an illusion but a facet of the world impossible to be transmitted by a set of symbols.

You can see perhaps, by the amount of doubts, uncertainties, ambiguities, or even plain errors which apparently infect our report, how a terrar must feel when all the experience he has had of communicating with others has been of this kind. You can, and probably will, in just a few seconds, experience what we have experienced, and all your doubts will be dismissed, all the ambiguities will have elapsed by another more stronger and precise light. But suppose this text was all you'd ever have to go through! How would you manage? How would decide what is true and what is wrong about this text and our experiences. How would you know even that we were not simply making it up, that all this is a mere fake, another simple grand illusion? You couldn't, not for sure. All you could do would be simply to try to make your own reasonings and to get to your own conclusions, to fight with your own friends, to do it on your own way, with the arguments you have learned to trust. I'm sure most of you, even without having seen this world directly will agree with us, that, it is indeed a sad, sad life.