December 11, 2008

Experiments in living

Richard Feynman uses chess to explain how the rules of nature are uncovered.

The above is how we must live with our own needs and natures. The workings are hidden, but we can perform experiments in living.

This is coming at the game from one one angle, but approaches radiate from each object. Another attempt is to simplify the problem and take things down iteratively - what sits behind this and what sits behind that.

In some ways, all computer games can be reduced to the classics: Pong, Spaceman, PacMan, Donkey Kong and so on. Hitting, shooting, dodging, jumping. The reason why the truly classic table games [go, chess, cards and so on] have not changed for a long time, is that ever flashier pieces would add little to the experience. In its day, Pong was as fun as GTA IV.

For example, why do we want money? To buy things, to feel secure, happy, powerful and so on. Whatever, keep asking why and work from there, and perhaps you'll get some more direct route to your goal

For example. I used to day dream about being a writer, but as much of the dream was the lifestyle as the act of sitting down and typing for a few hours each day - which anyone can get, any time. Just sit down and type, and you have that part down pat.

I've used the quote below before. It's one of my favorites, as if you switch the boy to girl then it's pretty much exactly how envisioned my future as a teenager:
As a child I wanted to be a writer because writers were rich and famous, they lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in a yellow pongee silk suit. They sniffed cocaine in Mayfair and they penetrated forbidden swamps with a faithful native boy and lived in the native quarter of Tangier smoking hashish and languidly caressing a pet gazelle.
William S Burroughs
Was the writing really important? I think so. And the desire for simplicity and to get at root causes works only so far, so often, and it's probably best not to press the case beyond when it feels strained. We eat for nourishment, and in theory taking shots or pills to get the same results would achieve the same ends, but at the expense of everything we enjoy about the process. So the guiding principle isn't only simplicity, but whether it feels right at the time and works over the long term.

Some extreme examples. Drinking heavily and eating to excess feel right at the time but don't work over the long term. Taking pills and shots instead of real food works over the long term but feels wrong. This is not a static process, but one of self-experimentation, observation and change.

Howard Bloom reaching a peak in a classic clip, although if you watch the longer version you'll see he's nearly always like this.

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