QUASI-PHILOSOPHICAL NONSENSE: Is Our Universe Real?

thinking man rodinIs our universe real?

Reality is a funny contraption. One day you can be sure you left your keys on the side, and then the next, they appear in your hand or under the sink. How did they get there? With this question I’ve struggled for centuries… in the figurative sense, bien sur.

Returning to our current dilemma – our universe and it’s debatable quality of “reality” – we should look to the ancient Greeks and study their musings on fact vs. fiction. Plato said that the only thing you can know for sure is that the sun will rise in the morning. But in some parts of the world, the sun rises in the late afternoon. Does this mean that Plato was wrong?

No. You must look between, and to the side of, and perhaps under, the lines. Plato was suggesting that as the sun rises, so must we. We must rise each day and shine our light of knowledge upon the world. Only then will we solve climate change.

Bringing this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion: as we rise, so must the universe. The universe must and will rise each day, like a phoenix from ash, and, like ashes, there is no contestable debate that it is not REAL.

Have you ever heard anyone question the reality of the remains of a smoldering campfire? Ashes have a taste, a touch, a smell. These are qualities which are only bestowed upon those who dwell in the land of reality. Sure, they are envied by the neighbouring province of virtuality, while the great sea of non-reality is ready to greedily engulf those who dare set sail on its unsteady waters, but in reality the universe has made its home, and in reality it shall stay. Thus concludes this lesson.

QUASI-PHILOSOPHICAL NONSENSE: Do We Have Free Will?

thinking man rodinDo we have free will?

This question, ah this question.

I have plumbed the murky depths of philosophy for a straight-forward answer to this question, and none have satisfied my intense thirst for logical cohesion.

But, forgive philosophy I must, else how does one go on living? To forgive is to create a brave new relationship with an object or a person. Philosophy and I now live together in symbiotic harmony, and, though she sometimes evokes my anger with her agonising ignorance, we are at peace.

Just last week we were wed. Our honeymoon seems like many moons ago, but I remember it like it was only one or two moons ago. We sat beneath the blinking stars in the outskirts of the Appalachian mountains, sharing fine wine and memories long into the night.

Today we have two children: Truth and Knowledge. It seems like only yesterday that they supped at the teet of their gently cooing mother. I held her hand, and squeezed it, hard, as if to say ‘I’m here for you’ in a non-verbal manner. Her facial reaction gave me all the evidence I needed to validate the theory of free will. And thence, have ye your answer.

Asia Travels Pt.5 “Five Months of Silence and an Obligatory Smiley Face”

I sent this email 5 months after the last one, when I’d been back in the UK for a few months. Check the other posts for context…


In case you were still wondering, 5 months later, it was a bit melo.

So, where the cuff have I been you may be wondering? Well, I’d put all this pressure on myself to finish this silly story that it was no longer fun. Here’s a clinical summary of what happened next in case you were genuinely interested:

I proceeded to have a shitty two weeks in Thailand before throwing in the (damp) towel and buying the ticket out of there to somewhere with saner weather.

The hot humid weather, lack of english-speaking people, and my tendency towards hypochondria compounded together to give me a fortnight-long barrage of anxiety attacks.

Once I started speaking to people about it, I realised that it was a thing: hot humid weather causes anxiety, panic, confusion, dizziness, light-headedness etc. I didn’t know this beforehand and not knowing what was going on made it much much worse. People from countries like England should have some kind of compulsory ‘hot humid weather’ training before going to places like Thailand. 😛 (had to add that smiley face to keep in tone with the rest of this newsletter (offbeat non-humour, sarcasm and self-deprecation)).

(This video resonated with me, in that it explores the tragic journey from innocence to experience, a journey I undertook in my visit to Thailand.)

Asia Travels Pt. 4 “Hot Feet Causes Cold Feet After Attempting to Find Said Feet at a Phuket Market”

The following is a series of emails I sent to friends and families as I was travelling through Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan in early 2017.


I got the taxi obviously.

The drive went well. I was drinking my water, (semi) inside, in (semi) air-con. Maybe it’ll all be (semi) ok?

After I arrived I went to get some food from a nearby market. That’s when I really started feeling weird.

The heat seemed to clog up my lungs and my brain went fuzzy. I was dizzy, light-headed, nauseous and flanked on all sides by fish heads and chicken feet.

Needless to say I started to lose my appetite.

Panicking silently, I turned around and made my back to the hotel, resisting the urge to grab the nearest western-looking person and scream “HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE SUNSTROKE COS I FEEL REALLY HOT AND A BIT SICK BUT I’VE BARELY BEEN IN THE SUN AND ONLY BEEN OUTSIDE FOR A COUPLE HOURS…” etc.

I tried reasoning with myself.

‘You don’t have sunstroke…you’ve only been in the sun for about 10 minutes… don’t be so melodramatic.’

Little did I know this melodrama wasn’t so “melo” after all… or was it? (Love these cheesy cliffhanger lines)

Bertie

(I think I’m justified in putting this Withnail & I scene in here. I wrote “chicken” didn’t I?)

Asia Travels Pt. 3 “Squeezy Peanut Butter and a Plethora of Showers”

The following is a series of emails I sent to friends and families as I was travelling through Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan in early 2017.


Day 2 in Phuket.

I awoke, showered and broke my fast on the strange pseudo-western food at the hostel (including very small toast and peanut butter from what looks like a recycled mustard bottle).

After spending a couple of hours sorting out some things at an internet cafe across the road (air conditioning absent, poor quality fans present), I’d already started to feel the effects of the heat. The world started closing in and I swayed a little on my way back to the hostel.

Even though I’d already checked out I asked if I could splash some water on my face using the sink in the dorm room. I stuck my head under the tap and jammed it on full blast, glad that no one was there to judge as about a quarter of the water landed neither in the sink nor on my person.

After I felt sufficiently drenched, I went downstairs and spoke to the staff members about getting to Rawai beach, the area where the MMA camp was situated.

Decision time.

The non-AC, terrifically slow local bus for a few bob, or the AC, fast and direct taxi for lots of bob?

What do you think I went for?

Bertie

P.S. Here’s a photo that I think sums up the experience quite nicely:

QUASI-PHILOSOPHICAL NONSENSE: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

thinking man rodin

Why is there something rather than nothing?

Nothing is easy – like sleeping in on a Sunday when you’re hungover. But if the universe is sleeping in, why has it decided to be something instead of expiring under its duvet?

Something is like an ice cream on a summers day. Sweet, yet sour. Fattening, each dollop of cold creamy fatness fills up one’s arteries until the pores leak and the excretions mingle with the hot sweat evoked by the blistering heat of the sun.

How did we get this way? Would we rather go back?

There was no vote to be something rather than nothing. Nobody asked me anyway

The answer is simple really: nothing is something. but something is not nothing. and hence, we are something, even though we are also nothing. So it was a stupid question to begin with.

Asia Travels Pt. 2 “I Land in Thailand”

The following is a series of emails I sent to friends and families as I was travelling through Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan in early 2017.


The story continues…

The first night wasn’t too bad. I have few problems getting from my airport to the hostel. Well…it could have been smoother.

The hostel instructed me to call them once I was outside the airport, and then they’d pick me up. Seemed simple enough.

However there were 2 hiccups in this plan:

1) I didn’t have a SIM card.

2) For reasons I may get into in another email, I only have the following phone:
Image result for samsung e110

Needless to say, it doesn’t have wifi, let alone Whatsapp.

And so I arrive at Phuket and make my way outside, searching for SIM card shops on the way. I end up outside, SIM-less, and I start sweating. Not just because of the heat and humidity (which was palpable even though it was about 10pm), but because I didn’t want to sleep outside Phuket airport.

Fortunately, there was a little Thai man squatting outside the airport with a smartphone in his hands. I asked if he’d be so kind as to let me borrow it for a call. He seemed to oblige. I’m saved!

I showed him the number and he typed it in. Then he did something I didn’t expect. He put the phone to his ear.

How to convey in sign language the sentence “It’s my phone call not yours?”

I wasn’t sure who he was expecting to speak to or what they might say. Luckily I made enough “Can I speak?” gestures that he passed it over – though not before getting a few words in. I’d love to know what he said.

Luckily the hostel didn’t hang up and block his number, and I managed to get a ride. Thank you to the strange Thai man for that.

After checking in, shedding my clothes, showering, an attempt at sleep, shedding more clothes and a duvet, and showering again, I fell peacefully to sleep.

If only it’d been as easy the rest of the week.

Bertie

P.S. Here’s a poorly-taken photograph of a water buffalo in Hong Kong

bad photo water buffalo hong kong

Asia Travels Pt. 1 “So Long Hong Kong”

The following is a series of emails I sent to friends and family as I was travelling through Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan in early 2017.


Hello all,

 

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve decided to take a gap year and go travelling across Asia. “But you’re not studying and barely working, so what’s this a gap year from?”, you may ask. “My gap life” I may reply.

 

I thought I’d put my travelling updates into an email as whenever I try to start a blog I get overwhelmed by the amount of options and end up spending so long on design, layout, name etc.that I can’t be arsed to write anything at the end of it.

 

You don’t have to read or reply to this long, long email. Some people might want to read it all (hi mum), but mostly it’s just a digital copy of my journal.

 

 

Hong Kong is a beautiful, and ugly, place. I’ve not been in many places where objects of those two categories are in such close vicinity and so sharply contrasted. Crumbling, plumbing-impaired skyscrapers erupt from luscious green canopies. Mountains, jungle and endless sea, peppered with towering rectangles – all this rolls by as you stare out the window of a sterile and drab commuter subway train.

 

I love it.

 

I’m always searching for somewhere with the perfect blend of city and nature. In Hong Kong, for perhaps the first time, I’ve even found myself appreciating, and being in awe of, skyscrapers, those buildings I would have once deemed an eyesore and in need of swift demolition. I’m not sure exactly what it is, because I don’t think the skyscrapers in HK are very different in size from those of London or NYC, but maybe what struck me about these skyscrapers is their unexpectedness. They can be seen next to one story buildings, or no buildings at all, or even the sea. When they’re not clustered together you get a true sense of proportion, and you realise how unnaturally, and impressively, large they really are. It’s quite a head trip.

 

I was peaceful and content just seeing the sights and soaking up the culture. It satisfied my cravings for raw untamed nature, fresh mountain air, as well as the thriving, throbbing, goings-on of a city.

 

For about three weeks. Then I felt the itch to start moving, start working on something, building something. And so, after my typical routine of umm-ing and aww-ing over every single detail of a decision, I booked some flights to Phuket, Thailand, planning to sign up to Tiger Muay Thai, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) camp.

 

An MMA camp is a very special place where you are beaten up for up to 8 hours a day, sleep, and then repeat for 6 days a week. In the blistering, air-so-humid-you-could-cut-it-like-Dairylea heat of south Thailand.

 

I could not have predicted the total nightmare I was about to put myself through. And I didn’t even make it to the camp.

 

Stay tuned to find out more! (Bored of writing for today…)(it turns out good don’t worry.)

 

Bertie

 

For reading everything you win… my favourite song of the trip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4t5R3fTbD0

Finding somewhere to eat in Japan as a neurotic

Oh great I’m hungry again. Time to suffer immensely over an everyday decision most people make with total ease.

Healthy or tasty? I don’t care what any veggie/paleo/whatever person says , healthiness and tastiness are impossible to locate in the same meal.

New dish or old? What if the latter is healthy and the former tasty? Well, I know what answer my sweet (and salty) tooth wants me to give to that (no shits given).

But I’m tired of my post-munch bloating, regret and lethargy. And I don’t want to give my hypochondria any solid evidence for its allegations. It’s making a big enough fuss as it is.

I want a self-service machine because I don’t want anyone to look at and/or talk to me.

This place is too bright. I need a dark corner to hide in.

It’s too commercial. I don’t want a big chain store. I want a restaurant owned by the same family for the last 200 years. Ideally with the same prices.

Fuck it, give me some 7–11 sushi.

Also on Medium! Read it again with a better UI!