A long time ago I proposed “what exactly is reality?” as a question I would later answer. More recently I wrote on the same topic “I don’t know [...] I also don’t really care.” That was obviously not quite true, as here I am writing about it again. I think what was true was that I'm okay with not having a way to fully define reality. And I’m not only okay with the ambiguity of possibly being totally wrong about everything; I think it’s a good thing.

I remember reading a long time ago a quote by Einstein “The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.” and later hearing about what I think was probably the Dunning–Kruger effect, an actual cognitive confirmation of what Einstein said. Ignorance really does breed overconfidence while knowledge grows understanding of how ignorant we really are. What we value isn’t just knowing a lot in general, but specifically knowing enough to poke at the edges of what we don’t know.

There’s something uncomfortable about recognizing that the part we don’t know just seems bigger and bigger the more we learn about it. But I think the alternative, the idea that we could figure it all out and just be done learning about the universe, sounds even worse. Maybe it’s just the perspective of what I know now, but it’s hard to imagine knowing everything without everything feeling really small and boring.

Once I start from the assumption that reality is undefinable and stop struggling against that idea, reality actually gains some definition, not as a resolvable thing, but rather as the process for improving resolution. I’d been thinking about reality as a thing to see better, but reality is more like the "enhance" thing they do on TV shows, only not totally ridiculous. It’s the process of seeing better.

So taking that back to the idea that one’s ideas should be not only internally consistent, but also consistent with external reality, I think all I really mean by that is that being internally consistent can’t come at the expense of being open to new ideas. That doesn’t mean all new ideas are equal, because new ideas can be evaluated on how they open up even more new ideas. Bad ideas shut down thought. Good ideas expand it. And expanding ideas includes maintaining a good amount of existing ideas, which conveniently rejects the whole "everything we know is a dream" flavor of nihilism. That seems like a pretty good rubric for approaching ideas. I’m looking forward to applying it more specifically in future posts to see how coherent my thinking really is.

 

That was in response to “I don't write much anymore”, which describes a feeling I relate to, but which doesn’t entirely explain my own lack of writing. And after trying to explain another part of why I don’t write, I realized it’s pretty easy to deal with. I’ll just give you a quick recap and then you’ll know everything about me. Or at least close enough that I can write again without feeling like you have no idea who the author is.

So let’s see… I just adopted a kid. Really just, about a week ago. That’s new. And my job title is now Vice President. That’s different. And what else? I stopped writing music for a while, but then I got a piano and now I’m slowly getting back into music. But maybe not with the kid? Who knows.

I stopped caring much about electoral politics, I think mostly because politicians generally reward caring by asking for more money and I don’t like to think about how much money has broken democracy. I guess I’m generally a little less certain about stuff.

Over the last few years, I’ve thought several times about a post I once wrote about trying to stay true to reality, which I ended with a question about how we know what is real, and a promise to return to that. I thought at the time I might invest a little time into thinking about that and come up with a good answer, but I still don’t know.

There’s something about getting multiple perspectives to fill in missing holes in reality, but how do we know which perspectives are right and which are wrong? I don’t know. That hasn’t really changed; I never knew. But now, I also don’t really care. If the people I’ve chosen to trust are all wrong and I’m living in a manufactured reality that is internally consistent but still wrong — actually, not even if. That’s almost certainly the case, and I’m okay with that.

Um, what else? I started buying and selling stocks and it turns out I’m pretty good at that. Mostly Apple, but others too. I’ve played a bit with iOS app development. I realized at a concert that I can no longer sit “indian-style”, which I just now realized is a potentially offensive term. I’ll have to look that up.

I realized recently that I can’t actually read all the blogs I’m subscribed to, but don’t really have a solution to that, meaning I still want to be a person who reads them all. Oh, I now help run groups.drupal.org, which combined with my Vice President title at a well-known Drupal-using company gives me a weird sort of authority in the Drupal community, where I still feel like an outsider.

That’s maybe enough for now. Basically I’m older and dumber. Maybe I’ll write more now. But I’m not making any promises. Because I don’t know.

Update: Ha, my blog still does XHTML validation. I totally forgot caring about that; I guess that’s another thing that changed. Took me longer to validate the markup on this post than it did to write it. Maybe I’ll turn off the validation before I write more.