Make Believe

While there may be no god and no objective morality, we may act as if there were. Some of us find that we must.

Do I deny reality if I dream of a better world? Or, by contrast, do I create a better reality by dreaming of one. We are creators. However we arose, and whatever horrible sump we emerged from, we are a miracle. No less. However brutal and vile our past, our future can be different. If that is our desire. If we dream such a beautiful place into existence. We have that power.

My job is to dream and to write about my dreams. In my meditation, I may not solve the mystery of dark energy, nor plumb the singularity at the center of a black hole. And yet somehow I often feel a quiet comfort and certainty about reality. A conviction that perfection exists and is within our reach. That eternal peace, happiness and joy are somewhere not so very distant.

Do I dream of a technological singularity? A world where the infinite resources of a boundless universe create plenty for all. Where we merge our minds with those greater by far than our own. A world where the miraculous is commonplace and yet we never tire of the excitement and awe of the infinite.

Yes, I believe that I do so dream, and that I am right so to dream.

There are those who will say that such a supposed utopia will be dominated by the rapacious and villainous, but our dreams may make it otherwise. We have minds and we will create even better ones. We need not retread our brutal evolutionary path if we decide that it should not be so.

I like to drift in a twilight zone where I see dryads and talking naiads. Where a god, or something very like one, calls and tells me all is beauty and ugliness can be banished. Where children visit magical lands. Where moral absolutes are real and where good always triumphs over bad. Where cruelty is ended and a warm sun always shines. Where tyrants are toppled and hunger and disease are ended.

Will you tell me that I am wrong to dream such a dream? My mind is my reality and I choose, increasingly, to live in such a place. Where I hear the cry of a red kite circling above on the fresh breeze, and see a land unsullied by crude tarmac and the internal combustion engine. Where I hear plainsong rising from an ancient abbey by the sea and feel the peace of the monk’s herb garden as they pad around in their simple garb.

Perhaps in some distant future we will be able to re-create such places. Places which retain the beauties of the past but with the comforts of an infinitely advanced future. Where medicines and the comforts of modern living do not have to entail tower blocks and diesel fumes. Tyrants and torturers. Crooked politics and self interested business.

And if I were young would I join the search for the infinite mind? Where some see terror in artificial intelligence, I see the prospect of ecstasy and the eternal. If there is no god, why not become one. It does not seem so far fetched.

Alas no. Were I twenty years old I would probably become a contemplative. I would earn my daily bread as a postman in the Scottish islands perhaps, but set my mind free to wander. Or roam as a warden in some remote reserve, with only nature and simplicity as my companions. Or perhaps just live in a simple caravan somewhere remote and live on thin air and the cry of gulls over the sea.

Or do I belie a streak of ambition? Were I young again would I make amends for the follies of my past and search the far side of Big Bang. Or, more likely, look for the means to allow man to live in gradients of bliss. Yes, I think the latter.

Too late alas. The time to do is long past. I will content myself with my dreams and hope in some small way that my thoughts may find purchase in other minds and contribute to the search for omega.

7 Comments

  1. As an adult, I’ve come to realize how much Star Trek TNG affected me. Other things shaped a strain of utopian idealism in me, but that show played a major role.

    Star Trek was rarely didactic nor did it typically go into the details of politics, economics, etc. The imagined future it portrayed simply took for granted immense changes had taken place and many of our problems had become moot, no longer points of concern and conflict.

    In that world, it is simply assumed that social democracy is a right of all humans, that no one has to earn the basics of survival and betterment (food, shelter, healthcare, education, and much else). Some would say that’s not realistic, but maybe what is realistic is what we internalize in our imaginations, in our dreams.

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    1. How very glad I am that you mention Star Trek. In my later years my idealism came to be shaped by Iaian M Banks and the Culture, but my childhood was deeply and strongly shaped by the original Star Trek series. There was a wonderment in it, a magic and Kirk and Spok met god like (and devil like!) aliens and set the multiverse to rights. I suppose I must have been seven or eight and at a Dickensian prep school in Broadstairs at the time. Now I come to think of it I realise that those early programs helped shape my life. More is the pity that I ignored my early inclinations. What a wonderful world we could make!

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      1. Actually, I too watched Star Trek OT in my childhood. I was born in 1975 and so caught that earlier era of television with lots of reruns. But TNG ran from my late childhood through my high school senior year. DS9 then came on in the last two years of high school and extended into my early 20s, thus finishing out the 1990s before the truly dark times began.

        TNG stands out the most, though, maybe because I would sometimes watch it with my father. He is a conservative, but the Cold War era optimism of the show resonated with him. By the way, I’m Iowan and so is Captain Kirk. He’ll be born in a town a short distance from here. My coworker lives there and I visit every now and then, especially for Trek Fest.

        It should be noted that before the bright and shiny future comes to fruition we will pass through near global apocalypse, according to Star Trek future history. We are supposed to be seeing economic hard times about now, followed by the formation of sanctuary districts and a few years will happen the Bell Riots. The world will never be the same.

        Then again, Star Trek had a sometimes loose relationship to time and space. There was always the possibility of the past and future being changed, not to mention parallel universes. We can’t be certain which future will be ours, maybe not until we imagine it into existence. More than anything, Star Trek offered a vision of possibility. That is the takeaway message.

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  2. The world does feel very apocalyptic doesn’t it? Global warming, a wrecked ecology, maniacs at the helm with fingers poised on nuclear buttons, tech titan greed gone ballistic and yet still billions living below the breadline.

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