It's not about the complexity of the shadows, it's all about the simplicity of the message.
(81 easy steps)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Monster

Wandering through the darkest night, knowing there's nothing left to do. It's impossible to see anything, but we all know there's something terrible and frightening—at least we can imagine so. It will come to an end, it always does; the sun always rises, even in the darkest nights, but the idea of a rising sun alone doesn't help much in a frightening, irrational night.
If you've ever been afraid, it is because of a monster; the world is full of them. Some of them are imaginary and some others are real, some of them small, some others big. What makes monsters frightful creatures is mainly the idea of the harm they can inflict on us. When uncertainty asks us gently to remain fixed, there's a monster waiting to see if we dare to move.
Every time someone tries to enter to any unknown field, she should know she'll face a monster. It is possible to flee or to face the monster—he won't move either way. Even so, there's a small chance to become the monster's friend, to get to know him, and to realize that, no matter how frightening his intentions or his appearance might be, monsters are reasonable creatures, as they're always human creations.
The biggest monster in this world is this world itself. If you ever face it, do whatever you feel like, it will probably eat you alive, anyway. What do people do once they're inside? Most become monsters.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

El quebranto de la voluntad

Si la fuerza de gravedad hace que las cosas caigan y, a veces, se rompan, la fuerza de voluntad hace lo propio con las ideas —cuando desaparece—. Ocurre en un instante. Un salto, un precipicio, un lugar sin retorno (como los recuerdos). Lo más importante no es el golpe posterior al salto —el contacto con el fondo del precipicio—, lo que más se disfruta es el tiempo que dura la suspensión en el aire, pues ésta no permite pensar en lo que pueda pasar después.
Sucede al tomar una decisión que disuelve una previa, que la contradice con acciones. Y es que, cuando las decisiones se trazan en un plano temporal demasiado amplio, cualquier momento de debilidad puede decirnos (más bien para justificar su injustificable presencia): "ni que vivieras tanto". La sensación, en el momento, es una de alivio; sentirse "libre" ante las ataduras autoimpuestas.
Pero, si la libertad implica una idea de autonomía e independencia, ¿es posible liberarse de uno mismo? ¿Por qué alguien habría de imponerse algo que lo mantuviera atado a sus propias debilidades? Es posible liberarse del pasado, pero solamente de manera parcial; liberarse de lo que uno era y ya no es, de lo que uno hacía y ya no hace, de lo que uno pensaba y ya no piensa; liberarse, sobre todo, de lo que uno recordaba y ya no recuerda. Las debilidades a las que nos atamos sirven para desarrollar la fuerza necesaria para cortar otras ataduras. La fuerza que desarrollamos sirve para encontrar la libertad necesaria para quebrar la voluntad.
Para quebrar algo, sin embargo, es necesario construirlo primero. El término fuerza de voluntad se refiere a una capacidad individual para mantener la congruencia, para hacer eso que supuestamente conviene más, para construir un ideal de bienestar y perseguirlo. Aun así, cualquier persona que haya sentido cómo se quiebra, el momento exacto en el que una decisión pasada se disuelve en la memoria y se justifica con cualquier idea que permita disfrutar —aunque sea temporalmente— sus restos inservibles y el tiempo que duró ("ni que vivieras tanto"), sabe que el quebranto de la voluntad es un imán que atrae.
Es imposible saber lo que ocurrirá en el futuro. Es precisamente esa incertidumbre la permite que la debilidad sea, en ocasiones, más fuerte que la voluntad. Al final de cuentas, es sólo una decisión mal tomada; siempre hay tiempo para que la voluntad se quiebre, para que la suspensión bien haya valido el dolor, para saborear la desgracia de liberarse de la propia libertad.
Ni que viviéramos tanto.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The world sketch

If we were born captive we wouldn't know what's freedom, but we wouldn't know what's captivity either. Then someone or something—whether purposively or by chance—opens the door. We find someone doing something we can't; we see something we don't have; we find ourselves in an unknown place doing things we didn't know we could do. If you, reader, were allowed to take a slight glimpse to a world unseen, would you feel free, or captive?
When things start happening for a long time, repeating over and over again, they tend to form a symmetrical pattern. It is just when the ordered balance breaks that awareness occurs.
The way I see it, it is all about interpretations and perspectives. Everybody in this world has a particular perspective, a mental world sketch, so to call it. There are several ways of giving life—which makes this world, as we know it, a possible place, and not the other way round—a meaning. Some try to understand the world, some others just invent it, but it all comes down to entertainment, to the transient suspension that lets us think outside our heads and breathe happily.
I always come up with this entertaining question when I'm trying to invent my world: do we really need to understand it? Everybody does, but no one does; we can only interpret it as it comes, adding or removing factors to the equation given to us through our senses. The truth is that, after all, whether through a scientific or through an artistic outlook, the world can only be sketched.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

La idea

La idea que no viaja y se queda en la cabeza decide que es hora de observar los cambios que su ausencia ha producido (no sabe que la ausencia de ideas no produce ningún cambio). No es que se sienta tan importante, pero siempre le aseguraron que su presencia cambiaría el mundo.
No sabe, sin embargo, que el mundo ya ha cambiado, pues nunca se atrevió a salir. Una idea que no conoce el mundo. Una idea solitaria, pero poderosa, como muchas otras, decide quedarse guardada para un momento mejor, pero el momento nunca llega. Ahora se ha hace vieja, ahora tiene más miedo y, si bien todavía podría salir a probar suerte, hay muchas otras ideas más frescas que pueden surtir mayor efecto que ella (la idea de la comparación que molesta a todas las demás ideas).
El mundo es un lugar en constante cambio, y no siempre son las mejores ideas las que permanecen; a veces, en épocas de crisis, son sólo las ideas que se atreven a salir a probar suerte las que se quedan.
En el cementerio de ideas están las mejores ideas del mundo que nunca vieron la luz. Ahora ya no pueden arrepentirse de todo lo que pudieron hacer y no hicieron. Hay algunas que todavía no mueren, pero esperan con calma, enclaustradas, a que llegue el momento en que el mundo que no deja de cambiar cambie lo suficiente como para ya no poder salir.
Muchas ideas tienen miedo a salir, pues necesitan un hecho con el que puedan cristalizarse. Es ésa la naturaleza del proceso creativo: una idea encuentra a su hecho ideal (tan románticas, las ideas), un hecho encuentra a su idea fáctica (tan duros, los hechos), y ambos, con suerte, se cristalizan.
A la larga, el hecho con el que la idea decide cristalizarse se comporta cada vez más distante, pero la idea crece en el proceso. Con el tiempo, la idea a la que el hecho decidió cristalizar cambia, siempre en busca de algo mejor, pero el hecho también crece en el proceso.
Una idea nace y decide salir al mundo a probar suerte, que ya encontrará un hecho con el que pueda cristalizarse. Y, si no, morirá, pero de cualquier forma iba a morir encerrada, de manera que por qué no morir afuera, en el intento; por qué no salir a conocer el mundo.
La idea que no viaja y se queda en la cabeza decide que es hora de viajar de cabeza en cabeza. Sólo así sabrá si es una buena idea, sólo así sabrá qué tan difícil es el mundo que le prometieron cambiar. La verdad, ahora lo sabe, es que cualquier idea que se atreva a salir cambia el mundo, aunque sea un poquito. El cambio de lo desconocido que se vuelve conocido, como una idea que decide salir de la cabeza.
Una idea que sale, ya sin miedo. Su destino es hablarle a las ideas de los demás, aunque no las conoce. Es una buena idea.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The shrimp bucket

I once saw a lot of shrimps swimming inside a big, artificial pond. Their destiny was to reproduce and, once their sexual peak were over, get eaten by humans. Of course they didn't know they were born inside a big, artificial pond. Of course they didn't know their destiny was to reproduce. Of course they didn't know that, once their sexual peak were over, they would get eaten by humans. Moreover, as far as science is concerned, shrimps don't know shit; they don't even know they're shrimps; they don't know where they come from and where they go. They're just shrimps; they just swim, reproduce, and get eaten, but they don't ever wonder about anything.
Only humans wonder, only humans have consciousness, and only humans are aware of the fatal destiny of shrimps. Popular science is that basic; it tells us what to believe and why to believe it, it tells us even further that people who don't care much about science are ignorant. But even the most ignorant fellows have more whys than science's becauses. That's what makes science an infinite activity: every because gives birth to lots of new whys; that's what makes them ignorant: only scientists are allowed to question science within its knowledge boundaries; that's what makes shrimps so stupid (and delicious): science is a human activity. (Have you, reader, ever realized that the more human-like behaviors an animal can do, the more "intelligent" it is?)
Are shrimps aware of humanity? Science would say "no—and stop asking metaphysical questions, please." We could have been born inside a big, artificial pond, just like shrimps. Our destiny could be to reproduce and, once our peak was over, get eaten by eternity. But we don't know eternity, just like shrimps don't know humanity.
Is there something else out there we'll never be aware of? I really don't know, as I already spent science's last metaphysical answer. The good (or bad) thing is that even if the "reality" we live in is artificial, from the point we're standing, we wouldn't be able to tell the difference between this and the natural one. We're just like shrimps—only less stupid.

Monday, June 15, 2009

La burla

Messi controla el balón con la pierna izquierda. Nadie se lo quita; no es que no quieran (lo intentan), es sólo que no pueden (lo intentan).
Cuando Messi conduce el balón se va burlando de sus rivales, de uno en uno, a veces; de dos en dos, a veces; de mil en mil, a veces.
Messi se burla porque ridiculiza la labor de sus rivales (con todo y sus espectadores). Eso es una burla: ridiculizar una labor o una acción, hacer evidente su inutilidad.
(Messi, ese Messi que se retirará cuando su habilidad se convierta en una burla para su propia memoria.)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beyond reinforcement

Assuming the world we live in has a natural order and that we take part in that order (assuming we're natural), It might not be clear exactly why I'm writing this, but there's probably a "cause." It would be weird to say that the cause of my writing this is what will happen afterward. When trying to explain why people do what they do, feel what they feel, and think what they think, it's hard to find causes, mostly because human beings sometimes seem pretty random—specially when we talk about lots of people. We're usually told that causes happen before effects, but then we reinforce the idea that behavior can be caused by its consequences.
Natural science has to do more with useful, logical explanations than with accurate, illustrating descriptions. It's not that science doesn't care about descriptions at all, ultimately, every explanation comes from a description, but scientific behavior is all about questioning every single description nature offers us through our senses. Descriptions are always valid, while explanations become void and change, all the time, with every new discovery. The moon, for instance, will always be a beautiful, silvery circle that illuminates the sky at night. The moon, nevertheless, was once made of cheese by some god, but now it is made of hard rock by some chance. Good descriptions—unlike my moon description—last forever; great explanations are, at their best, as temporary as my own life.
Describing what people do, feel, or think isn't always easy, but it surely is easier than explaining why such things happen. As we believe that in nature ordered things have knowable causes, we give order to our existence by believing that we are natural as well, and so we—and the things that we do, feel, and think—must have knowable causes also. We see other animals, we state the causes of what they do based on their own survival, and we believe that if some environmental event helps them surviving (or makes their survival happier, in our case) the animal will repeat what led to that event. Then we need a bigger explanation and we put everything we know about human behavior (and feelings and thoughts) inside the brain. But the brain isn't the end of the story. Sometimes random stuff happens in the environment and we do, feel, or think random stuff, believing that our insides have some connection with the things that happen outside.
When it comes to psychological science, it goes far beyond that; far beyond behavioral consequences and causes, far beyond behavior itself. It goes far beyond the brain, far beyond the social environment through which we can know other people's brain and imagine, through a mirror, that we have one of our own. It has to do more with scientists' behavior, with their lives, with their problems, with their solutions, with their ability to make people believe. They talk about their lifetime experience in a theoretical fashion so everything that has ever happened to them can be used to explain everything that will ever happen to everyone, but it hardly does.
We'll find more causes in places where we haven't searched yet, and we'll behave, feel, and think accordingly. But only descriptions will remain effective; descriptions of a rat pressing a lever, of a monkey "learning to speak" through a human invention (that makes our survival happier), descriptions of the brain, descriptions of how great we are. I can't quite explain it yet—and probably never will—, but descriptions about us, about what we do, what we think, or how we feel, are the only thing that reinforce our explanations—even before they happen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sólo solo


Sólo solo me permito pensar en lo que pienso, de otra forma sólo lo veo. Me gusta hablar de lo que creo que le pasa a mucha gente, pero sólo solo me creo; sé que lo hacen, cada quien por su cuenta; nunca les pregunto, sólo me lo quedo.
Tengo que ver a los demás y decir: "a todos les pasa eso", "a todos les pasa aquello", "algunos piensan así", "muchos dicen esto"; pero sólo solo lo siento, sólo al recordar (poco recuerdo).
Me gusta verlos sin que me vean, creer que está en la soledad la respuesta más auténtica. No sólo cuando estoy solo me hablo: me hablo todo el tiempo. Digo lo que muchos dicen, sin cambiar el sentido del todo; sólo los demás saben qué nombro, sólo solo me miento.
¿Qué pasaría si digo que no soy yo, que siempre has sido tú, en el fondo? Sólo solo te veo, sólo solo me hablas, sólo solo, cuando estás conmigo, me quedo despierto.
Cuando por fin me encuentro afuera, sin miedo, sólo yo, mientras no escribo, voy por el mundo flotando. Sólo solo regreso, solamente cuando estoy solo divago (ya adentro, ya si no salgo). Sólo entonces escucho, sólo entonces lo entiendo.
Y es que a mí la soledad siempre me sorprende acompañado de mis recuerdos, que son pocos. (Sólo a veces, sólo si quiero.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cooperation

Sometimes very bad things happen and people act together. Cooperation is a lot like self-control in an interpersonal way. If self-control is about "punishing" your current self for the sake of your future self, then cooperation is about "punishing" your own interest for the sake of other people's interests—which might become yours sometime in the future.
In a place where everybody cooperates, people share interests and goals; in a place where nobody cooperates, people fight against each other pursuing individual goals and interests. Everywhere in the world there are people struggling for common interests against selfishness and there are people taking advantage of some altruist fellows. But cooperation isn't just something that can be imposed over people; that's why very bad things need to happen before people start acting together.
The bad thing is that bad things are not the same for everybody, although there are some natural disasters, for instance, with which most of us would agree to say that "a very bad thing has happened." Still, there are bad things that affect most of us and not everybody calls them "bad." A very bad thing, then, needs not only to affect a lot of people, but also to emerge suddenly. Most of humanity's worst problems are everything but sudden, so not everybody cares.
Selfishness, for some, is a very bad thing, but it happens. Altruism, on the other hand, is a very good thing, specially for selfish individuals, and it also happens.
Cooperation is the art of finding common interests even among selfish individuals—an art for which altruists can do a lot. That's how cooperation isn't something that needs to be imposed; it is more like self-control—an intention that needs to be put into practice so its results can become evident.
As long as there be humans in the world—that is, for us, always—bad things will keep on happening. We are, nevertheless, capable of making a decision as to if it is really necessary for a sudden, very bad thing to happen before we find common interests, or if we can set as our common interest to cooperate with others. Even if it somehow feels like a punishment now, our future selves will feel rewarded.