Sunday, February 29, 2004

I woke up late last night in a state of panic, unnerved at the implications of the "nested simulation" cosmology mentioned a few posts back. Although I was exhausted, my mind was functioning lucidly enough. But the protective veil offered by daylight had been peeled away, and I seemed immersed in remote blackness . . . trapped within numberless Chinese boxes.

If we're living in a simulation -- or I am (for all I know solipsism may have the last laugh) -- then what good are efforts to reach the "next level"? No matter how hard one tries, one is still condemned to the computational substrate that houses his or her particular tier on the cosmic shelf; my own sense of confinement was almost visceral, governed by the recursive grammar of bad dreams.

My attempts at insight, my nagging desire to transcend merely human perception -- whether couched in quantum physics, neuroscience or arcane philosophy -- seemed (and still seem) flimsy and ineffectual. The abyss wasn't merely staring back at me; it was leering into my face, so close I could feel its breath . . .

Ranks of aquaria in some dim multiverse-girdling warehouse, each astir with the thrashing of eyeless fish.