I wonder how many times the lines ‘It’s been a while since I have posted’, or something to the same effect. Well, it’s been a while for me. A move to a new area, a new job, learning to drive and reading a book by Daniel C Dennett are all things that have happened or are happening since I was last on here. So lots has happened whilst lots of cuppas have been brewing. Not least conversations with the loquacious guy at work who could start a blog called: ‘Whilst the tea gets cold.”
The new job and the move are patently are necessarily connected. So now I have what to all intents and purposes is a nine to five job, I qualify this because I work flexi time. Eight hours (on average) a day tapping on a clunky keyboard with letters missing surrounded by two monitors, angled for surround vision, leaves me unmotivated and not willing to switch the laptop on when I get home. There, that’s my excuse for not writing much set out. I did however write a piece for the employer’s magazine. It was dutifully balanced but not without criticism of the organisation, when I submitted it. The editorial process expunged the article of a carefully crafted extended metaphor that added spice and interest it. Instead it was rendered a bland falsely sanguine bore, much like all of what they publish. I knew it would end up like this but you have to try, try to be honest.
I also now drive, do writers drive? Not that I’m a writer but if I want to be one do I have sacrifice the car? Perhaps if I no longer have to drive to get to work, for instance when I have re-allocated those eight hours a day to my own projects rather than The Man’s whilst atop a canal boat in the mild, yet murky British Summer, then I can forget the car.
So, on to Dennett. After a pleasant hiatus from philosophy I have the dread that my mind is degrading. I read some essays on Hegel, printed off the entry on Fichte from Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy and bought Intuition Pumps by Daniel C Dennett. Of these I have had greater success with Dennett, perhaps because the target audience at whom it is pitched is somewhat lower brow.
In this book he is clear, concise and rational, he makes it hard to think of counter arguments against his ideas by moving quickly through topics asking the reader to accept what he says with the promise that it will be scrutinised in greater depth further on. Benefit of the doubt goes to Dennett right now because I have not finished the book. I haven’t completed reading Intuition Pumps yet because it is more than just a read, it’s a text book, providing exercises to carry out and thought experiments to set your mind to. So far I have spent hours with match sticks spread out on my dining table (don’t be disillusioned it is but 4ft by 2ft in size) in order to create basic programs for basic register machines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Register_machine) (http://sites.tufts.edu/rodrego/).
I have also been turning the knobs, as Dennett calls it, on some of his thought experiments – aka intuition pumps. This is fascinating and a good scenario for science fiction stories. All that is needed is a character to insert into the world described by the intuition pump (in accordance with my university science fiction lecturer Matthew De Abaitua’s post-it powered story generator*), and as if by magic a thought stimulating story. My only concerns would be plagiarism of the thought experiment, but so long as it acknowledged and then developed (knobs turned, consequences created and characters inserted), and falling into well trodden clichés. However, I think I may give it go and I have one started but not yet ready to display to the WordPress passerby who may stumble upon this. Not long though, not long.
*That is, pick at random a post-it note with a novum on it and a corresponding character one, then the story almost writes itself. And I’m sure he would hate the use of parenthesis and perhaps a footnote as well.