Grapes, Zombies, and The Complexity of the Universe

Blue grapes

Another 37, day six

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: never start your blog post with a cliche.

No, wait, that’s not what I was going to say. What I’ve said before is this: the universe is too damn complicated. The quest to understand everything is hilarious futile, because it’s almost impossible to understand anything at all. I’m not talking about broad reaching fields like mathematics or botany. I mean any single thing. Like a grape.

If, for example you had a particular grape, you could spend your entire life studying it and you’d still leap into your grave at the age of 115 unable to take with you everything there is to know about that grape. It’s history, the complex web of relationships between the bacteria feasting on its sugars and the yeast bloom on its skin, the exact position of the electrons in the outermost valences of its outward-facing skin molecules that give it it’s specific color. And, of course, if you spend your whole life studying it you would never know what it tasted like, because the moment you popped it into your mouth your studies would end. It’s the quantum observer effect, grape flavored.

What does this have to do with coming up with blog post ideas? I’m glad you, the hypothetical Perfect Reader, asked. I get hung up on complexity when I think about almost anything, but most specifically about everyone’s favorite subject: me, and the contents of my own mind. Just to clarify I mean that everyone’s favorite subject is they themselves and their own minds, not mine. I’m not quite enough of an egomaniac that I think everyone is sitting our thinking about Jesse. I am enough of an egomaniac to believe, with little to no evidence of course, that they might be  better off if they did. I, at least, find myself fascinating.

I’m also enough of an egomaniac to write this terrifically self-indulgent blog post. Isn’t that what blogging is all about? The answer is no, of course not. Dale Carnegie wrote a very famous book you’ve definitely heard of about how to get people to give a toss about what you are saying, and nearly every piece of advice boils down to this: people care about themselves, so get your head out of your ass and start talking about stuff relevant to them, you twat! Except he wrote the book in 1936, so he didn’t use words like “twat” and most of his examples involved hollyhocks.

So I try not to write about myself too much, and I end up doing it mostly when I don’t have any other ideas. It’s a piece of advice given to writers with writer’s block: if you can’t write anything, write about how you can’t write anything. I don’t exactly get writer’s block, but I do get stuck in idea-vacuums. Which is weird, because I think of myself as an idea person.

And I am. Ideas bloom out of my head so fast I can’t trim them down before they overgrow my face. It’s been known to delude those people with psychic idea-vision into thinking I actually have hair. Magic, flowery, idea-hair. It’s a think. I have a lot of ideas, but here’s where the complexity comes in: the ideas are always bizarre. I come up with a lot of ideas for stories. Weird, out-there stories about crazy things.

Put me in a room with ten well-educated and intelligent but otherwise random people and have us compete in a contest for who can come up with ten original non-humanoid sentient races that are all different from each other the fastest, and I’ll stand a very high chance of winning. If that sounds like an interesting skill to you, then I thank you for the compliment. If that sounds like a useless skill, then I applaud your practicality and I might need to borrow some cash if you can spare it. If those same ten people are engaged in a contest for something simple and practical, like screwing screws into a piece of cork board, I will probably come in last.

My skill at idea generation diminishes the further it moves from the abstract and fantastical towards that other thing. What’s it called? Right, the real world. I don’t exactly believe in the real world, but it seems to believe in me, so I guess I have to run with it. Even coming up with blog post ideas strains me. It would be easier if I had fewer restrictions of myself, of course. I tend to find restrictions restricting. It seems obvious, but a lot of people find it easier to come up with ideas when they have parameters. I tend to go the other way because my brain is so abstract. I mean that literally. Cut open my head and it looks like a damn Picasso in there.

So here I am. I’m out of practice, which is part of why this is so hard. But even when I was blogging every day it was a struggle. Ask me to come with, I don’t know, some new explanation for zombies we haven’t seen before, and I’m all over it. Here’s one: a plane with a shipment of chips designed to interface with victims of paralysis and restore their functionality crashes into the Amazon. Over the course of a year a parasitic microscopic fungus grows over the wreckage and grows into the circuitry, where its filaments spread and learn to ape the structure of the chips. When humans come to investigate the shipment, the fungus infects them, and since it has learned to emulate a structure that can interface with the human nervous system, it takes them over. Now the humans are motivated by the same thing as the fungus, consumption, infection, reproduction, and the fungal-human-computer zombies spread and continue to grow in complexity, maybe as a hive mind the way some fungi form large integrated groups?

That’s just the kind of thing my brain does. I’m not claiming that was a brilliant idea or anything, but that exact kind of idea generation isn’t much of a struggle. But come up with simple article ideas for a writing blog? It’s like climbing a mountain. So it’s hard to say to myself whether I am idea person or not, because, after all, the universe is too damn complicated. And now I want grapes.


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