Monday, September 29, 2008

Still Alive

So I have not updated my blog in more than a month...that is not very good. 
I think I have the wrong psychological approach to it, as I try to hammer down as many of the deficiencies in any of the thinking pathways that I am exposing.  While I still think that this approach is worthwhile, it's making me write down tens of ideas but not expanding them, as I never have all the time I need to go through them in the detailed way that I would want.
For this post I wanted to talk about a very interesting book(actually there are two novels but I read the collection of 2 of them)
By Olaf Stapledon, the books are the Last and First Men and the second one is The Star Maker.
From the standpoint of literature per se, these are very dry  Sci-Fi books, so if you are somebody that gets bored very fast, I wouldn't recommend these to you. Also sometimes it can be a little bit repetitive and slow in the flow of ideas, so also if you are intolerant to these characteristics, I would say you will be better at reading something else. But if you do that,  you would be missing some of the best conceptual futurology that has been ever written. 
The concept behind this book is the exploration of how would intelligent life evolve over long periods of time. If you are reading attentively you may have realized that I didn't say "human" intelligence. That is right, he actually kills off human civilization, several times, but in the most internally consistent way. Also when I mention that is over long periods of time, we are talking billions to trillions of years, going from "now"(that is in 1930s) to the end of the universe, when the entropy has gone up to the point that there is no differential of energy in between any part of the universe.
The other interesting characteristic is that there is not a specific protagonist, as in a central personage. There is an omniscient narrator that comments about the evolution of this or that culture/civilizations, but not somebody to relate directly. This can be a little bit bothersome, as is difficult to become sentimentally attached to the book.
But man, the imagination of Mr. Stapledon is superior most of the Sci-Fi authors. His descriptions of how a population evolves both culturally and physically, or how they reach different settings in their civilization lifespan is so engaging that you can't remain unmoved. 
Also the analysis that he makes of the evolution of human civilization in "near" future (meaning approximately now) is very, very on the spot. Some parts are actually scary to read, as he pinpoints the factors that guided us to the situations we can see in this day and age, in a fashion that makes me wonder if he was actually possessed by an entity from the future (as this is part of the "explanation" of where the information comes from).
This book made me think about futurology and the possibility of predicting the evolution of our culture/civilization from general principles. We all like to think that we do have free will, but maybe when we gather in a group, there is an emergent property that makes us predictable. If you follow the reasoning of Mr. Stapleton, you can actually see where he wants to go very easily, and also come into grips with our group "predictability" as a possibly testable characteristic. 
It would be interesting to study this, to see there is such an emergent property of human groups that deviate our thought processes to adjust the evolution of the society, maybe without us noticing it...
Interesting and disturbing.
Hopefully if you read this you will be interested in Mr. Stapledon books. They are more than worth the time involved in reading them. Your perception of humanity, of time and of universal evolution will grow exponentially
Well, it's time to think another thought!

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