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UltimateRealFiction

Welcome to my online space :3 My name is Yoann, I go by “yo252yo“, and I do all kind of things at the junction of art, philosophy, computer science and pop culture.

This is ultimately a blog, so feel free to keep scrolling for updates in reverse chronological order. Oh and also there’s my CV somewhere too.

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Here’s the index of my productions, cause this is starting to get messy:

My games

I’m on https://yo252yo.itch.io/

My tools

See github for now

Picture book

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present in $self:

Very old stuff in french

Madokapital records

The thing about masterpieces in art is that you can keep going into them and get new things all the time. And Puella Magi Madoka Magica is definitely one of these works.

Meguca - YouTube

Just let Madoka die already

The current diffusion of Magia Record (part 2 at the time of writing), in addition to reminding us that Shaft can still create some really beautiful animation despite pretty much everybody having left the company, is not without its lot of controversies.

After all, it’s a pale copy of a copy, an adaptation of a spinoff mobile game (a mere simulacrum if you wanna get Baudrillard about it). No wonder that people are calling “cash grab”. The original inspiration for this article was the “Let Madoka Die Already” plea from OTAQUEST.

Indeed, it’s pretty fair to lament that the Madoka franchise keeps getting exploited for profit. After sequel movies that the writers hadn’t planned (which ended up pretty interesting, still, in their own deconstructive ways), the franchise has grown into a pretty lucrative trademark of pachinkos and gatcha mobile games (financial cooptation doesn’t get less subtle than that).

Spotted Madoka and Kyubey in Tokyo last month: MadokaMagica

And now the writers are called back for a new movie on the horizon. I understand how it can seem bleak. It’s like Madoka is trapped in an endless cycle of exploitation, getting more and more extracted out of her without any hope of escape… Oh wait…

Do you want to make a contract

I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that, but this development opened my eyes to the fact that the show is a pretty perfect analogy for capitalism. Take Kyuubey. He provides a service in exchange for a price, all tied up in a neat little contract. Of course, he hunts for where he can make the biggest profit (get the most entropy), and to that end, he fulfills optimally the demand (he realizes wishes).

As a good free market would, it fills demand and extracts surplus value out of the transaction wherever it can be found. Just like capitalism, he will fulfil any and all demand! It’s ironic that his extraction is saving the universe while ours is killing the planet, but that’s beyond the point. Seen through that lens, the show has a lot to offer as areas of reflections!

Manufacturing demand

Let’s start at the very beginning. The main series is basically a story of marketing. At first, everything’s just fine and everyone is happy. But this won’t stand for Kyuubey, who notices the prospect of immense profit in Madoka. He therefore does the only rational thing: he dedicates his whole energy to try to tempt Madoka into wanting more.

Being content is the enemy of capitalism. If you’re not purchasing, you’re dead weight. With his injunction to consume, and his relentless campaign for Madoka to make a wish, Kyuubey creates a demand where there was none before. His harassment is as intense as the many notifications fighting over your attention you receive on your phone every day. Can you spot examples of artificially manufactured demand in the real world? Jeez, I wonder…

And the lesson here is that he eventually wears her down. Marketing really works, you guys. There’s other things really on point here, like the importance of the social aspect in marketing for instance (all your friends are doing it, why don’t you?). In the end, even the fucking messiah cannot resist the power of advertisement. I guess that means be careful and forgiving?

Be careful what you wish for

A point that really interests me here is the content of the wish. Kyuubey is incredibly honest about what he delivers. In fact, more honest than most current companies and advertisements. He gives you what you want, what he promised, the content of your wish. Isn’t that pretty much the motto of capitalism?

Where Madoka excels is specifically at showcasing the dark side of this. There’s no trick in the wishes, they’re executed verbatim. But it turns out that we’re pretty bad at knowing what we want and what the consequences of our desires might be. It’s also uncommon for our desires to actually be what we wish we would/could want (extrapolated volition). What we want is rarely what we really really want, and certainly not what we need. This gap is the core of the alignment problem of the market btw…

Nowhere is that clearer than in the series, where all the wishes, when carried out, pretty much cause more suffering and destruction than good. Maybe your overconsuming hedonistic lifestyle just causes you depression down the line…

Enlightened consent

This is closely tied to the problem of imperfect information. Maybe we’d make better choices if we knew exactly how we feel in detail, or how things would turn out. But here’s the thing: this doesn’t make you consume, rather the opposite. So the market’s incentives are to push you in the other direction. It’s in its interest to mislead you as much as it can get away with. Information gap is a source of surplus value to be harvested. It’s a little bit what Kyuubey gathers, in a way.

A lot of people are (ofc unfairly) mad at Kyuubey because they feel like the “real price” is hidden. Admittedly, deception can help the market derive more value. But it’s not necessary: there’s inherent computational limitations. The real price cannot be known. It’s impossible to understand all the complexities and ramifications of the market’s behavior. Just try to track down the ultimate moral cost of your latest purchase.

Maybe the girls in the show don’t realize that the contract is “too good to be true”, that their consumption cultivates a system where children are continuously sacrificed. But we can wonder what would change if they did. When Madoka makes her choice, she’s fully aware of the implications… We know full well that our system is killing the planet and causing terrible consequences. When you buy an iPhone, on some level you know there’s blood on your hands. But we are remarkably willing to act as if we didn’t and persevere in a doomed system. Zizek has a lot to say about this better than I could 🙂

I’m talking about 59’40

Privatize the magical girl sector already

It could be said that Kyuubey is a good example of objectivism: pushing the liberal market to its logical conclusion and being as exploitative as he can get away with. The magical girl contracts are as honest as the ones in Bioshock (i.e. showing clearly the need for any sort of legislation better than I could ^^).

“Cows, pigs, and chickens have a much higher rate of survival in captivity, more than they would in the wild. So you see, the relationship is mutually beneficial for both parties.”

Now I don’t want to go too deep into that subject because as the Ayn Rand foundation so cutely puts it themselves, they just want to be selfish, whereas Kyuubey actually wants to save the universe, so that’s kind of the opposite and the similarity stops short. I guess in the end Kyuubey is closer to Adam Smith…

Magical girl flexibilization

Another interesting point is that the battle of the magical girls against the witches happens entirely unbeknownst to the population. The magical girls are the only ones aware of this cycle of suffering. As soon as they learn about it, they are doomed to suffer from this knowledge. They have to live everyday knowing how bad things are out there. Awareness of the system brings nothing but despair and suffering. You can’t escape or destroy it. No wonder why reflections about the inescapability of capitalist realism often end up in suicide

Paradoxically, as if to further mock this powerlessness, capitalism and the magical girl system both heavily emphasis individuality. This is a weight the girls have to carry largely alone. Nobody, not even each other, can absolve them from the individual responsibility of their choice. The system even puts them in competition with each other in war of everyone against everyone (see Kyouko). This radical individualism pushes the view that the system is morally neutral.

8 Kyoko Sakura Quotes Madoka Magica Fans Won't Forget

As Mark Fisher points out, making mental health an individual responsibility/pathology distracts and negates its systemic components and roots. How else can you react when the system simultaneously screams at you that you’re responsible for everything but that everything is irremediably bad?

Like in the world of magical girls, the ones who confront the system all end up in the darkness. They might rebel at first, but their idealistic children’s souls (gems) get corrupted by the system and end up cynical. There’s no better metaphor for it than the transformation of a hopeful magical girl into a bitter crony witch. Should I count the number of people who were activists in their early years and ended up bitter and disillusioned?

The politics of walpurgis

Maybe Madoka can help us make sense of our situation. For starters, it may be very straightforward, but I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that in the two shows, just like in real life, oppressive systems are powered first and foremost by fear. The menace of Walpurgis night forces Madoka’s hand, the cruel fate of the witches provides the impetus for Magius in Magia record. I wonder what’s on TV tonight…

Pure ideology

Can the show help us figure out what to do when you’re stuck in a toxic and seemingly invincible system? As with any good ideological system, it really seems that there’s no way out… 

The Hegelian perspective often showcased in Ikuhara work is to transcend the system, through love and compassion. But Madoka shows that things are not as easy…

For starters, “follow your heart” is pretty much the core of capitalist ideology. Kyuubey realizes the wish dearest to your heart. You fight to protect your loved ones… Love has already been co opted by the system and made into one of its strongest pillars (what better engine to spark consumption? You’re not gonna be the one who doesn’t give them a present for their birthday, you monster?).

But it goes deeper than that in the show. Every time love is on the table, it ends up counter productive. The love of Homura for Madoka condemns her and creates a mountain out of a molehill. Sayaka’s love drives her straight to despair… Could it be mirroring the dangers of empathy, which push you into emotional reactive thinking and make you lose sight of the bigger picture? You can’t take down an ideological behemoth with narrow thinking. But can you take it down at all?

Meta exploitation

When Madoka wishes for the end of the exploitative system, another system, perhaps less barbaric but still, takes its place. We already know that Magius’ efforts won’t succeed, since they take place before the end of the series. No matter how smart or outside the box you are, it seems that some systems of oppression just cannot be toppled.

I love it when art and reality mingle. The exploitation in real life of the Madoka brand mirroring the exploitation of the character in universe is like candy to me. But maybe what it shows us is that like Madoka, who will surely wane and be replaced by another brand, the end of any bad system is another bad system. But maybe this one could be slightly less bad… And through an infinity of efforts and iterations, we may yet drag ourselves out of the labyrinth of the witches…

Endless learning

It is the height of summer. I’m still struggling with learning Japanese, slow and steady, probably forever… But I’m also learning a lot about language learning itself, and it’s no secret that repetition is an important part of the process. And what better example to study than Haruhi Suzumiya’s Endless Eight (for people who don’t know, it’s a series of 8 episode displaying more or less the same events and it’s one of the greatest piece of art in anime history).

When I study Japanese, I write down how many new words I encounter, and how much of the dialog I understand for each episode (one per day). The structure of Endless Eight is a great source to showcase how much repetition helps with understanding.

As an extra datapoint, I’ve also revisited the same episode (6th, so that it’s in the “middle”) to see how much the learning sticks/how fast I forget after a week, month, 3 and 6 months (of continuous unrelated learning practice).

I don’t think this is solid enough to conclude anything, but it displays nicely how repetition yields diminishing return with stronger benefits at the start and how learning fades but a core does stick. I don’t think I was trying to get anything else out of this other than a pretty graph xD

The parable of the two brothers

Lately I’ve been reading things I wrote a long long time ago, and I came across this little bit that I thought was really fun so I thought I’d upload it. It’s from long ago so it’s in french, sry ^^’

Grand Livre de Pa Pandir, Partie 3, Chapitre 7, Séquence 13, Verset 19, Alinea 29, Sous-chapitre 23, Section 17, Petit-tiret 11. Parabole des deux frères.

Il était à cette époque bénie un souverain pieux qui avait deux fils, Abraham et Théodore. Le hasard voulut que leurs femmes portent leurs enfants en même temps, et qu’elles donnent naissance à un héritier le même jour. Comme il n’était pas rare à cette époque, toutes deux moururent en donnant la vie. Le fils d’Abraham se nommait Isaac, celui de Théodore s’appelait Ismael. Ce curieux hasard provoquait des querelles pour la succession au trône. Chaque frère revendiquait la couronne pour son propre fils.

A cette époque, l’influence de Pa Pandir semblait diminuer parmi les hommes. Ceux-ci commençaient à s’égarer dans le péché et le vice. La corruption gagnait leurs coeurs. Pa Pandir, se désolant des luttes pour la direction du Royaume, confia à un ange la tache d’aller trouver les deux frères. Il s’adressa à eux en ces mots.

« Humains, votre Dieu tout puissant est déçu de votre comportement pitoyable. Il semble que la foi se fasse rare dans votre empire décadent. Craignez, mortels, le courroux du Dieu unique ! Si la foi brûle en votre coeur pur, si vous êtes encore assez pieux, ces saintes paroles sauront vous toucher. Pour prouver votre foi, Pa Pandir exige que vous sacrifiez chacun votre unique descendant, en haut de la colline. »

« Nous vous en supplions, prenez-nous à leur place… » s’écrièrent-ils, bouleversés.

« Pa Pandir a parlé… »

Sur ces mots, l’ange laissa les deux frères à leurs sombres pensées. Ils étaient tout deux très attachés à leurs uniques fils, et il était pour eux hors de question de les sacrifier. Ils devaient faire face à un cruel dilemme. Tout deux pleurèrent de désespoir, ne sachant comment agir. On leur retirait la chose la plus précieuse qu’ils avaient, tout ce qu’ils leur restait de leurs défuntes épouses.

Ils passèrent toute la soirée en privé avec leurs enfants, réfléchissant à ce cruel coup du sort. Le lendemain matin, ils avaient tout deux fait leur choix. Ils montèrent tout deux sur la colline. Abraham portait dans ses bras son fils Isaac, mais Théodore avait subtilisé un nourrisson à une famille du peuple, espérant que le subterfuge marcherait. Bien entendu, il prétendit être triste, pendant que son frère gravissait en larmes le tertre. Chaque pas était plus douloureux pour lui.

Ils arrivèrent sur les lieux du sacrifice. Abraham serra une dernière fois son fils dans ses bras, tandis que son frère embrassait l’enfant d’une autre famille. Les cris des nourrissons se répercutèrent en écho, et l’on entendit bientôt plus que ça. Théodore prit conscience qu’il serait tout de même difficile de tuer un être innocent, si pur, même s’il n’était pas de son sang. Ce pauvre enfant se verrait retirer la vie avant même d’en avoir joui. Mais Pa Pandir était formel.

Quelques instants plus tard, les deux frères poussaient un cri commun de douleur alors que le sang de leurs nourrissons rougissait l’herbe sous leurs pieds. Un ange leur apparut et leur parla en ces mots :

« Abraham, ton coeur est pur. Toi qui croyait avoir sacrifié ton fils, soit soulagé car il n’est pas mort. Tu n’as sacrifié qu’un enfant de paysan. Sois béni, et rentre vite chez toi, ton héritier t’y attend. »

« Quant à toi, Théodore, tu as cru qu’un si vil subterfuge pourrait duper Pa Pandir ? Tu étais persuadé avoir tué un enfant du peuple, et préservé le tien ? Et bien, pleure maintenant, car c’est ta chair en lambeaux que tu tiens dans les mains. »

Abraham, criant de joie, dévala la colline, tandis que son frère poussa un hurlement de désespoir et s’effondra sur le sol. Isaac fut le successeur du Roi, et le saint Royaume retrouva la paix et la grâce. Les regards s’étaient tournés vers une seconde fresque, qui représentait les deux nourrissons éventrés sur le sol herbeux, Théodore qui pleurait à leur chevet, et Abraham qui partait en sautant de joie. Un ange lui adressait un sourire bienveillant.

Mes chers frères, les voies de Pa Pandir sont impénétrables. Certains doivent périr, d’autres vivent. Des choix difficiles doivent êtres faits. Mais ne quittez jamais votre foi. Rappelez-vous que c’est elle qui vous guidera vers le droit chemin. C’est elle qui vous amènera dans la grâce de Pa Pandir. Ne doutez pas, et vous trouverez la lumière.

Gifmaker

Did you know its actually super easy to make gifs from videos in python? Long story short I’m making gifs now. I’ll share the script as soon as I can be bothered to do it in a way that hides my tumblr API keys, because I auto-upload them to tumblr.

Oops

Thoughts and prayers

So I wanted to apply to a few art competitions, and the Wells Art Contemporary drew my attention because of its amazing setting (the Wells Cathedral). This is a dream place for any kind of conceptual art because you’re already working with centuries of connotations and expectations that you get from the get go as your raw material.

The bit about the art manifesto

I will do a proper manifesto later, but I wanted to jolt down the technical process I’m going through here. The basic concept is a reflection around the ontology of reality. Once upon a time, people looked at gods not only for source of morality, but as the ontological entity that imbued life with meaning and in some way warranted the consistency and order of the world.

With the “death of god” heralded by Nietzsche, humans lost all of this. At first glance, you may worry about the loss of absolute moral values, but it goes far deeper than that: it’s the loss of ontological structure. No wonder that analyses tie the totalitarism movements of the 20th century as a reaction to this.

Nowadays, the thing that took the place of God as source of ontological structure seems to be the economy, which organizes pretty much all of life in an increasingly globalized world. Furthermore, its efficient decentralized decision mechanism are truly a sight of wonder, whose complexity aggregates all the wisdom of mankind. Yet, it cannot be comprehended in its entirety by a single person, elevating it to a mystical position of unfathomability.

These are the many deep parallels I wanted to explore with the “Thoughts and prayers” project by establishing a “Church of Neoliberal Capitalist Realism”. In this art project, it was important for me to have it be a participatory living piece, engaging the viewers on their own terms, literally reaching into their daily lives. It was important for me that the art piece blends in innocuously and almost unconsciously with the fabric of the spectators lives, much like religion did in other time periods.

This is why I ended up publishing the project as a facebook and twitter pages, because that’s where people actually direct their attention, time, and interactions (much like they did with churches and prayers). In fact, this social network aspect adds a whole dimension to the project centered around the shallowness, speed, and outrage-focus of these platforms, which is probably why I’ll end up submitting a QR code to this image to the exhibition.

The bit about machine learning

But enough about the pretentious artsy considerations: the reason why I wanted to write this article down was to cement somewhere some of the technical challenges and solutions I faced. The piece really came to life when I decided to try to use Machine Learning (GPT-2) to merge the Bible and Marx’s Capital. On the final pages, I’ve decided to split the AI generated text by presenting it as scriptures (i.e. numbered) as opposed to what I’d write myself.

You may remember that I quite enjoy using GPT to produce new content in a specific style, which is what gave me the idea in the first place. But the main challenge was that GPT does not deal very well with heterogeneous training sets. In particular, the Bible and Marx’s Capital have very little words in common, so the output would often be one or the other (you can think of them as distinct connected components in the semantic graph).

The way I solved this was to build a bridge myself between these two corpora. I took the Bible and applied a bunch of word substitutions to bring its language closer to the one from the Capital. I worked with the most frequent words of both texts in priority, but I also threw in some terms that seemed important to the current economic context. The substitution would not always make perfect sense, but the fact that it all goes into GPT to be regurgitated later makes these mistakes pretty irrelevant (GPT can correct some, but anyway the output of GPT is always pretty trashy).

I do very little modifications to the output of machine learning (it is, after all, the holy word), and even when it comes out vaguely nonsensical I guess it serves as a nice reflection of the nonsensical commands the technocratic economy sometimes dictates to humans.

And that’s how you get the main content of those publication feed. I’ve automated it so that it keeps posting regularly, and made the twitter randomly follow a few users who tweet about market efficiency, in order to bring the gospel to its most fervent zealots. It seems like a natural step ^^

Anyway this was all good fun but now I need to figure out how I’m going to turn that into an installation proposal for museums. Cheers.

The game of life on a planet

Work realized for the Social Art Award 2021 “New Greening”: submission link.

It is hosted at http://yo252yo.com:9090/ for now. I won’t host it forever but it will remain forever accessible on github.

Technology, and AI in particular, are at the core of our hopeful prospects to manage and recover from the current climate crisis. But it is ultimately just a tool that is in the hand of humankind. This social art exhibition is the perfect moment to remember that our New Greening will have to be for everyone and by everyone. For even if there are macro forces at play, they are inextricably tied to individual responsibility.

This interactive experience, hosted at http://yo252yo.com:9090/, showcases this interplay of forces with an aesthetic inspired by Conway’s Game of Life. This infinitely blooming virtual tree is sensitive to its environment: the more demand (eyeballs) placed on it, the darker the surroundings, and it may even wither. Are you ready to sacrifice your chance at the spectacle so that others may see it? Can the crowd find an equilibrium to allow for a lasting responsible growth?

Cats And Relative Dimensions In Space

Of the impossibility to train cats

For someone interested in cognitive sciences, I do a lot less observation/experimentation on my cat than I probably should, do be honest. For my defense, all low hanging fruits of deep philosophical insights gained with pets have probably been picked. But lately I’ve had an idea, and I thought it was well worth a little writeup to mashup everything going on in my brain xD.

Like any pet owner, I find myself doing a bit of training (don’t go on that table, don’t fight, don’t meow too loud, etc…), and mostly failing because cats are notoriously resilient to training. But I can’t help wonder what their experience feels like.

It is pretty clear that they have a concept of “what I’m doing is wrong”, judging by they behavior when they notice that they are being watched, or by how sneaky they are acting to bypass these rules. So my conclusion is that they may be incapable of counterfactual reasoning (i.e. “if I don’t do that, I won’t get punished”).

FlatCatLand

I suspect that, more simply, they cannot do causal reasoning (i.e. “if I do X, Y will happen”). And if that’s the case, I’m wondering if we could reframe it as “they do not perceive time“. If they live in the here and now, they might be completely unable to conceive of such a thing as “the future”. Maybe they don’t see time as a line like we do, maybe all they see is a dot.

Laser Pointer For Cats | 8 Hour Entertainment Video | Relax Your Pet |  Leave On All Day | iPad - YouTube

Can you tell where I’m going with this? I was wondering if cats live in some kind of version of Flatland, the amazing book about the tribulations of a 2 dimensional square who visits a one dimension space, a zero dimension point, and a third dimension space (highly recommend it, though it does lack in cats). What would the Flatland equivalent of time dimensions be?

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions | EDWIN ABBOTT ABBOTT, pseud A  SQUARE | First edition

Perceiving time is probably the biggest advantage humans have over other animals. I’m low-key fascinated by the ability of humans to make bargain with the future, and to consider future potentialities as actual real factors and act on them. Maybe the “sensory organ” for time dimension is some kind of neural structure in the brain? In any case it does seem like we perceive “something” to be there (which we call future) that the cat might not.

flat cat. @Wanda Jackson Santoso @Judhyory Maurits Maurits @nadya lev  Andriasari | Cats, Crazy cats, Cute cats

We may be pretty good at living in the 1 dimension line of time. Like Mr Square we can kinda imagine what it would be like to live in lower dimensions and take this imaginary trip to FlatCatLand. But like Mr Square’s adventures, this begs the question: what would it even be like if there were higher dimensions? Can we intuit it in any reasonable way? Is there a TimeCube looking down on us and making fun of our limited sight and how we’re stuck in FlatTimeLine?

How our intuitions distorted our view of time

Maybe the reason it hits me right now is because I have been binge watching the amazing science channel Science4All on YouTube (sorry it’s in french :(() which helped me understand a lot better general relativity. I won’t explain it here because I’d do a much worse job of course. But I do want to talk about the difference between general relativity and more traditional Newtonian physics.

Indeed, Newtonian physics is a pretty great model, and it works really well under a lot of circumstances. I believe it’s even a strict subset of general relativity. The main difference, as far as I see it, lies in the conception of time. Newtonian physics rely on a universal uniform time axis. General relativity showed that this is not how the world actually works. So we should expect Newtonian physics to work fairly well whenever time behaves quite uniformly, and to break down when it fluctuates.

Spirituality, Quantum Physics & Life: Theory of Gravity - General Relativity

This also explains why we were stuck so long with a Newtonian conception of the world: it’s because of my nemesis, Anthropocentrism. Of course we’d love Newton’s conception, it fits so well what we experience and intuit in our little selves living their daily lives in our FlatTimeLine where time does not fluctuate too much.

Quand la Terre était le centre de l'univers

But fortunately some genii noticed that this conception didn’t quite fit what we were observing in a few edge cases. They went back to the drawing board. They shut down their anthropocentric intuition, and looked at the bigger picture. And like Mr Square they got to peek at a world where time was a completely different dimension, along which one could have much more complex motion than previously anticipated.

To be perfectly fair it’s not completely like Flatland since time is kinda already a dimension in Newtonian physics, but come on, they were focused on objects moving through a 3D space with a universal clock, not objects in a 4D space.

GP-B — Einstein's Spacetime
Japanese has a word for your position in 4d: 世界線

I don’t know about you, but seeing history stuck for centuries in a 3D conception of a space that was actually 4D because of close-mindedness really makes me wonder: what other dimensions have I overlooked? What if our 4D general relativity is just a simpler case of what’s really going on? After all, it seems that we’re already observing a few edge cases where the model doesn’t quite fit… rings a bell?

So how many dimensions are we living in

I’m not a genius, nor a physicist. I expect that quite a few people had this train of thoughts before me. As far as I can understand, there is open questions about the possibility of extra dimensions (Kaluza–Klein theory??) and this unexplained corner cases (with LKK particles??). Alternatively, this whole process helped me take string theory and its crazy number of dimensions a bit more seriously (even though apparently string theory is more of a family of models than a precise model?).

Cat String Theory shirt - TShirt Shoping Online

I am, however, trained in Computer Science. And as such I have to admit that computationally speaking, we’re clearly living in more than 4 dimensions. A given point has a spatial position and a temporal position, but doesn’t it also have a color, a temperature, etc etc… If you program the universe into a computer, you’d have to specify more than 4 pieces of information to describe a given elementary point of the universe.

3D voxel / volumetric plot with rgb colors — Matplotlib 3.3.1 documentation

The hard part is sorting out through everything we can and can’t feel, and see what are elementary dimensions and what are not. Temperature, for instance, is some sort of particle agitation. That happens in time and space, it’s not a new dimension. Electromagnetism, on the other end, AFAIK, doesn’t reduce to the 4 spacetime dimensions. I’d tend to think it’s a pretty good candidate (i.e. a particle has a position in time, in space, and a charge).

Ofcom 5G Electromagnetic Spectrum Infographic - Vodafone UK News Centre

It’s a bit related to a question I wonder often about: how many informational pathways are there to transmit a signal around us? Touch (including taste and smell), sound, light, radio, wifi, etc… are all different spectral bands of either particle motion in space or electromagnetic waves (a specter of specters, if you will). What am I missing here? Help me complete this picture and count all the dimensions!

Multiple dimensions in time

Coming back to time, we can try to take a step up and imagine that time is no longer a simple 1D line, but a 2D plan. You’d get our canonical time line, but other possible time lines. In other words, you get some sort of multiverse. Maybe it’s as simple as considering potential futures.

Maybe there are other representations, though. One possible way is what I do to fall asleep: I imagine my consciousness leaving the timeline we’re in and wandering through this imaginary dimension in order to find a way to reach the timeline in which my dream happens (because it seems to happen in a 4D spacetime of its own). I guess you could also use imagination and the suspension of disbelief to travel to fictional timelines.

Time Travel in Fiction Rundown - YouTube
Real world: —————>

I’m honestly not sure if imagination should count as an extra dimension. I guess that would be kinda cool, and could be tied to the fact that semantics/information as a whole seems like it may be be a completely other dimension. Not to mention panpsychist conceptions of the universe. But this is getting a bit speculative, I’m really uninformed about the physical basis of information. This was mostly an aside to plug my own short story, none of these strike me as great candidates for elementary dimensions.

The Q word

Another thing missing is of course the other side of contemporary physics, the one looming over this article that I’ve been avoiding since the beginning, the one whose name has been misused so much that it’s sheer mention makes me cringe. Quantum physics.

Like most people, I know even less about it. I assume it’s not completely crazy to think it might help with all the multiverse or information dimension stuff mentioned above. But I just want to briefly touch on why I think it’s less relevant than it appears at first glance.

You’d tend to think that there might be a few dimensions hidden in there. After all, there’s this whole mysterious collapse from potential states (i.e. a dimensional space of possibilities) to a finite observation. All the potential states do seem to form an extra dimension not captured by the 4 canonical ones.

What would it be like to live in the quantum realm? | Quantum Physics Lady
imagine the waves on the left jumping out of your screen plz

There’s nothing mystical about this, though. I suspect quantum physics is a lot more like normal physics than people think, except instead of manipulating a definite point (i.e. number) you manipulate a distribution (i.e. a line). After all if there was randomness or magic involved, how would we be able to manipulate qbits deterministically?

However, a line is still one dimension above a point. So quantum states need at least one extra dimension, but from the little bit I understand about Richard Feynman’s work, this may well be the same dimension as the electromagnetic dimension mentioned above.

Final tally

That leaves us with at least 5 dimensions accounted for (3 space, 1 time, 1 quantum/electromagnetic), whatever the hell information may be, and of course everything I missed! I’m counting on you to help me figure out what these may be. I guess I’ll update this list if I ever learn more. In any case, I’d like to make sure that we’ve exerted the full capacity of reflection and perception of our little human brain, before I accidentally jump on the metaphysical table of an extra-dimensional wrathful time-cube god.

Extra-Dimensional

Hidden japanese conjugations

Hi!

I’m no expert at Japanese, though it’s probably what I spend most of my time on, so don’t take this piece like an actual lesson, but I wanted to list somewhere some things that have given me a hard time in Japanese. These are suffixes that I really consider to be conjugations, but that other people apparently don’t. Those in red are especially tricky in my experience because they are extremely common and not really easy to find in textbooks. I’ll keep updating this as I learn.

Root form:

These go after things like 話(はな), 見(み)

-ず/ぬ: while not doing

て forms:

These go after things like やって、喋(しゃべ)って、飲(の)んで、見(み)て、出(で)て、あって

-てみ(見)る: try to do something
-てある: something has been done
-ている: is doing something
-ておく: do something with a purpose
-てく(来)る: give something
-てください:please do
-てい(行)く: go something
-てあげる: give something
-てもらう: receive something
-てしまう: finish accidentally
-てしまいました: finish to completion
-ています: do something after a motion
-てす(済)ませる: make do with, finish with

Stem form:

These go after things like やり、話(はな)し、飲(の)み、喋(しゃべ)り、あり

-いえる: to be possible
-いがる: to seem like
-いなお(直)す: to again
-いあ(会)う: do to each other
-いき(切)る: do to completion
-いとお(通)す: do thouroughly
-いこ(込)む: do for a while, do inwards
-いぬ(抜)く: do an effort to do something to the end
-いだ(出)す: start doing
-いす(過)ごす: do for too long
-いのこ(残)す: to leave out from doing
-いと(取)る: do again for yourself, take

Under investigation:

-いか(掛)ける: ??? hanging ??
-いあ(上)がる: do upwards
-いつ(付)ける: do against
-いた(立)てる: stand to do?
-いい(入)れる: enter to do
-いかえ(返)す: to do in return
-いたお(倒)す: to kill by doing

The dualist trial

IN THE ONTOLOGICAL DISTRICT COURT

STATE VS. RYLE

FILE NO. 15CR02515-JFL003

Before the Honorable R. D. Kart

Transcript of Proceedings

Bench Trial Day 1

Proceedings reported by stenographic machine shorthand; transcript prepared using court reporting software.

PROCEEDINGS

(Proceedings commenced at 9:01 a.m., as follows:)

THE COURT: I ask the clerk to, for the record, call out the name of the case.

THE CLERK: Case 15CR02515-JFL003, State Vs. Ryle, on for day one of a bench trial. Please state your appearance for the record.

MR. RYLE: Good morning, Your Honor. I am the Observer known as Mr Douglas Ryle.

THE COURT: Good morning. We’ll start the trial with the opening statements. Plaintiffs having the burden of proof, we will first hear the case against the defendant. As you know, this case may be the most important one that the judicial system has ever adjudicated. The main question is that of Mr Ryle’s alleged responsibility in the destruction of the Veil of Secrecy, and the subsequent endangerment of the fabric of our world. The consequences and ramifications might be catastrophic, and they are still ongoing. Do you understand the gravity of the accusations against you?

MR. RYLE: Yes, Your Honor. If I may…

THE COURT: In light of the seriousness of the situation, how do you plead?

MR. RYLE: Not guilty, Your Honor. Could we just call for a mistrial?

THE COURT: Certainly not. We barely just started.

MR. RYLE: But…

THE COURT: Please, Mr Ryle. Behave yourself. I’m the one leading this discussion. I am going to question you about the facts of the alleged crime. You have been placed under oath, and it is important for you to tell me the truth. If you say something here under oath that you know is not true, you could be charged with committing perjury. Your sentence in this case would be higher. Do you understand all that?

MR. RYLE: Yes, Your Honor. But…

THE COURT: Very well. Let us start by stating your occupation and responsibilities.

MR. RYLE: I am a simple Observer, I think it’s fairly obvious.

THE COURT: It may well be common knowledge, Mr Ryle, but please describe your activities for the record.

MR. RYLE: Very well. As any Observer, my main duty is to inhabit and control a human body. Through the homunculus system, I pilot their decisions and actions. During the day, that is. 

THE COURT: What about the night?

MR. RYLE: At night, the system is disconnected from the bodies. We’re allowed a break, and we can use the system for our own recreational purposes. It usually involves wandering into eccentric situations, outside the constraints of the timeline of humans. That’s the time where we can really use our creativity.

THE COURT: Would you say that this amount of freedom is what led to the current situation?

MR. RYLE: I would not, Your Honor. It may have played a role, but it was far from the main factor.

THE COURT: Yet your human perceives and remembers your leisure activities, is this not correct? Wouldn’t the disconnect between your entertainment and the usual timeline of humans raise suspicions and ultimately be a threat to the Veil of Secrecy?

MR. RYLE: Not really, Your Honor. Human perceptions and memories are very hazy during night time. It’s a well established practice in my line of work. It seems that this downtime is essential to everyone’s stability. Furthermore, humans are quite used to deviations from their main timeline. It’s quite frequent.

THE COURT: Is it? Could you elaborate? I find this a bit surprising. I thought the whole point of the Veil of Secrecy is that humans are only aware of their own timeline.

MR. RYLE: That’s a common misconception. The Veil of Secrecy only means that humans are not aware of our timeline. You see, humans’ attention is pretty fickle. They have a single point of focus, and they get easily absorbed in their stories, games or thoughts. And when that happens, we have no option really but to go along for the ride, and we end up in these other timelines.

THE COURT: So you travel to other timelines besides the one of humans?

MR. RYLE: We have no other choice, humans and observers are quite indissociable. That’s why we’re called “souls”. We can only follow their attention, from story to story, from thought to thought. That can be quite confusing and hard to keep track of. Some days, it used to drive me quite crazy. So I’m not surprised by this turn of events. This system is not sustainable. We jump between way too many timelines. It was only a matter of time before someone stumbled upon ours. 

THE COURT: So your claim is that it was an accident?

MR. RYLE: Certainly. it was an accident at first. Probably not even the first one. Just the first recorded one.

THE COURT: Wait a minute, Mr Ryle. You said it was an accident “at first”? Clerk, can you confirm this?

THE CLERK: Indeed. I read: “MR. RYLE: Certainly, it was an accident at first.”.

THE COURT: We’ll come back to this. But just before, I would like Mr Ryle to tell us how this “accident” came to be.

MR. RYLE: There is not much to say, Your Honor. It was a random trail of thoughts in the shower. You can hardly imagine more innocuous.

THE COURT: Thoughts in the shower? That’s how your human came to breach the Veil of Secrecy?

MR. RYLE: I wish I could tell you something else…

THE COURT: You mean to tell me the biggest safety risk this world has ever known is the fruit of a… random happenstance?

MR. RYLE: That’s what I’m saying, Your Honor.

THE COURT: But how could you let that happen? How could you let beings from the lower dimensions find out about us?

MR. RYLE: You seem to be under a severe misunderstanding about my functions, Your Honor. I don’t get to choose what my human does!

THE COURT: Then who is to blame?

MR. RYLE: Noone! It was an accident, these things happen. I’m sure lots of humans have entertained such thoughts and it had always remained inconsequential.

THE COURT: Here you go again with the past tense, Mr Ryle. Let us hear it now, what is it that you mean?

MR. RYLE: I mean that it may have started as an accident, Your Honor, but it evolved into a much more dramatic situation. I think that there is a large-scale assault on our world. I dare say, it may even be a deliberate act of terrorism. And it’s quite likely that the Veil of Secrecy may never recover. 

THE COURT: Order in the court, please. You’re leaning on the overly dramatic.

MR. RYLE: Of course I am, Your Honor, this trial is a sham. It’s a ridiculous pretense used to carry a much broader plan.

THE COURT: Mr Ryle, you’re losing your temper. I do not care for your conspiratorial delusions. Please state your point calmly and with a clear head. 

MR. RYLE: My point is that I may or may not have accidentally exposed a human to our world by accident, but it is nothing compared to the breach that is about to happen. That’s what we should be focusing on! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you, but it’s too late now. We can’t stop him anymore. Who knows how many humans will find out about us?

THE COURT: Who are you talking about?

MR. RYLE: Him! Right here! The court clerk, of course!

THE CLERK: Oh f