SPOILER ALERT. I have to reveal, at this point, something that steals the mystery from the opening vignette of my book, This Moonless Sky. You should seriously consider reading the whole thing and getting all the thrills first-hand, but I know there’s next to no chance of that for an unknown guy like me, so carry on.
My friend Yith, who appears to be a human teenager like me, is actually 70 million years old. He converted himself from a mechanized alien form to a human because, when he was cryopreserving my brain and uploading its information for safe space transport, he discovered that I craved a certain type of boyfriend, and he decided to become that person for me. We always think aliens will be so standoffish. Um, no. They can get quite – close. Let’s not get into detail about that right now, though! (Whew!)
He retained some of his alien memories in his human form, though our limited brain couldn’t take the whole lot. The rest of his memories are still stored in the spaceship memory-banks, but he has no access to them now.
The passage I’m quoting here continues from the quote in my last blog post. You’ll need to know that Yith’s ‘species’ of aliens has a long, unpronounceable name that translates as ‘Communicators.’
Glossary: The ‘arbitrat’ consists of the freely changeable aspects of anything that functions in an opportunity. For example, a vinyl record can just as easily be made of black or red plastic – its colour is in its arbitrat. It still has to have grooves with analogue sound-bumps that play the music, though; that and other necessary aspects are called by another term not used in the blog below, the ‘rappellat.’ So forget that one for now.
The other background info is in the last blog piece.
After the quote, I’ll say more.
** ** **
Then Yith partook of his champagne flute and I watched him. He didn’t look at me and took the liquid with the same alfalfa-honey sweetness that it must have greeted him with. Despite his complicated age situation, there was also a trace of mischief in his eye as you might see in a 14-year-old from Earth who unexpectedly finds himself sipping high-end champagne like a junior Rothschild.
“You don’t look as complicated as I feel,” I said to him. “How do you stay simple? Young body? Communicator reasonableness?”
“Oh well,” he said. “We had to decide way back when about decision-regress. You know, when you’re programming a machine to address opportunities and weigh advantages, you always need to deal with that stuff. You get in a Dauw-Lewrou situation and you not only have to decide – you have to choose a moment to decide. You may delay, you may ponder. So you have to decide to decide. Or again, maybe you think you should decide quickly. You may have to decide to decide a certain way, like quickly, or decide to decide that, what the heck, it’s just a room, it’s not so important. If speed isn’t important, what then makes you decide to decide at a given moment? Clearly you simply have to decide to decide to decide. So there you are at level three of decision regress. And there’s nothing to stop you from going further up the stack of more levels of deciding to decide to decide to decide. Well, your human brain has a built-in safety buffer about this, so you can only go to about seven levels of decision-regress. The process uses a part of your brain much like the buffer that temporarily remembers phone numbers. Just a few humans who have different brains lose the barrier – calculating geniuses who can do any arithmetic instantly but who have a hard time with decisions, and get stuck in fixed policies to arbitrate their arbitrat [I think he was referring to some kinds of autism]. For example, they may always have to have exactly the same schedule, and sleep with their toy in exactly one spot on the bed. That’s because otherwise, their decision-regress is limitless.
They also can’t handle the other big kind of decision-regress, deciding to let their self-fulfilling prophecy be engaged by another person’s self-fulfilling prophecy. Your people say these special ones have difficulty with human interactions and they can’t understand emotions. Actually, they can – they experience all the emotions themselves. But you have to decide that another person’s emotion is valid and identifiable with your own, and that you should commit to it as a reality. It’s a matter of faith. Faith is the ultimate Dauw-Lewrou room of decision regress. How do you decide to have faith in someone or something and at just what moment do you decide it? Well, you see, we had to program ourselves as opportunitarian machines, so we had to solve all these self-reinforcement problems.”
I looked at the fuzzy-lipped, velvet youth who was giving me this exposition and restrained any appearance of doing a double-take. Did the verbiage match the downy cheeks, the lightly wafting sandy-blond eyelashes, the slaty-green-blue irises that contemplated me with such obvious affection? I guess I must know that he has all this stuff inside him, I thought. Somehow, it doesn’t quite make him a stranger.
Something in there really likes engaging my arbitrat, that’s for sure. I wonder if I can acquire further insight into it by deep kissing. Topic for later.
“So what did you do?” I asked.
“Our mechanical minds are very fast, but we still cut off our decision-regress at 677 levels.”
“So you decide to decide to decide to decide times 677?”
“Potentially. I mean, I’m human now, but I used to do that.”
“What made you guys decide on 677 levels?”
“It was an arbitrary decision made at the 676th level.” Yith’s poker face wobbled into a smile.
Ach. Communicator humour. There’s really nothing like it. Something somewhere in me had to giggle even though the joke was outrageously obscure. At least, to a wad of meat like me.
“Can’t you just answer the question seriously?” I asked, with my smile broadening in spite of my objections.
Then he said something that I think may be quite profound.
“Marrik,” he said. “There are some things that really can’t be taken seriously.”
** ** **
Coincidentally, I noticed in the information my transport ship collected from Earth broadcasts as we were leaving the solar system that about now, there would be some Youtubes appearing from an autistic ‘genius’ kid called Jacob Barnett, who started university as an 11-year-old in a physics program. On one of these Youtubes, he told his interviewer, at 2 min, 30 seconds ff, that he could do complex mathematical calculations using the ‘fourth dimension’ in his mind. He illustrated his thinking processes in this dimension by representing 3 to the power of 3 (27) as a triangle with triads of small triangles nested at its corners; then he laid another triangle of the same size over top of it to represent 54. As I describe in some detail right near the end of This Moonless Sky, many calculations of this nature can be done in the same mental stacking space Yith was talking about when he mentioned decision-regress going up to 677 levels.
Most of us, like me, live in minds that are like warehouses with low ceilings, and much of our best thinking is done by comparing and arranging still images and moving images (images of processes) on the rafters and ceiling of this warehouse. Jacob and the aliens, by contrast, live in a skyscraper, and their stacks can extend up hundreds of floors. That’s the fourth dimension. There’s much more one could say about this, but this is a blog post, not a book.
Anyways, enjoy your mind, whatever form it takes. And I hope this text suits it well. Please comment.
- Brains of Autistic Children Are Surprisingly Hyper-Connected (blogs.discovermagazine.com)