Look, I know this has all been said before, in some format or other, but anyway. Humour me. Bare with me if you can. Sorry, I mean bear with me. Like a Grizzly. Just suppose – just for the sake of the long-drawn-out argument that I am about to inflict you with – that you could send messages via Brownian motion. And that you could also receive messages from it. I know this goes against the very idea of Brownian motion, which is that it is purely random, but let’s just that you could. Let’s just say that you could discern secret messages hidden in Brownian motion. Where would that leave us? What would that mean?
OK so you can’t really do that – I appreciate that, I really do. I get it. There’s no secret message in randomness – the very idea is ridiculous. It’s a contradiction in terms since messages, by their very nature, aren’t random. But there’s a way around this, a kind of a dodge. There’s always a dodge. Maybe you can start to see where I am going with this! No matter if you can, I will continue. The point that I am (very obviously) going to make is that you can extract a message from randomness by employing a filter without knowing that you are employing a filter. We select ‘evidence’ that supports our unconscious ‘hypothesis’. Straightaway, therefore, we can see that this means that we can extract any message that we want to from Brownian motion, from randomness, from our environment just so long as we don’t let ourselves know that we are searching for it. Nothing could be easier!
Bingo. Bob’s your uncle. The door is wide open to wherever you want to go with this. It’s like magic. ‘Hey Presto’ you say, and with a flourish of your magician’s cloak you pull whatever you want to find out of your trick Top Hat. How does he do it, people will ask, their jaws dropping with amazement. Encore. Show us another one. And for my next rick, etc, etc. Whatever. You get the picture.
This is of course all so obvious but there are two more points that I am about to make that are not quite so obvious. Perhaps not so obvious at all. Point Number One is that you can actually pull a whole self-consistent world out of the Top Hat – it’s not just rabbits we’re talking about here, in other words, but a whole ecosystem. Point number two is a bit more tricky. Point Number Two has to do with the way in which by positively selecting out one message we negatively select out the antithesis to that message at the same time. By saying YES very emphatically we are implying NO, in other words. One pole invokes the other, one extreme invokes the other. So when we extract a positive message out of randomness we are at the same time creating the negative version of that same message and the two would immediately cancel each other out if we let them. We avoid this – as everyone knows – by ‘focusing only on the positive’. This is of course why positive thinking is so popular – we’re trying as hard as we can to avoid our prize thesis being cancelled out by the antithesis which we have created at the very same time, which we have created inadvertently, so to speak, by the very same trick.
So as soon as we create the message we have to work as hard as we can to ward off the nemesis to this message, which would – if we let it – wipe out in one stroke everything that we have fought so hard to create. That’s the good guy versus the bad guy scenario, right? That’s Batman versus the Joker, isn’t it. Holmes versus Moriarty. God versus Satan. Or whatever. Take your pick. We all know that one, right? Every message always comes with the potential for being contradicted or shown to be wrong otherwise it wouldn’t be a message, right? Whoever heard of a definite statement that couldn’t be contradicted? That’s just plain impossible, right? All messages are falsifiable…
So actually there’s three points not just two. I forgot about the third one. Point Number Three is this – when we talk about extracting messages from the Brownian motion pot (which is our basic environment) we’re beating about the bush rather. We’re prevaricating. What we really talking about (when we talk about ‘discerning a secret message hidden in randomness’) is discerning a self. There’s no self in self-cancelling randomness but we’re nevertheless discerning one! We’re pulling out evidence to support our hypothesis of a self. We’re pulling ourselves out of the Trick Top Hat! That’s got to be the cleverest trick of all, right! That’s a blinder. That’s a corker. But – wait for it – there’s a snag in the works! Wouldn’t you know that there would be? There’s a fly in the soup (and its a fat one) because at the same time as creating (by sheer trickery) the self, we have inadvertently created the nemesis to that self. We have – without realizing what we have done – brought our own nemesis into existence and you know what that means, right? To paraphrase what it says in the Wikipedia entry, ‘Our nemesis is the inescapable agent of our downfall’…
So its good and its bad really – it’s the best news in the world and it’s the worst, both at the same time! It’s great if you look at it one way and its bloody terrible if you look at it the other. You’re pleased as punch and you’re down in the dumps. You’re as happy as Larry (and Larry is always happy, as we know) and you’re Debbie Downer, you’re Morose Margery, you’re Melancholic Michael. You’re on Cloud Nine and you’re down in the basement, covered in your own excrement. You’ve never felt so good and you’ve also never felt so bad and that’s pretty confusing, wouldn’t you say? Who wants that? What good is that to anyone? You see what I’m saying here? Do you see where I’m coming from with all this?