Consciousness: Our Journey Through the Multiverse

Imagine for a moment that you’re driving. Maybe you’re going to work or to the shop or just driving for the sake of driving. You’ve got some music playing and you’re momentarily caught up in whatever song is on, to the point that your concentration has begun to wander and without realising it, the car has just drifted over towards the side of the road a little too much. You’re nothing more than a few inches away from driving down the side of what would be a fatal drop. You notice just before you go over and straighten the car up on the road as your heart begins to race due to your near death experience…but what if it wasn’t a near death experience? What if you did actually die in that car accident but your consciousness instantly manifests itself into a reality where your car didn’t tip over the edge.

I’m going to assume you’ve heard of the multiverse theory and the many worlds interpretation? If not, then just understand that it is possible that there are an infinite number of universes that exist out-with our own and every time you make a choice or decision, there could potentially be another version of you in a different universe/reality where you made a different decision. That’s probably the easiest way to summarise it but I’d still advise you go read about it somewhere else or even just go watch a YouTube video about it…anyway, you’ve just been in this car crash but suddenly you are alive and as far as you’re concerned, you didn’t die but you nearly did; one second longer and you would have been over the edge of the road. Luckily you managed to notice in time. There may be a term for this idea already but if not, I’m going to call it reality jumping or consciousness-host magnetism.

When you think about how little we understand about consciousness, is it really a stretch to imagine that such a thing could be possible? Graham Hancock once said during a podcast that he views consciousness like a radio signal, in that our bodies are receiving the signal (similarly to a radio) but we have no knowledge of what the source is. Perhaps there is some hub out-with our universe and all universes that sends out a stream or signal so that we are always aware in one universe or another. Maybe we are aware in every universe but just at different times or perhaps we’re aware in every universe at the same time but we are simply one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively (as Bill Hicks once said). I don’t think there is ever any way we could discover such a thing but it’s certainly an interesting topic to think about.

So you die and then before you know it you’re nervously laughing in another universe about the fact that you almost died. Then again, maybe it’s not instant at all. I mean without anywhere to store memories, why would we have any recollection of the journey from one host to another? Perhaps we’ve actually spent billions or trillions of years floating through some dark void between universes but we simply can’t remember it. I guess time might not even exist in that dimension so you’re just an awareness floating through nothingness. Ever zone out and feel like you were a million miles away? Maybe it’s because you just died in another universe and your consciousness has only just re-emerged into this new body. That feeling of having drifted miles away could be like an after-image of the journey you just took. Why would we even be limited to one consciousness? Maybe there are hundreds, thousands or even millions of “you” inside your brain. Since there are potentially an infinite number of universes where the same events, there are theoretically an infinite number of versions of you that have had the exact same experience as you. So perhaps your consciousness just merges with theirs and you’re none the wiser. I mean why would you be? It’s almost like syncing up sound with video. When it’s done perfectly, you can’t notice that the two are in fact separate things. They become one functioning film or TV show. What if mental illness is merely the result of an incompatible consciousness trying to merge with the others? Imagine for a moment that your consciousness is like an item in a shop: it has a bar code on it that is unique to all those items not just that one, individual item. For example, all the white chocolate chip cookies would have the same bar code. What if in some weird, cosmic sense our consciousness (which for the purposes of this post I’m viewing as similar to a base soul or spirit that has no experiences or memories other than the ones that the host body has saved in its brain) has a bar code of sorts; Some unique pattern that allows it to find and merge with others of the same code. The only comparison I can think of is that ridiculous game where you fire coloured bubbles at other coloured bubbles and after a certain number are touching, they pop. What happens then when a slightly different or maybe even completely different code is combined with the others? I can’t think of a better example so I’m going to stick with this bubble pop (or whatever the game’s name is) comparison. If we view your consciousness as a circle or bubble, and everyone else in the entirety of human consciousness has a completely different shape to yours, then we can use the colour of the bubble to distinguish between one compatible bubble and another. So what happens when 5 red bubbles suddenly get joined by a green one? Well, that consciousness believes it is in the right place. It joins the others but the host body doesn’t have the compatible memories or experiences, it doesn’t like the same music or write with the same hand. While the consciousness has no memories, maybe it is programmed or has some sort of hard wiring that stops it from just merging with any host. To begin with it may just observe but soon it would naturally try and control the host body which goes against what is already happening. Maybe this causes a tear of sorts in the psyche and ultimately leads to mental illness. Maybe this also explains why some people feel like they are the wrong sex: perhaps in another universe they are a different gender. They are the same person in every other way but just were born a different sex. If we use the bubble analogy again, what if the host was initially a blue bubble (or several blue bubbles) but a pink bubble (yes I’m using gender stereotypes for the colours) latches on, then another, then another. Would the pink bubble eventually become the controlling force within that host body?

Maybe we could even take this a step further: I remember reading this short story of sorts online. I’ll try and find a link to it so that you can read it (here you go: http://www.galactanet.com/oneoff/theegg_mod.html )…anyway, to summarise, this story suggests that when we die we come back as somebody else. Time is not important, you may die now and come back in 1450 but basically you are everyone else that ever has lived and ever will live. The story suggests that this is some form of maturing and that eventually you become a God-like being but you require the experience of all these different lifetimes before you can reach that level. So what if we take my consciousness idea and combine it with that: we could be a being that is living not only a potentially infinite number of versions of one life, but in fact a potentially infinite number of versions of every life. Maybe the code for each consciousness changes in a similar way to a counter. Perhaps you start out with 00001 (I’m of course simplifying this for the comparison) and the first 9 are the same life but after that one, you change to 00010. Each space could represent a new life that you’re to experience. Of course it wouldn’t be as simple as that or perhaps even as organised.

There is of course another way to look at this: Imagine that we don’t experience every universe but a select few. If there are an infinite number of universes then perhaps we experience a billion or a trillion and while we might not live in every one, when we die we have the option of restarting from that point in another universe that is the same. What if this group of universes is like a school or university or gym but in a crazy way that we can’t remotely comprehend while in it? Kind of like not realising you’re dreaming until you wake up. When we finish the combined experience of all these lifetimes, we emerge and can remember everything we’ve seen, learnt, touched, felt, etc. I guess the question then would be: what are we training for? To become Gods? Or are we merely foot soldiers in some sort of whacky alien training programme, preparing ourselves in a simulation for our upcoming war with humanity: Living a ridiculous number of lifetimes in a few weeks to learn their weaknesses and strengths? This is perhaps taking this train of thought a little too far outside the box but it’s fun to think about. Would our experience as humans alter our view on the war we’re about to have with them (now there is a film idea: aliens who live the lives of humans in a simulation that creates realities identical to the one true reality that they live in, only to ultimately find that they sympathize with us).

Of course I can’t imagine it being possible to ever prove or even theorize in any detail about such an idea. There would be something wonderfully relaxing about having such knowledge though. Would we fear death at all? Would we be sad for the deaths of our loved ones? I know religious people must be reading this thinking “well isn’t Heaven the same thing”. Maybe to you it is but as someone without not only the means to get to heaven but also the desire, I’d choose universe hopping over eternal suffering/bliss without a moment’s hesitation. There is also no need for any higher being to exist for such a theory to be true. I mean we know that electrons and such act in really crazy and mysterious ways so why not human consciousness? I mean isn’t it far more mysterious even without this theory?

This would undoubtedly lead to the moral dilemma of whether or not the new you in each universe really is you. I mean who are you? Are you the one, physical body or are you the experiences and memories that that body transports within the memory centres of the brain? Not that it would matter because you would always think that you are you due to being unable to remember your previous life/lives. For instance, I could have died in thousands of different ways already or perhaps this actually is my first life and I’ve been one of the lucky ones who just hasn’t died yet.

We would then also have the question of what happens when you die naturally? Do you just go to a universe where you live longer? There has to be a point where you quite simply do not live any longer in any universe in existence so what then? Do we just restart with no memories in a new, random universe as a baby? That part of it sounds more like hell to me: living longer and longer in each universe while being physically and mentally unable to take care of yourself and probably spending the majority of your time alone, practically begging for death. Not the most cheery note to end on but oh well!

Any thoughts on this post? Feel free to comment them below!

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The Flash: A Representation of Dumbed-Down Television

Anyone else noticing that TV shows (as well as films) seem to be becoming more and more dumbed down in order to appeal to a larger audience? This can take place in many ways, whether it’s the shows characters doing something ridiculous to advance the story or revealing something about themselves that only the slower audience members won’t have noticed or even worse, things actually not making sense in the shows storyline. I recently binge-watched two seasons of The Flash which is what sparked this post so I’m going to use that as my point of reference as it highlights most of the issues I plan on mentioning.

 

I had never seen anything to do with The Flash before. If there are Flash films I haven’t seen them, if there are games then I haven’t played them and while I know there are comics, I haven’t read them. I only began watching the show because I’d been led to believe that it had interesting twists and turns and a generally cool storyline. While I did find myself ultimately hooked on the show, it wasn’t out of intrigue or curiosity as much as it was out of hate and disbelief. I’ll admit that it’s certainly an entertaining show (as much as it pains me to say it) but there are some very clear issues with the show that apply to many, many others like it.

One of the biggest issues is the number of episodes per season which in the case of The Flash is something like 22 or 23. Don’t get me wrong, some shows have a lot of episodes and manage it perfectly fine but others fall into a horrible pit where we notice a formula being used that causes each episode to mirror the one before it with only minor differences. This isn’t the case for every single episode but I found it went something like this:

-the audience is shown a new meta-human doing something at the time of the particle collider explosion;

-Barry and his team/family discuss some problem that they are having;

-the meta-human shows up and causes trouble;

-some member of the team (usually Barry) thinks they have the solution;

-they don’t and they fail;

-ultimately some important lesson about family or teamwork or patience or whatever is learnt and this is used to defeat the meta-human.

We get this for about 40 minutes and then in the last minute or so, some mysterious event happens that adds to the overall storyline in some way that is meant to be like a cliff-hanger but usually isn’t. Essentially, 80% of the show is filler material and 20% is unique storyline. Don’t get me wrong, some of the filler stuff is hilarious and interesting but you can only watch the same thing happen so many times before it becomes boring. The Flash isn’t the only show I’ve watched where this has happened: Take Elementary for example, a show I should have enjoyed a lot more than I did. Elementary also uses this technique in order to add more episodes to each season. This is all well and good but eventually you just become bored of it. Some other examples of this would include Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Marvels Agents of Shield (specifically the first season) and Lie to me, which are all shows that I thoroughly enjoyed but even they had points where it just wasn’t that interesting and ultimately the success formula acts as a negative aspect of the show. Lie to Me didn’t even have any huge, overall storyline but it still became very formulated. Even The Walking Dead has started to drag its heels in terms of new story arcs. I mean Lost has plenty of episodes and (despite the fact that it ultimately ended up being wildly disappointing) managed to keep each episode unique and interesting. Sure, it may not always have made sense and caused us to have more questions than answers but if a bunch of plane crash survivors on an island can remain interesting, shouldn’t that also be the case with superheroes/villains? I find that for many shows, especially ones of this nature where the storyline should be the focus; less is more. Take Game of Thrones for example, we get 10 episodes a year…TEN! Ignoring season 6 which in my opinion has also become a tad too predictable and has certainly been dumbed down to appeal to a wider audience, I’ve found myself constantly wanting more of the show. I only started watching it last year and I binged 4 and a half seasons in less than a week and still wanted more. Since then I’ve watched the first 5 seasons all over again, as well as the 6th. Breaking Bad is another good example. The number of episodes per season varied a lot (8-16) but the show managed to keep me entertained for almost the entire time. Breaking Bad is another one I’ve managed to watch twice without feeling like the same thing is happening over and over in each episode. What about True Detective or Sherlock? Both incredible shows (perhaps ignoring the 2nd season of True Detective) and yet they have very few episodes per season. I mean Sherlock only has three episodes…just three. So of course the number of episodes can vary depending on the show and the content. I mean take House for example: House has many episodes per season, it’s basically the same thing every episode and yet it is entertaining to watch because it isn’t the storyline that is important quite as much as the characters. I mean this works with a lot of shows: Friends, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, House…all of which are similar from episode to episode yet remain entertaining. That’s because while they may have an overall storyline, it’s the content of each episode that is important.

 

As I mentioned before, the general “dumbing-down” of TV shows is definitely an issue that is becoming more and more prevalent. We, the audience, are being spoon-fed every singly detail so that we don’t miss it. Why? Well because if some, if not all of the viewers can’t understand what’s going on or miss details that are vital to the story then they may give up watching out of frustration. I’ll once again refer back to The Flash here as I have a few examples in mind. As I mentioned at the start, I’d never seen or read anything Flash-related. So why is it that after watching episode one (spoilers ahead) where we see Barry’s mum being murdered, I could instantly tell you that The Flash would get his powers and end up travelling through time to that night? It was pretty obvious, right? Yet it isn’t until episode 15 through some far-fetched (even by this shows standards) scientific bullshit that blood is found at the scene 15 years after the event that proves older Barry was there as well as young Barry. Bad example? How about how obvious it was that “Atom-smasher” from the start of season 2 was from another universe? I mean it was incredibly obvious. I have an even better example: There is an episode in season 2 where the Trickster (played by Mark Hamill) dressed up as Santa and gives out presents to children. Just in case anyone hadn’t been paying attention, the Trickster conveniently pulls down his fake beard to reveal who he is. Not to insult anyone but if it took up until that reveal for you to realise it was the Trickster then I’m afraid you are part of the problem that I’m referring to in this post.

 

Then of course we have issues that take place within the show itself. So just to carry on with my Flash critique, I shall use a few examples from it to show you what I mean. In The Flash, there are often lessons that Barry learns that are ultimately meant to guide him down his path towards being the best hero he can be. One of the biggest of these is messing with time. In season 1, Barry goes back in time and alters events, soon learning how dangerous the butterfly effect can be. I won’t get into the specifics but despite how risky time travel is, he goes back not once, not twice but three times (that I’m aware of). One of these times he goes back with the intention of saving his mother’s life but decides not to, then he goes back to learn how to run faster and despite the fact that he gets chased by these time-ghoul things that hunt those who mess with time, he goes back again at the end of the 2nd season and actually does save his mother. This final journey back in time is as a result of his father being killed by Zoom who is from another universe. So just to reiterate my point here: despite Barry knowing how risky time travel is and how much can be changed, and despite Barry knowing that crazy time-wraith creatures are likely to hunt him down for changing too much, he decides to go back 16 or so years to change several events that took place: he saves his mother which in turn stops his father going to jail while also stopping the reverse-flash…why is this an issue? Well ignoring how much can change, there are several more logical options that could have been explored. I mean Barry could have gone back and saved his father or gone back before the portal to Earth 2 was opened, both of which would result in less change. Oh, and just to top all this off, this all takes place after Barry reaches inner-peace about his mother’s death, like literally a few episodes before!! I probably haven’t explained this in the simplest of ways but hopefully you get my point. I mean not only is this show completely illogical but it also fails at keeping characters consistent. Barry (or any of the other characters) can have a completely new personality or outlook on life from one episode to the next. One minute Barry is willing to do anything to get his powers back because Zoom has taken one of his best friends…but as soon as he is presented with an option he has to decline it and bring his dad in to help which ultimately leads to his death (another moment where Barry could have gone back and altered things to save his father without completely messing up the timeline). The whole point in having these characters behave a certain way is to give them a personality. You should be able to watch a show and when a character acts a certain way think to yourself “Ahh, that’s exactly the sort of thing he/she would do” but with the Flash, we go from one sort of behaviour to the other with no real explanation.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent shows out there that ignore this ridiculously formulated structure (The Leftovers, Sherlock, Black Mirror, Mr Robot…to name a few) but are we losing a large portion of our entertainment to dumbed-down devolutions? I certainly think we are headed in the direction of just having superheroes appear, save the day and then return to their lair with no real storyline or character development whatsoever. As for The Flash? Well, I guess when season 3 airs I’ll have to decide if it’s worth me angrily watching it just in the hopes of finding a more interesting storyline. My only hope is that shows such as Game of Thrones pull themselves back from the edge of the abyss before we lose them to generic television forever. How long before we have an entire episode dedicated to Jon Snow’s morning hair routine? Probably a bad example because that could potentially be entertaining to see…but you get my point. Given that the Flash can time travel (among other crazy abilities) you would imagine that the story writing could be a tad less predictable or even just a wee bit more interesting. Perhaps we simply expect the unexpected and nothing comes as a shock anymore.

If you disagree and believe that I’m being unfair to the shows I’ve mentioned then by all means leave your opinion below. I’d love to hear whether it’s just me that thinks this.