Monday, September 19, 2005

Possibilities


I have been very busy recently, helping out the ArtLAB with an excellent initiative of theirs, a conference about New Approaches to Landscape (it took place yesterday here in Lisbon at the Superior Institute of Agronomy). It was very inspiring, I learned a lot and will write some more about it soon, but first I have some material that got delayed because of all the activity. For starters, a web project about alternative lives. The possibility of having other lives is so tempting , and for anyone spending some time in the virtual realm it is so close to reality, that it seems almost natural to re-write one's life in a "what if" narrative. Surprisingly though, we rarely go through with it, we rarely actually dare to imagine what ways our lives could have gone, and think it out till its ultimate consequences (those latter being altogether quite similar in all cases). The whatif project by Craig Robinson is one project that went all the way. In it, you can follow the author's (the politically correct version: "his alter ego's") life through all its possible events, with their often surprizing consequences. Wandering through these possible lives, I remembered the contemporary philosophical discussion about "possible worlds" (Saul Kripke is one of the main actors in this discussion), a very "fun" concept for a very un-fun environment that analytical philosophy can be. The question often asked is: "what do we talk of when we talk about possible worlds?" To put it in another way: how real are they and what's the use of talking about them? We could say they're useless inventions. But take a look around Robinson's possible worlds. Surprizingly enough - they tell us a lot about his actual world, the possible choices, events - and outcomes - all fit snuggly in one universe. You might accuse this universe of being too light-hearted and smartass-funny (I suppose I would agree with you), but nonetheless you do get a clear picture of who Craig Robinson would like to be, thinks he could be, thinks he could have been, thinks who he thinks he is not, and all the other possible options - that could well tell you a good bit about who Craig Robinson is.

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1 comment:

Theodore Diran Lyons III said...

Yes, the notion of possible worlds is very interesting [analytical philosophy not so much], but I am not sure if it as an idea is very pragmatic or practical...seems to inspire more nostalgia for "coulda beens" and therefore the temptation for emotional discomfort than something that can produce something positive in the present. I at times like to think that in some other world I exerted the effort to be faster than Carl Lewis, but alas I must live in this one, where I made certain choices that got me here...and there is no reverting back...Ethan Kaplan was doing some work on the notions of organizing individuals acccording to interests and traits through the Kohonen self-organizing algorithm which used the notion of possible worlds as a back drop, but I hear he has neglected such projects and moved more toward corporate digital culture...

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