quinta-feira, 12 de janeiro de 2012

The philosophy of the bridge: quantum and God's dice

I was checking the blogs I follow and I was so amazed when I read a friend's and he was mentioning me and my blog in his post. I was honored and felt like I needed to expand more on what he called my theory of connections. It is not so common to find essay-type texts here, but I couldn't help it. One day I may be able to answer him why we have connected.
Let me start with some name-giving and I will get some Wikipedia help for that:

My greatest concern was what to call it. I thought of calling it ‘information’, but the word was overly used, so I decided to call it ‘uncertainty’. When I discussed it with John von Neumann, he had a better idea. Von Neumann told me, ‘You should call it entropy, for two reasons. In the first place your uncertainty function has been used in statistical mechanics under that name, so it already has a name. In the second place, and more important, nobody knows what entropy really is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage.
—Conversation between Claude Shannon and John von Neumann regarding what name to give to the “measure of uncertainty” or attenuation in phone-line signals

There is the physical attraction that can be involved in some or most of human connections, but how can we deal with some feelings when we are not at all physically attracted to someone but s/he just puts us in contact with some mysterious part of the universe, of ourselves. We just think that the person is interesting for what s/he believes, how s/he acts or doesn't. We just can't help considering them intriguing, mindblowing.

There is awareness involved in whatever move we make towards certain people. Connections are deliberate and they are not interest-free. But sometimes, we are just faced with some examples which makes us wonder.

Let's take one example of a situation that happened in my life and think how chance can perform small "miracles" or "tricks" (still not sure how to call them). Uncertain situations leading to successful connections. Entropy? Quite some time ago I was teaching a morning group of students because their teacher had gotten pregnant (it was a surprise because she was over 40 and her husband had already undergone a vasectomy). I was not supposed to be there in the morning because I had a class at lunchtime on the other side of town. The schools were distant and I live in a city whose traffic ranges from terrible to worse. And the Pope was visiting, so they were deviating traffic, changing routes and I was afraid I would never make it. There was a student in the morning class who would always arrive late and leave just before the class finished. She was quiet and I knew little about her. That day I told the students I would finish the class some minutes before the time and would compensate later, because I had to get across the city. Fine, they said and this girl asked me if I wanted a ride. She was driving to the same region I had to go. We could use her radio to check on the best routes. Could I refuse such an offer? I didn't and we went together. We talked about life and I told her something quite personal, I was sick of living where I was living and I wanted to move. She just nodded. The next class, she told me she had a coworker and he was looking for someone to share an apartment. I got his contacts and went there to meet him. I got a mixed impression, but I was not sure I wanted to live with someone like him: older than me, not my type and strong personality. Threre was no physical attaction there. And I just said I needed to think. That same week, the guy with whom I was living set me up. He locked me outside and left me there on purpose for almost one hour. So, I called that older guy and asked if the offer was still on. There were other people I had talked to, so had him, some other closer friends, even one potential romantic partner. But no, I chose that stranger and was willing to take the risks.
The first months were difficult, he had been living alone for quite some time but we hit off from the start. We used to spend hours talking, from sunset to sunrise sometimes. He taught me so much about life. We never had any romantic involvement and we had like three major fights in over five years. The girl, she left the school and we never met again. She never worked in a project with him again either. She just disappeared, after a considerable change in our lives (mine and my roommie's). Wasn't she something like a bridge who served a certain purpose of putting us together?
I am not saying that there is something like a destiny or written rules but out of 18 million people who live in Sao Paulo, why the heck did I end up with this guy? It's statitics, it's chance but it is also something that had everything to go bad and has been wonderful.
Why out of the thousand books, films and plays people produce all over the world I have contact with these ones I read or I am reading and which form my character and my personality, touch me and make me think? I know people in other continents, their dreams and secrets, but I wouldn't know the name of 5 of my neighbors, if you asked me. So why some people and not others? And being these ones, why not celebrate them? Love them or care for them as well as one can?
You see, Dale, a lot of questions, this is (definitely) not the end.

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