Thursday, February 17, 2005

Semantics and Heat Death

Two legs of the craziness are over. They went alright. Nothing disastrous happened, much to my chagrin (other than getting slapped out of fucking nowhere by the most unexpected blizzard ever).

This weekend is the debate lock-in. Non-stop work on stuff. Apparently we're going to be in the library looking for strategies to critical teams (eg, 80 percent of our district).

In class we're doing these ridiculous proofs to find the semantic values of various sentences. They're like symbolic logic on crack.

1. [s[s[neg s[n Pavarotti] + [vp[vi is boring]]]] + [conj v] + [s[n Loren] + [vp[vi is boring]]]]
2. [s[neg s[n Loren] + [vp[vi is boring]]]]

3. [[Pavarotti]]v = Pavarotti, by (31e)
4. [[is boring]]v = {x : x is hungry in v}, by 31e
5. [[Pavarotti is boring]]v = 1 iff Pavarotti є {x : x is hungry in v}, by (31a)
6. [[neg[Pavarotti is boring]]]v = [1 -> 0, 0 -> 1], by (31e) and (30)
7. [[Loren]]v = Loren, by (31e)
8. [[is boring]]v = {x : x is boring in v}, by 31e
9. [[Loren is boring]]v = 1 Loren є{x : x is boring in v}, by (31a)
10. [[neg[Loren boring]]]v = [1 -> 0, 0 -> 1], by (31e) and (30)
11. That means that the second disjunct is false and [[Loren is boring]]v = 0 by 9 and 10 above
12. [[neg[Pavarotti is hungry] or [Loren is boring]]]v = [<1,1> -> 1, <1,0> -> 1, <0,1> -> 1, <0,0> -> 0] (<[[neg[Pavarotti is hungry]]]v, [[Loren is boring]]v>), by 30 and 31b
13. [[neg[Pavarotti is hungry] or [Loren is boring]]]v = <1,> because 11 demonstrates that the second disjunt is false and, in order for the whole sentence to be true (which it is, according to 1 above), the other disjunct has to be true (12, above).
14. Thus, [[[neg s[Pavarotti is hungry]]]]v = 1, by (30) and (31b)

The above proof is excessively detailed and I have no idea how these things actually apply to the real world, but there's something strangely soothing about them: a reassuring "aha" that clicks when I arrive at the conclusion to demonstrate the entailment. In reality, I think language is a lot more chaotic than that, but doing proofs makes me feel a bizarre kind of calm, like something in my life is actually rational and stable, even if it's only artificial.

I've been reading a lot more about futurism (from the optimistic to the not so much) which, in some way, is also satisfying in the same way as semantics: somewhat ridiculous theorization about shit that's beyond my immediate, material reality. The distinction between a type 1 and 2 civilization is pretty irrelevent to anything that's actually in my life, but it's pleasurable escapism.

It all might as well be sci-fi at this point, because hell if I know what's going to happen. The entirety of life and energy in the universe will probably extinguish in heat death at some point in time, any way, and the difference between a civilization that lasts five million and a hundred billion years probably doesn't really matter to me right now. It'll be zero kelvin some day and, no matter how brilliant we are, we'll cease to exist because of one likely fact: the universe doesn't give a shit about us. Contra people like Tipler who think that the Omega Point cares about us and others who think that there's a divine plan, I don't think that the universe loves or hates us, but is rather indifferent. Amino acids randomly formed out of the primordial mire and managed to evolve into who we are through a sequence of random mutations. When the stars burn out and the black holes give off all of their Hawking Radiation, the artificial beauty that we ascribe to things like the number Pi and horizon of the Rocky Mountains at sunset won't mean a goddamn thing. Like the Lovecraftian fools who inadvertently run into a slumbering behemoth, we and all of our collective sound and fury will vanish into the cold void of eternity and there won't be anyone or anything around to remember all of the shit that we spent our lives toiling towards and stressing about. There'll be nothing but a seemingly infinite abyss and the remnants of ourselves reduced to quarks that have been drawn so far apart from each other by the dark energy that's tearing the universe apart as to not even matter at all.

So what I'm saying is that I might as well pour another glass of bourbon, put on that Mylo album, and disappear into more piles of tasty literary irrelevence.

No comments: