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What is Heaven?

Date: 28-Aug-2004/16:51+3:00


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"We are raised to honor all the wrong explorers and discoverers--thieves planting flags, murderers carrying crosses. Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams."
Peter S. Beagle
One of my principal conceptions of Heaven is that it is a state of creative empowerment where artists do not have to worry about financial or resource boundaries, but can create without limit. I think of this as being somewhat analogous to someone who is using a computer paint program doesn't have to worry about running out of polygons or pixels, and in the same way that software can be arranged with near-perfect resource recycling of "bits" I believe these same principles can be applied to real-world systems.
Yet when all obstacles are removed from a creator then they must face the idea that what it is they were going to make isn't going to be as good as they hoped in their imagination. Or that once they have made their creation that the people they hoped would appreciate it will instead reject it. Or they have to face the idea that they were just lazy and lying to themselves (and others) about how important the work was to them.
I know this fear intimately. I have been one of those people who has spent tons of money on tools and materials for my creative pursuits and then found that my frustration with the tools has blocked me from producing anything. Why did I have all that music gear? Where is my body of work that would justify owning such things? Nowhere. I am incapable of working on music alone, I just do not have the attention span to do so in a non-social context (at least not with today's tools). It's too difficult and my mind wanders if others are not there to keep me inspired with interplay.
Yet there is something different about my failure mode on creative projects. When I reject a tool, I do not merely throw it aside and give up on the idea...instead I do a thorough job of designing the new tool which would not have the weaknesses of the predecessor. That has been my life's work--to embrace and understand software and its practical limitations. I want to bring focus to that line where the incompleteness is coming from the lack of form of the dreamer's dream, as opposed to the lack of ability of the tool to act upon that dream.
Some people enjoy operating under constraints, and they argue that these constraints are what make the world fun. (Generally these people are not homeless and/or starving.) Personally, I think it's pretty sick to suggest that artificial resource constraints should be introduced without telling people of their arbitrariness just in order to make things "more artistically interesting". If you want to have a drawing contest where "the provided program can only use twenty red pixels, strategically placed"--then I think that can be fun. But to give a restricted tool to someone who doesn't know about the existence of the unrestricted tool is--in my mind--a criminal act.
Yet is Heaven merely the achievement of giving all creators tools to match the level of the artist's ability to define their vision? If you believe technology is able to allow you to simulate and experience anything, then what is to stop you from being simulated by something that could predict you and just send you creations which would provide you maximum pleasure...without you having to define what you wanted???
This type of possibility appears the moment we allow for something merely one level more powerful than ourselves. Many adults could step into a child's learning process and use their (relatively) infinite budget to solve any particular problem facing that child...yet they choose not to in order to allow the child to derive their own creative solution.
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The accounts written here are as true as I can manage. While the words are my own, they are not independent creative works of fiction —in any intentional way. Thus I do not consider the material to be protected by anything, other than that you'd have to be crazy to want to try and use it for genuine purposes (much less disingenuous ones!) But who's to say?