San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Those Magical Moments

Fortunately for our sanity, since unremitting pain, anxiety or just plain boredom can drive you up the wall quicker than you can blink, there come along now and again moments lasting often only minutes and rarely more than an hour, when everything seems to be exactly right and you’re enchanted to be alive. Undoubtedly, what seems to be a psychological thing is simply a chemical thing, since it can also be induced by drugs or special exercises designed to stimulate the body’s own supply of hallucinogens.

And that’s exactly the word I’m looking for, because these magical moments don’t seem like they’re for real. These are the moments when you fall in love or rescue a child from drowning or give all your wealth to a blind beggar. Perhaps they are just moments of fake madness intended in some weird homeopathic way to forestall real dementia. But humans being what they are, they’re no sooner onto a good thing than they want to repeat it, synthesize it, patent it and make a million. So only for them I offer a more promising explanation than chemicals.

To manipulate discontinuous events such as a “blip” of light or sound, mathematicians employ a tool called Fourier Analysis, whereby you can dissect a discontinuous event into hundreds of continuous events, shaped like sinusoids. Being continuous, they start at the beginning of time and continue until the end thereof, but some being positive and others negative at any given time, they cancel each other out everywhere except at the blip – leaving, for all practical purposes, just the blip.

Now while this operation is merely a fiction for the mathematician, who finds it more convenient to deal with tractable and unchanging sinusoids than with discontinuities, and can simply ignore what isn’t there in the aggregate, the fact that he can imagine a permanent sinusoid means that in a sense it exists. And certainly, if he tweaks just one of these functions before it contributes its mite to the blip, the blip changes its shape or even disappears, which proves something was there even if you couldn’t see it. Well, if something is there before the beginning and after the end, we have confirmed predestination and possibly solved the problem of time travel.

Now I don’t wish to spoil your day, but if everything we do is predestined, then we have no free will and may as well stop making decisions and figuring what to do next, since it’s all been laid out for us already. Indeed, if you have carefully followed this argument so far, you are bound to conclude that we are all merely temporary figments in the mind of the Great Mathematician, and Alexander, Napoleon and Einstein died in vain trying to impress us, because we were never there in the first place.

But there must surely be something wrong somewhere, because if I can imagine I do not exist, then I most surely must exist (Descartes’ famous “I think, therefore I am”). So personally, like the faith healer of Deal who said:

“Although pain isn’t real,

if I sit on a pin

and it punctures my skin,

I dislike what I fancy I feel,”

I must conclude that we do indeed exist, if only in the GM’s mind, and we can have our magical moments with or without chemistry, since it all depends on what the GM is thinking at the moment.


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