Thursday, May 27, 2010

The things we say

There's a curious expression... We've all said it, probably lots during our lifetimes... and in one sense we mean it, and it is literally true... but in another, it isn't...

"it's not the end of the world"...

It's a funny one that.

Yes, it's literally true; a major personal catastrophe, or major change, is not the end of the world. In general our lives will go on under the changed circumstances; even if our personal individual lives don't, the rest of the world will (until Ragnarok or whatever your preferred mode of apocalypse comes anyway).

But your mind has this curious property of discontinuity, that makes it, in some ways, really the end of the world.

Peoples minds have a certain fixed set of parameters that define "the world". In some ways these parameters are very flexible, but for most people, there are some fairly hard discontinuity limits.

When your mind hits one of those points of discontinuity, it simply cannot perceive past it. So, for your mind, it literally IS "the end of the world".

That which your mind has defined as "the world" ends; and an entirely "new world" begins, in the changed environment created by these new circumstances and parameters.

... In that sense, in some VERY LIMITED ways, solipsism is right.