Monday, 3 September 2012

Empty nest 1.0

Right, so he's gone.  Liz and Holly are also out.  Liz and i have both felt rather aimless today because it's bloody weird not having either of them around or needing to think of anything to do with them, although to be honest that happened quite a while ago - self-sufficient and overcome by ennui for quite some time have our children been.  So it's empty nest time, almost.  Presumably there will be a proper empty nest moment when they both really and truly do leave home, although people say that never quite happens.  Holly announced a couple of years ago that she had in fact "left home", but since she did it while loading the washing machine it wasn't entirely convincing unless we lived in a laundrette.

The thing now is to "start" as i mean to go on.  Unfortunately the whole weirdness of the situation is making it difficult to start anything.  My progress on the ebook has ground to a halt right now - i did displacement, fake work activities like making sure the text was all loaded into Evernote so i could edit it on the tablet if i needed to, but since as i said i am alone in the house, that was all a bit immaculate (=pointless).  So maybe Tuesday is the real day when i "start as I mean to go on" rather than today, but once you've had several days where you haven't started, it gets hard to convince yourself that that's what you're honestly doing.  For that reason in itself, it'd clearly be a good idea.

I have had one thought about all this which might be fruitful, and it's based on the idea of what some childless gays and lesbians seem to do.  There is more than one nurturing role available to us and as a result, such a person might choose to nurture the whole world, the youth of today or what have you.  Hence they might become a probation officer or teacher as a way of satisfying that role.  Now that is software in a sense.  Fertilisation provides the hardware - human bodies capable of learning.  Culture and nurture provide the software.  Liz and i are now in a sense a gay couple, apart from the minor detail that we're heterosexual.  Our role towards the children continues in a subdued way, but our role towards the world now comes to the fore.  Now we are supposed to provide the software more than the hardware.  There are a couple of organisms out there which are now considerably independent - the living bodies of Holly and Daniel.  However, they both existed as a piece of software from way before that in our minds because we were aware of various aspects of possible future children of ours before we even met.  For instance, some time in about 1977, i decided i liked the name Daniel and hence there was a possible future child of mine called Daniel Ure, date of birth unknown, possibly even non-existent.  That child would probably speak English as a first language, be male and so forth.  As time went by, that software was edited together with Liz's prototypes for children and eventually got compiled into the object codes we call Holly and Daniel.  The software is their souls, the hardware their bodies.  I hope that makes sense.

There is of course one other child in this family who has only ever existed as software:  Sophie Gray, date of birth 13th November 1999.  She has a soul but no body and she is still with us.  Here are some pictures of her:

This is a ghostly image of our phantom daughter on holiday in Sussex i think.  Her age here is something like nine.  Here's another one of her at home:

Unfortunately, due to the annoying fact that it's difficult to point a camera into a parallel universe, the shape of her face is a bit distorted, but she's there.  Incidentally, her eyes are the wrong colour in both of these.  Thus we still have a child at home, but she's disabled in an interesting way:  she is less existent than the other two children.

On a sort of combined software and hardware note, there are another set of phantom alter egos too:  the counterpart children who were never born but are everything, genetically, which one is not.  Everyone has one of these.  When the cells which eventually become the eggs and sperm which unite to create the hardware on which our souls run as programmes (or maybe operating systems if we are particularly dissociated or have lots of roles), each of them divides to produce two cells.  The other pair of cells, one an ovum, the other a sperm, has the other alleles, so for example any female will have a phantom male counterpart and vice versa, any homozygously blue-eyed child of heterozygous brown-eyed parents will have a brown-eyed phantom counterpart and so forth.  Hence, somewhere out there in the phase space of your genome, there is another person who is anyone but you:  Ivan and Daria, our non-children, our doubly non-existent phantom non-son Brutus, and the husband of the non-existent Ruth (who is anyone but me) who seems to be called George or Albert.  We all have these phantom counterparts who never existed, and of course many billions of other counterparts who never existed either, but in other ways.  Also, those counterparts Ruth and George have other children which we couldn't have because their very genomes are dormant or have been destroyed, depending on the sex.  These ghostly children can't even manage not to exist as well as the ones which don't.

However, we are not these bodies, whether or not they exist.  We are the software running on those bodies, perhaps with some differences.  We will never know what most of those differences were, and there would even be similarities where a homozygous recessive trait is inherited from both parents. Perhaps all of a nervous couple's phantom children are also nervous, for example.  Think of it this way.  You have a child.  They turn out to have an inherited genetic trait, such as, allegedly, being able to roll their tongue, but you don't find out until they're thirteen.  Now, suppose you had had the other, phantom child instead.  That child would not have been able to roll their tongue.  Similarly, you might find out your son is red-green colourblind.  Their alter ego would have been a daughter who was not colourblind, almost certainly (99.9% in fact).  However, simply because you discover your child can or cannot roll their tongue or is or is not colourblind does not alter the fact that they are the same person.  It means something to say they might not have been able to roll their tongue, or that they might not have been colourblind. It might even mean something to say they might have been of a different gender.  The point is that all that depends on the child's social identity.  They exist as a person in the world almost regardless of minor details in their genomes, although some differences have big consequences.  Therefore, I would say that our children are, metaphorically speaking, software, and that is the sense in which they have souls.  As such, they are also eternal because at the latest, taking my son as an example, he had a name by 1977 and he will exist in people's memories for as long as there are people to remember him after he has died.

To end frivolously, this makes Sophie as real as the other children in the sense that she exists as an imaginary character, but she is still our daughter.

Does that make sense?