Friday, April 29, 2011

Messy Moral Mathematics

Inspiration for this post comes from the oft-spoken argument that Gotham would be better off with The Joker simply dead, not in the Cardboard Prison of Arkham Asylum, so Batman should just shoot him already.

The authors'/Batman's argument against this is that it would make him "just as bad" as The Joker. The common response of the fan in question is that it totally wouldn't. The Joker is literally irrecoverable, and even if he can, eventually, be reformed, the number of people he will kill/maim/drive insane before he would change clearly outweighs the loss of one person.

In a sense, I agree with both parties. It's not that Batman would be as bad as The Joker because this one act would be so horrible on an objective scale. Batman would become just as bad.

My reasoning for this can be divided in two parts. The first is the Mirror side, which works in a vacuum, and the second is the eponymous Messy Mathematics, which remembers all of Gotham.

Mirror: The Joker is essentially a mirror image of Batman. Batman went through a wrenching experience, went insane, and went dark and good. The Joker went through a disfiguring experience and saw life as a joke--he went light and harmfully insane. Both are hurt, costumed, insane, spreading their world view, and terrifying--even to their allies.

They're so similar. If one is beyond salvation...

Mathematics: I'm going to draw on another example for this one. Let's say you have two people in a fire, and a hero willing to save them. The math at first appears fairly simple: 2 > 1. The hero should risk life and limb to save the two who need saving.

But it's not, really. Let t=time left alive. Let n=average number of people saved. Let the end goal=maximum number of people alive. The hero isn't 1, the hero is 1nt, and so are the two people. If the two civilians are frail, or dying soon, or cowardly, or any number of other things, then their variable-adjusted 2nt < 1nt. The math gets messy. But the problem isn't even that simple. If the hero is the sort of person who allows two people to die in a fire because the hero can save someone else tomorrow, chances are good that the same excuse is going to come up tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow...and that changes the value of n.

And that's not even taking into account inspiration. Let i=inspiration. The act of saving the two people adds an i to other's equations, rippling out, and it's impossible to calculate the exact effect that has.

It isn't that killing The Joker is an act of such outright, objective evil that it could not be construed as a good act. But the equation changes. If Batman is the sort of person who can kill The Joker, that taints him. The man, who has broken his one rule, the one thing that stops him from becoming Templar. The idea, that was the one beacon of hope, clothed in shadows and terrifying, but there to make the monsters scared.

The man becomes a killer. Someone who takes the law into his own hands, until it isn't even the law anymore, just the code of an insane man--and the image is as cracked as the dead reflection.

The idea is a monster. The shadow will find you. You won't see it coming. You'll have time to draw breath but not scream, time to be terrified, an unbearable eternity, but barely a moment. No trial. No justice. Just the swish that you hear when the wind blows the curtains, when cardboard runs against cardboard, when you're about to die.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Little lost. Little fool. Little ignorant little thing, trying stupidly, never finding anything but a place to run from run from, to never run to. No desire, no ecstasy, no fire or fate. Just a vague delusion that she's too little, too late.

Patterns? Oh, once they were hers. She was the smartest. She could reach things others couldn't, even when she was shorter. She was impressive. It wouldn't matter if they all deserted her. She stood, she walked, she ran, she rose, from the crown of her head to the tips of her toes.

Ah, but she grew. It's quite impressive to read when you're two. It's a stunning adventure to reach that view, to stretch up eight feet when you're five foot two. Amazing, astounding, and then...not so new.

She grew up and stretched to her very best, but the drive went away with no rewards nor a rest. They would grant, surely would, those who would smile were plenty--but no one cheered when she soared. She felt empty.

The logical part of her mind will say no, of course they're still cheering, still watching that show. But all she can see, beating heart in her chest, is they're not surprised--how can she let herself rest? She fed on perfection, or so close flaws unseen; she flew on being blue in center of green.

She popped, no comparison, no one that would thwart; what else can be when there's but one in that sport?

And still she is good, she knows herself great: she's pretty, she's smart, her friends love when she bakes. But she can't help but feel, in the back of her head, this odd little feeling of unending dread.

Here comes the last of the structure and schooling. Soon she'll be all alone, and it, life, will be grueling. She holds herself up and sees herself short--she cooks just desserts, what's that say of her worth? She could not support herself, not if she tried, she doesn't have the skills--she knows that she lies.

She could, if she tried. She knows she could. And that's the greatest terror, the one even she can't face, the one that makes her flee from her place. Not that she falls short, not that she lacks the reason, but that she simply, normally, pays that, come her season.

To be incapable--that she would hate. To be a dependent--what worse fate? But she knows one, though she bare' dare admit:

To be fully capable, and still to quit.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Line on Secrets

60 summarized posts+13 musings+26 somethings+this post=100 Posts

To start with the simplest way I can think of to say it: Any person should be able to keep secrets that do no harm. No person should be forced to keep a secret.

What I mean to say by the first is that I am not writing this as a part of a crusade to completely do away with secrets. I recognize that saying something like, "Ugh, you are [insult]" is something you might want to keep to yourself. Particularly if there's nothing constructive about the insult--"Your clothes are messed up" is worse than, "You're tag's sticking out," for instance. I also recognize that some secrets are simply difficult to communicate. I...obviously can't give an example of that one.

And, simply, I believe people deserve a certain level of privacy. Unless I am interested in a relationship/one-night stand with you, I don't need to know your orientation. I would say I don't even need to know that, only if you're interested, but there's an entire part of the courtship ritual devoted to winning over a potential mate so...gray area.

Simply put: maybe it's none of my business. I'm fine with that. As one of my goals is to know everything, I want to know, and as a friend I hope that if my friends wants to tell someone they can tell me, but I would not intentionally force an invasion of privacy.

And here comes the flip.

All that stuff I just said about being forced to tell a secret? Combine that with a need to communicate and understand, and a reflexive feeling of wrong about anyone being forced to keep a secret, and you begin to have how I feel about a person made to keep one.

Then there's the more conventional way to force: make it unsafe. If I have no particular thing standing in my way, I personally am open about my bisexuality. If I would become a target...well, I personally would probably be fiercely open out of spite, though that's not exactly the healthiest way to be open, but someone else might hide, and it certainly makes things more difficult. If I would be putting my family (or friends, or partner) in danger...that would stop me. At least for a while. And that lack of choice is not healthy.

There are multiple methods of force, of course. The simplest is one I've alluded to in talking about the right of secrecy: intentionally creating a situation where people are incapable of saying it. Back to sexual orientation--if a person does not know the word bisexual, nor that such an orientation exists, it suddenly becomes a lot harder to recognize that orientation in one's self, never mind explaining it to someone else. It's not as flagrantly dangerous, and yet...

If I'm under threat, I'm under threat, but if I lack the ideas, then I have no idea what is happening. I cannot speak for more than myself, but I would rather understand.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Another Origin

A/N: Just hit 1500 hits, and coming up on 100 posts. Wow.

It amazes me, as I edit old things I wrote, how redundant I was. Wonder what I'll notice in another few years.

“In the beginning, there was nothing.”

That’s how I’m supposed to start, right? But that can't be right. Because when someone says in the beginning, it means that there was the beginning. There is something present. The beginning is there. Were there truly nothing, it would not be a story.

If you merely wish to hear what happened, here it is: There was nothing, or so little that none would notice it. And then it became everything.

But the story is a story:

In the beginning, there was everything.

All wrapped up together, there was everything, tight as a bond between lovers, between mother and child, between trust and belief. And it was still.

There is no word left or yet for how absolutely motionless it was. A still pond has thousands of things moving in it, even in the tiniest drop. Motionless implies that motion is the basic state. But here, things were simply still because they were. None of the little particles in the universe had gotten the idea that one might turn yet.

So they were, and they were still—though ‘still’ is a shadow cast from that first stillness. And perhaps this is what some mean when they say, “In the beginning, there was nothing.”

And then, one tiny, miniscule little particle got the idea to move.

This was not easy. This was not moving against a strong wind, or moving against an ocean current pushing you the wrong way. This was not even moving against surrounding granite. A strong wind is still a force, and can be worked against; an ocean current can only push so hard; granite can be worn down. This was not merely moving against something tough. This was moving when ‘moving,’ ‘against,’ and, ‘force’ were not even ideas. They weren’t.

Yet this little, tiniest piece off a whole that had never been apart from anything managed to figure out that it could be done.

This was the first thought.

Then there was a slight movement, and the little piece—and ‘piece’ was as new as ‘slight,’ as ‘thought’—found itself doing something that was impossible.
This was the first action.

Then the first piece that had had the first thought and made the first action passed the idea to another.

It was possible for the piece to leave movement to itself. To be able to see all. To leave the universe an eternity before anything began to turn. But the piece simply shared the idea: the thought of being known or keeping this to itself as foreign as ‘moving’ had been a moment before. More, the idea of moving eventually came to this little one’s mind.

When I have been saying ‘little’, the only comparison I have had has been the universe. Our little one may have been larger than anything we could imagine. Or it might have been smaller than the smallest thing any will ever experience. The size does not matter, for, at this time, it was the smallest thing in the universe.

The idea being passed on was the first gift.

And something else picked up on the idea. There was a moment, an impossible moment. How do you introduce the idea of movement to one who has never felt it, never experienced anything like it? When it is not merely that you do not share a language, but there is no language, where do you begin?

This was the first story.

And the other piece, somehow, miraculously, understood. And they realized, together, that this was amazing. That this should have been impossible. That the little one should have sought for weary eternities, looking for one who could understand.

And then awareness sparked and they realized that this was simple. It was not luck. Once the first barrier had been broken, it was simple. For it is impossible to describe movement without movement, but descriptions are movement. They moved together, in the indescribable joy of two who have realized not just that they might be happy, but that everyone might be, and truly understanding.

This was the first emotion.

This was the first moment. The rest was background, now.

This was quickly followed by the first silence. Not because it had not been quiet before, but because there had never before been sound for silence to dance with.
And suddenly, one wondered about the other’s motives. Perhaps both. But then, one, the other, both, reached out for the other.

For each other.

This was the first trust.

This was the first truth.

This was the first time two souls, two pieces of collective divine, met.

They might have been together before, but they had not known each other, not even known of each other. They had simply had the universe, and were the universe. And that had been something.

But being able to be together, stand together, mind to mind, heart to heart, soul to soul, love to love, was something else.

This is why some people will insist that lust in any form is evil. Because that profound connection echoes through us still, and each any every one of us can feel that, in some way. And there is a fury in some spirits for doing something so similar, but so much less.

And, for the first time, they looked at each other. Then they realized that everything was moving. Had this been a sudden shift? Had it always been? How could everything have happened so quickly? They couldn’t’ve missed it, but they must have, hadn’t they?

And maybe they had. And maybe it hadn’t. It didn’t matter then, and it does not matter now. The two oldest souls are a part of each other.

They are just as old as everything else, but they came apart first.

They met first.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why I'm Writing

This is not quite "Why I'm Blogging", though blogging does reside under the umbrella of the written word.

For the basis of this article, "communication" will refer only to an honest attempt to deliver information. For instance, bullshitting or lying would not be communication.

Context: I'm attracted on a basis distinct from the male-female spectrum, which is usually called bisexual. (Given that there are more than two sexes, I dislike the term, but there you go.) I'm open about this, so people tend to know.

I'm walking down a street with two girls from school, because it's a school trip and we need to go in buddy groups of three to go shopping. Girl A asks if I'm religious (I'm not, but I never answer), and how that fits together with being bisexual, since the Bible forbids it. I point out that the Biblical book she was referring to also forbids things like wearing cotton and wool together. Or wearing linen. She says that clothing requirements "are obviously different from sex stuff." I ask why. She's turned away and moved on.

There. That is why I am writing. If I am in the middle of a conversation, the other person gets to interrupt, to turn away and stop. And I can't do anything short of grabbing them bodily and yelling, which isn't particularly helpful at communication anyway.

When I write, I put up a roadblock to that. If I had written a page and she read half of it, something is missing. If she responds to the first half, essentially interrupting me in text, then I can just go "...You didn't finish it, did you?" It goes from turning away and ignoring what I say to end the conversation to sticking fingers in one's ears and singing. It isn't an end to a conversation; it is immature and absurd.

I want to explain exactly how important this is to me. I am absolutely obsessed with communication. I love learning new words and concepts, because each new thing is not only something new to know, but another chance to explain something to someone, anyone. Understand me. This is the closest I will ever come to touching you, to knowing you are there; see me; try to understand; please listen.

I need to communicate.

That is not a poetic way of saying that I like having people around, or that I find people who don't understand what I'm saying annoying. I need someone to understand, and every time someone turns away without even explaining why they're so annoyed as to fully shut me out, it hurts. I don't know what I did, so I can't fix it, so I am going to fail at communication again. In the same way.

That is why I'm writing. Each step that makes it likelier that someone will see my full point is a step that makes communication likelier. I want to learn; I want to teach; I want to talk.

I want to communicate.
© 2009-2013 Taylor Hobart