Prince is gone but he will continue to inspire generations. He left us infinite possibilities— that’s part of his magic. Without his indisputably inspiring body of work, he would have been just another highly evolved genius that few people knew of. I’ll leave it to his friends and family talk about his life and who he was. I was just an enthusiastic fan. I saw him perform six times and regret not having seen him seven or eight times. I have never seen anyone perform like Prince. He was truly unique. Every once in a while, God gives us human treasure. (In deference to his faith I speak of God.)
How improbable it seems to stumble upon the circumstances that would allow a person to develop just the right combination of skills, in loving relationships with other talented people, that would lead to honest creative expression and productivity. I wonder, isn’t that what any healthy human being wants, simply to be able to be her true self and express herself fully.
What kind of legacy can one leave if one is stressed, starved and abandoned?
Our quirky, volatile, emotional, rational human mind, that emergent faculty many of us feel is so worth defending and nurturing, that Godly creative energy nested in nature, those brainy, embodied systems, that essence that sets us apart from other life forms on earth are the qualities that make humans precious. Is humanity destined to become an evolutionary force of life, of good, healthy, balanced expressions of the joy of living? Or are we more akin to a disease, a living nemesis of life, a horrifically imperfect, organic, credulous computing device destined to be a flash in the universe, a temporary anomaly in space-time? When will we arrive at the pinnacle of cultural expression? Perhaps culture is better imagined as a graph revealing ups, downs, and plateaus with only one certain outcome, an eventual end point.
Steven King might write a book about a world full of City States separated by ideological and religious values. Each City State would be pure: A Nazi State; A Catholic State; A Sunni State; An Atheist State; A Mormon State; A Hindu State; An Epicurean State; A Stoic State; An Ayn Rand State; A Goth State; A Paleo State... Imagine a world without Identity politics; a world without politics. It would be a fun read.
In such a world which City State is the best? Where freedom of thought is nonexistent and everyone is literally born into someone’s Utopia/Dystopia can we be fully human? How can we know for certain that North Koreans aren’t living a good life? Objective criteria for making such a judgement could never exist in such a world. Where there is no freedom, and no differences to explore and learn from, the potential for evolution dissolves and the whole miraculous system shuts down.
“The principle of maximum entropy states that, subject to precisely stated prior data (such as a proposition that expresses testable information), the probability distribution which best represents the current state of knowledge is the one with largest entropy.”
Everything derives from other things. Any creative person understands this. We are all influenced by many things. Living with an open heart and mind allows us to experience life as a creative journey in which we have a semblance of control. Unpredictability, volatility, mistakes, questions, confusion are all a part of the process of discovery.
Think of the multiverse, in each universe you exist in a matrix of infinite options, let’s think of them as choices for now. At some point in childhood you start making choices, later you grow up to make decisions and each time you make one your subsequent actions create another branch in the evolution of your life experiences. If you overlay all the parallel universes you see the evolutionary tree of “yourself” moving in all sorts of directions with good, bad and mediocre outcomes. In one universe you are someone like Prince, in other’s you are a drug addict living on the streets. Everyone’s multiverse tree is unimaginably large and complex. A Syrian child killed by a drone strike or a barrel bomb at the age of five only made it so far in one particular universe, he hardly made it to the point where he could choose much less make decisions. But this same boy, in another universe had a long and productive life full of love and creativity leaving an amazing legacy to his world.
The tree of possibilities is immense, but I hesitate to call it infinite. I lack the faith and the math skills to go that far. But each of our trees, within that layered, multi-dimensional model of reality, are good and bad outcomes and we are hardly in control of any of them.
Each force in the universe is doing its work, each influencing everything to a certain degree according to the laws of nature, of God. We are part of an ever-changing milieu, the most any of us can do if we are healthy is to learn how to make good choices and decisions. The best thing any of us can do is be compassionate towards ourselves and each other.
I have discovered a new rule for my life. I shall not be the cause of my own pain and suffering. When bad things happen to me I’ll face them stoically and continue to do my best, but I will no longer abuse myself. This I no longer give myself the right to do. I will need a lot of love to find the strength for that. Learning to love oneself for the right reasons, what a corny cliche, and yet, it’s those of us who can reconfigure cliches in profound ways that create the best art. And what is living if not an art?
The theory of quantum mechanics, which reigns over the tiny world of subatomic particles, suggests another way multiple universes might arise. Quantum mechanics describes the world in terms of probabilities, rather than definite outcomes. And the mathematics of this theory might suggest that all possible outcomes of a situation do occur — in their own separate universes. For example, if you reach a crossroads where you can go right or left, the present universe gives rise to two daughter universes: one in which you go right, and one in which you go left.
"And in each universe, there's a copy of you witnessing one or the other outcome, thinking — incorrectly — that your reality is the only reality," Greene wrote in "The Hidden Reality."