Bigsley the Oaf


Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on March 16, 2011

I wonder if I will ever be happy? Nothing seems to be working.

I was unhappy as a child, for various reasons. I cried a lot. No one understood me.

I was unhappy through adolescence since I was horny as hell and no one would touch a pimply brat like me.

I liked math and science and shit, I guess – I was good at it, anyway. I liked talking about philosophy and staring into the void. I liked trying to figure out how anyone thought anything at all. I read a lot of philosophy, but I always got sick of it pretty quickly and put the books away.

I dated a girl named Anne, and that seemed to work for a little while. But, one day I found out that I didn’t actually know anything about her, and I was just in love with love. Well, that’s what she said, anyway.

I went to MIT and was pretty unhappy. I drank for the first time and made out with Jen Chia. That felt like happiness, and I was young, so I didn’t even have a hangover the next day. Man, she was good at making out.

I dated Emma, and that felt like happiness for a short while, but then it was quite unhappy for a real long time.

Senior year I almost had enough credits, so I just drifted along and studied Japanese. I wasn’t even very good at it. It really didn’t make me happy. I had given up on Math. I dated Shaunalynn and Kyrstin that year. They made me happy for a while, and I’m grateful.

I was so bummed out I didn’t even apply for any jobs and ended up going to Japan.

I was seriously unhappy in Japan. I cried in front of my boss. I was extremely lonely. I went to parties, just to spend time with people. I had no idea how to interact with Japanese women. I didn’t have sex for a year.

I returned to the US. I spent a little time with the parents and then went to Boston. I was pretty happy there. Life in Boston was sane. I was living with sane people. I was having some adventures. I was making enough money to get by. Life went slowly, but grew.

I met Jen. I was happy for a while. She lived in my room and we had sex for a whole month. It wasn’t even a problem. Then she left.

I came to visit in March and was seriously happy. It was beautiful in San Francisco. Sunny and warm, and there was tasty food, and ample sex. I was smoking at this point, so that was good, too.

I moved to SF in May, 2009. Before moving, I saved up lots of money. At one point, I had over $2,000 in twenties in my closet, not to mention the money in my bank account. But the move was expensive, and I went into debt. When I showed up in SF I had no friends here. Well, sort-of-friends, maybe. They became better friends, later on.

Jen and I tried to learn Haskell together. That was nice for a while, but then turned to shit.

I got a job in July, 2009. It was OK for a while, but I actually hate programming, so that was that. I don’t know how I can ever be happy as a programmer. My boss (Huned) was (is) a good guy and taught me a lot about Rails and how to stick up to bullies. Too bad I didn’t pay more attention – the latter information would have been more useful after he left the company.

The job was pretty good for a while. Having money was nice. But then we started accumulating stuff, moved into a bigger, more expensive apartment.

We got married. I’m not sure my wedding day was happy. It was very stressful. I was worried that everyone would have a bad time. I have no idea if they did. I was worried that everyone was just there out of some sense of guilt. A number of my friends confronted me before I got married and expressed their disapproval. I’m not sure why they came.

People said nice things during the wedding. I don’t know why. I don’t know if I believed them. I said something about protecting Jen in sickness and in health and all that. I’m not sure why I said that. It’s not that I wouldn’t do it – it’s just that the fact that I would do it is not particularly important to me and has/had nothing to do with the marriage, in my mind. There were too many words on that day.

Life was not happier after marriage. Life has not been particularly happy, since. We go through some good periods, but mostly I just mark the days. I feel like I’ve lost a lot of myself. I am tired and I am fairly sure that at this rate I will never confront my demons.

I work out a lot. I eat healthily. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t even have coffee. I’m not even working, so I’m not stressed, but I waste time and I feel bloated, mentally, stagnant, mentally. I am increasingly nihilistic. I don’t see what the point is. I don’t know where things are going. I don’t know why I’ve done most of the things I’ve done in my life. I increasingly have the desire to leave, but my life is growing increasingly clingy.

I’ve been stressed out about the tsunami in Japan. I don’t know why. It’s really brought out the worst in everyone. I hate every reaction. Donate money, feel, empathize, fuck! Leave me alone, you puerile motherfuckers.

Anyway, it’s alright. I have no desire to be happy, really. Happiness is just something that comes and goes. There is nothing stable, nothing intransient, nothing eternal – I believe this. Why would happiness be any different?

There are no keys, there are no doors, there is no secret to unlock, nothing happens – you just get old, and bitter, and burdensome – everyone starts hating you, then you give up and die.


without ever even trying

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on March 16, 2011

It’s actually alive,
a sly smile, euphoria and whispers down the well:
Lushly overflowing,
incessantly throbbing, slice of meat stuck to strip of metal:
Overwhelming/touching everything,
rising, gathering, brilliant and starilly falling:
It tastes and smells and grins and turns and
plants a tree and cries, then dies.


Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on March 3, 2011

“What is Category Theory?”

I’m going to attack this from multiple angles. I hope that my explosion of this question will convey a sort of finite/non-existential fatalism which differs significantly from nihilism.

Descriptively: Category Theory is a formal system whose components are, fundamentally, objects and morphisms. The potential space of relationships between these components is sufficiently rich to describe most (all) mathematical systems which have classically been describes by sets and relationships between sets (e.g. Algebra, Topology, Geometry, Arithmetic, etc.) I want this to be clear – as far as I understand it (and please correct me if I am wrong) Category Theory is simply an encoding for other mathematical systems. This means that if you have some group or topological space you’re interested in then you can find a high-fidelity representation of this group or space in the category of groups or the category of spaces.

Intuitively: Category Theory is a systematic approach which focuses less on objects and more on the relationships between objects. More essentially, it is a system which exists because the intuition that relationships between objects define those objects (rather than the other way around) became sufficiently common within the mathematical community (1945 – we see an explosion of activity in the field following this – timeline here). Now, I feel a bit facile writing this since I am nowhere near sophisticated enough to understand what category theory is actually used for (sheaf what?), but it seems to me that what CT “really is” is a system which encodes a way of doing math or rather a community’s reflections on the way it does math.

Reflexively: Category theory includes, in its structure, a description of the way that we do math. How does it do this? Its structures generalize common ideas (limit, product, isomorphism, etc.) which appear all over math. Such a theory would not appeal to someone who did not see these ideas everywhere. Generalization only appeals to those who are burdened with redundancy and a description of redundancy with respect to a purely human act (like doing math) is a statement purely about humanity.

What I’m saying here is that if we do math honestly enough, long enough, with enough of an open mind, the components of category theory should pop out at us as a useful set of inter-related tools. An analogous situation can be found in computer programming w/r/t so-called “functional programming.” There is nothing fundamental about map/reduce (actually there is – hahaha!) but once one knows about these higher order functions one sees them everywhere.

How does this happen, though? Well, I have an idea, but it’s fairly conjectural. Whatever our minds do when they do math, it is systematic. This isn’t to say it’s necessarily deterministic or centralized – it could be a massively random, distributed system. It’s just to say that it’s systematic – it’s composed of objects interacting: transforming each other, destroying each other, creating each other, modulating each other, etc. But what if you could come up with a simple description of this system? What would be the utility of such a system?

I’m not sure I can answer this question. I’m not sure I can succinctly answer the question “what is the utility of Category Theory?”, either. Can you see what I’m getting at? Somehow, by being careful and thinking hard about what we’re doing when we do math, we’ve (I’m conjecturing) come up with a simple representation of the structures which represent the fields of math we’re familiar with.

But this brings us back to the matter of (finite) fatalism: now that we have CT and we think about CT, we need to think about what we’re doing and create a new formalism to represent that and so on. There really is no end. I mean, encoded in the question itself of “what is category theory?” is this attempt to rise above the system and understand it in terms of some more (primal?) system. We can ask “what are we doing when we do category theory?” and come to an answer sufficiently precise that it becomes a system X about which we can ask “what are we doing when we do X?” And so on.

But then WTF is the point of doing category theory? Are we just moving forward to ever-more-abstract representations of mathematics? To what end? Here’s the fatalistic point – it seems like the act of doing math requires some sort of delusional craze and that once you step out of it and look at what it really is it seems much more bleak and cold and meaningless than it did.

And so it seems with everything -> production to produce more, chemical methods for studying chemicals more effectively, bigger better models of physics to build bigger better tools to study physics, and so on.

This isn’t nihilism. I’m not saying that nothing has any meaning. I’m kind of saying that things have meaning, but we aren’t even barely scratching the surface.

It’s gorging yourself to bursting and finding you’ve only eaten a billionth of the cake.