On the Serra ski trip, we saw Back to the Future 2. When I was younger, I really digged that series, but now I’m really troubled by it and any movie that deals with time travel. This is basically because the premise of time travel is just totally illogical and impossible. It’s true. Anyway, the premise of Back to the Future is even more flawed, because it just makes no sense how you could possibly change the past or the present. I mean, the past is the link to who you are, so how is it that you could change that link? Then what exactly does that make you? If you think about it, it’s just totally impossible to change the past or present and it just makes no sense.

In the Marvel Comics universe, they have this conception of alternate realities. The theory is that there are an infinite number of alternate realities, some really bizarre, but some that are almost exactly like ours except differing in one point. The point is there are an infinite number of alternate realities which enumerate all the possibilities of what could ever have happened.

So in this great comic series “What if?” this being called the Watcher who is basically a metacreature who never involves himself but simply watches the goings on in all the different realities takes us to another reality where the world is exactly the same except for one small difference. For example, the first appearance of Wolverine was in an issue of the Incredible Hulk, and one issue asks what if Wolverine had killed the Hulk? Really interesting premise.

At any rate, something like Back To The Future could only really happen if it involved not changing the past or present but switching between alternate realities. This kind of makes sense. So it’s like what Marty did moved him (when he went back to the present) to some alternate reality where his parents are all cool now. This helps explain things but is still problematic. Like when he goes back in time, which reality is that? Is it an alternate reality in which the Marty coming from the future is a part of the history or is it like a scratch reality where you can mess around and then are sent to a reality based on the consequences? It’s hard to kind of resolve. Plus, what happens to the Marty in the original reality? The one Marty came from. Because that Marty left it. Does another Marty take its place? But then where did that Marty come from? And what about the Marty from the world that Marty original went to. That’s the weirdest thing. Like according to Back to the Future, the McFly’s became like this cool family, so there should have been a Marty that was raised in it, apparently the parents knew this Marty and when they found a Marty that was unfamiliar with it, they were confused. So there was a Marty like that; what happened to him? Odd. Or maybe alternate realities can cease to exist and spontaneously come to exist. But that’s also a weird notion. It implies that reality is really tenuous; what you think is (like for the people in Marty’s original reality) can suddenly cease to be, and what you think is (for the people in Marty’s new reality) may just have come to be a few minutes ago. Like you may think you remember having done all these things throughout your life, but really, it’s just an illusion and your entire reality has just been created. This brings up important philosophical issues also. In fact, none of us can be sure that we’ve really existed as long as we think we remember. We might just think that, although we may just have been created because Marty McFly just switched into an alternate reality (the one we are in) that had to be because of the consequences of his actions in the temporary scratch reality. Hmm.

Anyway, time travel doesn’t make sense. But if it did, it would have to be like in 12 Monkeys. I don’t know if you saw this movie, but it’s a really, really, great movie. Terry Gilliam is a genius. At any rate, this movie explores a lot of interesting issues. But primary to the movie is that you can’t change the past. That’s so interesting. They keep saying it the whole movie. We know we can’t change the past, so that’s not what we’re trying to do, we just want to use the past to change our future. That’s what time travel would look like. Because the past has just happened, ok? There’s no way we could change it. This movie is like one of the only ones regarding time travel that understood this basic concept.

It brings up some other interesting issues too. Like if time travel were possible, could we deal with it? Bruce Willis almost goes crazy because (the idea is) the human mind wasn’t meant and can’t deal well with existing in different time frames simultaneously. It just makes no sense and is difficult to deal with, so that you might think you’re crazy. So his solution is to force it so that he stays in the present, even though he kind of knows what’s going to happen. That’s a really interesting idea, if you think about it.

And in fact, what we are able to do and not do in the past if we were to be able to travel to it is to me a lot like what free will is like given perfect predestination. So that’s why it fascinates me.

“I know that no danger or error will result from my plan, and … I cannot possibly go too far in my distrustful attitude. This is because the task now at had does not involve action but merely the acquisition of knowledge.” – Rene Descartes

A good principle regarding certain intellectual or theological pursuits, I think. Something I need to keep in mind.

Last night I went to the Stanford Men’s Basketball Game against Arizona. I had a great time. Yeah, we lost, but there were other things about it. Basically just the whole atmosphere. I just love collegiate sports. There’s just this whole atmosphere and aura about it all. Very cool. Very exciting. You just don’t get the same way about pro sports, you know? I mean, the heart of the Rockets comes close but even that is not the same. Anyway, I had a great time.

Sabrina also went to the game and sat just a few feet from Magic Johnson! She didn’t have the guts to talk to him but she did take a picture. Wow. That’s awesome.

Also, tonight, Jeff Sung told me that he got rejected from the BMG CD club. He’d been waiting for his CDs for a while, and he finally got a letter. He thinks he’s the only person ever to get rejected by BMG. And the way the letter sounds is funny. It starts out, “It’s always difficult when we have to make a decision like this…” like someone died or something. Funny stuff.

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