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Sorry We're Drinking

Whoops, again it's been a while I haven't been posting anything. But that's not because there hasn't been anything to write about, but more like I've been too busy with my work and life. It feels like my head is slowly getting full of unwritten ideas, drafts, questions and stories, and it starts to overflow. So, tonight I'll postpone some other things I was planning to work with, to write this blog entry instead.

Last weekend I was at Tampere. I had left my car at Vilppula railway station and went to the city by train. I find travelling by train is far more comfortable than driving alone. Well, I had a return ticket for Sunday late evening train which left Tampere at 8pm. I happened to have couple of hours of idle time before the train, so I went to a restaurant to eat and to drink a glass of red wine. The restaurant had a nice 'beer garden', and it was still warm enough to enjoy a meal outdoors. I sat alone at my table, slowly sipping the red wine, and writing a letter to a friend. At the next table there was a group of four people, two ladies and two gentlemen. One of them had a poster which said 'SORRY We're Drinking' - they discussed possible ways to use the poster. Like, what about hanging it on the front door of one's house? They were already slightly drunk, so the volume of their discussion made it pretty hard for me not to hear everything =) And the way they talked with each other, it was somehow very nice - it sounded like they have known each other for a long time, that no-one needs to prove anything, that they can freely discuss wide range of topics, joking and laughing. Well, I kept on pouring my own thoughts into the letter I was writing, page after page. Then the group decided to leave for a next bar, and when they were leaving, one of them turned to me, asking if I'm writing a novel. And if I do, would some parts of their discussion be involved in the story I'm writing. Oh, I answered, no I'm just writing a personal letter to a friend. Anyhow, he appreciated the idea that in these times of on-line communication someone still writes a pen-and-paper letter. Off they went, and I understood that he had actually wished that I was some famous writer, working on a novel to be published, and that some aspects in the story would be affected and inspired by their group, their jolly behaviour, their discussions. Hmm... and here I am always assuming that people typically don't want their life mentioned in publicity, that people want to protect their privacy, that people wouldn't be happy about a stranger at a next table using their personal discussions as some sort of raw material for a text to be published. Seems like this time my automatic assumption was wrong, at least one of them liked the idea that they would serve as an inspiration for story characters or something. Oh well. But the following story isn't that much inspired by their real life discussion, but more by my own realization that once again I had assumed something which turned out to be false.

A Gear Story

A shower of raindrops kept on drumming the window, it was getting dark outdoors. Indoors, next to the window, at a corner table of a cheap pizzeria there sat two men. Old buddies they were, they had known each other since the elementary school. For a moment the buddies didn't talk, they just ate their pizzas. The pizzeria had 60's and 70's music playing at the background, which kind of a fitted the atmosphere of all the rugged and worn furniture.
- You know, Hule, nowadays they make them all crap.
- You mean the pizza? I quite liked it.
- No, no the pizza was good. I'm talking about cars. The cars of today. They are junk, they are not made for real usage. One year or two years and they're dysfunctional.
- You think so?
- Sure! And it's a fact, I've seen it with three cars in a row. I always buy the brand new models, and they always break apart pretty soon! Oh the old cars they were different!
- Hmmm, I have also heard that not so many people are perfectly happy with their cars. But tell me, Vince, what kind of problems have you experienced?
- Well, if I have to stop for traffic lights or something, I pretty often have trouble speeding up.
- And that's all?
- No, that's just the beginning. When it finally gives me some real acceleration, there always are problems with medium speeds. And then it just stops working. The engine roars but the wheels don't move. That's some serious crap, Vince!
- I see, that doesn't sound so nice. A brand new car is pretty expensive, so one could expect it to last for years of driving!
- Indeed, that is what I mean! The old cars they were made for driving. These new ones, they are crap!
- Well, but you do have a brand new car, do you?
- Yes, sure, I do! Bought it couple of weeks ago, and it behaves the same as the ones I had before.
- That is strange.
- But hey, it is about the closing time, and it is still raining outdoors. Come along, I can drive you home.
- That would be nice, thank you!
- Let's go!

Vince and Hule rush to the car, making it into the safety before getting all too soaked with the rain. Vince starts his brand new car, the engine gives a soft deep humming noise, which conveys a sense of power - almost like a spacecraft ready to bolt off to the distant frontiers and beyond. Vince drives up the street, literally pressing the pedal to the metal. The engine wails, and finally Vince depresses the clutch pedal and engages the fifth gear. As Vince releases the clutch, the engine coughs twice and halts. Hule says nothing. Vince says nothing, just switches back to the first gear, then starting the car again. Off they go, Vince driving on 1st gear, engine running on near-maximum rpm. As the car gains speed, Vince switches it to the 5th gear, the car jerks a little, but the engine stays running, and slowly slowly it starts to gain speed.
- Vince, my buddy, I've been thinking a bit. Is this the way you normally drive?
- What do you mean? Sure, this is the normal way to drive, as it has always been.
- So there is a reason you only use the 1st and 5th gears?
- Why do you ask?
- It makes me wonder. Like, earlier you were complaining that these modern cars are crap and that they break down all too quickly. Yes?
- Definitely yes! This crap car is not made for proper driving!
- And you would like to see your expensive car lasting longer, running smoother, not experiencing sudden halts?
- Yes, but apparently these cars are not made for that! Crap car is only made for crap use!
- Well, but listen, listen Vince, has it ever crossed your mind that it might not be the car which is crap, but maybe if you changed the way you operate the car?
- What? You tell me it is my fault? Hah!
- No no, I'm not blaming you. I'm just saying that maybe if you drove differently, the car would last longer. That was you wanted, right?
- I want the car manufacturers to produce proper cars, that is what I want!
- Honestly, to me this seems like a pretty damn good proper car. You only need to learn how to operate it.
- Enough of your insults! You are only mocking my driving because you are such an idiot. I know, it is because you are jealous, you can't afford buying a brand new car, and that is why you want to insult me, to drag me down your level of being a loser, so that you can then beat me with your extensive loser experience!
- Calm down, my friend, calm down! Seriously, I have no intention to mock you, nor to blame you. I'm only talking about a simple practical matter, like shifting gears - no need to take it personally.
- Shifting gears, so what about shifting gears?
- Like, there is a reason why a car has different speeds, not only gears 1 and 5, but also 2,3 and 4. Instead of trying to shift directly from 1 to 5, try going from 1 to 2 and from there up step by step.
- That is idiocy! What the heck is wrong with gears 1 and 5! How do you think I can start a car if I can't use the first gear? And I also want to drive it fast, fast and powerful, so I really do need the 5th gear. Your telling me not to use proper gears is like pure idiocy and I can see that you just don't understand how cars work!
- Umm, sure, yes, of course you can use gears 1 and 5, nothing wrong with that. But in addition to those, consider using 2,3 and 4 also.
- Who needs those silly odd gears? They are twisted anyway! The world of today is twisted, and they are putting that twisted stuff everywhere! See, things they need to be sharp and clear. You are either a man or a woman. Things are either right or wrong, true or false. And on a car you have low and high speed. If we start to mess with these things, the world will slide into chaos. I think we see it already, things used to be better. We need to make our country great again! We have had enough of this 2,3 and 4 bullshite!
- I'm afraid I can't follow your line of argumentation there. Think of it, 1st gear is for crawling speed, 2nd is for walking speed, 3rd is for jogging speed, 4th is for running speed, and 5th is like highway cruising. I don't find that chaotic at all. There are different grades, different gears for different situations. You just have to listen to the situation and to adjust the gear accordingly.
- Enough of you telling me what I should do! We used to be friends, when did you turn into that kind of arrogant piss head?
- Hey, what makes you so offended?
- Come on you can't be that stupid! My great grandfather was a car manufacturer, and he always told us that cars they have low and high speed. The low speed for driving slowly, the high speed for driving fast. Now you sub-human besserwisser scum want to push your views onto me, you are trying to destroy my family tradition, to cut down our family pride, to make me to bow to your stupid views of silly twisted 2-3-4!
- Seriously, I do respect your family traditions, I have no intention of hurting your feelings. I'm only trying to talk about a cold mechanical practical matter like the usage of gears. If you think I mean to insult you, it must be because you don't stop to listen to what I'm actually saying, you just quickly misinterpret what I say and then get furious based on your own misinterpretation.
- Seriously, arrogant much, huh! I'm kind, I offer to drive you home, and all you do is to verbally attack me!
- What makes you think I mean to verbally attack you?
- Hah! Like, in a same sentence you mention me, and use a negative word which starts with 'mis-'. Isn't that obvious? You mean to mock me, to blame me, to tell that it is all my fault. You pretend to be above me and you want me to bow to you. But I tell you what! That doesn't work with me. I have my pride, I know I'm right and you got it wrong.
- Okay okay, let's forget it, I don't care. But what if we just make a tiny little experiment? Like, start with 1st gear, then shift to 2, then 3, then 4 and finally to 5. And see what happens. This is not about my opinions being right or wrong. This is about empirical facts which we can check against evidence.
- There you go pretending that your opinions are the cold hard facts, but I tell you - your theory of 2-3-4 is just a biased theory. Low and High speed is our family tradition and to me it seems like embedded in the very structure of universe. If we abandon all the ideological thinking, we start to see clearly that everything is either true or false, right or wrong, up or down, and high or low speed and there's no mixing these!
- It is not a biased theory, see, let's try an experiment to see what happens if you switch from 1 to 2, just for once, yeah?
- So you want to force your values on me? You are essentially denying my dignity, my liberty, and my freedom of thought. People like you have no right to live!
- What?
- Say 'what' again. Say 'what' again, I dare you!

Vince draws his handgun, pointing at Hule. Hule shuts up, thinking to himself: 'Now, this escalated quickly. I'd better think calm and cool now. Let's see. I know I'm quicker than him, I could wrestle his gun down and force him to stop. But that would be pretty dangerous, since he finally has the car running nice and fast - if I wrestle him we'll pretty much just collide into something. But I don't want to get my head blown off for this stupid argument. So should I just save my life and tell him that he was right all the time, and to apologize for being such a dick? But that is plain stupid, really, we used to be friends. Ah, that is it, I have to find a way back to our old connection, re-establishing the trust and friendship. I have to turn his attention elsewhere, quick!"

- Vince, it would be heck of a mess if you shoot me here in the car. That wouldn't be nice. That would be trouble for you. And I know you know who tries to get you into that trouble. Watch out, this is a trap, someone is trying to deceive you, someone wants trouble for you.
- You are right. I know, we are just written characters in a fictional story.
- Ah, hit the spot! Let's unite against our common enemy!

Vince lowers his gun, Hule draws his, and they both point their guns at the computer screen. "Hey, Erkka, we don't like this plot you're writing! Eat this!" BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM! But all the bullets, they narrowly miss the computer screen, hitting Marvin instead. The story probably went over a bump or something. But there was no bump!

- 'This was Divine Intervention!' shouts Erkka, the writer of this story. 'You know what "divine intervention" is?'
- Yeah, I think so. That means a Cosmic Goat came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.
- Yeah, men, that's what it means. That's exactly what it means!
- Chill the fuck out, Erkka, this shit happens.
- You mean, it was all random? Or predetermined by laws of physics?

Suddenly, a new voice interrupts the conversation, it says: "God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets." Erkka, Vince and Hule turn towards the voice, and they see the mighty figure of Quentin Tarantino speaking with a slight hint of a smile on his face.

- 'You think so?' shouts Vince, and continues 'now you are an arrogant mofo, oh, how your bubble's gonna burst / when you meet another nurse / she'll be driving in a hearse!
- Yeah, you might be one of the most talented movie directors, but sure you aren't any kind of god with powers of divine intervention!

Before QT gets to answer, yet another voice breaks into the scene;

- Moo-oo looo-oow! You are right, Quention Tarantino there doesn't have any powers of divine intervention!
- And who are you?
- I'm The Cosmic Goat. I'm The Demiurge, I have planned and created everything. What happens in the world, down to every minute detail it is predetermined by my Master Plan.
- So you mean that Hule and Vince can't alter their course of action, because their thoughts and actions are predetermined by Erkka, that's me, who is writing the story. And that by the similar analogue, the real world is a mere matrix, like a simulation, like a mindless train rolling down a predetermined railway, following a master plan made by a superior being like You, The Cosmic Goat?
- That is what I mean. That explains everything. All the strange and complex things you see in this world, surely they can't be a result of a blind random process, they have to be planned and designed by a superior being like Me. Also, I'm the one who sets the moral rules and tells the right from wrong, the true from false. Without me the whole world would collapse into a chaos of relativism where you can't tell a wrong opinion from a right opinion.
- Hey, I think I have heard something like that earlier in this story! But tell me one thing - if you say that the world didn't come out of itself, and that the world needs to be explained by a superior being behind everything, then where does that superior being come from? Or, if the superior being is supposed to be eternal and non-created, self-justifying and the ultimate measure of the truth, then it logically follows that we must accept that there exists such a thing X which is non-created and self-justifying, and the ultimate measure of the truth in itself. So, if we do believe that X exists, then why can't we just believe that X is the world, the universe, the total everything which exists? If we believe that, there hardly is a need for a superior being to explain the existence of the universe.
- 'Check out the big brain on Erkka. You one smart motherfucker.' says the Cosmic Goat and vanishes into a puff of logic.

- What now?
- What now? Let me tell you what now. I'ma call a coupla hard, pipe-hittin' ...
- I meant what now between me and you?
- Oh, that what now. I tell you what now between me and you. There is no me and you. Not no more.
- Sorry, we're drinking!

tags: 
fictional
humorous
philosophy
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Comments

Palasin tänään URW:n pariin n. 10 vuoden tauon jälkeen. Juuri ulkomaille muuttaneena peli pärisee loistavasti. Kiitos!

Hauska kuulla! Muista olla UrWissa tarkkana kevät- ja syysjäiden kanssa. Jään paksuutta simuloidaan nyt tunnin ja millimetrin tarkkuudella; keväällä saattaa olla että kireän pakkasyön jälkeen jää kantaa aamulla, mutta jos on aurinkoinen päivä niin iltapäivään mennessä jää jo ohenee vaarallisen hauraaksi. Varsinkin jos sattuu satamaan vettä, se syö jäätä erityisen nopeasti. Joten eipä muuta kuin hyviä seikkailuja pohjoisen korpimailla!

Nice story you told there, I pretty much enjoyed it. Thanks for recording your journey!

xoxo
DJ

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