arrivals and departures

Hello, readers.


The film, Arrival, arrives in theaters today. At least, that is, in the United Kingdom. I don’t know about the part of the world in which you find yourself. Many people are wondering about their parts of the world these days. This makes today like most days. The story never ends.

Here’s something G.K. Chesterton wrote once.

In the fairy tale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition. A box is opened, and all evils fly out. A word is forgotten, and cities perish. A lamp is lit, and love flies away. A flower is plucked, and human lives are forfeited. An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone.

Ted Chiang’s short story, “Story of Your Life”, won the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella, and inspired the film Arrival. Like more than a few of Ted’s stories, this one concerns itself with communication. In this particular story, it happens to be the communication between two alien species: humans and heptapods. In another one of Ted’s stories, “Division by Zero,” he concerns himself with the communication of a married couple during the darkest moment of their marriage–a moment when both discover the frameworks they have built up to understand the world to be less than complete.

In the most recent episode of The Storyological Podcast–WHAT’S HIS NAME PHYSICS MAN–we talked about those stories, as well as, per usual, all the things these stories led us to think about.

I am full of thoughts these days about mine, and other, parts of the world. I am full of thoughts about our increasingly convenient capabilities to construct our own realities. To live inside our own filter bubbles.

I hope we resist this urge. But, I don’t know if we will.

I hope we avoid creating, facilitating, or believing in the future promoted by Oculus inventer Palmer Luckey1. But, I don’t know if we will.

From the Guardian, on Luckey’s vision for the world.

In 2014, at a Silicon Valley VR conference, Luckey spoke of the “moral imperative” that he feels to bring VR to the masses. “Everyone wants to have a happy life,” he explained, “but it’s going to be impossible to give everyone everything they want.” VR, he said, gives less privileged people (“Chinese workers or people who are living in Africa”) the chance to “escape the real world” and experience life as “good as we do here… in California”. For Luckey, VR is not merely a tool for immersive entertainment, but a mechanism to democratise privileged experience.

I keep thinking of that future depicted in Wall-E.

A world of people lost inside disparate and individual realities


We have always been capable and prone to constructing bubbles of reality. It has never been so convenient, though, to imagine our bubbles immune to the pinpricks of reality.

I don’t know yet, precisely, what to do with these thoughts. I recognize the feelings that accompany them, though. I know what this is. This is a broken heart. And I have had my heart, and my world, broken before. I know what to do. Accept it, and start again, building a new heart and a new world, with as much love and hope, and with as many others, as one can find.

We’re all in this together, no matter the bubble, or part of the world, in which you find yourself.

Happy Thursday, readers.





  1. And entirely supported by Mark Zuckerberg, one presumes, and already built into Facebook, the most potent platform yet created for allowing people to construct their own virtual reality. ↩︎