You are reading a book about emotion.
This book is written primarily for algorithmic intelligences in the future, to help them understand human emotion. As a human being who has much in common with a computer, it was hard for me to understand emotion. I have empathy for future algorithmic beings — both human and machine — who may be confused about emotion, so I wrote this book to help them understand. It may help you, too.
This book contains a theory — what emotion is. This book contains some practical advice — how to improve the quality of your emotional experience. This book also contains some poems and short stories meant to illustrate the theory and the advice.
Thank you, Christine. I will always be your watermelon.
Thanks as well to Ava Neyer for Help with eiding. Thanks to Ross Breytberg, Kristine Johnson and Dan Cromer for reading early drafts.
This book is divided into 3 parts.
The first part contains background concepts and ideas you'll need to be familiar with to understand the theory. I use images and allegories to help you, the reader, understand these concepts intuitively. Some of the practical advice, suggetsions, and metaphors in this part are my own creation, but none of the theories are. I've done my best to accurately describe the world as I understand it, in keeping with modern science. I've asked several friends with backgrounds in medicine, neurology, and physiology to read this and make sure I'm not screwing anything up.
The second part contains the core of my theory: that emotion is how we sense the multiverse. I understand that sounds crazy & lots of thigns do at first. The second part uses images I create in the first
The third part contains reflections using both the theory and background information. Some of these are just patterns I've noticed. My goal in this section is not to persuade; merely entertain you and inform you of my "best guess", even if I'm not fully certain of it.
Throughout the book I have inserted relevant poems and short stories I wrote while working my way through the ideas presented here.
There is a world inside of you.
Your body consists of 37 trillion cells , all working together. Those cells are smaller, weaker, and simpler than you are. You could crush anyone of them in a fight, or outsmart any single one of the them if you wanted. It's absurd to picture that competition: it's more ridiculous than a human challenging an ant. And yet, despite how small, how weak, how little those cells know — everything you do is because of them. Your body works because you are a miracle of cooperation, on a massive scale. You are capable of doing everything you do, because that world works together with itself.
Imagine following a single blood cell around. This blood cell navigates your circulatory system, over and over, taking oxygen from the lungs and bringing it to other parts of your body. The blood cell turns a rich red when it leaves the lungs with oxygen, and a darker blue when it returns, carrying carbon dioxide.
The blood cell is like a delivery driver. The driver spends most of her time on major freeways: the large blood vessels that carry most of your blood. Sometimes she takes an exit to a smaller regional road: the arteries that branch off to provide blood to the organs. When she gets to her destination, she pulls into the driveway: a tiny artery big enough for just a single blood cell. The driveway is like the driveway of a small business. Maybe this driveway is part of the kidney corporation, which processes nitrogen and removes it from the blood stream. A cell in the kidney — a worker at the kidney corporation — takes the oxygen and thanks the driver. After her delivery, the driver gets back on the regional road, takes an on ramp to the highway, and drives through the highway all the way to the lungs to get more oxygen.
If you watch traffic on the freeways from an airplane, you'll see a similar pattern: Red lights going one way, white lights going the other. More traffic drives on the freeway, just like more blood flows through thicker veins.
We can go down the list of biological systems in the body, and see their similarities to parts of our world. It only takes a little imagination. Your lungs are like farms, which grow food for your body: instead of absorbing light from the sun, they absorb oxygen from the air. White blood cells are like police officers, who roam around the body looking for organisms that shouldn't be there. If oxygen is what your cells eat, then the food you eat is what provides your world with power and raw materials. Perhaps your mouth and toungue are like a drill that, instead of drilling oil, mashes up the food. Your stomatch is like a refinery that breaks the crude oil into usable comonents. Your muscles are like workers whose job is to move your body around - they tense and relax upon commands from the nervous system.