Author Archives: David Vincent Kimel

The Challenge of the Seventh Seal

A moment or an eternity after the black horseman asked me to return, I woke up again. Whatever else I might have experienced in that dream was lost to the billows of my unconscious mind forever.

For many months after that, I began to experience dreamless sleep. Terrified by the realism of my nighttime journeys, perhaps I did my best to forget those snippets of them  that I actually could remember.

Yesterday night, however, I encountered the black horseman again, and this time, he wouldn’t permit me to flee our confrontation by immediately rousing myself out of his world.

“We have unfinished business,” he muttered as we galloped beside each other over shape-shifting terrain. “I’ve heard you speak in defense of God. But tell me, didn’t you forget an important argument?”

“What’s that?”

“The experience of the miraculous, and the distinction between synchronicity and coincidence.”

“I wanted to appeal to logic alone.”

“There are those who say that an accurate ancestor simulation would be impossible.”

“Many things have been called impossible before. But anyway, perhaps we aren’t in an ancestor simulation, but one of a different kind.”

“There are those who say that ancestor simulations would be useless.”

“But they would unveil all the secrets of history, and allow all the consciousnesses of the past to be given a second chance.”

“There are those who say that a simulation cannot simulate itself.”

“A simulation can never be perfect. But it can be close enough.”

“There are those who say that what happens within a simulation means nothing about what happens outside of it. Would Mario be right to assume that eating a mushroom would make him a giant or that touching a leaf would let him fly if he could visit a  real human forest? How can you assume simulations exist outside of our world, just because simulations are possible within it?”

This was undoubtedly the most challenging of the questions. But after a deep breath, I said:

“The ability to manipulate pixels symbolically to represent imagined surroundings is all that is necessary for the possibility of a simulation to exist. And the concept of simulations in itself involves issues of symbolic self-representation that transcend the physical conditions of any given simulation or set of dimensions. Mario may find it hard to believe that he is eternally resurrected whenever he dies and that his will is controlled by players in another dimension who create millions of cartridges containing universes just like his own to amuse themselves and alleviate their boredom, but it would be the truth. Is it likelier that he exists in a single cartridge of a single game produced by random chance, or one of millions of cartridges containing similarly designed entities? If Mario can realize that simulation is possible, he should also realize the likelihood that he is more likely a simulation than the product of random chance. Moreover, his individuated experience of his consciousness requires just as much explanation as his mere existence. The answer as to why he leaped on top of the turtle instead of running into it is that he is being played by others. His particular experience of reality is actively being simulated on a computer. And he exists on one of many millions of cartridges–he is not a random and completely unique assembly of pixels.”

“This is a pleasant way to pass the hours. Will you oblige me by telling me your opinions on history and ethics?”

“With pleasure, I said, concealing my hesitancy. “But  tell me, where are we, and where are we going?”

The black horseman smirked. “This is the time for me to make inquiries, not you. You’ll see where we’re off to soon enough.”

“Transhumanism is a form of humanism,” I whispered. Suddenly, however, my voice was drowned out by the blast of trumpets, and the sky grew vermilion as blood. A swirling whirlwind of fire took shape above us. But somehow, I seemed impervious to the heat and violence.

At that moment, yet another seal shattered on my scroll, and the earth itself convulsed with tremors.

The Black Horseman’s Plea

“Come back,” he said.

Inevitable Dreams

I did my best to forget the plots of my dreams for a long time after that. But on a certain night, I failed. There were all the characters again, drifting in a sort of timeless stupor. The Black Horseman wanted to debate me…

Morning Came

I suddenly woke up, and the world of the dream dissolved into reality.

The Plot Must Progress

I suppose it must…

Dirge for the Red Horseman

The Red Horseman is Stoned

Red Horseman

You aren’t going to throw your stone at me, are you?

White Horseman

I have to admit, it would be difficult for me to do so after you just endorsed everything I said.

Just then, an overweight and aged woman burst forward from the crowd. She was dressed in a robe embroidered with moons and crosses and stars. 

The Whore of Babylon

Doctor Kimel, this is outrageous. You know that it’s your duty to stone this man.

White Horseman

Why should I? Who are you to tell me what to do? Besides, I feel as if I’m in a dream, and moral obligations don’t exist in fantastical contexts.

The Whore of Babylon

Don’t think about the fact that you’re dreaming, or you’ll wake up, and this interesting narrative will come to an end.

White Horseman

Why should I throw a stone at this innocent and wise man?

The Whore of Babylon

He isn’t innocent at all! In your last dream, he threw a stone at me. Then, Black threw a stone at Red in retaliation for that crime. Then, Pale threw a stone at Black in order to avoid your potential retaliation. On Easter, you ceded your choice of what to do next to me. Red tried to deceive me into casting my stone at myself, eliminating myself from the game, since a sequence of two strikes is enough to end matters. But you persuaded me otherwise. So, now I vote for Red to be stoned. You have no other option.

White Horseman

I don’t understand what you’re talking about. I don’t understand why I have any sort of obligation to stone this man. He’s about to host some kind of tournament. It would spoil all the fun.

The Whore of Babylon

The plot needs to progress. And you decided to give me this choice, whether you like it or not. If you remembered your last dream clearly, you would see what a noble decision you made. Besides, his attempt to debate you was simply laughable. He didn’t even try to challenge you. He was hoping to flatter you to avoid punishment. Wait until you hear what the Black Horseman has to say.

As if by magic, my stone and slingshot drifted from my hands and floated into the woman’s possession. Without hesitating a moment, she aimed for the head of the Red King and let the rock fly. His entire body disappeared in a puff of blood. 

Another seal broke on my scroll.


Next entry 11/6/2011