Before we begin, a brief note or two:
1. I am in no manner at all an expert on theoretical physics, nor do I claim to even fully understand my topics. My purpose of this brief piece was nothing more than to occupy an evening with my fingers hammering away at my keyboard. Were the purpose to be more than that, I would have sought to research the topic further than I have. Thus, any critiques to my potential misinterpretation or faulty recollection of notions about zero-point energy and the like are welcome and indeed encouraged. Considering the purpose of this piece, I did not feel it worth the time to delve back into such material. Point out the faults and I will be made wiser from it.
2. I have just this year discovered the immense pleasure that awaits within a small, humble genre of video games: the puzzle-platformer. In such games, the gameplay is two-dimensional yet uninhibited by this aspect. The joy of the game is not manifested by exploring vast digital renditions of worlds in three dimensions, but rather by pushing one’s mind to solve conundrums. To be poignantly noted, the lack of three-dimensional movement does not detract from the beauty that these games can have the potential to display.
On a visual level, some of the most beautiful worlds I’ve ever explored have been placed before my eyes while playing these games, and the range is starkly brilliant. Limbo’s haunting aesthetic is entirely composed of blacks, whites, and grays. Then there are games like Braid which send you through a world of crisp colors and environments that are reminiscent of viewing the world through a psychedelic-tinted mindset. I recommend with a strong conviction that anyone who considers oneself to enjoy the flexing of mental muscles in combination with powerful imagery ought to investigate this genre further.
Let us begin.
As for the game that brings up the topic of this piece, we have The Swapper. In brief, the premise of the gameplay consists of using a device to clone yourself and to swap your “soul” or mentality from one clone to another. You use this ability to work through a spaceship (cleverly named Theseus; to be noted, I have Noam Chomsky to thank for the knowledge of exactly why this name is so adequate), solving puzzles and uncovering mysteries along the way. Do not worry, I will not provide any spoilers. I would rather one go on to play the game and discover the details for oneself.
Rather, I want to discuss some issues that the game raises about the nature of consciousness. Now, the difficult part of this is that I do not have a set view on what consciousness is. I tend to lean toward a materialistic view in that I do not think there to be anything separate from our bodies that is the source of our consciousness.
This does not mean I believe only in the material and neglect the possibility of what we humans have the tradition to refer to, sophomorically, as spiritual. I think the two sides are ultimately inseparable and to polarize them is to misinterpret the nature of what we consider reality and the universe. To begin with I will offer a few informative paragraphs regarding a theory on the existence of a zero-point energy field.
Contrary to what Syndrome of the Disney-Pixar film The Incredibles would lead you to believe, the common theory of zero-point energy (from what I have gathered using my rather uninformed brain) is not some cool blue light shot from a wrist gadget that freezes superheroes long enough for villainous monologues. Rather, at least according to the author of “The God Theory: Universes, Zero-Point Fields, And What’s Behind It All”, Dr. Bernard Haisch, zero-point energy is something akin to an underlying light/energy that holds together all that we perceive as matter. To be noted is that I disagree with his final conclusion in which he avers that the historical figure of Yeshua ben Yosef, commonly referred to by the appellation of Jesus, as some divine manifestation of this physical phenomenon (though I do not fully discredit it either), but he alludes that it has a form of intelligence that is, most importantly, nonspecific and not individualized. Therefore, the reason behind the existence of “matter” in the first place is so that this unspecialized energy becomes specialized matter, ultimately to the point where it is so specialized that it has the ability to perceive not only itself, but to know that it is indeed doing so by means of self-reflection, as has been marginally achieved by modern homo sapiens.
Our soul then is our matter, and (to belabor the point) vice-versa. All matter, as I presume, must be comprised of the same initial “material,” differentiating only by means of forming itself in various ways with no specific purpose in mind. When one variation of differentiation appears to work and is stable, it sticks or remains (for drastically varied periods of time) simply because it has manifested a form that is coherent with that which is around it according to its level (e.g. the six known varieties of quarks, atoms, amino acids, organisms). The way I view this is sort of as a survival of the fittest, but applied to the manifestations of zero-point energy or whatever the base “material” is. The forms that happen to be stable will remain that way long enough to construct further matter, which will in turn remain stable long enough to construct further complexities of matter until you are presented with entire complex systems such as the human nervous system. I’m assuming that this premier appearance of stable and non-stable manifestations of zero-point energy must have occurred within the first miniscule moments of the big bang (time being relevant only once matter exists in a form other than zero-point energy, which is essentially light and therefore not affected by the dimension which we denote as time).
Happening before gravity had a chance to assimilate in such a manner as to have the potency to slow the flow of time, there was plenty of “time” during which matter had chances to evolve. Due to existence being comprised almost entirely of miniscule elements, the relativity of time must have been almost negligible.
For example, were an entity to orbit a heavenly being (e.g. planet or black hole) that exhibited a massive pull of gravity, time would flow slower for said entity than it would for individuals nearer an object of a lesser gravitational force. A greater gravitational pull is associated with a greater level of mass.
Then, perhaps only once objects began to congregate in an amount that could be considered mass, and began to decay in degrees back toward their original state, did time begin. Change is time. Thus, without change there is no time. In terms of the big bang, there was nothing that came before it because there was no matter to decay. If this was so then there would be no time. If things existed in a non-changeable state then there would be no passage of time. Things would be as they were, not as the would become. Only once the “becoming” part began would time be relevant or even existent.
The big bang was nothing more than, and could have then been nothing more than the expansion of the universe after having begun to congregate in a manner that would ultimately result in decay. But, in doing so, it pushed itself ever further and further apart. For to be something in a state of change is to be separate from that which is not in a state of decay.
Individuals speculate that a majority of reality is nothing but empty space. That is, from what I gather, zero-point energy that has yet to coalesce into something that exists in space-time. That which has become entwined in the relative being of space-time is ultimately doomed to either run out of its energy, or dissolve into the natural state of pure entropy that zero-point energy demands.
I also recall reading somewhere that some theories point to matter being nothing more than energy vibrating at different wavelengths. The difference between being in a state which we denote matter and one which we denote as being energy is nothing more than vibrations and frequencies. I apologize for this digression.
Now let us return to the issue brought forward by The Swapper and the actual Swapper device that is featured in the game. The device allows the player to not only create clones of oneself in an instant, but to also swap control between the clones. So, what I have theorized is that the Swapper device has the puissant ability to alter the manifestations of zero-point energy around it. The creation of the clone is the tearing out of nonexistence, a being that is identical to the user in terms of chemical construction.
The actual swapping of identities is slightly more difficult to construct in a materialistic manner. I propose that again the device is compelling non-individualized zero-point energy to individualize. However, the materialized clone is not a stable entity as it is not the product of nature in the same way that the original user is, by being constructed by the time-consuming process of natural selection from the time of the Big Bang. This is why when a clone “dies” it does not take long to dematerialize back into nothingness, as it is inherently unstable; it simply ceases to exist. The hidden power of the Swapper device though is that it can transfer stability of existence from one entity to another (from the original user to the clone). The clone then becomes the conscious and stable original and what was once the original is now left in a state of instability as a clone.
So, a soul is Swapped not so much as it is an inherent existential stability that is transferred from the original to the clone. Could a device like this actually be created? I highly doubt so, or it would at least take centuries of studies on energy and physics. Does a game exist now that can cause one to ponder the nature of consciousness and what it means to be one’s own self? Yes. It is called The Swapper. Go play it.