The Shell Game

The Shell Game

There is a Life-threatening problem called Time.

It, meaning Time, is unimaginative and dull, rather a plodding sort of fellow, oblivious to the Living, unbribable. Appears to be a loner until one learns how inextricably It mates with Space, and how that coupling is shaped by Gravity, which is the rude plaything of their two-headed child. The conjoined twins are called, alternately, Mass/Energy or Energy/Mass. The heads quarrel, yet none in the family operate with any sort of self-awareness.

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away,” according to Philip K. Dick. Time just won’t go away. It must be one of the real things. It seems, however, to be a real problem only for the Living. The nonliving fail to notice Time as It supervises their unraveling. The nonliving devolve heedlessly, witlessly, in thrall to the Witch-Queen Entropy. It is said she will never be finished until every particle of existence floats alone and separate and beyond the event horizon of its neighboring particle.

The Living act out and defy disintegration. They are so very small and fragile and insignificant that Entropy ignores their rebellion, up to a point. The Living wall themselves off from the vastness of that which is nonliving. Sheltered inside cells, the Living hoard resources and invent tiny engines that extract energy from mass for the purpose of increasing the complexity of other mass. The effort is inefficient and contraindicated, a scam that robs Peter to pay Paul and cheats them both.

Entropy overlooks the anomaly that is Life. The Living believe they have conjured something more intricate, subtle, and valuable than their nonliving components. The boast bores Entropy. She knows Life is a trickster’s hustle, a confidence racket, a shell game. Time will undo the problem which is Life.

Image: The Conjurer by Hieronymus Bosch, in which a magician baffles a rube with “cups and balls” while a partner picks the mark’s pocket. Modern street cons such as the shell game evolved from this ancient trick.

Invisible Properties

Invisible Properties

Holiday Greetings! (of the pagan sort)

Holiday Greetings! (of the pagan sort)