Unsolicited Westworld theories(spoilers)

I have become fascinated with the new tv show Westworld, like many people. And like many of the nerdier type people, I have been developing theories about what is “really going on”, and I thought I would put them in a blog post rather than just spout them out on social media, possibly ruining other people’s experiences of the show. So, if you’re reading this, you have been warned of its contents and are presumably interested. This is being written with the assumption that whoever is reading is watching the show and doesn’t contain any information as to what the show is about, or what I think it is trying to accomplish as a piece of art(very ambitious on this front), or trying to give a complete overview of every single element of the show, but rather just trying to figure out certain elements from my nerdy perspective, and will probably not be expertly written. ūüôā

 

Dolores:

Westworld is like Skyrim, but  live-action.

Dolores is no longer an NPC. She is playing the game, with outside assistance. Westworld(the hosts at least) can be paused. She is being “paused” and interrupted in order to complete whatever her mission might be. This accounts for the “breaks” in her consciousness and the appearance and disappearance of certain characters and elements. She gets shot, then suddenly is not shot and is put back in the game a few moments before it happened and she avoids it. The game is paused when the villain host is about to rape her, and his gun is put into her hands. This is essentially how you play games like this, you learn what happens and change your strategy to account for it. ¬†Dolores is completely self-aware within the game,¬†and is acting on her own interests(or is she? I suppose not, but she is out of her loop),¬†but is still subject to outside control ¬†because she is a computer. Via Arnold, I suppose.

Bernard and Theresa:

Bernard is definitely an android, or cyborg, I suppose. This is alluded to at least a couple of times. Ford warns Theresa that Bernard has a “sensitive disposition”. It is mentioned that Bernard has been there “forever” on a couple of occasions. Bernard is not old enough to have been there for a period of time where “forever” would make sense. Bernard also has a pat, simple backstory that is quite vague. Ford brings up the loss of his son more than once when they have talked, which seems like a pretty cruel thing to do to a “real” person, but I think is some sort of cue to get Bernard “back on track”.

I suspect that Theresa is also “not real”. She is shown more than once essentially doing nothing but sitting and smoking a cigarette in her living quarters, and then “activating” when contacted. I am positive about Bernard, but my case for Theresa isn’t quite as strong, she is a bit more ambiguous.

The Man in Black:

I don’t have a good theory about who the Man in Black is. However, his narrative is a result of him playing the game over and over. So the story that we are seeing involved multiple game plays on his part which we are not shown. This is why, up to a point, he is able to navigate everything so pat and perfect. He is clearly playing(and playing with) the narrative that Ford is shown building, so I assume it is in the future(the present) and we are seeing the past in the “real world”. It would appear that he is currently in new territory and no longer knows what’s going to happen.

William and Logan:

The other two “real players” William and Logan, are also playing Ford’s narrative. All “human” characters are candidates to be androids, but Logan seems like the best candidate out of these two. He is one-note and cartoony. William and Logan’s(and Dolores’s) narrative is leading to Dolores being captured by Wyatt, the situation that is driving the new, “improved” Teddy that is with the Man in Black. This suggests that the Man in Black and the other two are not playing exactly concurrently. What does that mean for the theory that the Man in Black is William? Not sure, but I think not. Dolores is out of the loop, and the Man in Black seems to be at least partially responsible for her awakening. He did not rape Dolores in the flashback, but rather, did something else to her while she was still in her loop. Since he is shown confronting her with his current appearance, it means she was still in her loop, which, it seems, ends in her death every time. Since Dolores is now playing the game, it is possible that we are seeing the result of many¬†iterations of her gameplay as well. From the beginning she has set William up to get her where she’s trying to go.

William and Logan are shown with “Lawrence” while he is also with the Man in Black, but it is possible that William and Logan are playing just slightly ahead of the Man in Black, rather than several years sooner, as is suggested by the logos. The logos could also mean that there are multiple copies of the park.

Ford:

Everyone is a potential android candidate, his obvious age would seem to exclude him, but I am not so certain. The Man in Black makes a comment about what he would find if he opened him(Ford) up when they confront each other. This is curious. The android Teddy protects ¬†him, but you could easily program the androids to recognize other androids as “guests”, as there is no readily apparent difference. He is shown as a young man, so presumably he at least existed as a “real” person at one point.

Maeve:

Maeve has gone “meta” and is playing the “real world” game. I’m not certain if this has anything to do with Arnold, did she hear his voice? ¬†I think that perhaps there are multiple conspiracies.This latest show was called “The Adversary”, which could refer to Maeve herself or perhaps to another player on the meta level. The comically named “Felix and Sylvester”(there are internet rumblings about the mentions of cats in the narrative, Felix and Sylvester are famous cartoon cats, so… Felix was a magic cat with a bag of tricks, Sylvester was of course obsessed with devouring Tweety Bird, so make of that what you will) ¬†are a bit suspicious, they are only shown interacting with the Maeve android, and there are other engineers shown at other times. Don’t have a great deal of insight into what’s happening here. She is not part of the big narrative within Westworld, and appears to be doing her own thing, but it also clearly being interfered with by someone. Perhaps with her intelligence boost she has figured it all out.

Elsie and Sizemore:

They are both human. Why? They are both shown urinating explicitly. This seems like a tell to me. Was Theresa ever urinating? I can’t remember. Anyway, there is doesn’t seem to be any other purpose to making a point of this.

I think it maybe be possible that there are multiple iterations of Westworld throughout the world, like there is more than one Disney park, and that the “copies” have some sort of shared communication with each other.

Everyone besides Elsie and Sizemore are android candidates, it would seem. This is a fascinating show. I suspect that the narrative within Westworld is telling the “true story” of what happened allegorically. After getting to binge on the first 5 episodes I’m now in the same boat as everyone who has been watching it and getting strung out on information reveals. I’ve probably left some stuff out and gotten few details wrong, as I have not gone over the shows with a fine-tooth comb. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

Acquired Brain Injury(second iteration)

 

My first blog post in nearly two years! That’s crazy. Since I recently had to move my website to another host, I thought it was time I wrote a little something.

A ¬†few months ago I wanted to write and record a song in a day, quite a challenge for me. ¬†I remembered coming up with a weird groove that I had never written a song for. I had named it Acquired Brain Injury after reading the term in a news article. I thought the idea of “acquiring” a brain injury kind of interesting, as if it was being specifically sought after.

An unexpected visitor had recently arrived and metaphorically supplied me with my own brain injury. Since it was someone I had wanted to see, I suppose it was acquired. xD

I was looking in one of my notebooks for an old song and I saw a song “Bite my tongue” that I had forgotten I wrote.¬†It was about loving someone but not wanting to tell them because of the trouble it would cause. I decided that the line was somewhat appropriate for the song I was writing and “stole” it from past me.¬†I ended up singing 3 songs at once, which might have been brilliant if my singing wasn’t so bad. ūüôā

I was very happy with the results, but as usual, the vocals weren’t so hot, and that’s what people are listening to firstly¬†so they need to be better. I thought I’d try to improve that this weekend. It is definitely improved! Made the song even stranger somehow. Since almost no one has listened to it, it’s new to essentially the whole world!

The Inevitable Bunny Rabbit.

When I was a kid, a shockingly long time ago, I stumbled upon a cartoon on HBO called ‘Watership Down’. It was an intense, sometimes scary and violent, cartoon about a group of rabbits that leave their home due to an apocalyptic vision had by one of them. Disney this was not. I was kind of obsessed with it. I was a really into cartoons and had never seen anything with this kind of tone to it, and it was a really rich, fascinating story, complete with rabbit mythology. This being another era, I watched it as many times as I could while it was on HBO and then never saw it again.

Later on in life, I found the book, I don’t remember now whether or not I knew it was a book before, but I bought it and read it and enjoyed it.

While it is a story about anthropomorphized rabbits, it is not particularly cutesy, and contains a lot of real information about how wild rabbits live, and also constructs a mythology along with some rabbit language. ‘Watership Down’, which actually exists, was the new home the scrappy group of rabbits were trying to get to.

I have been carrying this tale with me most of my life.

 

Once upon a time(last Easter), my nephew happened upon a large, colorful bunny rabbit hopping through the woods. It was clear that it wasn’t the type of rabbit that should be hopping through the woods and he rescued it, christening it “Rocky” after his current favorite movie. A week later, much to everyone’s surprise and delight, “Rocky” gave birth to seven little bunnies, and was renamed “Adrian”.

While there are few things as adorable as 7 little bunnies, it was bound to become wildly impractical once they became normal-sized bunnies, so my sister had a problem on her hands. I contemplated taking one of the bunnies myself, but my enthusiasm was tempered by the probable cost of acquiring bunny stuff(which I had underestimated anyway). I decided that if a bunny really needed a home by the bunny-needs-a-home deadline, that I would take one, not being confident in the fates of unwanted bunnies.

Time passed, and the bunnies found homes, and I was surprisingly a little sad that I didn’t take a bunny myself. It seems that my bunny-related passiveness was just a trick I was playing on myself, and that I really did want a bunny after all. But it was all for the best, and I saved all that bunny money.

But then… in an unforeseeable scenario, one of the bunnies new owners was allergic to bunnies, and had discovered it the same week I was coming to visit. I found myself offered a bunny, complete with all the bunny stuff I was sweating!

In addition to hay, Picasso enjoys drywall, table legs, guitar cables, and occasionally things I want him to chew on.

 

There’s been certain instances in my life where I’ve been struck by the sequence of events that led up to them. One could go back infinitely, of course, but practically speaking, someone acquired multiple rabbits, raised them to adulthood, abandoned them in the woods when the female became pregnant, the female was discovered¬† alive and captured by my nephew just days before she was about to give birth, my bunny found a home with someone who was allergic to bunnies, and now he is in my apartment. My role in this mini-saga was to say “Yes, I’ll take the bunny.”

I have often thought that that the elusive “rules”¬† that guide particles on the quantum level apply to all levels of reality, that we are just fairly large particles bouncing around, with certain innate tendencies that would increase the likelihood of say, owning a bunny rabbit.

Polka Dot Tail

Ween’s “The Mollusk”, is one of my all-time favorite albums. A sentiment shared by¬† 10,000 people, according to an estimate that I just made up. Despite that fact, I have never owned it until now. I didn’t even have an illicit copy of it. An old roommate had it, and I listened to it a bajillion times over one summer. I essentially absorbed it, and have been carrying it around in my head ever since.

A few weeks ago I was poking around the internet for Ween-related stuff, discovered that the entire album was posted on YouTube, realized that I probably hadn’t listened to it in its entirety for at least a decade, and decided to give it a good listen(the album cover is so interesting to look at, it’s as good as a video). This delightfully disorienting ditty was the third song:

Somehow, I had completely forgotten that this song existed, so I had the rare treat of being surprised by a song twice.

The thing is, it’s not as if this was a song I didn’t like back then and suddenly discovered how good it was. I loved it back then. So I had this perhaps-never-felt-before feeling of being astonished by this music in the present, while simultaneously remembering how much I enjoyed listening to it in the past, while wondering how it was possible for me to forget something that I enjoyed so much. It’s like finding something I thought was lost forever, but wasn’t consciously aware was even missing.

Much like the singer of this song, I’m trying to explain something that can’t be verbalized, and could probably ramble on forever trying to come up with apt metaphors.

I think one of the points of music, especially psychedelic music, is to attempt to express¬† ideas and create states of mind that can’t be put into words. ‘Polka Dot Tail’¬† is both about an encounter with the strange, and, is actually an encounter with the strange itself. And a polka. ūüôā

 

Adventures In Cognitive Enhancement.

Earlier this year, I began to get tired of my job, or, more accurately, I began to get really tired of my job, due to some undesirable new developments. While the type of jobs I can actually get are not great, I started poking around online to see if something would reveal itself. Surprisingly, I stumbled onto a listing for a brain research study going on at the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois. The description was vague,but it seemed to have something to do with mind enhancement. Also, participating in the study paid more per hour than my job. Getting paid to make myself smarter seemed like an excellent deal, and is nearly the polar opposite of what I was currently getting paid to do, so I signed up for it lickety-split.

The famous Beckman Institute. They are building another science-y type building to the left with some interesting architecture.

I was a philosophy major when I went to school, so outside of dating a couple of girls who lived near here I was never around this area, but then…¬† a guy I worked with was doing some sort of¬† experiment that involved landing a plane in a flight simulator(err, landing a plane with a flight simulator? Anyway, there was no actual plane involved).

He took me into the basement here, showed me a multi-million dollar flight simulator for a jet, which I of¬† course was not allowed to play with, and then took me into this room that had a simulator for a single-prop plane. Very cool. It was a cockpit with all the controls that would be in an actual plane, and inside was a computer screen that ran the flight simulator, and I learned how to land a plane(sort of). It was all I got to do with it, I tried to take off again once I landed, but it wasn’t happening and it would soon start over. He only paid me about half of the money he said he would, but it was fun so I didn’t care too much. That was… a while ago.

So we return to the present(or actually very recent past ). First, I had to take 3 hours worth of cognitive tests which were very difficult, and quite frankly, humiliating, and I had to go to the basement of a different building and run on a treadmill with a bunch of apparatus on my head and body. Then, I returned to the basement of Beckman Institute for this:

 

I was going to be in there for quite a while.

I was very anxious about this part. I had never been in an MRI machine before, and I was told it would be around 2 hours. All of my knowledge of MRIs begins and ends with the TV show House. In addition, I had just recently lost a friend of mine who had multiple tumors in his head. Previous to that horrible event, I would have been excited about getting to look at my brain, but now there was a bit of dread.

I laid down and they covered me with a heated blanket because they said it was cold(it was not particularly cold), strapped my head down and then closed some sort of cage around it, gave me an emergency buzzer for my left hand, and a device with 3 buttons on it for my right, as I was going to be tested while I was in there. They slid me in. It was fairly alarming. They had asked if I was claustrophobic, and I’m not, but I don’t recall ever being confined like that. They had set up a mirror(I would suppose, I couldn’t see it) above my head so I could see a computer screen from where I was and take these tests. One involved remembering words, one remembering faces, and the one I did most was looking at objects placed on a 3×3 3D grid and viewed from the front. Then the grid would be rotated and shown to me again with either no changes, objects that had switched places, or a different object thrown in and I had to decide what happened. They were all hard and gave you very little time to make decisions, but it was good to have my mind occupied. After being in there for a while I got used to it, though it was uncomfortably hot. For the last 45 minutes they did an anatomy scan and I got to watch the documentary Planet Earth, mostly, as the machine would start vibrating like crazy.

It wasn’t the worst thing ever, but I didn’t enjoy it(a female student had suggested I might) and was relieved when it was over. I got to look at my brain for the first time, it looked like it could barely fit in my head, like it was crammed in there. The MRI lady would not let me take a picture of it. When the experiment is over, I will have to have another MRI and probably do the cognitive tests again, but for now, on to the fun part:

A Room with a View

 

Three times a week, for an hour, I go into a room at Beckman, they hand me a tablet, and I play video games that are designed to theoretically sharpen my mind. They all have a western theme. There are six games,which I get to play for 10 minutes each, and I am rewarded with gold and silver for completing levels successfully. I can then use this gold to buy buildings in a seventh game, which appears to be an extremely boring sim of a western frontier town, the only feedback so far is that some of my buildings fell down from one week to the next(or perhaps my last session just wasn’t saved, I have no idea.) I have earned so much gold that money is not a hindrance, it is just a matter of finding space to put buildings and having the proper buildings in place to build the next level of buildings, etc. Perhaps there is an ideal way to set up the town and locate the buildings, but there is really no feedback, it doesn’t seem to do anything at all, so I am rather mystified about its purpose. Maybe they didn’t anticipate people earning money so fast.

With the exception of the main game, all of the games are pretty challenging. One is a puzzle game where you try to stack cards in a certain formation within a certain number of moves, one involves remembering a sequence of squares on a grid, and the strangest one involves a 3×3 formation of computer cowboys who raise their lanterns and speak a word(alpha, delta, hotel, echo, or “rolf”), one at a time and you have to quickly decide if the word is the same, the cowboy is the same, or both, or neither, in ever increasing numbers. I am currently trying to get past ‘3’ deep on that one, that is, when the fourth cowboy speaks up, I have to decide if it’s the same as the first cowboy, the fifth is the same as the second, the sixth is the same as the third etc. It is a strange way to think, a very strange thing to look at, and the voices are computer voices, so it is a very strange thing to listen to.

Overall, I would say that this experiment is working.¬† I spend a lot of my free time doing things that are cerebral in nature, but I don’t really do much that involves these kinds of mental processes, and my job barely involves any sort of thought or concentration at all. It seems to have improved my concentration, and has generally ‘sped me up’ which I have found to be quite helpful. My mind is feeling limber. It is not a replacement for my job, unfortunately, but perhaps I will be so cognitively enhanced that I will figure out how to get cognitively enhanced for a living. ūüôā