Software Musings

The Cat That Wasn’t There

Posted on: 14/03/2013

I have long held a solipsist view and justified it with those moments when there is a continuity error in “reality” that subsequently needs to be justified. My attention wanders and I invoke a discontinuity in the behaviour of the “real” world. Afterwards it has to be justified.

In the past week, two beautiful confirmations have occurred.

Early one morning, I was typing an email to a number of people but primarily to a colleague in Germany. I finished the email just as someone came to my desk to talk to me. I turned back to my desk after the interruption, but still thinking of what was said, and pressed the SEND button on the email. Interestingly, just as my finger was moving towards the SEND key and about a second before I hit it, I saw the out-of-office reply from my German colleague arrive.

The second incident happened yesterday. I was in the office of a colleague here in Ottawa and his window faced west. I noticed that it was snowing quite heavily. I finished the conversation and, somewhat distracted, wandered over to the coffee room which lies on the east side of the building. Someone commented on the weather and I looked out at the clear sky. Certainly no snow.

Now, in a film, these would be “continuity errors”. They can be explained. Indeed they must be explained if I am to believe in an objective reality. The out-of-office email was a very delayed response to an email I had sent the previous evening. The weather really was such that the cloud stopped abruptly over our office building.

But the more likely explanation by far is the solipsist one: my brain wasn’t keeping up with its projection of reality because it was absorbed in other things.


2 Responses to "The Cat That Wasn’t There"

You know what? I think those great 20th century philosophers, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, never mentioned solipsism once. You know also what? ATC most likely would frown upon the idea that only *your* mind exists 🙂


DS: What’s the genesis of this story? Why did you decide to make this film?

JO: Fifteen years ago, at the Design Academy in Eindhoven [The Netherlands], we were playing records in my room and the record skipped. The three of us thought, “Did the record skip, or was it us that traveled through time?” That was the base of the idea.

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March 2013
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The author of this blog used to be an employee of Nortel. Even when he worked for Nortel the views expressed in the blog did not represent the views of Nortel. Now that he has left, the chances are even smaller that his views match those of Nortel.
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