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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

We were Born too Soon:

What I'm largely getting at in my previous post is that most good entertainment in the world is still coming out, and therefore unfinished, and therefore not as enjoyable as it would be if it had already been a completed product ready for sampling.

The ending to a story is what gives the story strength, it's the 'solution' portion to all the 'problem' portions posted in the beginning, the pivotal part of every mystery novel.  All stories are essentially mystery stories because we all want to know how seemingly irretrievable problems are eventually solved, allowing the good guys to win after all despite all the odds.  This is true whether it's a romance genre, a fighting genre, a workplace drama, a sports drama, or any other story imaginable.  The story starts with a radical, nigh insoluble problem, and then in a giant flourish overcomes said problem and provides the solution at the end.  Without that solution you're just left with a giant problem -- like with the manga NANA that suddenly went on hiatus without resolving anything.  It's just an albatross around your neck, weighing you down forever.

Right now, no matter what medium of entertainment you pursue, you're stuck with ten thousand albatrosses around your neck and no happy endings.  If we had been born just fifty years later, all of these stories would have reached their resolution and we could just be enjoying them all back-to-back with no delays.

Look how long Star Wars has taken.  It first came out in 1977.  It's still being worked on well into the 2020's.  No one can live long enough to even see the full canon story of Star Wars play out.  Only those born in the future will get to actually watch Star Wars.  The rest of us just get these giant albatrosses that throttle us for decades running.  Every story is like this.  They all play the same game.  Every source of entertainment refuses to reach the definitive ending and just keeps on making more and more sequels, teasing us with a climax we will never ever reach.  Only when the original makers of the product are finally dead and buried can we assume that their artistic work will actually stop evolving, so it's important for fans to be born after the artists they like so they can actually live long enough to enjoy their works.

If only there were enough ancient Greco/Roman writers or Victorian England writers to fill up all our leisure time, this wouldn't be an issue.  But the truth is there aren't many of these entertainers and all of their works can easily be consumed in a couple years.  Only recently has there been a proliferation of good artists who can actually take up the leisure time modernity allows, but of course 'recently' is too late for us, because we needed these things to have happened in the past if we are to live all the way to see their endings in the future.  If only we hadn't known about all of these great works of art, we wouldn't know how much we were missing.  If only they hadn't even been started, we wouldn't yearn so much for their endings now.  We're in the absolute worst position, the torture chamber, the albatross cliffhanger mode, like we're being ripped apart by two mules walking in opposite directions.  Too early to see the ending, too late to rely on ignorance as bliss.

Aside from artists simply not finishing their products in any reasonable stretch of time, another roadblock to entertainment progress is the lack of machine translation between languages.  Currently all the best art is coming out in Japan, but only a few people have any will to translate Japanese into English for the rest of the fanbase's sake.  If there were only a successful AI program that could genuinely and effectively translate Japanese to English, all of our woes would vanish overnight.  Untold jillions of manga chapters, light novels and visual novels would become available to the outside world overnight.  There would be so much to read, play and do that you'd never run out.  There'd never even be time to worry about why Star Wars hasn't finished even after fifty years.

In fifty years time, it's obvious that machine translation will be perfected, and all language barriers in the world will have vanished.  But it's not clear if anyone in our lifetimes will get to enjoy this invention.  Google Translate is worthless, as are all of their competitors.  To make matters worse, the computer can't even recognize most of the time letters appear on the computer screen, do not treat them as letters, and don't even attempt to translate them.  Until both the translation portion and the visual recognition software reach human levels, we're doubly screwed.

Whether it's because artists never want to end their own art projects but instead just wait until all of their fans are dead before finishing, or because machine translation isn't anywhere on the horizon as an invention we can look forward to, people born today are in a pitiable state.  We've had to wait decades for a few hours worth of continuous products, like these fifty year old Star War's movies that could all be watched in a day.  People in the future will just say, "Hey, let's marathon Star Wars this weekend!" and boom, they'd be done moments after they began.  The rest of us will die wondering what ever happened and who actually ever won the war between the Empire and the Rebellion.  Something that will take two days for these future denizens will have been impossible after 70 years of life for the rest of us stuck in the past.  How infuriating is this unfair imbalance?  Certainly infuriating enough to load them up with 20 trillion dollars of debt.  What should they care?  At least they get to watch Star Wars.

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