Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Being a pessimist, I am due to expect things to go poorly, and am bound to be disappointed when even that doesn't work out. Being an intellectual, I am aware of the flaws in being a pessimist, and have tried being an optimist but it just didn't stick. Even as I am due to be disappointed by sheer definition, I don't like the feeling. Fortunately, I have found a way around this.

In order to be disappointed, reality must fall short of some expectation or another that I have made, whether my expectation is pessimistic in nature, or, far more rarely, borderline optimistic (I do slip up sometimes). However, if I take the logical step to not make expectations, then I have nothing to measure reality against. What really happens can't fall short of a goal or a line that doesn't exist.

The human mind doesn't seem to like this proposition, even as logical as it is. It is human to make judgments, expectations, and presumptions; to not make them would (again, by sheer definition) be inhuman. Not that I've ever let that stop me before, but it does and can make conversations difficult when it comes to passing judgment on experiences.

"How did you like that? Was it as good as you expected?"

The line above can refer to so much in our daily lives, from watching a movie to going on a first date, from completing a task at work to learning something new. If I don't set any expectations then (algebraically) would e(xpectations)=0 or NaN? If e=0 then any positive result (when rated on a scale of one to ten, with one being failure) would be better than expected. However, that leads to the thought that the event has to happen in order not to be disappointed, which is about where this metaphor falls apart; when it comes to a yes/no choice, 0 is equivalent to the event not happening, and any non-zero number equates with it happening. If e(xpectations)=0 and o(ccuring)=0, then that makes the case that I made the expectation that the event wouldn't happen at all; that is not where I'm trying to go with this.

I am not expecting anything. I am not expecting the event to happen, nor not to happen, nor to go well, nor poorly. e clearly can't be equal to zero, and it can't be non-zero, and imaginary numbers still exist, they just make most people's head hurt. That leaves just NaN, which is (literally) Not A Number.

Naturally, if e=NaN, then you'd have to be dividing the experience by zero to come up with any decent comparison, and that's just not something you should do in civilized (or even uncivilized) conversation. Let the trained professionals stick to dividing by zero (and the crazy ones who did it before they knew it was wrong and so have enough experience not to destroy the universe in the process), and just accept the error that your calculator gives you.

In after-sight, however, since my brain never shuts up, and in the process tries to contemplate every possible outcome, perhaps e is imaginary after all...