“…everything proceeds from losing our place.” – Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams
What I have next is unsearchable.
What I mean is that I cannot google what I need, now.
The internet, I think, is primarily a place to ask questions and hope to have them answered. At least search engines are. It strikes me as sort of strange that the things worth searching for the most are the things that you can’t really find on Google. You can’t know where to go once you’ve graduated and your world shifts again. You can’t know love by Googling it. The limits of asking only go so far.
Last year my boyfriend, a philosophy major, spent a lot of time wondering, talking, and thinking about the question “What if we’re in a simulation?” It’s a question worth wondering about, I think, but he came down to this:
Consciousness can’t be simulated because it isn’t only intelligence. Yeah, okay, you might be able to simulate a brain and thinking, and then maybe you could simulate a nervous system and a motor system. But what we know is not just a function of having a brain, but also of having a body. You’d have to program a body with a nervous system and all the senses that are not only as fine-honed as ours, but are as exactly as limited as ours. You can be as intelligent as you want, but how do you explain why something should feel sad about something, or that gut feeling in your stomach, and what that means? It may well be that it’s all the result of neurons in the brain firing, but it just doesn’t feel possible that you could put that into computer code.
Before I started at NYU, I could’ve never asked Google “What will college be like for me?”,
or “How much will I change in the next four years,”
or “How many times will I cry in public” (though if I did, it would’ve said, “A lot”)
or “What is it like to be a copy editor, to get your writing published, to read your work in front of other people, to write a column, all for the first time.”
Going forward, maybe I will Google “How to fake my own death to get out of student debt,”
or “Doctors in NYC that take my strangely Ohio-specific insurance,” now that I won’t have NYU’s health center,
or “What to use as a public bathroom when I go on long walks through the city and can no longer get into NYU buildings,”
or “Remote Italian towns that will pay you to live there,” when I’m done with grad school and done with New York.
Either way, I will search, and I will make meaning out of what I search for, and I will write about it.