After a talk with Zoran, the media section’s manager, I was enlightened to the topic of quantum physics. I’d remembered similar topics, but the fact that all of these philosopical matters were connected was only made aware through this conversation. In fact, it helped a lot, as you’ll see below.
…It gets somewhat complicated below, fair warning.
The short and simple is that quantum physics deals with chaos theory – the idea that what we observe is merely things on a large scale. There is a field of balance – what we observe – but there is also a field of chaos, in which nothing is right and nothing is observable.
In fact, ‘observing’ is the best way to explain quantum physics. It is the belief that ‘I think, therefore I am’, meaning that the only thing you can prove is real is yourself – due to observing yourself. That same idea is true for the world around us. We know a computer or another person is real because we are there to observe it. Some even hold the theory that the universe was born because it was observed. If nothing is there to observe something, it is impossible to prove that it exists.
This belief of chaos theory leads into many popular philosophical dilemmas and questions. The most famous being Schrodinger’s Cat.
A cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box for an hour. Should, at any point during this time period, a Geiger counter inside the box detect radioactivity, the flask will be destroyed. The poison released will kill the cat. However, the radioactive source is small enough that it only has a 50% chance of being detected during the hour.
Therefore, it would be impossible to know if the cat was dead or alive unless the container was opened and the cat was observed in either state. By this logic, the cat is simultaneously both dead and alive at the same time.
A much easier way to think is if one person flipped a coin and concealed the result to themself and everyone else. Until the result is revealed, it is both heads and tails at the same time.
In that sense, a choice in the future has an effect on the past, instead of the other way around – a perfect example of chaos theory.
There is also the Butterfly Effect, the Anthropic Principle, and the Many Worlds Interpretation.
The last one is especially important, due to the way we humans write stories. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. It’s from Point A to Point B. In the past, humans believed that this was how life worked – that there was such a thing as destiny. In fact, many still do, and it is where many stories get their ideas of ‘prophecy’ from, the idea that life itself is linear.
But chaos theory – the Many Worlds Interpretation – rejects that. Life is far more complex than that, and many events in the past have been said to be ‘unexplainable’ (the theory that the Titanic’s sinking was predicted by authors more than decade before it sank, but that’s a whole other can of worms). One choice affects another, and it continues. There’s a world for choosing to go left, and another world for choosing to go right.
That entire theory serves as the foundation for many visual novels. It could even be said, by that logic, that visual novels were created to represent that theory. The same goes for old-fashioned Choose Your Own Adventure books. A visual novel is not merely a book with accompanying art and music. It is also a game. There are many choices involved, which can range from learning more about a character’s quirk to deciding the life of Guy A or Guy B. The magnitude of the last choice can mean that you get two entirely different stories, just for one action.
This…actually ties very closely into my own story’s theme of ‘fatalism’. Fatalism is in simple terms the ideology that, if you were to get sick, it’s pointless to call a doctor. This is the Idle Argument.
If it is fated that you will recover from this illness, then, regardless of whether you consult a doctor or you do not consult [a doctor] you will recover. But also: if it is fated that you won’t recover from this illness, then, regardless of whether you consult a doctor or you do not consult [a doctor] you won’t recover. But either it is fated that you will recover from this illness or it is fated that you won’t recover. Therefore it is futile to consult a doctor.
The main character is something of a fatalist (she develops this as the story goes along, from a casual belief to dedication). She believes that her life is merely that of a book. When it ends, it ends. While getting into that facet of her character would take far longer than a sentence, the idea is that this follows exactly how people thought life was in the past.
But a visual novel denies that way of thinking. Life itself doesn’t follow that rule. While not shown in the prologue – what my project covers – the story will later on progress into moments of free time, where the protagonist can talk to anyone she wants to. To determine who she talks to, a poll is held for the readers to pick who they’re most interested in.
That itself will get referenced. If the protagonist talked to Student #14 and Student #3 one day, was it fated? She could have just as easily talked to Student #7, or sat around doing nothing, or practiced her cooking, or tried getting more sleep. The fact she had that choice breaks the very notion of fate and a linear life story. That can be very engaging for some readers.
…This ended up being 1000 words. Well, I had a lot to talk about. Philosophy and paradoxes interest me a great deal. Until my talk with Zoran, I did not think about it in that way. In fact, Zoran mentioned that if he had talked to someone for a little longer, he would not have ended up talking to me about this.
And that means this post would’ve been about something completely different.