The web was awash with metaphysics yesterday. Love that. The Frontal Cortex, Pure Pedantry, and 3 Quarks Daily all posted on Boltzmann's Brain, as I did here. A lively discussion followed at Frontal Cortex. Eoin Purcell's Blog offered two posts on whether consciousness is changing and, if it, is, how narrative, books, and publishing might change along with it.
In my own plus ca change reading world, I'm about half-way through Across the Nightingale Floor, which offers a fantasy world borrowing heavily from historical Japan with a dash of Lord of the Rings mixed in. The books began with two mirroring stories, one of a young boy separated from his family and brought up in another house, the other of a young girl in similar circumstances. The chapters alternate as they shed their old world, adopt their new, and come into themselves as teenagers. At the same time, I'm becoming aware of two additional mirroring stories in the adults into whose lives they are thrown. As is inevitable in this type of story, they will come together. I'm having a delightful lost-in-the-world-of-the-book reading experience. I don't think of myself as particularly like the young boy, but the author has really allowed me to identify with him. As he is trained by his teacher in sword play, has his mental skills sharpened, and certainly magical skills as well, I find myself in that state where I am the character, I can almost feel myself possessed of that power he is developing. Then when I have to get out of my warm bed where I've been reading to brush my teeth or something mundane like that, I feel disappointed in lacking this ability and long to get back to the book where I have it again.
There's something about learning a deep skill possessed only by few, particularly an intellectual one in my case, that seems the ultimate in a powerful experience. No wonder I'm in graduate school for neuroscience. When do I get my decoder ring?