Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Twilight Zone, 55 Years Later: A Nice Place to Visit

***SPOILER ALERT in this entire post but this show is so old that shouldn't matter a ton***

The classic Twilight Zone episode "A Nice Place to Visit" aired on April 15, 1960, almost 55 years ago to this day. The episode contemplates the unhappy fate of a thief who is shot by police and then wakes up to find he gets whatever he wants. Money, gambling winnings, a new house, new clothes, everything. None of it earned, it isn't what he'd hoped. After all, what's the fun in winning a rigged game?

This led me, in true thought experiment fashion, to think of what I'd do if I suddenly awoke in such a world. I certainly wouldn't do what protagonist Rocky Valentine did to find himself so bored all the time.

For starters, I wouldn't do anything competitive or driven by chance. Competitive games are hopelessly boring when you know the outcome in advance, whatever it may be, as anyone who's seen scores before tape-delayed sporting events knows. Uncertainty is the whole point of chance, to be tautological. There's no fun in rolling a die or drawing a card when you know what the outcome is.

What are things, then, that are enjoyable even when you know the outcome? The answer to that question could turn Rocky's Hell into Heaven.

If I lived in a world where I always got my way, I'd read and write even more than I do now. I presumably wouldn't feel like I'd read any book before. I certainly wouldn't be able to feel like I'd written anything before writing it. I'd listen to and make even more music than I do now. This uses exactly the same logic, with the added bonus that I can enjoy listening to or playing the same songs again and again. Really, anything creative would be the ticket.

The added quirk - that Rocky can't see his old friends because they're no longer real - I can't solve. I'd still seek whatever companionship the world could give me.

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