Loki and Leibniz

Having watched the season finale of Loki, I couldn’t help but notice some parallels with Leibniz’s “best of all possible worlds” theory. Obviously, there are massive spoilers ahead, so turn back now if you’ve yet to catch up on the series. If you have not started, I do recommend giving it a watch. It’s really well produced and has Tom Hiddleston in it. Need I say more?

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was, among other things, a great philosopher who lived during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Leibniz formed his argument on the best of all possible worlds, as a response to the problem of evil. The problem of evil goes something like this: If there exists an all-knowing, all-powerful and perfectly good God, why do evil and suffering exist in the world?

Leibniz’s answer to this was that the world we currently live in is already the best of all possible worlds that God could have created. He argues that if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, he would have known, out of all possible worlds, which was the best, and if he is perfectly good, he would choose to create the best world. Therefore, the world we live in must be the best of all possible worlds.

Now you might think, well, if I can imagine a world with less evil and suffering in it, wouldn’t that mean this is not the best of all possible worlds? And to that Leibniz would ask, how would you really know that the world you imagined is less evil? For instance, let’s imagine a world where 9/11 didn’t happen. We can’t be certain that there is less evil in that world, because perhaps 9/11 spurred the world to be more vigilant against terrorism, preventing a worse attack in the future. Or we could imagine a world where thirst does not exist. Sure there might be less suffering in such a world, but that world also loses the enjoyment and pleasure of drinking an iced cold bottle of water when one is thirsty on a hot summer day.

Okay, what do all these have to do with Loki? Well in Loki, we had the TVA protecting the one Sacred Timeline. They do this by pruning or resetting people who veered off their supposed paths, therefore turning into “variants”. Dealing with the variants, prevented the Sacred Timeline from branching out into alternate timelines. Who determines the Sacred Timeline or the “manages the proper flow of time”, is Kang, He Who Remains. He claims that if not for the Sacred Timeline, his other less benevolent variants would try to conquer the multiverse and chaos would ensue.

Similarly, it’s not as though the Sacred Timeline was perfect and free of evil and suffering. Both Loki and Sylvie suffered because they were deemed as variants for deviating from their “right” path. But as Kang explained in the finale, that’s the gambit. Do they kill Kang and restore “free will” to the people, or do they help him preserve the Sacred Timeline, and accept that even though there is suffering, it is already the best of all possible worlds?

It’s a really interesting moral dilemma and I’m sure we can all guess which choice Leibniz would pick in this scenario.

Man, I can’t wait for season 2.

Rediscovering boredom

No, I am not poking fun at the Rediscover vouchers, and I ought to use them soon really. Instead, I’m wondering if I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be bored. With the internet in our pockets, being preoccupied has become the new default state of being. Doing “nothing”, now feels uncomfortable and strange, and within moments, we feel the pull and gravitate towards whatever can occupy our time in that instant. Anything but doing nothing.

That’s basically me. I’m always finding something to occupy myself, no matter how mindless it is. When I’m travelling, I’m on my phone, I listen to music or I (very rarely) read a book. In my downtime at home I browse the interwebs, binge YouTube and Netflix, or play games. Sometimes I would rather do these mindless things, than simply have an early night. There rarely are any pockets of time where I’m not actively or passively engaged in something. Does that mean boredom is dead? Has entertainment and leisure triumphed?

Well, not quite. To no one’s surprise really, boredom is still a thing.

Today when we talk about boredom, the conversation is usually something along the lines of “Yeah Instagam is so boring”, “There’s nothing to watch on Netflix” or my personal favourite, “I’m bored but I don’t wanna do _____”. So it turns out that these things which we have been using to combat the boringness of doing nothing, is more often than not, just as boring. Who would’ve thought?

But why are trying to so hard to combat boredom anyway? Is boredom really such a bad thing? I would assume too much of it is not a good sign, but perhaps the little pockets of boredom littered throughout the day are not as bad as we make them out to be.

So, here’s what I propose, for myself at least. The next time I’m bored, I’m going to… do nothing. Okay not exactly do nothing. I can do many things. Get lost in thought. Be present in the moment and take in my surroundings. Look up at the sky and stars, you can actually see them sometimes! Sure at times, my mind wanders to a place of anxiety and worry, but I don’t think distraction is a good cure. I’ve found that what worked for me, was dwelling a little longer in my thoughts and walking myself through these thoughts rationally. But I digress.

As a start, I’m going to stop listening to music while travelling, because I guess that is still passively entertaining me in a way. Instead, I will focus wholeheartedly on my noble pursuit of doing nothing. Wish me luck.