Archive for January, 2010

Cruciate Ligament Virtual Reality: Nozick’s Experience Machine and the problem of career-ending injury

January 19, 2010

If any further proof was needed for the insane cosmological odds up against man in a godless universe where all success and happiness is based solely on chance, one needs look no further than the sad cases of two promising potential England football stars: Matt Jansen and Dean Ashton. When I was younger, I was always frustrated equally by two things: Tony Blair’s political policies, and the players Sven Goran Eriksson picked for England. As far as I was concerned, both were out-of-touch sociopaths in the pocket of some unspecified big man of established order. Blair went to war in Iraq, Eriksson played Jermaine Jenas. Same difference. Of course both men’s successors, Gordon Brown and Steve McClaren, proved infinitely more incompetent but we can’t just get some talented Italian politician in who can actually run a country because no such Italian exists. (but that’s not my point)

The worst thing though was strikers. I mean, Heskey over Beattie? What was he thinking? It seemed that by playing for a lesser club like Southampton, James Beattie would never get picked while Emile Heskey, Darius Vassell etc etc would continue to underperform up front for England time after time. Wayne Rooney always struck me as singularly overrated when I was younger, I think because everyone went on about him all the time when he only had about 8 goals for Everton one season or something (I can’t even remember whether or not this is accurate but regardless). In short, the cosmos were on the side of Heskey and Rooney and against Beattie. Fuck the cosmos.

But James Beattie probably wasn’t actually that great despite a few good seasons with Southampton (being from Winchester, nearest Premiership club though I didn’t support them, my footballing worldview was in fairness coloured red and white) and still has a successful footballing career to this day. He was, in fact, quite lucky. But what about Jansen and Ashton? These were two talented strikers who, years apart from each other, fought their way up from the lower leagues- Carlisle, Crewe- to Premiership potential stardom. Ashton even commanded over £7million when West Ham bought him. And then, just as they were about to break into the England team, Jansen suffered a near-fatal motorcycle accident and Ashton got his knees fucked up by known newsreader stepston Shaun Wright-Philips.

Perhaps they’d been blessed to get to the position where they were, but their luck ran out, and neither of them was ever the same since. Apparently Matt Jansen plays for Leigh now. Dean Ashton doesn’t play at all. But they were both brilliant on Championship Manager and probably so in real life as well. In Championship Manager, though, depending which season you’re playing (and in some, it could be both would do well), they both invariably become big international goalscoring sensations. So, in this small sense at least, Jansen, Ashton, and underdog-fans like myself are all justified in turning away from reality and towards the Nozickian Experience-machine comfort of virtual reality. It’s a cold world out there, and frankly I’m beginning to get a little frosty myself. So it looks like you’re not just wrong about your weird extreme property rights-prioritising conception of libertarianism where the actual outcome is far less liberty than Rawls would guarantee, Bobbie- you’re wrong about the experience machine thought experiment too. I for one would definitely plug in, and drop out. At least in the Experience Machine, the universe wouldn’t be incomprehensibly cruel. And no one would ever rate Jermaine Jenas.