Philosophical inquiries on life when living on a cruise ship:
Introduction: Frictionless Living
I’m currently on a cruise, and thinking to myself:
Is living on a cruise ship the ultimate friction-less living lifestyle?
Maximum creative productivity?
This is the thought:
What are the ideal (supreme) external situations that would allow you to creatively thrive to the maximum?
- Not having to cook, clean, shop
- Not having to make certainly daily ‘micro decisions’ (where to eat dinner tonight, what to buy at the grocery shop to cook for dinner, what coffee shop to visit today)
- Not having your schedule dependent on others (not having to coordinate with family members or your partner on what to do for the day).
The first living experiment I had was when living in Saigon for around 3 months with Cindy (in a $30 a night hotel).
The interesting thing about living in a hotel:
- Surprisingly, I prefer staying in a smaller hotel room (than living in a big house). Why? The benefits is that the walking distance to the bathroom is super short and frictionless (literally two steps to the left), because the room is so small, you cannot accumulate stuff (forced minimalism), and I think you tend to sleep earlier (after a day out, you go back to your small hotel room, take a shower, lie in bed, read a bit, chat a bit, then go to sleep).
- Fewer things to worry about: Everyday the room is cleaned, and every time we come back to the room and the bathroom and the room is nice and clean, it is very refreshing to the eyes! Furthermore because the room is so small, you cannot really spread your clutter around much (so the room looks cleaner this way as well).
- No cooking/grocery shopping/cleaning: When living domestically, you need to go grocery shopping, you need to cook, and clean the pots/kitchen. With hotel living, every morning we could just go upstairs and have breakfast (I don’t eat breakfast, but Cindy would grab a small bite). This would be nice, because we could start off each morning by just talking, drinking coffee, and enjoying the view on top of the hotel (nice natural light in the breakfast room).
- Because the hotel room is so small, of course you wouldn’t want to spend the day inside the hotel room. Thus, you are forced to go out and do more interesting things. We would spend most of our time during the day at coffee shops, and then in the evening going to the mall (to eat dinner), or going to another restaurant.
- The biggest benefit of eating dinner at restaurant (we don’t eat lunch) is this: much more focus on conversation (instead of cooking/cleaning). Also, I like being around other human beings, and interacting with our servers/strangers.
- In short, the biggest benefit of living in a hotel isn’t because it is ‘fancy’ or ‘luxurish’, but the fact that it SIMPLIFIED our everyday living! This allowed us to focus more on our creative work, and focus on our conversation with one another.
As I’m typing these words, we are currently ported at Ensenada, and I am on the side deck, overlooking the ocean, feeling the soft breeze on my face, and enjoying some of the (surprisingly good) unlimited coffee (from the buffet right next to us).
Before I continue you might be wondering:
Why a cruise?
I’m actually very interested in space travel, and I hope that one day humans become inter-stellar (if I were given the option to be an early settler to Mars, I would definitely take that one-way-ticket).
Anyways, I was watching the film ‘Interstellar’ and there was this one scene which I found fascinating:
When the woman was jogging around the spaceship, there were shopping stores.
And I wondered to myself:
Why would you ever want to go shopping on a spaceship? What would be the practical utility for this?
Anyways, this led me down a rabbit hole of wondering:
If you lived the rest of your life on a spaceship, would you go crazy?
I contemplated this thought for a long time, and talked to a lot to my (reluctant) friends about it. Nobody would really entertain my idea (except my friend Natalie, who actually is working towards the Mars mission).
Anyways, I forgot who told me, but a friend of mine told me:
If you’re really curious what it would be like living on a spaceship, go on a cruise! A cruise ship is essentially a spaceship on water.
This kind of blew my mind, and I was fascinated with the sociology of cruise-living.
Thank you Cindy
For my 31st birthday, Cindy bought us a 4-night (5 day) cruise to Ensenada. So far, this is what I find absolutely fascinating with a cruise:
- You don’t feel trapped or claustrophobic at all on the cruise ship. In-fact, I feel superior on the ship. Why? When you are on the top deck, it is almost like you are on a massive mountain overlooking the epic vista of the ocean/land. The best view is from the cruise ship (looking downwards).
- The amount of activities to do on a cruise ship: Comedy shows, dance/night club, casino, restaurants, movie theater, gym, sauna, etc. In theory I think I could cycle through these activities indefinitely with little boredom/fatigue.
- How big it is: I’ve been wandering through the cruise ship, and I always feel like I am somehow discovering some new passage ways, rooms, doors, or routes. It is almost like being on a massive floating castle. Half the fun is walking around the cruise ship, exploring new areas, revisiting older areas, and just people watching.
- Natural light: I personally love natural light. There is so much natural light on a cruise ship it is ridiculous. For example, even when indoors in the buffet room (facing the sun), you get lots of really lovely natural light. Or if you’re on the top deck, you can feel the warm sun on the back of your neck or your face. I personally feel more energy and vigor when I get lots of nice natural light (and warm sun) — and being on the cruise ship is the ultimate maximum amount of natural sunlight (because you have no other buildings obscuring your light).
- The amount of human diversity on the cruise ship: The workers are from all over the world (Filipino, Vietnamese, Eastern-European, Indian, Indonesian, etc), and there is a big diversity of riders on the ship (black, white, asian, latino, and of all different class groups– poor, middle-class, maybe rich?) Also you get lots of different social groups (families, single people, couples, groups of friends) with all age rangers (kids, teenagers, young adults, older folks, disabled folks, etc). I like seeing all this diversity of human beings, and to also people-watch/over-hear conversations.
- Everyone is super friendly: Everyone is on a cruise ship to enjoy themselves, so people seem to be extra friendly. The staff is super friendly, the cruise passengers are very friendly and cordial to one another. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem like there is much judgement on the ship: it is a ‘free for all’ (everyone is able to engage in any activities, even if seen as ‘degenerate’ — and nobody really cares). You can be super super drunk and act a fool, and nobody will care or judge you. You can eat like a pig, nobody cares (everyone else is doing it anyways).
- Feeling of extreme abundance: There is pretty much an all-inclusive, all-you-can-eat buffet (for most of the hours) on the ship. You know you will never starve. And you can eat however much you want, at whatever time of the day you want, and you can be however picky or choosy you want. The most fascinating part for me is that it is the ultimate frictionless eating: the buffet and all the meals/restaurants on the cruise ship are already included in your bill, so you don’t need to swipe your card or go through a turnstile, or pay money (or credit card) for your meals. Thus, whenever you have a meal, there is 0 degrees of pain when eating (because even if you eat at a restaurant, there is always the slight pain associated with having to pay real money for the meal). Thus, the food all feels ‘free’ (even though you are technically paying for it). But perhaps the human notion of ‘free and unlimited food’ is something extremely appealing to us.
‘Free’ and unlimited food
For myself, feeling like I have access to free and unlimited food, funny enough– I actually eat less during the day (I don’t eat breakfast or lunch and fast until dinner time).
Furthermore, I haven’t drank any alcohol, eaten any sweets, or consumed anything outside of my personal “ketogenic” and “intermittent fasting” diet.
This is the thing:
My personal aesthetics are extremely important to me. I like the way I look when I am ‘leaner and meaner’ — and thus, for myself, I don’t desire to put on excess adipose (fat) tissue. I prefer to have a higher muscle mass, and less body fat.
And this is interesting to me, because I have always wondered:
How much of our physical appearance is for others versus ourselves?
Even if I were a lone passenger on a spaceship going to Mars, I wouldn’t want to look fat. I would still prefer to look leaner and more muscular. Why? I like looking at myself in the mirror, and admiring my own body as sculpture.
Another interesting observation when being on a cruise ship:
Extreme calm, zen-zone, clear-mind, no stress/cares/worries.
When you’re on a cruise ship, you really do feel like you’re in a different universe. On a cruise ship, you have no cares, worries, wants, “needs”, or pains. You can sleep when you want, wake up when you want, eat when you want (and however much you want), and you can spend all the hours of the day however you want.
Personally on the cruise ship, I have been most enjoying:
- Going to the gym, doing some exercises, then enjoying the dry sauna, and using the time to think, meditate, and reflect.
- Drinking the unlimited black coffee (on tap), thinking, writing, and reflecting.
- Shooting photos of Cindy, and other passengers on board (‘cruise street photography’).
- Enjoying talking to the ship workers (I learned some Serbian, some Indonesian, and more Tagalog).
- Having concentrated time to talk about Cindy, without the stresses of the ‘outside world’.
- Not having access to the internet: Your brain thinks differently when you’re offline. You think more about the future, methods of archiving your information, and sharing with others. I’m wondering– what kind of creative work would you do if you were in a spaceship for 100 years, and didn’t have access to the internet? Would you still take photos? And if so, what would you want to photograph? And would you share it with others? If so, how would you share it with others?
Self-centered and self-focused living
There is technically wifi access on the cruise ship, but because you gotta pay money, I decide not to. So I pretend that it doesn’t exist.
Once again, let me entertain this idea that living on a cruise ship is a simulation of living on a spaceship:
If you didn’t have access to the internet for the rest of your life, until your death– how would you use technology, and for what purpose?
For example on the cruise ship, I brought my laptop, iPad, GoPro, Lumix G9, and Fujifilm XF10, and Cindy brought her phone (Samsung Galaxy Android phone).
When you don’t have access to the internet, you use your devices differently.
What are the ideal devices for offline living?
My experiences with using devices on the cruise ship:
I really like the laptop for being able to type the most efficiently, to stream my thoughts with no lag or delay. Furthermore, I love my laptop (MacBook Pro) to do design work (Photoshop, InDesign), to make beats (Garage band) and to make slideshows/videos (iMovie).
I also think if you didn’t have access to the internet, the only way to really share your photos with others would be via folders with JPEG photos (numbered), or via PDF ebooks (of your photos).
b. Photography (how to enjoy photography offline)
Second: Assuming you could never share your photos with anyone else for the rest of your life, would you still shoot photos? And if so, what purpose would photography have for you?
This is what I discovered (for myself):
- The joy of monochrome: I really enjoy shooting black and white photography (with flash and without flash) for the randomness. I like to surprise myself with my black and white photos, because I have no idea what my photos truly will look like until I’ve imported them into Lightroom and added monochrome filters to them (ERIC KIM Monochrome 1600 preset).
- The joy of post-processing and image-selection: Also, I have more fun and enjoyment in post-processing my own photos for myself, and in selecting the photos I like best.
- The joy of composition: I have more fun in composing a scene for my own inner-challenge (I derive great joy from trying to compose a scene well — like a visual exercise/puzzle/game).
- The joy of re-experiencing past events: I had a little photo shoot with Cindy on the ship, and really loved looking at them, because I was able to re-experience the joy of the fun we had the prior night! Thus, photography must be valuable as a memory-recollection tool.
These are all the fun things you can do with photography (if you don’t have internet access, and if you cannot share your photos with others).
A smartphone (without internet access) is essentially a small tablet. A smartphone is useful to stand while typing notes or words, for shooting photos, watching videos, and other media-related things. The phone is a great substance-creation device, as well as a substance-consumption device.
I enjoyed being able to shoot some cruise street photography with a phone while on the ship, and being able to quickly view, select, and post-process the photos.
But this is the interesting thing:
Shooting photos on a phone always look uglier (aesthetically) when compared to my other digital cameras.
Therefore, considering I am shooting photos to truly please myself, this is the takeaway:
I must shoot with a camera that produces aesthetically-beautiful images, and unfortunately– a smartphone doesn’t do that (for myself).
What kind of food would you eat on a spaceship?
Let us assume you’re stuck on a spaceship (with other passengers) for the rest of your life (until you die). How could you keep yourself entertained, happy, joyful, and avoid boredom/ennui/existential dread/depression?
The tricky thing with a spaceship:
The food will probably be a lot worse.
On the cruise ship, I’ve been really enjoying having my unlimited burgers and steaks. I doubt if you are on a spaceship, there will be enough space and resources to grow meat or meat-like substances on-board. Thus, it seems that space food would probably be something more like an oatmeal-protein-enriched-like mush, or soylent-kind of thing. Or maybe we can grow vegetables, grains, cereals, fruit on-board (we can use solar rays to power the electricity on the spaceship, to build some self-sustaining farm on-board). It seems very unlikely we will have access to delicious meat/fish/animal products if we’re on a spaceship (you cannot fit Noah’s ark on a spaceship — or could you?)
Anyways, I think if we were to become a space-faring species, we would learn how to subsist on a mostly vegetarian-artificial-food diet — some sort of diet that could maximize nutrition (and minimize resources necessary to grow that food). Because ideally if we were on a spaceship, we would need a self-sustaining biome of food production.
Perhaps my next cruise experiment can be this:
Discover the ideal non-meat diet to best sustain myself, while still giving me maximal energy and vigor to do creative work, thinking, exercise, etc– with maximum muscle mass, and minimum body fat tissue.
If you were to go on a spaceship for the rest of your life, a fun question:
What camera(s), lens(es), and equipment would you bring?
Assuming you’ll never be able to share photos with anyone else ever again, I would assume you would want a digital camera with the maximal image quality (digital medium format camera), with the maximal amount of reliability and robustness (shutter that would last a long time), a design that won’t go out of style, and the maximal responsiveness.
Furthermore, we would probably want very good low-light digital cameras (assuming we want to photograph pretty space/star photos).
Also, we would probably want some light and portable camera to just document our everyday living.
If I were to go on a spaceship (for the rest of my life) this is what I would probably bring with me (assuming I have the technology of 2019):
- iPhone XS: To shoot photos of just my everyday life, selfies, other random snapshots I would want to shoot with. The superiority of using AirDrop to share the iPhone pictures with my other Apple devices (iPad, MacBook Pro). I would like to bring a point and shoot digital camera like a RICOH GR II, but wouldn’t (because it is a very unreliable camera, that breaks easily, and has a very limited shelf-life).
- Lumix G9 + Rode Video Microphone: To do ‘vlogs’, and to record video footage of whatever.
- Pentax 645Z digital medium format camera: A design that won’t go out of style, and the ease of using an optical viewfinder, that is less likely to break (more robust than having an LCD-only digital medium format camera). Maximal image quality.
- Sony A7SII camera: A digital camera with the maximum low-light capability — if I want to make the best image quality (low noise) photos without using a flash (I think this camera would be best to photograph stars and other space-related things).
I think beyond this, I wouldn’t want or need any other type of digital camera. Also probably just basic prime lenses on each camera.
Entertainment, media, books, music, etc
If you were to go on a spaceship, what kind of digital library would you desire?
Let us assume our maximum lifespan is 120 years. I don’t think the point would to be have all the digital information/data/knowledge out there. I would probably encourage you to create a digital library of stuff you actually care about.
For myself this would include things which I’ve already read, consumed, listened to, or experienced:
- All my favorite rap, classical, and jazz music.
- All my favorite philosophical books and texts.
And for films– a collection of the top movies ever made by humanity (films I haven’t watched yet, as well as films I already watched which I really enjoyed already).
In praise of virtual reality
If you were to be stuck on a spaceship for the rest of your life, I think a good escape would be virtual reality.
Virtual reality (Oculus Rift) with all the video games/programs/applications created thus far.
Furthermore, I think a lot of people will have great fun making virtual-reality 3d sculptures and other forms of artwork, and also having the ability to share their artwork on-board with other crew members– while also playing god by creating their own virtual worlds or environments (imagine ‘Ready player one’), or going on virtual video-game RPG-esque quests with their friends on-board.
What is the purpose of fashion?
Another thing I find fascinating with a cruise or the notion of being on a spaceship:
What is the functional use of fashion?
I know for myself, I have a personal aesthetic (all black everything) which I prefer. I like looking this way, because when I look in the mirror, it doesn’t offend my eyes. Whenever I wear certain colors which are too loud, it actually distracts myself. This is why I disdain having red or bright shoes; I get distracted by looking at my own feet.
Assuming you wouldn’t want to wash your clothes that often when being on board, or if you wanted the ‘best’ fabric– it would probably be merino wool (cool when hot, warm when cool, sweat-wicking, doesn’t stink, soft and comfortable to wear).
Also another human thing about fashion:
We want to differentiate ourselves from others, to show off our own uniqueness, and we want to ‘flex’ on others when it comes to fashion (we want to appear to be MORE fashionable than other people around us).
So it seems that even within a spaceship, we would want to establish a hierarchy. But why? What kind of practical benefits do you derive if you are seen as more ‘fashionable’ than others?
- Sexual benefits: If others find you to be more fashionable, perhaps this increases your sexual fitness. Thus perhaps you will have more access to the more sexually-appealing partners on the ship, which could benefit you by having stronger offspring, or perhaps give you a higher degree of pleasure. But certainly after a certain while (no matter how attractive your sexual partner is) you will get bored of them. And unless you plan on having 100 children, it seems that being super-attractive won’t have any practical benefits.
- Boosting your self-esteem/ego: Certainly when others compliment your fashion or physical appearance, you get a serotonin/endorphin boost. It makes you feel more self-confident, and builds up your ego. But is being complimented for your fashion the only way to accomplish this?
But anyways, it seems that fashion is essential to being human. Fashion is definitely something that will exist until the end of time for humans.
Working out + sauna
On the cruise there is a small gym which is pretty decently equipped (free weights up to 65 pound dumbbells), and some typical random workout equipment. Everyday Cindy and I have been hitting the gym (before pigging out for dinner) in order to build up our appetite, and just for overall physical fitness (and feeling good).
Also there is a steam sauna and a dry-hot sauna, which is really awesome to do after you’re done working out. The dry-sauna is quite hot, dimly lit, and surrounded by wood. The reason I love using the dry-sauna is that after working out, and just being able to sit down, close my eyes (and have no distractions), interesting ideas enter your mind. You’re able to think and reflect. And it is interesting, because when you “relax” your mind (or remove distractions from myself), it seems your mind is actually more active. My theory:
When you relax your mind, and remove distractions from your mind– does this give your mind the opportunity to digest your thoughts, which gives birth to new ideas?
If you eat a big meal (consume a big idea), it will take you a while to digest the food (idea). You shouldn’t keep eating more food (or consuming more ideas). Perhaps if we want to give birth to more interesting ideas, we shouldn’t constantly bombard ourselves with new ideas. We should learn ideas from others in big chunks, but then stop learning for certain periods in order for us to digest our thoughts.
Anyways, I think if we were to create an ideal society on a spaceship or anywhere– having a hot sauna is certainly good to give birth to new ideas, and the opportunity for the mind to both relax and be more active at the same time.
Furthermore, if I were on a spaceship, I would definitely want a gym equipped with powerlifting equipment (deadlift, squat, heavy dumbbell, benchpress, etc). I know for my own mental sanity, working out (physically) gives me lots of great endorphins and positive-feeling/empowering hormones. Furthermore, having the ability to walk seems to be essential for us humans.
My apologies for my disjointed ideas; writing this essay was more of an opportunity for me to reflect and digest my experiences and thoughts.
Some basic takeaways:
- It seems that humans becoming a space-faring species is closer than it seems. Perhaps we sociologists should start to think more about how to create an ‘ideal’ society on a spaceship, or even to reflect on what it means to be human, and how for us to thrive as individuals.
- Thinking offline is beneficial. Obviously we all love the internet and the benefits of the internet FAR outweigh the negatives (distractions), but perhaps we should treat the internet like ‘intermittent fasting’ for food (for certain periods we intentionally disconnect ourselves from the internet, and only consume the internet in certain ‘feeding periods’).
- For maximal energy, focus, and bodily vigor– it seems ideal to participate in “intermittent fasting” (not eating 3 regular meals a day. Instead, best to fast from breakfast and lunch, and have a larger dinner). Constantly eating food throughout the day doesn’t seem good for our insulin-regulation or our human metabolism.
- For optimal human health, we need some sort of physical activity, walking, and weight-lifting (or resistance training).
- I wonder what is the optimal food for a space-faring human species? What kind of food could you grow on a spaceship that would give you the maximal nutrition with the minimum amount of sunlight, soil, and water? A future spare-faring human species would probably be mostly vegetarian — or consuming some sort of artificial-protein food item.
- Living on a cruise ship is almost like the ultimate social experiment (kind of communist in the sense that everyone enjoys the same privileges as everyone else. Everyone pretty much eats the same thing, has access to the same entertainment, etc). It seems that almost everyone onboard is very happy, and are free to enjoy their leisure time however they desire.
- Living on a cruise ship allows everyone to be more individual, which I think is generally a good thing. You have more independence in terms of how to spend your day, what to do, and what not to do.
- I wonder what kind of economy would exist on a spaceship? Who would have to do all the menial labor? Would the higher-up crew members have different types of privileges that the lower-class members wouldn’t have? What kind of monetary-transaction system would you use on a spaceship?
- What are the best creative activities you can do when you don’t have access to the internet? It seems beneficial to write, think, meditate, reflect, read, make photos for your own enjoyment, and to distill your knowledge and artwork– best to do it digitally, and perhaps export them to JPEGs or PDF’s.
- Humans are social beings, and we are generally happiest when we are in the company of other human beings. Certainly if you were the only passenger on a spaceship you would go crazy or insane (Tom Hanks in the film ‘Cast Away’ or the lead actor in the ‘Passengers’ film). I guess the questions I’m curious about is: “How much social interaction do we need? What times fo the day do you need social interaction? Who do we best prefer to socially interact with? Why do humans like to socially interact, and what kind of hormones or bodily pheromones are given off when socially interacting? Would humans on a spaceship have the same social rules as humans on land on planet Earth?“
- Certainly we would want coffee in space. But how can you most sustainably grow or provide coffee? Would you just have tons upon tons of instant coffee? Or some way to grow coffee beans on board?
- What does luxury really mean? What kind of luxuries would you really desire or want on a spaceship? Does really having a bigger room bring you more joy? Perhaps social status would be more desired on a spaceship where you knew everyone? Or perhaps the luxury would being having access to more delicious/nutritious food?
Some experiments I plan on trying out on myself in the near future:
- Experimenting with what a spaceship diet might look like: Could I subsist on a purely vegan diet of beans, lentils, fruit, veggies, and other items that could theoretically be grown on a spaceship? And also: Is a ketogenic (mostly meat and high in fat) diet the supreme diet for physical/mental performance?
- Spending more time disconnected from the internet during the day: Perhaps I can treat my internet use like my intermittent fasting food (don’t use the internet when there is sunlight outside: only use the internet after I eat dinner). Would this give me birth to new and more interesting creative ideas? Would it help me concentrate more, or think more long-term? Will I have more epic thoughts?
- Thinking more about how physical activity and working out affects my mental mood, and thinking process. I generally believe that with working out, it makes me a stronger thinker, and gives me more mental acuity.
More turbo thoughts to come.