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A lot of time ago there was a game called S.T.U.N.T.S. which was one of the only two racing games i ever liked (the other being Carmageddon, which was not a racing game at all). And it was cool mostly not for racing but for it was the first time i ever had encountered a level editor. And level editors are coolness.

Anyways, S.T.U.N.T.S. had a strange bug that if you made a square course with slanted curve corners (so that you never had to take your finger out of gas!!!) and used the fastest car available at some point the car would go crazy. It was like the car had become an abstract moving body instead of a car.

First of all, nothing would decelerate it, and it seemed to not care about air friction and actually it was kinda impossible to steer. You could steer, but it was like the car was working in a different physics engine. In the end, it would inevitably point upwards, fly, seemingly stay motionless in the air, until eventually it did fall and explode.

I had a real fixation with that thing.

If i had to guess, now, i would say there was an if there somewhere which was overflowing and increasing one of the variables from the physics engine, so that almost all the other vars would become almost unimportant.

Later i would take this thing to be a very good study of how abstraction works.

First , the thing was like you had been taken out of the world. You could disregard physics as much as you pleased. You didn’t have to care about the road or friction or fuel or almost anything else.

Second, it was simple but not simplistic. Which means that though it did make the rules act different, you still had rules and you was far from unrestricted. It was actually much harder to do anything with the car at that state.

Finally, abstraction didn’t happen when you taken all materiality from the system, but actually when you had overflowed the system with energy — abstraction was not immaterial, but trans-material. And that made a big difference.

In fact, i have come to think that a lack of understanding abstraction is one of the most painful vicious circles our world is presently stuck at.

Later at Computer Science 101 the teacher which was also a friend and kind of hero gave another definition: abstraction is when you can disregard the details. He said such definition didn’t intend to solve the metaphysics of abstraction but only to be a working concept.

I like it, but i like this one even more: abstraction is a reduction of inertia.


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