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…reality distortion fields…

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“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
– Edward Bernays, Propaganda

“The artist (a generic term covering poet, composer, painter, sculptor, perhaps novelist) consciously or unconsciously takes a vow of obedience to awareness. In order not to be lost in the whirl of time, either past or present, the artist must look at all things with the energy and clarity of a hyperthyroid Buddha.
Frankly, this clarity is not a lot of fun, a fact that explains certain consciousness-reducing vices. In certain locales it is even less fun than others…”
-Jim Harrison, The Raw and the Cooked

Originally, I was going to title this entry, “…who the F**k is Kim Kardashian?…”. Maybe that alone gives away the fact that this whole thing has been simmering for a couple of weeks, because now she’s nowhere to be seen in the news. The fact that Kim Kardashian was someone I’d never heard of, had to google and read the Wikipedia synopsis of to simply understand why anyone on earth would be talking about her or her marriage so much – everywhere – with such passion, made me proud of my ignorance.

I read a lot. Books printed on paper when possible – the real things – or at least try. Often times it means picking one up and never finishing it, as was the case with 2 of the last 3…

Sadly, or maybe thankfully, Bernay’s first paragraph sums up everything I ever suspected; that some small group of people provide the ideas and topics that the majority of the world occupy themselves with. Kim Kardashian? Just like the word ‘gravitas’ in the 2000 presidential election, another sort of pop-culture mushroom cloud that explodes in amazing fashion then dissipates into oblivion. What puzzles me is the people who make these topics the fulcra of their entire value system. It’s the source of their rage and happiness, the primary elements that unite or divide them with others.

Prior to that, I’d been reading The Raw and the Cooked by Jim Harrison. It’s not a great book, save the astounding observation he makes a few chapters in. Finding those thoughts put to words felt as if – maybe similar to learning to tie my shoes, finally, from my left handed aunt – where suddenly so much made sense, so simply… It’s a book I’ve read no further in. When I come across something so thoughtful, so well said, often I just have to walk away from it and savor it for a while…

Most recently, I finished the biography of Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson. I never really knew much of Steve Jobs, or Apple for that matter, even though I’m typing this on an iPad, own an iPhone, 2 iPods and a Macbook computer. Of all the elements and aspects of Steve Jobs that I’ve come to love and fully appreciate – would like to think I’ve got as well – is my own well honed ‘reality distortion field’…

Of course, when you think about it, everyone has a reality distortion field of their own – because it’s little else then the world view you have – the color of your glasses. The only difference is the tint – be it rose colored optimism, or shit-brown pessimism. The real magic is, as Steve Jobs proved, when you can get others to see the world through your own eyes.

For the first time today, I had a thought about something which I find utterly spectacular, which actually sort of ties all these disparate pieces together. In these moments I know exactly why I withdraw from society. It’s also why I never know how long it takes – or how much beer I’ll need along the way, or how many cigarettes, cups of stale, cold coffee at 2 and 3 in the morning along with solitaire, sudoku or other means of simply distracting myself from the din of what the rest of the world considers civilization.

It came to me today – the large, shit-eating and smitten grin which usually, or at least used to usually grace my face. It’s been gone for a long, long time and I’m the first to admit that I’m glad to have it back. Maybe this time it won’t go away – at least not as easily or for as long…

It never ceases to amaze me – both how screwed up the world is – and how simple the answer is. How simple and light it feels to be free. I realized what it is that’s been eating me – what keeps me from being a functioning part of society, or getting caught up in the latest flavor of debate – how easy it is to lose sight of it.

There is, I truly believe, a hierarchy of emotional states. At our most basic and primitive level, we live and are largely ruled by things such as fear, anger, lust, hunger. Things like beauty, love, empathy come only afterwards, and these are fairly unique to only the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Only when we aren’t ruled by the first things can the following exist. Beyond all that – there’s another emotion which is predicated on all the others, which cannot and will not exist if the others are not first satisfied; laughter. Why is it that humans are the only creatures who laugh, or have a sense of humor as refined and elegant as we do? It is, I believe, our highest emotion, beyond that of love.

And why don’t we laugh anymore? Being unplugged from the world at large, no longer buying into the culture that’s handed down rather than the one that comes from within, it’s evident. The world swirls with topics and diktats that are intended solely to steal the joy or laughter from any moment. We’re to worry about everything and constantly second guess our every action, wonder what we could be doing to minimize our ‘carbon footprint’. Life out there means expunging our own existence in order to appease some grotesque ideal. We’re taught to fear the scent of tobacco smoke, loathe our cars, give up plastic bags, eye suspiciously every convenience we have, except of course the ones that keep feeding us more to worry about. We’re taught to apologize for the things we enjoy most and admit that pleasure is some sort of weakness. There is, I believe a concerted effort to keep people wallowing in an endless mire of topics that do nothing except to provoke fear, anger, lust and hunger.

It’s simple really; it’s human nature to address these basic things first. If you don’t get them out of the way, you never get to a state of being where there’s a sense of security or comfort that allows love, and beauty to flourish or be appreciated. You may see it, but it’s not ever going to be yours – not while eminent danger is on the horizon and whales are starving in africa atop melting ice caps…

And that’s just it – what greater tool of control does one need than to keep another – even a large number of them – in a constant flurry of obsessing with base emotions – simply surviving, apologizing, second guessing every action they may have?

Maybe it’s why I gravitate towards the things I do, relish unplugging, enjoy the optimists, the people who warp reality towards fantasy and astounding notions, rather than propagate fear and worry about everything. Maybe it’s because I’m hypersensitive and see trends and basic elements that frighten me, that others simply take at face value, as light conversation. Maybe it’s that I see how fragile something as wonderful as laughter is – how easily it’s swiped away with one more appeal to fear and panic from someone or somewhere else. Maybe that alone has changed me and renewed my aspirations yet again…

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