Modern civilization assured us in notion that homo sapiens is a pinnacle of evolution, ultimate achievement of biology. This made us believe we’re almost invincible, beyond cycles of live and death, detached from crude Earthly cradle we were brought up in and independent from physical dimension. Since we created our own environment, evolution can’t enslave us. Without denying how much we have accomplished as a specie, it has led to unforeseen circumstances for individuals. We create and upgrade ourselves in an artificial incubator of modern civilization, so comfortable and caring that even knowledge about outside world is not essential for survival anymore. Everything is served on a social plate of privileges and welfare, where sense of entitlement is a default human right, just like freedom. Ignorance became just a fire wall to filter out tsunami of irrelevant data at best but in most cases a new skill associated with “open mind” and flexibility to accept unselected information without critical thinking and sense of understanding. How long can this arrogance go unpunished? We could be building foundations of our own demise: extinction by over-confidence that blinded so many species before us.
Solitude is like a necessary meditation, secret ritual that opens door to another dimension. It’s necessary because we need to sink inside our inner abyss sometimes to see who we really are without all the strings attached and what is on the other side. It’s secret as we can never explain this experience to anyone who had never been us before.
“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in a bad company.”
Reference to Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s book with the same title.
Time has become more relative than ever. It can bend, get distorted, slow down or accelerate when we fail to pay attention but seems to be mocking our desperate attempts to take control. It’s our eternal enemy. We are obsessed with time flow, inevitable exhaustion of presence which maliciously slips out of our hands and falls into an abyss of the past. What happened already is hardly relevant and important in our instant life. Being bombarded with indigestible amount of information we can hardly process or understand, capacity of our memory became perhaps so limited that we can’t afford to remember the past any more. Time in a modern world is like a Damocles’ sword, Kronos lurking in the dark ready to devour its children. We try to cheat or buy time in hopeless effort to achieve illusive immortality but unstoppable river of entropy sweeps away and dissolves our precious existence in the universal cycle of life eventually.
Intuition, feeling or this uneasy hinge that shakes our body sometimes like a short circuit is our biological intelligence installed by eons of evolution and inherited as the experience of countless previous generations. It’s our archetype software, independent of rationality which seems instant in comparison with ambiguous and forever undecided thinking. Are we really torn between our mind and intuition, rationality and feelings? What if these are just two different tools adapted to various conditions, covering each other simultaneously? Our intelligence may be just a natural harness, a control switch keeping intuition hostage in the safe, artificial environment of modern civilization.
We live in social capsules separated from the outside world by comfortable cages. They become borders of our lives, mental poleis which give us a sense of security and freedom but in fact make us vulnerable and helpless as human beings. We are attached to our municipal cocoons as to respirators in order to survive – you are free only if you’re connected to the matrix, the system. Without it you are homeless, a recluse. The only way to leave this environmental shelter is to die and be expelled in the symbolical way from the vicious social circle.
Our “self” is being created on a subconscious level. Identity is a mixture of memories, experience, thoughts and characters of other people, who left their traits in our mind, influenced and fed it with ideas and feelings. “Me” is never singular; it’s a side effect of interaction, a wave function. To paraphrase Michail Bahtin: the main symbol of a modern man is “a grotesque mind”. Surrounded by others we grow with alien convictions and beliefs like a coral reef. We are always between ourselves and others, never establishing fully distinctive beings, like a kaleidoscope assembled from separate parts but pretending to be consolidated. Eventually we lose all references to the environment that composes our Identity. What remains is a personal simulacrum, an encrypted directory without a vantage point.
We also see ourselves in the mirror of our own imagination, more like a projection of who we would like to be, not who we are. Stuck in carefully carved shells to deceive the classifying eyes of the outside world, we create ourselves from the randomly collected debris of other lives. Consciousness is in the eye of beholder.
Ach, zadumani, zadumani wiecznie
W kroki zegarow, w wierszy kragly lament
W lzy – dzwonki nocy, smutki obosieczne
Ja wiem: te lzy – pol-woda, pol atrament
Pod nieba biala korona, pod racami blasku
Drzycie jak kret na sloncu, ktory zgubil droge
Ja mam gest. Ja was wszystkich kupic moge
Za jedno zywe ziarnko piasku.
K.K. Baczynki, 1941.
One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society is a 1964 book by philosopher Herbert Marcuse.
Marcuse argues that “advanced industrial society” created false needs, which integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought. This results in a “one-dimensional” universe of thought and behaviour, in which aptitude and ability for critical thought and oppositional behaviour wither away. Against this prevailing climate, Marcuse promotes the “great refusal” (described at length in the book) as the only adequate opposition to all-encompassing methods of control. Much of the book is a defence of “negative thinking” as a disrupting force against the prevailing positivism.
We are just pawns of ideologies and history on a playground indifferent to our individual needs and plans. We take insignificance and de-humanisation as a norm and sell ourselves out to the chimeras of ideologies we have obliviously created, as if they are transcendent beings that enslaved us by the sole right of their evolutionary supremacy.