WARNING: Freewriting and meandering ahead.
"It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine."--R.E.M.
Is this all there is?
Something's not right. I just feel it somewhere in the back of my head. It sets off a siren every time I go to work, sit in a business meeting, wait in a lobby, or get forced to dine with vapid people. The warning ticks out like there's a live torpedo lodged in my flank and it's about to blow. It's not supposed to be like this. We weren't supposed to be squeezed into cubes, grateful to merely exist.
There's been a lot of talk of "living in the matrix" or another such artificial construct. Maybe too much talk, I think. It would be interesting to see just how widespread such thoughts were prior to the release of the movie. While The Matrix was only so-so as a film, it did raise a few philosophical points. Why do I feel this way about life? Why, like Neo, do I stay up late at night on my computer, searching through the shadowy corners of the Internet and the archives of so-called unorthodox research, looking for that answer I just can't put my finger on? Maybe because I can't clarify the question.
"And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention."--Talking Heads
The majority of people I know (and I do mean just know, not my close friends or family) are content to be solely concerned with their jobs, their kids, their cars, their house, and their investment portfolio. I'll go you one better. They're not just content, they're incapable of caring about anything more. Want evidence of this? Next time you see someone in a public place with a cell phone or blue tooth fused to their heads, listen in on the conversation. It shouldn't be hard. They will probably talk loud enough to be heard without prying. One example that comes to my mind is the man I heard in Las Vegas, on his cell while dumping in a bathroom stall. Trust me, his conversation with his friend about stereo equipment and surfing waves probably could have waited (were I him, I also would not have continued to drink from the glass of rum and Coke that he brought into the stall with him as it could not have escaped unscathed from the scent of dung.)
That's just it. Whatever conversation you will hear will more than likely be one of very little substance. Like a husband giving his wife a forward recon of whatever store he's in. Given the overall embracing of "dumb" by this culture, it makes me think we're already living in the future world described in William Gibson novels, just without all the cool technology. Then I walk through the parking lot at work and find two empty liquor bottles and a used syringe. Then it seems more like the "Interzone" of William Burroughs.
Author and philosopher Robert Anton Wilson once said that "the biggest conspiracy is the conspiracy of stupid." People don't want their children taught any kind of "new ideas" in schools. Parents don't want their college students to be part of any kind of curriculum that won't enhance earning potential. People don't want anything intelligent on television. Religion is the opiate of the masses? Heh. Too bad Karl Marx didn't live to see TV.
I am a writer. My academic background is in English composition and literature. As my "writing buddies" and I struggle to gain acceptance into the current marketplace, "the conspiracy of stupid" is apparent every day. I struggled through my Master's program at times, being told that science fiction just isn't a literary form acceptable to the academy. It was "genre writing" (said as if they had just swallowed something bitter like earwax.) I attempted to tailor my prose in more of a "literary" vein, whatever that means. Then publishing agents told me it was unsellable. Where were the car chases? The explosions? The shower scenes? People don't want to read someone using depth and character development. So...guess I'm too dumb to be William Faulkner and too smart to be Dan Brown...and nowhere near "punky" enough to be David Foster Wallace.
Please, I don't mean to make myself out to be falsely superior. I am likewise a drone. I spend my weekdays commuting to a job that is meaningless to me and my weekends cleaning my house and doing my laundry. Why? Suppose I work as a 21st Century form of slavery and I clean so that I'll leave behind a tidy place should I die. I likewise do not mean to be dismissive of mobile technology. I cannot imagine my life without my cell phone or any of my other apps and digital connections. I also like dumb forms of entertainment at times. Part of me really embraces the world. So why the malaise? Why the ennui? Because part of me wants to just kick it in the face.
I know that millions of people have come and gone this way. They worked their way through daily drudgery just to survive. They toiled in obscurity and then winked out before they knew it. Indeed, I am waiting for a comment that is along the lines of "this is all in your head, everybody has a boring life, buck up, that'll be 5 cents please."
Sorry. Not good enough for me. I'm just looking for some larger answer. That's part of why I started this blog. That and the fact that every time I really apply myself and attempt to make a change, it falls apart. So much for "freeing yourself from the matrix." There is a matrix. And I have helped to create it.
Just waiting on something to happen, something to wake people up, to help us evolve beyond all...this. As I'm writing, our President is lambasting the CEOs of BP. He should, but he is only doing it after public pressure. Will this disaster in the Gulf bring about any sort of change in how we live? Probably not. The oil companies are still in charge and I don't see that coming to an end any time soon regardless of the political party in power. So I'll go back to hoping there's still something big on the horizon.
Because even if there isn't, it helps me get through the day.
"If this is paradise, I wish I had a lawn mower."--Talking Heads
Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets