Illusions of Place and Time
We are all prisoners of the Corporate Monolith. We are all simultaneously its agents and its victims. There is no arguing who we are or where we are, or why. Our intra-species symbiosis is mercantile more than social. We produce and consume, consume and produce. Our evolution brought us here, to this place and time. We will simmer in it for a while before we begin to change, and a while longer before we notice that we have. But we are who we are in this moment, alone among the remnants of the event which brought this light show into being. Beyond this life, who knows what exists? But here, each of us is one of a great number and merely data points in the larger calculation. God doesn’t love you or hate you. God doesn’t know you, and thank God for that. We haven’t proven ourselves worthy of that level of consideration. At this point we are merely a failed experiment. But there’s always tomorrow.
On the other hand, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We know this because we are surrounded by misfortune in our daily lives. It is common for us to scan the headlines of tabloids and think the world is going mad. We cannot fathom the depth to which human depravity can fall even as it is presented to us in print and picture. We turn our eyes, and our minds, away from the misery surrounding us because it speaks to the utter purposelessness of life itself. It is too much to bear. And then, there we are, the next day, doing the same thing and feeling the same way. This is not a new phenomenon. It forms the basis of most religions and philosophies, none of which have successfully responded with a lasting cure. Misery, it would seem, is the blue in the sky and the green in the grass. It is just one more component of existence.
It stands to reason that no single individual can reduce Mankind’s suffering. If the richest man in the world took every penny and devoted it to such cause, the result would go unnoticed, like a drop in an ocean. The net effect might be greater misery, considering how little we understand of the long-term results of individual actions. If we extrapolate and calculate every person in the world devoting some effort in relieving the misery of another, it would end up as a slightly larger drop but still return, at best, an immeasurable fraction of a percentage. Misery is constant while everything else is variable. Misery is entropic. It is the thread of the fabric of life. So desperate are we to escape its shadow, even momentarily, we allow ourselves to fall prey to the fiction of salvation. Did the reformed Scrooge of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol save tiny Tim Cratchit from misery or merely prolong his suffering? If we are honest with ourselves, we know things rarely end “happily ever after,” that the most sublime of human lifetimes must still end in death, but we cling to life’s implausibilities nevertheless.
When we wish upon a star, we’re pinning our hopes upon the tails of ancient photons. Their source may no longer exist. We are acting on the illusion of existence, when what we are actually seeing is a record of the past. The song of the evening sky is an echo, not an aria. Still, we hang on to the past because we know it, having lived through it. The echoes of it haunt our present day and slip into our nightly dreams. We are comfortable with the past, no matter how harrowing it seemed at the time, because we survived it. It molded us. It scarred us. When we touch the scars, they remind us of all we went through to reach this place and time. It is mostly good fortune that moves us forward individually, each of us negotiating our weaving paths to an ending point when dimensionality ceases to matter.
In the end, all we presumed to know is no longer subject to revision. We take the content of our being, our knowledge for what it’s worth, with us when we go, leaving behind our finely-stitched covers. We can read the words of Socrates and Abraham Lincoln and be confident of the fact there was a lot they weren’t telling us. They couldn’t find the words and ultimately took those ideals with them when they escaped this world. When we read what they did leave us, we are seeing the record of their search for a version of truth as it appeared in their times, rather than truth itself. It seems the truths of great men, like everything else around us, are illusory. The oasis of human knowledge at any moment is a mirage. Echoes of reality wash over us and we believe our senses, just as our ancestors believed theirs. They were mostly wrong. How can we not be?