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Most importantly we must decide what “human” is. I believe humanity to be the productive relationships of consciousness, compassion, and drive. All of our other qualities are shared widely throughout the animal kingdom.
Second to defining humanity, we must simplify “instinct.” Outside the realm of banal physical instinct, like hunger or sexual drive, is fear. Fear is likely the most commonly shared trait throughout that same, aforementioned kingdom of instinctive beings.
So how is it, then, that our instinctive fear makes us less human? The answer is that fear does what it always has done and always will do; it discourages us. Camus and Sartre call for a state of constant revolt in order to survive as fully human. What they both so nobly call for revolt against is your situation, the events the happen outside of your control. That struggle, as meaningless as it may seem in the works, is only meaningless without mankind’s interaction through the decisions of the individual. We create meaning and purpose for ourselves, and that is something that is easy to fear at first glance.
Our instincts, quite obviously, drive us to a determined existence. We can choose to keep our instincts at bay, as humanity has proven time and time again, and we can also let them conquer us. While I urged earlier the ignoring of banal instincts, it is still important to recognize that instinctive fear behaves much like unquenchable thirst. Fear is, it seems, basically physical. It is hard-wired and handed down through generations, often against our will.
Fear, as inherited, is this:
“I long to take risks, but the potential consequences would simply be just too much.”
Like I said earlier, fear discourages. Luckily, though, it is forever under your control. That is an absolute truth. That indented sentence makes “consequences” sound quite awful, but why else would we do anything if it weren’t for consequences? Sure, the results of our actions can be bad, but bad situations have never stopped us. In fact, looking back throughout history, bad times tend to mark the myriad births of improved-upon ideas.
Any determinist would gag at me saying, “we choose our lives to be determined in the case that they, in fact, are,” but instead I suggest that our lives are determined up until the point that we decide to consciously and compassionately involve ourselves in the expansive network of active, human existence.
There is a wide spectrum of finger-pointing determinists trying desperately to source “why” we do what we do and they’ll likely never give up. Many of us in this room have likely studied tragedies in the past and the stories of Macbeth or Oedipus the King provide ripe material for the endless debate of freedom versus imprisonment. Likely, the tragedies’ main characters could parallel the blindfolded and bound prisoners in Plato’s allegory of the cave. Always free to leave, simply never able to see their way out, even if that way lay behind the delicate façade of insanity.
Jean Anouilh’s rendition of the classic play Antigone, had the line, “Tragedy is clean, it is restful, it is flawless.” Personally, I attribute tragedy to one who never chooses to be free, and while significantly different from the obviously guilty of the theatric masterpieces, one who never chooses to be free is delivered the same, unproductive sympathy that the readers of the ancient plays hand out to the long-gone characters. That line defining tragedy inspired me to write a song that juxtaposes defiance and subjection to the objective and abstruse will of fear.
Tragedy is clean, it is restful
It’s flawless and it’s vengeful
In ways I see right through it
When bad things they pass, then you’ll see a sun
Just past the nick of time
You slip in skin to hide
In ways I see right through it
You tried adding parts and got only a sum
Yeah, that’s flawless and it’s vengeful
So, to all of you determinists, is it then more satisfying for me to say “those living determined lives had no choice in living like so(.)?”
We can only fall into a determined life; we can choose to combat it. Of course, that combatant struggle, as Camus and Sartre venerate, doesn’t seem so lovely as they try to make it seem. That is because they show little consideration of the effects of other people, our friends, on our daily lives. The obvious truth is that other people do matter, to a very significant extent.
Compassion, as it is defined online is: sympathetic consciousness for others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it (Merriam-Webster). Lonely consciousness can be to distress just as fear can be to hiding. Whether you happen to be a psychological egoist or not, the mere idea of altruism certainly brings warmth to our hearts; whether you happen to be an cynic-isolationist or not, the mere idea of compassion is something we all feverishly dream of. Lemony Snicket, one of my favorite authors since elementary school, wrote this of love, a particularly strong embodiment of compassion:
“One of the remarkable things about love is that, despite very irritating people writing poems and songs about how pleasant it is, it really is quite pleasant.”
Hitherto, fear has been insulted, consciousness has been proven flawed but necessary, and compassion seems just lovely. To bring compassion back to the central idea of the negative effects of instinctive fear on humanity, we must recognize that, while feared consciousness kills the human spirit, the fear of compassion leaves you lost amongst masses.
So what is it, then? What is it that consciousness and compassion so wonderfully produce together? They, together, create reason. They create a purpose. They create so much reason/purpose that any nihilist telling you “there’s no point” can instantaneously become the butt of some silly joke. When a compassionately conscious individual finds his/herself confronted with a reason, the nearly condemned result is drive. Reason inspires us, and it does so through embodiments that range from sneaky to obvious and beyond.
In conclusion, it seems apparent that our natural instincts do, in fact, make us less human. Throughout our lives we have access to the immortal tap that pours upon us our true individuality and ability to understand others. It works as water works for human life. Through millennia, our progress has been beyond evident, and that is solely resultant of either widespread or highly refined drive. Only during fearful times have we lacked our humanity and retreated towards the dark depths of animal-like existence. Only then have we been plagued with real stagnancy.
Everyone can face this. It may seem so monotonously banal that you don’t realize it, but it certainly happens, and likely on a daily basis. To play God is basically to make a decision while keeping in mind the outcome. It is to not be a slave to your head, and genetic capital (or lack thereof), and instead to realize the potential you have to make a difference in the infinite plane of interpersonal relationships in which you live your everyday life. You play God, to an extent, when you choose to cheat on some assessment or when you chose to turn someone in for the same, intrinsically bad, act. You also play God when you chose not to do either of those two things.
My most obvious introduction to this human “tendency,” if you will, was during a group project. Each year the physics classes at my school, from the remedial levels to their polar counterparts, all spend about a month working on the famous “Boat Project.” The basic premise is to build a boat, as one might imagine. Ideally, of course, your boat will float. As is usually the case, I never made it my priority to make this project one of gradual progress, so instead my group members and I saved construction for the week prior to the race.
Construction, though, went over with relative ease. The first day, two of the three other members showed up with enthusiasm and diligence (a pleasant surprise, considering they were second-semester seniors) and we worked away, all the while hearing nothing of our fourth member’s whereabouts. This didn’t really bother us, as we were sure a fourth member would’ve likely caused more inefficiencies than efficiencies. The following three days of work were all basically the same, each time lacking #4, while the other two would switch-off attendance to make various sports’ practices and whatever else they had already committed to. It was during these three days, though, that this ethical dilemma I alluded to earlier began to show itself. #4 had not only been avoiding contact, but when pressed told us that, in this order, for conveniently extended and placed time-intervals, he had two dentist’s appointments, one doctor’s, and one orthodontic appointment. All of which we discovered to be parts of a horrendously uncreative string of disproven excuses.
~ ~ ~
In determining what I would do with this information, three ethical theories began to show themselves, one of which I used loosely as a general framework for application of the other two. At this point during the end of the boat project, I had for some time been of the conviction that there lay a middle ground in the oh-so-heated debate of fate versus free will. That “middle ground” is said “general framework.”
Now, with a slightly larger vocabulary, I can call this middle ground a loose form of Soft Determinism, a philosophical position that accepts the notion that we may be products of genetics, social capital, or other outside forces, but it is our character, not these aforementioned forces, that dictates our lives past birth. In my “loose” form of this, I try to understand there to be obvious effects of one’s surroundings or inevitable genetic coding, but with some form of pseudo-consciousness exercise, the conscience can overcome these innate barriers. Genetics can thus be avoided and society forever changed, this is all reliant on everyday decision-making and development of habits. As odd as it may seem, it all really is so simple.
That being said, it is obvious that there is a power within playing God on the small scale, but what about the empathy? There is some universality in the effects of making decisions and habits, so how can one be sure of his/herself with such “powerful” actions? The key here, I’ve discovered, is this: beyond understanding oneself and his/her potential is what could even be considered more important, and that is called the effect. Like John Stuart Mill, I believe the morally right decision to make is the one that brings about the highest caliber of happiness across the largest group of people. While not ratting-out my group member in that project for his dishonesty may have provided him some satisfaction in escaping the bullet, I knew (considering what I could of the possible externalities) the right action was simply to not include his name atop our assessment sheet. This action, I believe, was concomitant to the qualitative-utilitarian perspective. This act would theoretically save us the shame of being passive, save him the pains of being subject to laziness, and save our teacher the cluelessness. All of these things saved could be argued to be seeds of opportunity. What I found surprising, though, was that this action was unanimously agreed upon, without hesitation.
What I did not make clear earlier was that, besides myself, the rest of my group were all particularly good friends. Talkative, friendly, loyal, you name it, I don’t believe a single soul in our classroom would have said otherwise. Despite all of this, when we had our final meeting discussing the issue of #4, it took less than a minute to understand we had all, sorrowfully, come to the conclusion that we couldn’t save our friend. “Saving” him, we knew, would be no better than letting him slowly bleed out. Our decision, then, had little to nothing to do with fairness or getting even. We came to what was an unavoidably natural outcome. In acting for what on the surface would seem selfish, we acted in conscience of mankind. We knew, that if he really could realize his shortcoming, the end of the line would be far beyond us not penning in his name. The situation would not be outside his complete control unless he allowed it to be.
In tying this all down, one could begin to see how, maybe, #4 grew up in a family of cheaters and evaders, how, maybe, he’d had boat-phobia! It is always healthy to be at least slightly relativist. In truth, we would never understand his situation, but it seems to be intrinsic to the human race that we all expect something of each other, generally speaking. This thing we expect, I presume, would be the will. It would be our ability to play God in our own, little, petty ways. To play God is really characterized by two things: it is to not be a slave to your situation and it is to understand your potential in the aforementioned “infinite plane of interpersonal relationships in which you live your everyday life.” That second part has, hitherto, been touched on as “empathy.” Allow me to elaborate, in conclusion of this essay.
Higher values lay within humanity. They are not untouchable, but they are also not surroundable. It is essential to the relativist philosophy, though, that there is no higher value. In other words, group members numbered one through three had no right to impose their opinions on #4, as what he did was by no means wrong, in his tiny, body-sized kingdom. The relativist ignores something completely, though, and that is humanity itself. Humanity is a collective consciousness that is like the Internet, but only slightly more invisible. To tell a human being that they are truly alone, as an extreme relativist might suggest, would be absolute nonsense. If I ask anyone whether they communicate with others, I think it safe to assume that they’d probably say “yes” and they’d probably think “no-shit.” Communication is unavoidable. Effect is simply passive communication. The existentialist would certainly maintain, no matter how similar his/her philosophy was to relativism, that there are higher values. What is “right,” therefore, is the most productive action. The most productive action is the act that, in turn, creates the most potential for future action, and so on towards infinity. In knowing what is right in any circumstance, I so far understand it all to be based on this. Creation of opportunity is real freedom. Real freedom is to be human. To be human is to create opportunity from dust.
A Custom Mess
There are two ways I see the world around me. I look for the “me in you,” and the “you in me.” While this may sound like philosophical mumbo-jumbo, I believe this dual-interpretation defines both who I am and who I want to be. It is the heart of my probing curiosity.
However it came about, I can somehow consciously decide which of these two methods of “seeing” serves me best. Most people find their own natural imbalance, which they may refer to as their spot on the Right Brain vs. Left Brain spectrum. It would be foolish to think I am alone, though. There must be others out there who, while writing a piece of short fiction or whatever else, fantasize about how a math assignment could help them clear their heads. This is how I feel almost every time I am hunched over my guitar; I relentlessly claw at whatever it is that could inspire the next chord or inversion in one of my songs. In my most creative moments, I almost always look for the most absurd reference and then attempt to bring it back down to earth.
But in truth, there are times when I can’t remember how to clear my head—or to fill it, for that matter. As I said before, I often search for my traits in others. It would be easier to hide in this limited outlook (an outlook which I could just as easily call emotion), but as anyone detached from this realm would say, it is a useless dream world. These lovers, dreamers, (and sometimes me) all choose to see a winged unicorn in every horse. Looking alone through these rose-colored lenses, I would fold up into myself time and time again all the while being convinced I’d grown like the “others.”
So swing! I have said that I see the “you in me” and I have also discovered its ineffectiveness. If I simply go from one view to another, like closing one eye and opening the other, what good does it do? Nothing! Sure, maybe now instead of seeing a winged unicorn I see the horse that is actually in front of me, but I am still not dreaming up an effective way to fly. In this view I define myself by what does and does not characterize others, all the while ignoring who I actually may be.
Hitherto, I have explained what makes me feel stuck, what I do when I feel stuck, and that there is never a simple way out of being stuck. Despite my minor change in vernacular, it is all in fact the same. Natural imbalance is to teeter-tottering free will just as being stuck is to liberation. This state of “stuckness” in any of my outlooks is one of the most torturous curses I have ever come to bear in my lifetime, and from this mental imprisonment I have been motivated to push through. I have jumped onto this teeter-totter’s hinge, choosing whichever way to lean whenever I want. I often make the wrong choices, but perfection has never been my goal.
Making sense of things is essentially the creation of one’s reality, and when it comes to that, I’ve always had a broken USB port. Memorization and regurgitation help, but that methodology doesn’t provide for me the vibrancy that I feel an “education” should have. And since that teaching practice seems to dominate the way we are taught to learn, I have become largely self-sufficient in my learning methods. I have stitched up my reality in such a way that I truly understand the various aspects of its makeup. Basically, I’ve built my world in my own language and with sometimes too little outside input.
Of course, none of that explains how I connect the dots. In a step-by-step way, I will provided the “how” now. First, it’s last. Making sense of the future by determining its happenings in my experience has led me to mere frustration. So after “afterwards” begins the real sense-making. The reason this must happen last in my case is that it eliminates all distorting speculation. I can see a result, and then tie together something of an ancestry that can greaten my ability to recreate or avoid similar occurrences in the future. These are my dots.
Second, is how I let these experiences begin to mold together. When I was young, one of my greatest weaknesses was my being too trusting in others. I was too open, and that only meant that I had no realm from which to live my life. More simply said, I had dots, but they were more fragments of others’ experiences than they were minuscule bits of my own. Sometime during my sophomore year in high school I discovered my own passions, and with that came a will to see to it that I never sacrifice my ideas for those of another. No matter how fiercely independent I’ve been since, this second step has so far only rewarded me with a world I keep separate from the rest, the skull-sized kingdom of which I am king.
 Wallace, David Foster. This Is Water. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
Step out from below,
The light just hurts my eyes.
An ice age ceases growth,
Made clear’s the near disguise.
From “No One Around”
Alice tried to remember where she left the key. She always had problems with losing important objects or missing important events. For her entire life, people were trying to “help” her and improve her, saying every last thing she ever did was a habitual wrongdoing. Her mom had never left her alone, staying with her throughout Alice’s life, commenting on her every move as if she was still a young child. Such thoughts were common for Alice. She was an imperfect human being.
Alice had a long-term relationship with a man she had always said she was deeply in love with. He was charismatic and innocent, and like few other people Alice ever was social with, he was kind but victimized for what he represented. This made him feel that someone was always going out of their way to prey upon him. His sanctimonious nature made him feel as if it was his responsibility, his burden to go out of his way to help and shape Alice in every way humanly possible. He was also an imperfect human being.
Alice shook her head as she continued looking for the key. She had recently moved to Chicago and a friend from high school lent her a car that he didn’t need. This was so Alice could get to know the city. She was going to meet him for dinner but she only had five minutes to find her keys and drive halfway across the city on a Friday night. She decided to run.
Alice had never wanted more than to be different from the people that raised her. She wanted separation from what they had made her. Her entire life she had been late or lost or simply overworked and disorganized. She wanted a change.
She stood outside the door while trying to catch her breath. With her last bit of remaining energy, she tugged on the handle of the door. Before she had adjusted her eyes to the dim lighting of the restaurant the hostess said, “You aren’t Alice by any chance, are you?”
“Yes?” Replied Alice.
“Oh, well a man left you a note!” clamored the hostess with a large, plasticy smile.
The lady reached into one of her pockets and pulled out a ratty small piece of paper and handed it to Alice. It read “I should have known better, I guess. I’m doing this for you.” The ruined young girl turned and walked out into the cold rain. She didn’t feel like running.
My whole life I have lived by the Highway 41. I remember wondering as a kid just how many of these cars I heard were actually going to Florida, where the highway somehow ended. Sometimes, now that I’m older and my comrades like to experiment with negativity, I would be asked, “how could you ever get used to that noise?” or “Don’t those lights bother you?” My parents must’ve had friends like this too; they put up a berm to hide from the sounds and glow just before I started high school.
While our back property line lays tangent to a bend in the highway, our front yard wraps around our street. I will always call Onwentsia “our street,” despite my longing to tell friends in my youth that my family and I lived on 41¾after all, it was a much larger roadway.
Just past my house Onwentsia becomes Awahnee. Even though that defining road sign was only a foot outside our lot, our block parties never included anyone across that line. It seemed normal only because I was scared to ask why we did such a strange thing. It’s obvious that like questions would only inspire even more confusing ones.
It was one night, though, that changed most of this. Since I got my current room to myself I didn’t have to pretend to sleep while I waited for the cars with their brights to drive down our streets. The drooping Ash and Maple trees in our front yard would filter out patterns of leaves’ shadows against the back wall in my room and I would watch the various patterns slowly move and disappear on the wall. It was always so sharp-looking. I never realized it would take just one night during which I was particularly energetic to stay up for something very new. It was foggy. Up to and above my second-floor window. It was thick enough to discourage the usual “me” but like I mentioned, not much could have stopped me this night. I swung open my window’s blinds and was immediately showered with the warmest yellow light one could imagine. At my elevation I assumed the only vehicle that’s brights could get so high would be a semi, but there was no painful source to this light. It was just constant.
Then I remembered the color. It was the same synthetic warmth that made even snow look comforting on a January night. It was from the highway. It wasn’t a particularly difficult conclusion to come to of course, but that is like seeing all beauty. It is pleasantly obvious. There is no doubt that there is intrinsic beauty in travel and the tool that allowed the passing cars to go home or away was limited to no one. That light, as it had shown, would bend and bounce forever, and do so with ease, to show something not yet seen.
Love is to be lost whilst she is found.
The simple answer “yes” embodies exactly the issue. Through the “advances” of society it seems we have unknowingly become unidirectional. In this development we have lost our instinctual why-ness, an attribute that when lacking makes us more comparable to an ant colony than to true humanists. For said ant to engage in such an elusive wondering like “why” seems inherently childish. That being said, an ant-like human would not logically come to the conclusion that he/she should ever leave that unidirectional flow. Still, some curious few have avoided and/or found their way out of this single-file line. To better describe an ant-like person, I often take the example of a family friend who said that she lets her husband choose her political stances. She believes herself to be incapable of such thoughts and self-consciously giggles at the surprised looks on people’s faces when she shares this belief. The basic idea here is that some people simply find it convenient to not think. While the above example may be extreme, it certainly communicates that people often rely on the dangerous ability to hide amongst the masses of ants. These “ants” are both the oppressor and the oppressed; they unknowingly participate in one of the most vicious and collective cycles to have ever threatened our humanity. We can see, then, that this crisis in the humanities stems from the absence of the “curious minority’s” active involvement in society.
But of course, this crisis is fixable. There is no use in mere frustration with an “ant,” as it is essential to clarify that no man or woman is bound to the life of said insect. Nor is one subject to a life of passive observance or the recently mentioned “mere” frustration. To an outsider of this “flow,” seeing someone fall in would be like watching a Theban tragedy. All being victims of enigmatic and seemingly ancient actions, these “embryonic” ants slip into the colony’s abstruse will as smoothly as one would slip into a dream.
So, how is it that the aforementioned “yes” embodies exactly the issue? Well, this response is problematic because it is simple and quick. Upon reading the title of this essay one would likely take more than a split-second to conjure up a response. That kind of answer should be difficult to sum up in one word that could just as easily answer the question “Are you hungry?” It should then be obvious that all of this is really intrinsic to the unconscious involvement in the unidirectional flow. In José Muñoz’s essay from What Does It Mean To Be Human? he discusses this flaw as a significant threat to the humanity of the human race. He states “We are conditioned, programmed, brainwashed to the point where barbarism starts with approved vernacular, with acceptable hypocrisies and the conventional lies that have become habitual as correct ways of thinking, of repressing laughter, where laughter would be our only defense.” His description renders us eerily close to a sort of ant colony. If we were to all have some concrete yet sourceless idea of purpose, then where is there room for the fruits of life, for the individual’s pursuit of his/her own desires? These desires can only be found through curiosity.
It is in our nature to question and to hide. These traits are omnipresent in each of us and they are rarely made obvious. When Joan Chittister states, “We confuse the meaning of the words natural and human…” she could not be more right. As animals (or ants, for the sake of continuity) we have our survival instincts, our natural and inert attributes that spawn our fears of the occasionally cruel world that surrounds us. As humans, though, we have the rare ability to learn and think profoundly. We can individually assign values to what matters to each one of us throughout the spans of our lives, and this here is the spark to the aforementioned quest of one’s desires. Human nature is defensive, to be human is openness. Of course, there is no such place (or secret) to live out the perfect human life; any such place would be no better than one in the single-file line of ants. In fact, any such place is a spot in that colony. A life subject to one’s nature is thereon dedicated to hiding from some elusive threat (like my family friend and what could be summed up as the fear of responsibility). A life subject to the openness of humanity will within seconds be consumed by the chains of insignificance (or in other words, a life of passive observance). Thus, I have simply come to describe this as a duality, and in this duality one must find his/her balance as an ever-questioning member of an infinitely larger network of like beings. It is also in this duality, though, where lies the crisis when it is assumed a natural choice for one to cower or subdue.
To conclude, all crises are truly turning points; they are not points of inevitable doom. This crisis, however, truly envelops whether we as a race will take our next step in learning to deal with our ambition and seemingly permanent state of flux, or instead, if we will pretend we cannot see until the same conflict boils over yet again in years to come (and likely on a much grander scale). The premise here is not hard to grasp. The difference between conscious and unconscious involvement in society should be obvious, but what lies a bit more below the surface is what parallels this “unconscious” involvement. As foreign as it may seem, all people are guilty of lying to themselves, and this oddly brings forth a semblance of hope. It does so by making what has seemed unconscious in fact just “secretly” conscious. This realization would trigger epiphany-like reassessments of one’s opinions, convictions, and most importantly, his/her desires. This active involvement of the curious would spread like a fruitful disease as the passive observers and small-minded ants turn their heads towards an example of a better way to interact with one another.
I’d wake up and know in an instant, this time, that if I were to return to the dream that the subtly utopian scape would be in my control. So I’d simply dive, and dive, and dive.
She lets me live.
Sometimes i feel like hints/clues are simply random tidbits of useless information interpreted through the unfortunately well-focussed lens of self. Those who “create” such hints purely demonstrate a basic understanding of human psychology. We all constantly struggle to find illusive futuristic states of idealism and paranoia (the latter is one of the more accessible routes to self-motivation but usually doesn’t end up so nice a means). Love is the mutual and reflexive development of these states—how else could words like “hopeless” and “lost” that usually denote the slightly lesser pleasant side of life suddenly make one smile? It is this conflicting dovetailing that makes it all such a wonderfully curious state of being.
It seems what were once called characteristics are now fixable disorders.
Will sat at the bar, flicking the rough, plastic edge of his spent Best Buy gift card against his middle finger. Its bright yellow font and cool blue background made it rather aesthetically pleasing, and the clearly printed expiration date on the front gave Will an uncanny urge to rush to buy whatever it was that the matching Best Buy employee would recommend to him. Without breaking the stare he had with the card, he pulled out his pocket tool to do as he always did with such spent plastic; he began to cut three, rounded, isosceles triangles to be used as guitar picks. The hypnotic aura of the colors slowed him somewhat, but this had historically been a dispassionate act. Seeing this, he could continue on without having to worry about regret. He left the mangled scraps for the bartender to deal with.
He looked over the preamble of the job description stapled to the application. The fact that they had put it all together made him think that they must’ve really wanted him. He thought it rather passive aggressive, but filled it out anyway. He was a dedicated musician, who wanted nothing more than what his passion provided for him. Unfortunately, he was constantly surprised at how much more he needed. He always imagined himself austere; his habits such as the guitar-pick-fashioning were exemplary of the man he saw himself as.
He continued the two and a half block walk to his apartment to gather his guitar and jacket, both of which were enclosed by the same, fake black leather. He then walked back to the bar where he had been drinking; as he had a gig scheduled there that night.
Singer-songwriters like Will were a rather fashionable component of the settings in late-night urban dwellings. This particular fad had come and gone many times, and Will had seen it all. He unlatched the somewhat corroded metal latches of his guitar case and took a deep breath as the evanescent but nonetheless refreshing feeling swept over him. This happened every time he heard the familiar sounds of unbuckling bronze latches. The sounds his guitar case made were more important to him than the promises of the obscene amount of money he had spent on it, but he would never be conscious of this. As he sat down on his usual stool, he slid his hand deep into his pocket, maneuvering around the house keys and spare change to pull out one of his fresh guitar picks. He pinched the pick as he always did and brought it to the strings. And when he started playing, his guitar simply spat out TV jingles from Best Buy commercials.
This happened completely against his will. At first, the radical change brought on such disorientation that it seemed as if all of his character had been flipped inside out. He could do nothing to stop this slow separation from his old self but pretend to be heavier in hopes of staying grounded in his familiar world. As he sat and played the captivating jingles, he began to see himself in a way he had never seen before; he observed his sack of a body passively from above. His head sagged down with his neck as if some sewn-on, fabric loop hung his body from an immovable and levitating coat hook. His audience looked the same, except that maybe their loops were located farther up their necks, allowing their posture to seem slightly more alive—the deadness of their eyes still counteracted any apparent life among the now-turned audience. None of them considered anything outside of their immediate “realities.” None of them realized the absence of the conscious of one another. It was as if they all were wearing horse-blinders with miniature, taped-on, flat-screen monitors that put forth images of content and pleasure, all the while fostering their imperial solitude. Meanwhile, Will was continuing his flight of consciousness, and in doing so, he could see less and less within these people. He would never forget what he had discovered. His resulting loneliness, on the other hand, would never let him miss where he once was. He never thought he’d be able to fly until he realized that standing up does the trick.
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