Thursday, May 9, 2013

Illusion of Individuality pt. 3

There is a general misconception that led us to the state we are in, that of the individual. In the decade after the attacks in September 2001, the murky details of the long brewing political and financial strife between two distinct pockets of the human race has been partially revealed to a much larger civilian audience. And from that, we have been reminded how interconnected we are to a global network of cultural and military influence, despite how alone or as individual as we would like to believe. While at the same time, we have begun to understand that regardless of how much one tries and rebel against the culture or society that one is part of, one is controlled in many passive and direct influences.  I propose going much farther than considering just cultural and political ties in how we all view ourselves in relation to the rest of the world, for the workings of the world and beyond function in terms of particles and waves. This is not to say that the individual flatly does not exist, but the level of priority given to it is suicidal. 
For the longest time I honestly believed what I many had always told me. Everyone had always assured me that, just for being me, I was special, a unique snowflake.[i] And it was in my power to create for myself any kind of life I wanted. I could change the world. I mattered. This was a dangerous perspective to implant on a young boy. It was a quaint notion of my parents’ youth, but even they knew it was not true. They too had tried and failed. Who am I to reengage my father’s failed war[ii] with such illusions of imminent victory despite most of my cellmates not even suspecting their own incarceration?[iii] [iv] All of us were swept up in the big machine of progress, of production, rarely seeming to ever pause to consider the path or the ultimate direction.[v]  Now, for many, they are sure of the correctness of decisions they were never actually given the chance to make with each successive generation inheriting the expanding disconnect.
That growing rift between what we imagine our relationship with the rest of the world to be and what that relationship actually is will ravage us.  It already has. This concept of being separate is a ridiculous notion to cling to given what reason and true sciences have revealed to us about existence. The bastardization of a two thousand year old provincial allegory (who’s original message I believe to be one of unity) in conjunction with the insatiable lust for some sense of control has resulted in this rejection of gains from the sciences; which would otherwise have already steered humanity away from its harmful obsession with the individual.                      
At this point, you usually see that the eyes of whomever the audience might be have an unfocused and glazed-over quality about them, or they are darting around the room looking for anyway to disengage from the conversation with the clearly unstable person ranting at them from his perch on the next bar stool over. Yet, it is not a simple feat to explain an orb of web-like connections linearly nor do people like to hear the preconceived notions they hold explained away.
One has to start somewhere though, and a trying to pinpoint what the individual actually is seems like a decent place to begin. Once there is a sensible and functional concept of what an individual is or isn’t, an analysis of what the impact of our historical concept of the individual has been can be initiated. Then, only after an assessment of the failings of our antiquated ideas can one offer an alternative set of priorities, based on a more accurate understanding of the world.

[i] Fight Club, DVD, directed by David Fincher (1999; Los Angeles, CA: 20th Century Fox, 2001).
[ii] Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, DVD, directed by Terry Gilliam (1998; Universal City, CA: Universal Pictures, 2000).
[iii] The Matrix, DVD directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski (1999; Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. Pictures, 2001).
[iv] Plato “Allegory of the Cave”
[v] Brazil, DVD, directed by Terry Gilliam (1985; Universal City, CA: Universal Studios, 2001).

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