I read something yesterday that reminded me of what I want to be doing with my life. It was an article about how sometimes progress is held back despite the technology being available, because the culture and collective consciousness hasn’t quite caught up to it. And that can be said for a lot of things, can’t it?
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about human progress is how so much of it is limited by things that are technically imaginary. We all participate in mass hallucinations – Pokemon Go seems crazy because it’s got people running around catching virtual objects that don’t exist in real life. But what’s really crazy is everything about everyday life that’s pretty much the same, just in ways we take for granted. I mean, to go from 0 to 100 real quick – money is just a piece of paper that we collectively agree is a representation of value. Holding up a piece of paper and saying “this is 100 dollars” is actually the same sort of behavior as holding up a phone with a pokemon on it and saying “this is a rare pokemon”. The only difference being that money is proliferated by a centralized governing body that everybody trusts. Why does everybody trust the central government? Well – not everybody in every country does, but in those that do, it’s usually because they’ve been running things for a while and they’re wearing uniforms and have papers and protocol and things like that.
But anybody can invent a uniform and claim to have a court of justice or anything like that. The real source of power is ultimately violence. The state simply has a monopoly on violence. The people living inside of it might not directly encounter it (but look at what’s happening even in America in 2016, with black people continuing to be mowed down by law enforcement officers), but there’s always ultimately a threat. If you don’t pay your fine long enough, or you cause enough of a nuisance, you get politely asked to go to court, and– the point is, behind all the facades and so on is a person with a gun putting handcuffs on you and leading you around, asking you to enter a cell – and you will comply with all of that, because if you don’t – sooner or later, somewhere down the line, there will be violence.
It’s interesting to contrast this sort of systematic, elaborate machine of violence with the more ‘random’, direct outburst system of violence outside of conventional civilization. Say, among barbarian tribes, hunter-gatherer types, nomadic types and so on. We don’t really have a lot of those left in the world in the truest sense – civilization has gotten all-powerful and has tiled out the wanderers in its land grab.
The question is – is it better for animals to live on a farm or live in the wild and then get hunted? Is it better to live a long life as a lamb, or a short life as a lion? I think these are questions that people have grappled with one way or another for centuries – is it better to be a Spartan or an Athenian? Are there objective answers? Or do people have predispositions that are varied and different, and different people end up preferring different ways of being?
There’s obviously not going to be an easy answer, and almost definitely no global ones. The only things that should really concern me are – what is it for me? How should I live my life? What should I choose to do? How should I choose to act? What do I value? What is important to me? How should I conduct myself? I feel like these are all things that I’m still figuring out, at age 26, as a married man. I’m still trying to figure out what family means to me, what a marriage is, what it means to be an employee, to be part of a team, to work for a startup, to do my best, or to do my good-enough. I want to be more than I am right now. I want to grow. I want to contribute. I say these things at 230am before I go to bed, and I think I need to practice saying them at all times of the day and revisit these things even more regularly than I already do. But at the same time I’m constantly reminded I don’t know shit. Oh well? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I think it’s time for me to get back into the habit of writing every day, even if I’m repeating myself about anything. Fuck it, it’s really time that I completed this project and I think I have been delaying my progress by being too perfectionist or some shit like that. Or maybe I’m just afraid of what happens next. I’m afraid that I’d be done with 1,000,000 words and I’m still somehow not the writer I was hoping I would become – but as I say those words I recognize them as bullshit. There is no writer to become, there is only a state of becoming, and it’s only ever happening as I’m writing. This is IT. This is all I will ever have and all I will ever deserve as a writer, the moments where the words are coming out of my head onto a piece of paper or onto a screen through whatever medium, and whatever satisfaction I get out of that, that is all that matters. Everything else is peripheral. I should enjoy these moments even more now because they might not always be the same. I may someday long for these moments as the good old days, when I could just write whenever I felt like it, and not feel an obligation towards an “audience” or some bullshit like that.
Just keep writing. And maybe pop out between each session to see how things can be tied together. Then do a little editing. Then do more writing. This is my break from taking breaks, this is me entering stage monomaniacal. It’s fantastical.