Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Marching To The Past: Idle Reflections In Recessionary Times

Dreaming can be helpful: It keeps one awake.

Particularly when life gets too dark, the possibilities dim, the opportunities obscure, the only thing left for us is a Halogen dream, which lights up everything, just like a sole lighting stand in the middle of barren fields.

Jobless numbers go up and down. Greeks never really rescue themselves. People always kill people in Afghanistan. The Iranians don't tweet anymore. India loses way in corruption. Japan is still radioactive. Americans confused, busy to burn books. The leaders seem to be using up all their vocabulary, the politicians running low on charm. But life still goes on.

Dreaming is the only time one can think time moves linearly, ahead. That is swiftly dispelled by morning newspapers, which seem to recycle headlines from their archives. If Fashion comes back every twenty years, the news reappears every fifty days perhaps. We still make same mistakes. We still moan the same way. We still get slaughtered, swindled, sinned against. But we still go home and dream, and think we progressed.

If this sounds too dark, it isn't meant to be. Blood circulates, and that keeps life going. Money goes around, and makes the world go around in turn. Moving forward starts with moving. But sideways one can move, even backwards: To the past. But who decides what's moving backwards? In life's museum, past is in front of us, as in our thoughts, newspapers and in education. That's not regressive: In fact, the whole notion of progress may only be a mirror image of the past beyond newspapers' memory.

Indeed, you could argue the meaning of anything is meaningless, as they are meant to be. For example, one can say the meaning of life is achieved only in death, because that's when we are truly missed. The end signifies the being, but at that point, we are no longer there. So, writing this - which gives me enormous pleasure - is as meaningful as anything, even if these are just meaningless symbols stacked against each other. Except that, in the sequence, I did embed a purpose - to celebrate the missing of meaning.

Right at this moment, someone's life ends. Someone returns home jobless. A child cries. A champagne bottle is opened for someone. A girl kisses someone, may be her boyfriend. A woman kisses someone, may be her son. Someone waves goodbye. A door opens, someone comes home. I can be here, there. I think I know where I would want to be - a dream - but where I am is completely arbitrary. All meaning is only the rationalisation of idle mind, an illusion of being the master of our universe, but, at the same time, an admission of our fragility, a desperate attempt to hide the randomness of what happened. Earth-shattering events all, watershed moments, but life goes on elsewhere, undaunted, unstirred. The parade of words, letters, march on relentless, and stops only if we do - to celebrate, to love, to sob or to die. The only time we are outside this machine is when we dream.

Brain Science will tell us that it is only an illusion that we are in charge. We think we know what we are doing, but it is mostly the mechanics of our unconscious, the animal brain which we thought we surpassed and buried, which control us, make us do things. What we do thereafter is rationalize, build an illusion of reason why we did what we did. What appears to be moving forward is actually going around, what lies in future is actually the shape of our past, the real shaped by a dream. Unconscious tells our brain to reject gloominess - we insist to believe - and overcome facts. Dreaming, in the normative sense, is no longer the poets' preserve; it is the territory of the scientist today.

So, hail our age of turgid triviality, of the narrow materialism, of the imagined death of imagination. For all our claims of rationality, even the word literal is a metaphor. The world newspaper brings to our home is an imagined one, as imagined as the one I think of right now, no more real than utopia. The illusion of meaning obscures the possibilities of imagination, which shouldn't go on for longer.

Here, this moment, a dream is started. It bears no meaning. But it was meant to be.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

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Will be to arrive where we started
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