On Vision: A New Year's Eve Confession
In every field, from business to politics to marketing to education, the dominant mode of experience has become entertainment.
-- Michael Crichton
I am surrounded by both beauty and ugliness, but I cannot see either. The bloody stripes of my mind’s constant self-flagellation go without feeling. Constantly I cast about for some diversion that will keep my will from its duty, some intemperance with which I can shroud my intellectual senses, hiding from my certain knowledge that they have left their duties derelict through a complete identification with my basest appetites.
I entertain myself. What does it mean to entertain myself? It is procrastination of the will; that when faced with the difficulty of choosing between good and evil, between all the grains in the great sandstorm of thoughts with which it is constantly besieged, it abdicates all responsibility, and retreats to the temporary peace of pure sensory experience. In pure experience, no choice is necessary, and I can achieve complete passivity. In closing my eyes to the stinging sandstorm, I am at peace, yet I cannot see. Through my soul’s negligence, I have become blind.
But what is ‘myself’? What is this thing which I so dutifully entertain? What is the essential part of my being that I so identify with? Is it my body? Surely not. My body, the instrument of my soul, is merely the physical tool that I express myself with. This is not what I entertain, but merely the chief and principle toy with which I occupy myself. Is it my mind? What, in my mind? Is it my desires for bodily comfort, for warmth, food, or sexual pleasure? What of higher desires, for inner peace, or satisfaction with my situation in life, or composure at my lack of knowledge of the future? Is it this that I entertain? No, of course not, for these things are not my mind, but only the flights of fancy that proceed from it. Ah, this perhaps is the trouble. I am disgusted with the products of my own mind, with its fears, vain desires, and dark dreams, and I foolishly identify the worst parts of myself with my most essential nature.
I say that I hate myself. But I do not truly hate myself. I hate my desires. I am not my desires, but I have blinded myself. Unable to see my true nature, I close my eyes still harder to the terrible choices of existence, and imagine that the sand beating against my closed eyelids is in fact simply myself, the stinging sensation against my face merely the existential pain of existence.