Monday, June 22, 2009

Listing Toward Windmills

In light of what appears to have been a successful first post, it would appear a follow up is appropriate. I hope it will serve as a counterweight to the first, an immovable object to offset the irresistible force. In the past week and a half, I have found a "calling" (for lack of a better word). Something of substance and significance that has motivated me to get up off my ass and do something. Or perhaps sit on my ass more, and do something, given the amount of involvement I have been engaged in through the internet. But even as I write this, I can feel the shadow creeping back in. The life of decadent apathy I wasn't even aware I was living. A friend of mine had his own eye-opening experience today, of which I am honored to say I was a secondary catalyst. What is it that calls us to this life of complacency and mediocrity? One would think that children raised to uphold the virtues of the Revolution wouldn't be so inclined to sit back and indulge in marathon naval-gazing. If it is the insurrectionist's zeal that forged us, what is it that quenches us, tempering us into moderately overweight couch ingots?

I think that we as a culture have fallen victim to the curse of getting everything we ever wanted. If I am hungry, I go out to my infinitely complex automobile designed halfway around the world and constructed halfway across the country. I burn the decomposed remains of animals dead for millions of years that has been shipped in a machine larger than I possibly imagine all the way around the world, and accelerate to speeds faster than any other land mammal can travel (assuming there aren't any cops around). I blast away to a building full of food stuffs, shipped in from around the globe, processed to last longer and stay fresher than organic material has any right to last. I bring it home, and bombard it with unnaturally high levels of radiation, triggering a molecular reaction within it, vaporizing particles of water I would need a powerful microscope to see. Or if I'm feeling particularly lazy, I harness the elemental power that drives a lightening bolt to activate and interface with an extraordinarily complex device that is the pinnacle of millenia of technological advancement, to access the most advanced and extensive computer network the human race has yet to devise. I then order pizza. See above if you want some perspective on exactly how complicated that is, but take out the part where I have to actually stand up. And yet, this seems perfectly normal to me. I accept this as being completely natural. I'm currently listening to music that belongs to a genre that is played by instruments that do not and cannot physically exist (techno). I do not have a band living in my apartment, but rather, that same elemental power I used to order pizza is harnessed to trigger a series of magnets that vibrate faster than the eye can see. They vibrate so fast, in fact that they actually create recognizable sound patterns beyond "click click click click". I am typing this on a device that is not actually connected to anything, currently sitting in my lap until I put it on the table in front of me so I can go take advantage of modern plumbing.

And do Not get me started on air conditioning. Not today, when it was so hot my back door actually sealed itself shut from the heat.

Perhaps we have been overimmersed in the miraculous. Perhaps modern society has reached a level of sensory and mental callousedness that we cannot react anymore. For days now, I have been trying to turn the marvelous machine in front of me into a weapon against oppression. Unfortunately, I have been stymied by its complexity, but I can't stop trying. But when I tell others about this grand struggle, I feel like I am trying to alter the trajectory of the earth's orbit with a hamsterwheel and a series of paperclips. We have established a level of cultural inertia the likes of which the world has never seen before. I fully expect for my life to end in a world much the same as the one I was born into a quarter century ago. The toys have been improved, but the rules are the same. My father was born into this same world. Perhaps someday, if I am fortunate, I will father my own son, and I imagine when my progeny breathes his last, he will do so in a land of supermarkets, automobiles, and a presidential election every four years. The ancillary rules will probably look a little different, but the fundamentals are the same. This culture has worn itself a nice, comfortable butt groove in the sofa that is The Human Race, and physics tell us that an object at rest won't get up unless it needs another beer.

It is in direct opposition to the revolutionary spirit we are raised with, a foil that holds us down like the spoiler on a race car. Our ancestors have fought and died, sacrifices we must remember and hold as examples, for our right to not have to fight, and eventually "pass away". Don't upset the apple cart, don't rock the boat, don't make waves. We have become the champions of The Status Quo, living social monoliths who will someday be laid to rest in a great empty field commemorating all the others who have likewise lived effectively uneventful lives. Except for those poor few who wound up as victims of cannibalistic sociopaths who thought that they were trying to upset the establishment. Those poor souls had their bodies laid to waste in the metropolitan sewer system. The concept isn't too far removed, though.

Why is it that only complete and utter lunatics get to rise up and be noticed in this land? Why is it that to fight my revolution, I have to hop an internet connection around the world? We are so caught up in the muck and mire of our culture that we are bogged down when the time comes for us to try and do something noteworthy.

I am interested to see what happens to this cultural inertia should the Iranian revolt succeed. Personally, I think I would be okay with trading my shiny toys for the knowledge that I did something worthwhile, and helped secure a better world. It is simply the lack of that confidence that keeps me in place. And perhaps, one or two too many pizzas.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Tony. Are you doing the thing that you posted on josh's facebook where you download a program and it somehow makes it so people in Iran can use your internet? I am interested in this and wanted to know a little more about it. However, I am one of three users of my internets connection so I am not sure yet if I can do it, but let me know.