The Heroes of Our Fictions - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Heroes of Our Fictions

The Heroes of Our Fictions

Published August 10, 2007

Personally, I have always been rather fond of the image of goldfish. Perhaps I ought to be one… Form is an aberrant error, posed by those without the strength to actually exist. Without rearranging yourself you seek to rearrange the world; as if it listens! There is nothing as dull as the finite; positing yourself and your treatment of others as fixed particularities: Who here really cares? Is that which cannot be doubted anything more than a feigning interest… Immanent truth, fuck you to the whole debacle.
For too long I have tried to remove the word “but” from from my vocabulary… but it’s hard; For too long I have searched for this haven of the absolute; this existential refuge of the “real” man; the man who cannot admit that he might be wrong. He ‘knows’ he is right; he is the total psychological opposite of the agnostic; he claims absolute certitude about all things and has, obviously, entered the realm of ideal forms manifested in Plato’s parable of the cave. Oh, how I envy the “real” man, in the “real” world, who is licensed to define others as insane – his happiness must know no boundaries.
Is, is, is!… the absurdity of the word haunts me. It “is” positioned beyond the realm of the ridiculous. If it were eradicated, human thought might, one day, enter the age of reason; “I don’t know what anything ‘is’; all I know is how it seems to me at any given moment”: In linguistics, “E-prime” denotes a modified English vocabulary lacking all forms of the verb “to be”. Composition in E-prime thus cannot contain the passive voice. In eliminating most uses of the passive mode, it obliges the writer to acknowledge explicitly, rather than to hide, the agent, doer or judger; the grammatical construct changes “George Bush is good” to “George Bush appears good to me”. Telling someone “George Bush is good” imputes the state of goodness to Bush, rather than communicating the subjective nature of one’s experience of Bush. Otherwise stated, using E-prime renders it more difficult for a writer or reader to confuse one’s opinion with a deity-like certainty, which may otherwise lead to an omniscient-sounding pronunciamento. It ‘is’ the key to agreeing to disagree.
What is the time? Is it in our heads or in our mouths? Are we chewing on a piece of space? Does this raft stand fast? Are structures fleeting? But why but why? Because we worry. Yes. At bottom we worry. Perhaps it is all about fashion – it is not the most unlikely of candidates: Robert A. Wilson pointed out that when Ouspensky was studying with Gurdjieff, he found it hard, at first, to understand the exclusive human ability to forget where one is, what one is doing, and what is going on around one. Above all, he questioned Gurdjieff’s insistence that this “forgetting” was a type of hypnosis. Then, one day, after World War I had begun, Ouspensky saw a truck loaded with artificial legs, headed toward the front. Trained as a mathematician, he realized that just as it is possible to calculate how many persons will die of heart attacks in a given quarter, by probability theory, it is possible to calculate how many legs will be blown off in a battle. But the very calculation is based on the historical fact that most people most of the time will do what they are told by superiors (or, as a cynic once said, most people would rather die, even by slow torture, than to think for themselves). Ouspensky then began to understand how ordinary men become killers, and victims of killers. He realized that “normal”, or “real”, consciousness is much like hypnosis: “People in a trance will do what they are told – even if they are told to march into battle against total strangers who have never harmed them, and attempt to murder those strangers while the strangers are attempting to murder them.” Orders from above are tuned-in; the possibility of choice is – not-tuned-in.
War and crime – the chronic problems of our species – seem, to the existentialist, the direct results on drifting off into self-hypnosis, losing track of experience and “living” in a “real” universe. In the “real” universe, the “real” man is always right, and the blood and horror secondary to proving that is only an appearance, easily forgotten. The “real” man knows that he is only a reacting mechanism and ultimately the “real” universe itself is to blame for “making” him explode into such furies.
The “real” universe where this madness appears as sanity is our collective creation. In existential experience, we are mere gamblers… but we have become hypnotized by our models and belief systems and we walk toward hell thinking the “real” universe makes it impossible to stop and try something else.
To put it simply: If we said “maybe” more often, the world “might” be a better place.


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