In theory, all of life is a vacation. You don’t really have to do anything, or go anywhere, if you don’t want to; that’s freedom – doing nothing. (Theoretically). I’ve been thinking about this in the context of an expensive city, like the one I live in now.
It’s occurred to me that, unless I’m being wasteful, I can’t, in some of the more visible ways, enjoy my affluence. If it’s going to be conspicuous to me and frivolous, I have to throw it away. I don’t mean to be overly harsh here, but if you live quietly and privately, a certain quality of life in the city is gone.
There’s a sketchy connection between living in a city like San Francisco and conspicuous consumption that can get under your skin, when you look at the bills you run up and think about how you would normally spend that money if you come from a less expensive city.
It’s the same with freedom, in some form; it needs to be showy and loud, for some people. It’s like if you can’t angrily shake your fist at somebody about your freedom, it’s not real freedom – it’s some kind of boring compromise with the current political system, but not real freedom. Real freedom is spittle-flecked and red in the face. Does your freedom piss someone off? No? Then it’s inauthentic.
And that, I guess, is why I’m wary of the cult of freedom.
A while back, I read a history book that profiled one of the holy cities of Egypt. Thousands and thousands of ibises, bound for the capital, bound in effigy. There was a similar kind of intensive resource use by the Aztecs, a cycle of exhausting the land. Could anyone then have stood up and said, stop – this will end? People would laugh; we’ve heard that all so much it’s not possible to take it seriously. Yet sometimes the broken clock is right.
We’re all cultists, in some way. We all have our blinders; some of them are as obvious as looking at us, generally – say, male and female. I could probably devise some neutral bias test and flunk everybody on it, fairly, given enough care. We have huge blind spots that we try to minimize and say, well, that one doesn’t really matter. But it’s practically a trick question: what do we not see, that we should see?
In some ways I think we do live in a trap, that’s all the more worrisome because we can’t see it’s contours. It’s there, steering us away from some directions and diverting us into others. You can’t really see it, but it’s there – the real conspiracy, a totally invisible one that’s more about a slightly warped frame of mind, but one so subtle that it can’t be compartmentalized into a sentence, a phrase, or even a book. Because the enemy that ‘created’ it is us, and is as confused as we are.
The enemy of experience, of reality, doesn’t really have a name. Its as rambling as this post. It is, in fact, error itself.