The Role of the Dreamer & The Falseness of Civilization
December 24, 2010 § 32 Comments
“We are the music-makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
We were born into a world built on dead men’s dreams.
Our reality, the society that has been conditioning our perception from the day of our birth, is a construction built on a construction built on ideas from minds long dead. Their creations compose our world and make up the maps of our psyches, a collective human inheritance.
Today, staring at a red traffic signal in the shape of an arrow, waiting to get on the freeway, I was struck by my—and everyone’s—trance-like acceptance of the symbol.
I noted how automatic my responses to the direction had been. I stopped calmly and waited for the light to turn green. A perfectly reasonable thing to do. Except, in that moment, I felt unusually aware of the lab-rat-like nature of my obedience. Stranger still, I realized I had never noticed the phenomenon before, because it had always been that way.
Green light, go. Red light, stop. Yellow, slow.
It’s as if we are placed on a motorized conveyor belt at birth, with an endless array of arrows telling us where to go.
Apart from the occasional miscalculation, our roads, our cities, our skies, run like the inside of a well-oiled machine. Stop. Go. Cogs and wheels. The machine of the city, like the inside of a clock.
Our education starts young. We are groomed for the world: sit quietly, yield to authority and accept the consensus reality. Anything that falls outside of this perimeter is systematically dismissed.
We aren’t taught to ask questions but to regurgitate articulately. We go to school and learn the rules. Then, when we’re of age, we get a job and try to play the learned rules as good as or better than our peers, to make money to survive.
In a basic sense, this rule-playing to survive is the only option given us. The alternative is homelessness, insanity, exile.
There are other options, of course, and many brave souls live the unfettered life of the irrepressible spirit within the thinly populated margins of the cultural fringe.
But it’s damn hard, against the grain, and the majority of us get funneled into the general conveyor belt of The System–because our survival depends on it.
Spending all day at work to afford the house or apartment we leave empty five days a week to go to work.
As we all know—but rarely stop to consider the wild absurdity of—part of The Education involves some very highly regarded paper notes printed by The System to represent worth.
We are told that some of these notes are worth more than others. Some are worth enough to exchange for a yacht and others are worth enough for only a cup of coffee. The only difference between these two notes is a symbol.
Despite our Education, I think everyone has had the passing thought that we’ve been duped. As we all know, this Monopoly money isn’t even backed by its worth in gold anymore.
And gold has its own hollow ring—you can’t eat it. It provides no information, functioning solely as a signifier—at least it has a tangibility. But the System ran out of gold years ago, and just kept printing bills. So, after spending all day at work we are given a handful of Monopoly money for our trouble.
“Here ya go!” says The System, patting Its worker bee on the head. “Some nice, crisp, colored paper. Don’t spend it all at once! Or do…”
Once we are equipped with our colored paper symbols, we are bombarded by advertisers who seek to steal our image of ourselves as we exist without their product and sell it back to us, “upgraded,” in exchange for the paper notes we have earned with our labor.
We are encouraged by media everywhere to overeat bad food and shop our cares away. It’s not personal, it’s marketing. And yet how many commercials does an average American watch in a lifetime? Billions. It would be impossible to be unaffected by such a bombardment.
MBG recently underwent some criticism for creating a commercial that literally burned the image of their logo onto the inside of movie-goers retinas. Utilizing the phenomenon that happens when you look at the sun and close your eyes, the effect left an after-image on the inside of the viewers’ eyelids for several moments after they had stopped viewing the advertisement.
But how different is this from what regular commercials are doing every day? In this world of advertisers who steal our images of ourselves, this time of speedy soundbites and cheap entertainment, a newer, bigger, faster culture of diversion has taken us hostage on its runaway train.
Writer Nicholas Carr speculates that our constant Internet trolling is remodeling our brains, making it nearly impossible for us to give sustained attention to a long piece of writing. He posits that modern humans’ addiction to technology may be weakening our ability to engage in deep thought.
Tests show that internet perusal activates the “seeker” instinct in humans, leftover from foraging days, so that when a quest for online information is initiated, the promise of obtaining a new nugget of social interaction or trivia sets the dopamine flowing in our brains.
But research suggest that, chemically, the payoff is less exciting than anticipated. An obsessive loop can be activated, leaving us continually pressing the lever for another crumb.
In our tick-tock world we are encouraged to function like clockwork, prescribed medication when we aren’t integrating well with society [See “The Politics of Normalcy”] and given our mollifying diversions in many forms. As Jim Morrison said:
“We have been metamorphosised from a mad body dancing on hillsides to a pair of eyes staring in the dark.”
For centuries, the medicine men and women of indigenous cultures have utilized disassociative substances to step outside the hive mind & brush with other dimensions of reality. They have taken psychotropic plants to travel through inner space, bringing back dreams & stories to stimulate the imagination of the tribe.
It’s noteworthy and suspicious that substances which might open up new ways of thinking are illegal in our culture, but consumption of the cancer-causing distraction of cigarettes and the numbing agent of alcohol is legal and actively encouraged (shades of “1984‘s” Victory Gin.)
What is to be done then, once it becomes clear that we are living in a reality inherited by long dead others?
The first thing is to step outside of the consensus spell, as much as possible. Awareness is key.
And then what, after deconstruction? Endless analysis? What really can be done? Society will not disappear.
Enter, the Dreamer. ..
The role of the Dreamer is the same as the philosopher, the artist, the mystic, the shaman, the monk, the poet, the sage, the writer, the dancer.
The Dreamer has the same noble destiny throughout the ages: to stimulate the imagination of society. To act as a bridge between consensus reality and the greater mystery of existence.
During times when philosophical complacency runs high and value for the arts and the humanities runs low, it is the moral and spiritual obligation of every Dreamer to speak their truth as best they can in whatever medium most excites them.
It is the destiny of every Dreamer to bring aliveness to the mechanized time, provocation to the complacent culture.
In order to engage in the original thinking necessary to provide the world with stimulating observations, the Dreamer must effectively step outside of the mental framework of society and perceive the world from a bird’s eye view.
We must question everything we have been taught and hereto assumed. We must seek new information of worth and be on a constant mission to set the imagination on fire.
There is so much beauty available, so many notes left behind by Dreamers before us who have questioned the way we live.
To combat the alienation and emptiness produced by the mechanized, disposable, consumeristic, materialistic worldview infiltrating our minds everyday from the outside world, we must consciously cultivate contact with our inner spirit and feed our soul.
We must give ourselves time to dream, to exist in undisturbed silence and nature, to ruminate on our lives and question reality.
As the advertisement-driven Western World slowly succeeds in covering the globe with McDonald arches and brand name blurbs—as people become more and more addicted to the instant gratification of pop technology—we are increasingly in danger of losing the impulse to dream.
Without vision, without self-questioning, we lose our way.
Dreamers are in high demand these days. This is a call to arms. Can you be a professional dreamer? I, for one, am certainly going to try.
“Creative Connections & The Science Of Inner Space”
Tagged: Advertising, Anxiety, Authenticity, Consciousness, Consensus Reality, Consumerism, Culture, Depression, Dreamers, Healing, Identity, Matrix Reality, Meaning of Life, Non-Conformity, Outsider, Parallax View, Personal-Growth, Psychology, Reality Consensus, Social Commentary, Social Programming, Soul, Spirit, Systems of Control
This is beautiful Tai. We are driving down the grapevine right now and I’m reading this on my phone. From one dreamer to another: cheers!
Oops, I pressed publish accidentally a second ago. What
I was saying was this blog suggests a light on the
horizon of over-commercialized society. I look forward to the rest if this journey!
“We live in a world of dead men’s dreams. Our reality, the society which has been conditioning our perception from the day of our birth, is a construction built upon a construction built upon ideas from other minds, long dead. Their creations compose our world and make up the maps of our psyches. A collective human inheritance.”
Ok, it’s now August 9, 1808. Jacob Tingler (b. 1781 in Bedford County, VA) is marrying Margaret “Peggy” Persinger (b. about 1780 in Botetourt County, VA) The wedding is in the bride’s family home and the couple returns to Jacob’s scrubby tobacco farm in Rockingham to live together. Jacob will live another 60 years and die on his son’s farm in Rich Patch, Allegheny County, VA. He will have buried his loving wife 9 years earlier on their tobacco-played-out farm in Rockingham County.
His world was likewise a creation of the dreams of others. He lived in a structured society, but much closer to the land and God’s creation than we must today. He was dependent on God’s mercy and provision for success. His signs were the color of the sky this morning, the shape and movement of the clouds, all of which foretold the advent or absence of rain. His day started and ended with the sun since the only light in the night was the inconstant moon or very expensive candles. He ate what could be raised and processed locally, including a lot of wild meat, berries, honey as well as what grain and other vegetables could be raised in the land not consumed by the land-hungry tobacco crop. He drank mostly hard liquor or water from a barrel.
“Today, staring at a red light in the shape of an arrow, waiting to get on the freeway, I was struck by the oddness of the symbol, or, rather, I was struck by my — and everyone’s — trancelike acceptance of the symbol. I noted how automatic my responses to the direction had been: I stopped calmly and waited until the light turned green. A perfectly reasonable thing to do, except, in that moment, I felt unusually aware of the lab rat-like nature of my obedience. Stranger still, I realized I had never noticed the phenomenon before, because it had always been that way.”
In his wildest dreams he probably did not imagine the ease of the lives of his great-great-great grandson and his new bride married almost exactly two centuries after his wedding on the other side of the continent. He probably dreamed of more free time, time to rest and relax, or if he was industrious, to get more done. He probably would have seized on any invention, practice or implement that would have given him even a small step toward that object. He probably felt like a lab rat in some ways, confined by the social structure and the demands of life to labor and produce for survival, powerless to free himself from it.
“Green light, go, red light, stop, yellow, slow down. It’s as if we are on a motorized conveyer belt with an array of endless arrows telling us where to go. Apart from the occasional miscalculation, our roads, our cities, our skies, run like the inside of a well oiled machine. Sitting there, waiting for the arrow to go green, I imagined looking down from an airplane at the grid work of cities, the straightness of sidewalks, the neat ribbons of car rooftops. Stop. Go. Cogs and wheels. The machine of the city, like the inside of a clock or a computer.”
Interestingly, Jacob and Peggy likely never contemplated their condition more than in passing. They lived in an age before ‘intellectual work,’ or even the free time to contemplate such things were confined to the smallest percentage of the populace.
I wonder sometimes if we aren’t made more for that sort of life, closer to the land. But even as I wonder that, I am in no wise ready to get rid of my indoor plumbing, my big screen TV, my push button heat and air conditioning, the enormous easy supply of food, medical care, and entertainments that make life today almost otherworldly to the children of the 19th century. I like to think the dreams of Jacob and Peggy and millions of others have brought us where we are. Our task is to understand where we are and determine how we can make it better, so that someday, our dreams will come to fulfillment as a benefit to others.
For better or worse, money and the consumerism it brings is a very real part of our lives. Serious stuff. Just try living without it. I’m all for dreaming but it needs an anchor.
I am not saying we need to stop using money or buying things, I’m just advocating discussion and thought about the things we take for granted in our culture. I don’t have answers, only questions. But I think asking questions about basic assumptions in society is important to do, or else we are just on a conveyer built of other men’s making.
Even though dreamers tend to pay for flying by routinely crashing or being shot down… slowly or quickly we also tend to heal and in time fly again.
Yes, I agree, Bluerose, dreamers are resilient creatures. We have to be! Regeneration is the way we survive in this harsh world, constantly shedding old layers to renew our inner visions.
Your blog is a precious thing… This article right here is astounding. Awareness is key. There is not much we can do in terms of changing the system, but if we are aware of what is going on, we can learn to revel in beauty, seize the moment, learn gratitude and contentedness and practice the art of mature love. It is the way we can heal a society that is on the brink of insanity. One by one, we influence others and that is already a victory.
I hope to go through all you articles very soon and though I don’t have a blog anymore (or link to you), I haven’t stopped reading.
Thank you so much!! I’m thrilled to hear these personal musings have struck chords in other hearts. Perhaps we have a revolution of dreamers on our hands! There are certainly enough of us out there to make a difference…and hearing from readers like you makes me very excited that it’s possible for us to come together and spread the inspiration like ripples in a lake. It is exactly as you said: “One by one, we influence others and that is already a victory.”
Fantastic! So refreshing to read this, I really do hope more and more people can start to question things and see more clearly the trap they are in. I like your description of “The Dreamer”, it’s something I’ve always considered myself, but without a real way of articulating what that means.
Thank you so much, Lauren.
Giving an abstract feeling a name certainly helps make it real, doesn’t it? Language controls thought and what we have no words for we can’t hope to take true ownership of. But when we name our difference, it infuses our individuality with power! We see that we have something unique to offer.
Check out “The Politics of Normalcy” on this blog & Colin Wilson’s book, “The Outsider,” plus a novel called “The Kin Of Ata Are Waiting For You.” 🙂
Thank you!! 🙂 I know what you mean…I don’t believe I had articulated it myself until I wrote that piece in a burst of tapped-in inspiration…then I realized, we are a breed…and we have a shared understanding across time and space.
The internet is an exciting new way to feel the reality of this connection.
I believe we hold a sacred obligation — though can something so natural and joyful really be described in the language of duty? — to feed the fire of our curiosity and wonderment; to inspire others to leave Plato’s cave of shadows, and come out into the sunlight of fresh thought. We are hypnotized as a culture, it seems…all but the dreamers. And we must know that we hold a key, and that we are not alone.
Comments like yours (and others who have expressed this same affinity for the idea of The Dreamer) assure me we are not. 🙂
I think traditionally dreamers have been relegated to the wishy-washy status of the wallflower — someone who gazes out the window, gets lost in their imagination, and isn’t good for much else. But this is a wrongly cast portrait…only capturing the paralysis of the dreamer unsure of her/himself, ungoaded into action by a community of fellow dreamers who remind them of their value to society.
That’s when I came up with the idea of “The Professional Dreamer,” seeking to elevate the idea of The Dreamer to a role, not only of imagination, but of creative action.
Thank you so much for your hugely inspiring feedback. 🙂
hehe! that is a cool idea! 🙂
I am glad I found your blog and read what you have been written. Indeed we are dreamers out of this time, dreamers that are been awakened and living a dream beyond any imagination. It is a hard road full of awe, worth walking it. Dream a dream.
hugs and love Maria, a traveller 😉
Dreamers unite! 😀
I Love your blog! truly I read it all the time it is great I have this page bookmarked on my computer and check it often. I just wanted to let you know that I, and I’m sure many others, appreciate your thoughts and contributions keep it up!
Thanks! Nice to hear. I appreciate it! 🙂
I believe many are beginning to feel this disharmony with the established order. The expression of it may take different forms and may be as gentle and profound as your blog or may be enacted by revolution. However, your exploration struck a cord with me in my awareness, and such awareness can sometimes produce feelings of lonliness or a lifetime of feeling “on the outside.” Consiously stepping outside of the acceptance blind obedience of authority and the aquisition of goals and things, I sense subtle changes with how people treat me. The initial changes were challenging because I almost started to feel invisible, but I am starting to arrive at a place where that is okay. I have always been a dreamer as a means to escape the brutal and mechanical structure of our relationships we call society. Now I am a dreamer who can do so with openess and freedom, and not in reaction to something. It is a marvoulous gift to humanity. Thank you for sharing your insight and please continue to write. I must also make a comment to a poster who said you need an anchor because money and consumerism is a reality. There is a great distinction between reality and truth. Reality is our explainations and constructs we accept as the established order of things. Truth is what actully is and it’s intrinsic state is undeniable. Money for instance, is real and needed to live in society for food, clothing, shelter and supposed happiness. However, the truth of the matter is that without our belief, it is merely a piece of paper with symbols. An economic collapse could make it worthless and return it to a piece of paper with symbols-which it always was. Truth would be something more like-I am alive. Whether we believe it or not, it is the truth and has always been so since we came into existence.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, and for being part of the conversation. I appreciate your thoughts on the difference between reality and truth, particularly in regards to something like money: it may be a reality but it is not a self-evident truth like being alive. And we create a large portion of our reality by agreeing to all follow the same rules.
I agree that many more are starting to notice a hollow feeling in relation to the activities and acquisitions which are supposed to give us pleasure.
I’ve come to a point where I don’t want to be an “insider” in the club of conventional thinking. I think their world looks insane. But it has taken me all of my twenties to realize I am not less of an “upstanding citizen” for making art and living on the fringes of society — quite the opposite. As Colin Wilson said, “The Outsiders are the spiritual dynamos of society that keep the bourgeois culture from foundering under its own dead weight.” (That’s a paraphrase, full quote and more on this subject in my post “The Outsider” and “The Outsider as Visionary,” in case you haven’t read them yet, thought I’d mention them, since they are on the outsider theme.)
Anyway, on on, brave dreamer! The world needs unconventional thinkers…so keep feeding your spirit! And thank you for your kind encouragement about my writing. Comments like that are the fuel on which this blog runs!
After posting my comment, I did read your articles on being an outsider. Your thoughtfulness, freedom and passion come through very clearly to encourage others to explore their unique vision of how they view the world. It was one of those “I feel alone” days, and your blog was exactly what I needed to hear.
As an outsider, I don’t have ADD, lack passion, am “out there” or reflect on the horrific monstrosity we call civilization out of morbidity. It is a world I couldn’t understand or assimilate into as hard as I tried. 20 years ago I nearly succeeded in ending my life because of a system that says I am not an acceptable citizen. I believe Aldous Huxley posited that we have built a system that has become greater than the people who live within it. Yet without us, it ceases to exist. The system sanctions murder, war, brutality and the rest. Peel away the system and it is people doing horrible things to each other because of an idea, a belief and even a symbol. This is sheer insanity indeed!
Again, I thank you for your dedication to speak from truth and I will continue to read your blog!
This is a topic that is near to my heart…
Take care! Where are your contact details though?
So glad you enjoyed this post, which is perhaps my favorite on the blog. Sort of my thesis statement. 🙂
On on, fellow dreamer!
This is bloody brilliant, I’m going to read all of your posts, you excellent mind you~~~
Feedback like this is fuel for the journey. Thank you!
Hello there, Tai! Been reading more from Parallax. Since I’m finding it all incredibly worthwhile
and deeply resonating within me, I’ve decided to read the entries chronologically and reply to
them all (well, supposing I have something to add to all of them; so far, all I’ve read on the
blog has captivated my imagination, engaged my thought process and got my brain working in general,
and it’s a fantastic, very stimulating situation!).
So, the world of dead men’s dreams….perhaps ‘men’ is the keyword and I don’t mean the male gender,
I’m talking about man; you know, mortal, flawed and full of “whims”. Our civilization is not
built around lasting values and truth but on what has been passed down from our elders, generation
after generation, without much questioning. So, it’s basically dead men’s hallucinations, not
based on perennial truths at all but the imposition of their desires, sometimes meaning no harm
(sincerely ignoring their ways could be detrimental, unaware there are better ways, greater
freedoms) and sometimes pushing an agenda, wanting to make us buy something etc.
Conditioning is also a keyword; I’ve read that we’re basically born “perfect” but habits which
just serve to condition us hinder that potential, it gets in the way of living with our own truth.
“a construction built upon a construction built upon ideas from other minds”, yes, that’s basically
it; you know how there are those movies and books where they tell the story of someone trying to
create a story (book-within-a-book); the perceptive reader will notice that it’s basically an
allegory for our society and our concept of “reality”- Or there’s also that poem by Poe, “dream
within a dream”.
Oh and we should take a closer look to it being a dream and a dream by a limited human, but by a
long dead one—-frozen in time, no longer a breathing, mutating tradition but a very fixed idea,
and any thought opposed to it is taken as wrong.
That bit about the traffic lights reminded me of an event from Sweden’s history; in the 60s, overnight
they decided to change the direction they’d drive and the general populace took it cool, agreeing
and cooperating. The society of countries such as Sweden is taken as the ideal to aspire to, the
ultimate level of civilized behavior etc. but on a closer look, it basically consists of silencing
free thought for the collective alleged good; playing along, doing what authority tells you to
The traffic light example could be taken as a measure of security; we slow down, we stop because
we dont’ want to produce an accident but that’s not the point, the point is how the reaction is
automatic, like clicking a button for a movie on demand. It’s conditioning, it’s similar to
Pavlov’s dog or as you said, lab ra behavior.
You mention never questioning it before; it’s interesting to ponder what makes us change one day;
why we do an act a billion times through the years and one day, out of nowhere, we get a different
It has caught my eye that society has been having for a while a tendency to become robotic, very
machine-like in general. The other tendency is having everyone experience the same thing everywhere;
all over the world, people are reading the same news, wearing the same brands, going to the same
restaurants, listening to the same music, having the same political stances and the list goes on.
People are acting and looking more like each other.
Part of becoming more robotic, is having less strong emotions/reactions/thoughts. You don’t see
many people in their twenties moved to tears by art, feeling that landscapes are breath-taking,
being horrofied and disgusted by injustice. When they react vehemently, it’s in the situations
where they’ve been conditioned to have a strong reaction. For example, screaming at a pop concert.
I bet many of those screaming fans are not doing it out of sincere, overwhelming excitement but
because in all the concerts on TV, there are screaming fans and this must be what people do so
they do it too.
Another example, this one proving how people are becoming increasingly tolerant of extreme violence…
there was this experiment where they made this man in their late 40’s watch a video of someone
being tortured; after a short while, he turned it off very disgusted. Then they showed the same
video to a guy in his early 20’s; he watched most of it and without any expression on his face,
without any reaction, just watching passively and he did turn it off eventually, but because he
started getting bored.
The brain is definitely being modified, processing things differently, the way ut’s wired has
changed. Also, this shouldn’t be mistaken for the detachment encouraged in Buddhism and such.
This is not zen at all, it’s not stemming from higher conscience and self-mastery. It’s coming
from lack of interest, indifference, apathy.
Back the machine-like people….individuality is being threatened; you see individuality today
and you see it being encouraged, but it’s manifested in crazy fads and other distractions. Not
much point to looking differently when your mentality and your heart is generic. It’s a false
sense of individuality, it’s safe and being very similar to all others is a step away from being
replaceable; a humanity without feelings, creativity, deep love, quirks, elevated consciousness,
healing capacity and more is a humanity that can be mimed by robots or humanoids straight from the
lab, droids etc. (there are other aspects to this, other areas where this generic and watered down
imitation of the real thing is taking over; food, for example. And then perhaps its ugliest face:
“indirect” killing. For example, through poisoned air, food or even by a drone. A drone can’t be
held responsible, be taken to jail, it cannot feel guilt or remorse for its actions).
You see nature, you see how brilliantly gorgeous it absolutely is, astonishing in every way and then
you see the ugly machines people make but it’s not that people can’t create beauty; just look at
centuries old architecture, Renaissance paintings etc. etc. when humanity creates ugly things,
it’s because their minds and hearts are not in the right place when creating it and that in general
in their lives, they’re not paying close attention to the lessons nature teaches; nature is truly
THE book, the real-deal Bible. Therein lies the beauty and the math, the higher workings of the
highest order, cosmical order. Creators need to be connected to the source, it begins in their
The Monopoly money….we went from gold to paper money and now they’re pushing us in the direction
of making all of the transactions online, so there won’t be any physical element to our assets.
All our savings will be an idea in a computer. This way they can keep track of every single cent
in the planet, every single exchange that takes place ,and dictate the rules.
Education, then….there is a bit of a “conman’s masterstroke” to it. The grading system is very
limited (it takes into consideration very few mental skills, a very narrow notion of intelligence
so again, if we succeed or fail at it, is yet another old man dream, another false illusion because
there is no real interest in developing and stimulating our abilities and what works best for us).
In most vases, school is too expensive without it being truly of the highest quality, so another
reason for it to make us feel duped; w’ere not truly challenging our minds and pushing the limits
of our capacities, we’re not getting a full formation and acquiring understanding. Plus, “one-size
fits all” doesn’t work. It takes years to fully pay for a college education and then there is
not even a work guarantee; you might as well need to go back to school to get another degree to
diversify your work options, because the original path you intended to take didn’t go as planned.
Especially bitter when you went to college to major in a career you’re not passionate about because
you thought it’d be a safe option for your future, financially!
You mentioned yet another way in which our brain is being changed; that of which Carr spoke. The
Twitter mentality (I wonder if the name is purposeful; making us having a “bird-size brain”). Either
later today or in another occasion, I’ll share with you an article that talks about the changes
the brain went through when going from the oral tradition to mostly written literature, it’s in
this vein of thought. I think the entire modern culture revolves around this, around making impatient,
fragmented brains; you see the way music videos are made, a different scene every second and the
short music and the quick communication etc. it’s being forced on us from every angle.
As for that other thing Nicholas Carr said, technology weakening the ability to engage in deep
thought; yes, it’s true. The paradox of civilization is that we focus on our efforts to reach a
state of comfort, easeness, getting spoon-fed all answers but the moment we start getting this,
it’s the moment the civilization starts going downhill, because we’re no longer stimulating our
creativity and challenging ourselves. Luxury and an easy life is something to flee, not an ideal
because it stunts our spiritual and mental growth. So, I welcome technology but I disagree that
it should be used to make life easier; it should be an aid in reaching each other, to communicate what
is truly important. To helps become better humans not to make us forget we’re humans!
Films….the two new forms of media coming from the 20th century, movies/TV and videogames, are entirely
about getting us invested in a fictitious reality. And yes, there is no feeding of the imagination;
actually, the backbone of any true art form should be an exchange. The artist writes a song or
makes a painting; someone sees it and the artist shouldn’t be telling the audience what to think;
I mean, they can share bits about what was going through their mind while creating the work but
they should invite the audience to see other things in it, to make a contribuition and enrich it
with their own experience. Movies spell everything out so there is not much to add to it. It’s
very senses-heavy. You watch a movie with your eyes, you hear it with your ears; there is not the
process of closing your eyes and letting your imagination explore it. It’s a bit of a dictatorship,
almost! It’s the moviemakers being up there, patronizing the audience who are not entitled to
participate, only watch; passively watch. And forget all about it the next day. Or obsess over it
and watch the same thing again and again.
I agree with the lines about questioning everything. I’ll expand further on this on another
occasion, but this is the way to own yourself, the way to live a conscious, awaken life. To even
lucid dream so that even while your senses sleep, your mind knows what is doing and engages in
purposeful action. This is the way you know you’re being yourself, you’re listening to your inner
voice and not what your family and society is forcing on you. Once you go through this project,
your actions will be stronger because they are not being performed mechanically or just out of
old habit; you’ve questioned it in depth and concluded that it’s an action right for you, you want
to do it because you want to, because you’re passionate about it so then your thoughts and actions
have magic to them.
Lastly, I want to mention how the world of advertisement is full of trickery and deceivement. Let’s
use an example, just the simplest thing in the world….say, an apple….you don’t need to spend
millions in a publicity campaign to get folks to buy apples, you don’t need to present it in a
cool, attractive package full of subliminal connotations (smart men eat apples, independent women
eat apples, the start eat apples that sort of messages they send to make us feel like getting a
product will be an improvement and a solution to our problems); apples are healthy, apples are
delicious, their simplicity is genius and they speak for themselves. No need to make a big deal
about it, its quality does all the talking.
And that’s the thing….if they need to make such an effort to get people to try something, chances
are, they’d be better off without it; and it sucks that they want you to buy what they’re selling
not because they sincerely believe and know it’ll be good for you, they just want to make money and
then pat their backs because they feel so smart for making you fall for their tricks. Such
Funnily, it’s similar to an experience I had with a guy I dated 3 years ago! By that point it was
pretty evident to me that we were better off not dating each other because there was a high level
of incompatibility but he’d insist and I’d admire his insistence had it stemmed from a sincere
affection but it was clear that what he was interesting on, was the victory of getting me to change
my mind, because he’d use cheap tricks to get results and gave up as soon as he realized it had
Thank you so much for your very stimulating response to “The Role Of The Dreamer & The Falseness Of Civilization.” I completely agree with all of your perspectives…it’s funny…it seems like there is a common sense thread, that, once people stumble upon it, it leads them (us) to strikingly similar conclusions & connections. Not in a groupthink way, but in a natural, intuitive way. I really appreciate your reflecting back to me what you got out of the post.
I love the idea of you reading the posts chronologically, and I think they will definitely form the most cohesive reading material that way. I might suggest it in my bio. It’s a good idea! A lot of the topics you touched on in your comment will come up in future posts….;)
Thank you for reminding me of that poem by Poe, “A Dream Within A Dream.” I may have known about it years ago, but I had forgotten it and was so glad to be reminded. It’s interesting too on a serendipitous level, because I am working on a writing project right now, for which reality-as-dream is a major theme and the phrase “a dream within a dream” has been floating around in my head for the past several days.
Do you know the story of Chuang Tzu, the Taoist philosopher who dreamed he was a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower? He was so completely absorbed in his life as a butterfly that when he woke up he was shocked to recall he was Chuang Tzu. From this experience he developed his philosophical question, which he added to the cannon of Eastern philosophy…How can we know we are not a greater self, dreaming? An interesting google (“the man who dreamed he was a butterfly” yields some good content).
But that Poe poem is a great one to have on hand. My father was very big on the dream theme, particularly that phrase. You’ll come upon a post that explores the very interesting topic of Aboriginal Dreamtime eventually….! 😉
But yes, mechanized society; absolutely. You make a great point about how technology, while it has brought us together and connected us in a truly amazing, revolutionary way—as it is doing right now, two strangers who would never otherwise have interacted having a stimulating exchange of ideas—it also serves to homogenize thought. We are fed the same images, the same trends, the same ideas, the same rhetoric, the same MEDIA all around the world….it’s a bit terrifying when you think about it!
And your point about how it should be making us *better* humans, not *less* human….here, here! Well said.
But we can use it for good, as we are here. Still, we must be aware of the dangers of Groupthink….and we must question everything & fight to keep our thinking independent. A truly difficult task in this age of media saturation.
I love your point about “twitter” and “bird brain”….there is definitely a frivolous dithering quality to the word. And the fact that a comment is called a “tweet” just seems so regressive. Watching the political debates it’s surreal to see them quite seriously saying, “We have a tweet for Mr. Sanders.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if it *was* intentional. I think there is a lot of programming afoot…beyond the obvious. Controllers behind the controllers…
Your example about violence desensitization is fascinating. I would love to see a link if you can find it. I can absolutely imagine how that generational difference would be the case. It’s truly terrifying. I actually haven’t posted on the issue of desensitization to violence yet, but my friends & I discuss it & you remind me that I would like to write a post about it.
That’s an interesting point you made about Sweden being held up as the pinnacle of civilization, but it’s really one of the most tightly controlled nations on Earth. Denmark is getting a lot of that sort of press lately, as well. And I believe it’s a similar situation; very regulated, tightly controlled. We must take note of these things & I appreciate your excavation of the less-conventional take.
One more thought; the passivity of movies as the primary art form enjoyed by today’s consumers. You made your point very well. Your comments made me think of a book by a French philosopher Guy Debord, written in the 1960s, called “Society of the Spectacle.” It’s a very good book & I recommend it! With the caveat that it is very dense & I have only made my way into about 20 % of its text. But it’s still worth having, and I’ve quoted & referenced it many times. While the concept was lifted, I believe, a bit from Marx, to me the idea of Spectacle as Debord discusses & deconstructs it is beyond political systems theory….it’s really a treatise on the modern age. Which is quite a feat, considering he wrote it before the truly grandiose spectacles had even begun!
The basic idea hinges on the concept of participation versus passive viewership, as you touched on….In pre-consumer societies we participated in our artistic & spiritual expressions. I don’t believe Debord references native cultures, but it’s a natural example: the tribe dancing together in ceremony. However, Debord points out that the capitalist system hinges on spectacle—from a huge rock concert to a giant billboard. And this spectacle hypnotizes the masses. He talks, too, about interrupting the spectacle with a spectacle…say, a protest. But the spectacle essentially paralyses viewers…disempowers & holds them captive.
An interesting read! But I’ll warn you, it’s quite dense & very mental, but I still value the book. I believe if you google the author & title there is a free online copy…
Anyway, I’ll sign off for now, but thanks so much for being such an active & interesting part of the conversation. 🙂
Today I was planning on writing you a short message, notifying you that I’d start writing responses
to your articles again and I found your reply to my response to “The Role of the Dreamer & the
Falseness of Civilization”.
Very happy you found my reply stimulating! As you could see, I reacted strongly to it and it
awakened many thoughts inside my head.
I agree…it’s very peculiar that those who immerse themselves in this path end up reaching some
similar conclusions. I suppose it’s synchronicity, affinity or tuning in to a higher truth.
Starting to see things other don’t. Maybe it’s a 2+2=4 for those in the quest. Just like 2+2=4
is a very elementary answer everyone agrees on, maybe those of us who start scratching the surface
of what’s going on in society and searching for spiritual truths, we get a similar sense of the
rudimentaries of what this is about.
Also, you mention intuition….I wonder if all intuitions come from the same source.
I’m actually relieved that you appreciated the post! 🙂 I had a feeling you would but yeah, you
know how some people want brevity.
Yes, I’ve been reading chronologically and it is helpful! It’s also interesting to see your choice
of topic, what follows what, the progression of your thoughts etc.
And the topics will come in future posts? There we go again, tapping into the same source xD
I read “Dream within a dream” as a teenager and it struck with me; thought it was a very memorable
idea and the poem itself a good tool to talk about the possibilities/falseness of what we take
for reality. About a year after discovering the poem, I went on a couple of dates with this guy
who loved playing with the “take a kiss upon the brow” bit! haha
Hope your writing project is succesful! Let me know when you want people to see it so I can take
a look and then recommend it to people 🙂 at the top of my head, of my writings so far the closest
to this theme is a crime story revolving around mental illness and alternate identities, stemming
from unfulfilled dreams (basically, one character is stuck in a job he hates, when a crime happens,
he sees the opportunity to roleplay as the job he wanted, abusing the fact that an important
witness is mentally unfit to call him bluff); also some sci-fi stories I’m coming up with swim
and jump all over these existential, perception-related matters.
Yes! I heard about the man and the butterfly years ago! Now I thank you for reminding me. This
takes us to another poem; that one by John Keats that talks about butterflies…”I wish we were
butterflies and lived but 3 summer days, filled with more than 50 common years”. Something to
that effect. Maybe Keats intuited something or had a similar experience, about life as other
creatures, dreams and fantasy being connected. I’ve heard of people who say that they live in
great excitement during their sleep, having very vivid imaginations, being very involved in their
dreams and their waking hours pale in comparison. Musings of what those 3 summer days as a butterfly
fall into this category. That brief intensity would never suffer dragging hours.
Ah, yes…the aboriginal dreamtime 😀 I saw that, I think. Looking forward to replying to it.
There’s also this quote by a Greek, “madness is a long dream; a dream is a brief madness”.
It is terrifying! And you see an inssitence on what the right point of view, the right way of
thinking is, the right side of history etc. countries are becoming physically similar (shopping
malls, McDonald’s etc. everywhere) but also the inner life of individuals are becoming similar.
No matter if we live in Mexico, China or New Zealand, our minds will be occupied with similar
stuff, we’ll be humming the same hits. It is terrifying especially if you think about how
strengthening and enriching it is to have diversity! Also, this homogeneity unables plan B’s.
If a system failed, you could go elsewhere for a different system or rely on it to help the
one that failed pull through but if the same system is everywhere, then there is no escape;
it’ll fall down everywhere and people might forget about other ways of living!
You know, people are having a bit of an obsession with transhumanism, supermen etc. right now.
How can you move on to another stage when we’re far from having understood and explored all that
being human means, all the possibilities and capacity?
Yes, exactly….use it for good when you’re aware of the perils and you’re thinking critically
and you know how to defend yourself against it. To be in control of technology without it taking
Media saturation yes….we need to fight to be able to think, to have a few mins alone in silence;
being able to find a time and place to reflect about the big questions and truly know yourself
seems almost impossible!
See? Even the debates are interrupted to be staring into screens and reading frivolous chatter!
Yes, wouldn’t be surprised either if it was on purpose; lots of society seems structured in a
destructive way (education that stifles creativity, noises everywhere, frivolous media, harmful
food etc). There’s this Franklin D. Roosevelt quote that everything in politics is planned; that
if something happens, you can be sure it was planned to be this way. If we get to connect Twitter
to politics, then we can safely assume it was intentional…oh wait, we CAN connect Twitter to
politics: recently there was this scandal that it was used to spy on people.
This is an interesting article that takes us from Homer the Greek to Homer Simpson discussing
the comeback of illiteracy and other ideas: http://www.hermes-press.com/Perennial_Tradition/PTch7.htm
As for the controllers behind the controllers; you’re right! Those truly ruling the world are
never elected, they remain anonymous. The presidents, celebrities etc. are just the screen.
Ok, I did a quick search about the brain, violence etc. and this is what I found. I’ll let you
know as I find/remember more:
Yes, I’ll keep pondering why do we have such a reverance for societies with little spontaneity
and why control and blind civil obedience are taken as the most admirable model of society.
Not familiar with Debord! Despite how long it seems to be, I think it seems totally like the kind
of book I need reading so I’m going to browse google for it after I click “send”. Maybe by the
end of the year I’ve finished reading it 😀 there’s this similar book, “The closing of the American
mind” which discusses everything from the education system to the media and of course, doesn’t
apply only to America.
Also, the concept of entertainment itself deserves lots of thought! Before, artistic expression,
dances, music, plays etc. had a religious meaning or it was an important cultural tool tot ransmit
the generations of wisdom and history or it was an activity to strengthen the bonds between community
members and now we got bored teenagers demanding entertainment. It’s a bit of a detrimental concept
on toself because it doesn’t recognize the healing and transformative powers of performance or
the sacredness of our time and all of that. To entertain is a cynical verb at its core.
Of course, the masses think it’s harmless fun, a distraction but it has an element of hypnosis,
dumbing down, distracting from what’s really going on the world etc.
More to come! Whether we continue the saga on this post or when I begin responding to your other
Yes, I don’t mind length where there is good content! As you can see by my replies, I’m not strong on brevity either! 😉 It’s hard when there is so much to say.
I do think that there are universal touchstones, which are equivalent to the basic equation of 2 + 2 = 4, at which almost everyone who seeks within and tries to tune into the greater wisdom arrives. The perennial philosophy! Which, synchronistically enough, you seem to have shared a link regarding! 😀 Can’t wait to check it out. I have it bookmarked.
I do think that all intuition taps into universal wisdom/intelligence. Like a radio frequency that is broadcast at all times, which we can tune into, if we search it out.
I agree that showbusiness is almost a bastardized, de-sacredized shamanism. Artists express unconscious imagery, symbolism, provide catharsis for repressed feeling, commune with other worlds & bring back messages via drugs…very shamanic.
This connection was a key theme for my father. He had this awesome book called “The Death & Resurrection Show,” by Rogen Tayler http://www.amazon.com/The-Death-Resurrection-Show-Leadership/dp/0856341517 It’s discontinued, but still available used. Very interesting! It’s also a key theme in the book project I’m working on! It is as though actors and musicians are our modern shamans (you’ll see a post about that! 😉 Another funny 2+ 2 moment.) And I think the best artists realize this and take the role seriously. But all too often it is the blind leading the blind. Even the shamans of our era have lost their way.
I completely agree that modern entertainment has not only lost a lot of its sacredness but also has become a hugely hypnotic distraction (also covered in the same upcoming post I’ve just referenced, (“Mind Control In The Music Industry.”) Agreed that “entertainment” has a strange connotation quite different than art — there is a frivolousness & a power dynamic almost as well towards the entertainer…evokes a condescending king waving at a court jester, saying “dance, fool.” Where as true art has far more power than that.
Really enjoying your shared responses, Tawanyh. 🙂 Thanks again!
And I’ll check out those links. They look interesting!
Hello there, Tai! Before moving on to replying to other articles, here’s a general thing I saw the other day that I thought was very cool and that I thought I should share….
I was watching a video where they were asking a theatre company for their favorite Irish Gaelic expression and there were funny and interesting things but this one in particular caught my eye: Bealach na síoraíochta. It means to die but it literally translates as “going through the way of magic”. It’s always nice when societies see death as a big adventure and not necessarily a definite end or something awful. Here in Mexico too, we got some peculiar notions of death, lots of humor and a certain reputation for fearlessness.
The Mexican pathos certainly does have a reputation for humor & fearlessness surrounding death (was just enjoying “Frida” the other day, for a good example.) I love that Gaelic expression! So beautiful & true. Thanks for sharing.
Certainly American regard for death leaves MUCH to be desired. It’s practically a taboo subject. As a result people losing loved ones often suffer in silence, isolated in their grief, and everyone else just represses the fear of death, which feeds the hunger for distraction & escape, because they have not faced something so all pervasive & basic.
Thank you! I’m the same, I could receive a message from a friend or someone new with a book length
as long as it’s substantial and thoughtful. Yes, so much to say; we could go on and on and on
and we probably wouldn’t cover 1% of all there is, all that is still to be discovered.
“Universal touchstone”, I like the ring of it; nicely put. Yes, hope you enjoy the stuff by
Norman Livergood! One of the authors that have influenced me the most (my most influential authors
range from Plato to the gay activist who coined the term “frottage” to a variety of bloggers haha).
Yes, nice comparison; like a radio station, it’s always there, you only got to know how to find it
and have the ears to hear.
Thanks for recommending me that book your dad enjoyed! I just took a look at the reviews, description etc.
and it does look awesome! Definitely going to spend some money on getting it.
Currently, I’m reading this amazing biography of Schiller by Rüdiger Safranski; what’s nice about it
is that he doesn’t just stick to talking about the poet, but also all the other luminaries of his
era and what was going on in Germany (especially Wurrtemberg) and Europe in general at that time.
And then talking about the real life stories behind some of his plays, like all about Fieschi and
Andrea Doria and such. A fantastic book. And some days ago I started the book you recommended to
me, “the society of spectacle” and it’s such a great find! 😀 thanks a lot.
Probably if you ask most people about musicians being shaman, Jim Morrison will come to mind (Mr.
Mojo Rising, man! haha) as for the blind leading the blind; that’s true, there are those who put
blind faith on their idols and think there’s a bit of a sense of indestructibility to them, they
get disappointed when they turn out to be not so perfect etc. and then there are those who are
quite aware about our shamans having lost their way but don’t care enough about it or think there
is nothing to do.
It’s like we began by forgetting our origins, how humanity began etc. and since then, we forget
more and more! It’s getting to the point we’ll forget everything and will think counterfeit values
are the best possibility in the world and there is nothing more to life than those commercialized,
Also, you see people having a bit of an obsession with being a celebrity, with being the one
everyone looks up to and then you see this atttidue both among those trying to enter the business
and those who are already well-known, that they think they are completely fit for the role and
they don’t really ponder the responsibility and meaning that comes with it, they’re not aware of
how much more they could contribute from that position and the powerful, amazing things they
could tap into, the sacredness of it all.
It’s a bit like how Socrates would try to dissuade the youth from entering politics, to make them
question to the core their ability for it. Maybe we should have something similar for musicians,
so most of the mindlessness and lack of inspired art would go away!
I think true art is transformative and a bit like a dialogue, there must be an exchange and the
audience should have some input and not just be subordinated to the idol, especially when it’s
not even the performer him/herself who’s calling the shots, but some business person behind the
scenes. Indeed, lots of “dance, fool” to it.
And thank you! I’m really enjoying our exchanges as well and getting happier and happier about
having found the blog 🙂
Today I watched the Japanese movie “Departures” which has a lot to do with death. It’s great!
Here death is not really tackled from the angle of being a scary or not matter but rather, the
social duty and rituals surrounding it.
Welcome! Thought you’d like it, too 🙂 it’s a very exciting, vibrant quote that provides an alternative
in our perspective of death.
In America and in other parts of the world, most people seem so afraid of death that they seem to
live the fantasy that it won’t happen, at least not to them; all of that emphasis on beauty products,
plastic surgery as a way to break the cycle. The funny thing is that you see each time more and
more ideas to live longer (all the transhumanism stuff) but at once, people don’t seem to enjoy
life that much! So, they do it more out of fear and habit than out of a true love for living.
After all, if you live your life very fully, you’ll feel that one is enough. It seems like the
most essential something is in life, the more twisted is our view of it! Death, sex, eating,
creativity, communicating etc.
[…] first post, “The Role of the Dreamer & The Falseness of Civilization,” written in December 2010, names the call to move beyond the conditioning of a mad world […]