So I graduated from college this past weekend. It was quite the celebration. Though, I’m not sure why we were celebrating. Sure, I graduated: I pasted a societal litmus test, a trial for obedient preservance. Am I proud that I was able to pull this off? I’m not sure. Am I proud that I was able to subvert my authentic curiosities in favor of requisites of value dictated by others? Is this achievement? I suppose, in a way. I’m not sure of anything, really. Where is the glow that once resided behind the corners of achievement? Where is the eager curiosity to pull back the curtain and reveal the rewards of painstaking labor? I feel as though I know what is behind the curtain, and it doesn’t contain anything that I consider valuable and telling. Whose value? Surely not mine, not in origin anyway.
Where ever you go, there you are. Where have I gone? I need to find a job. Time is running out. A “job”. I need to collect my enthusiasm once again and pantomime to the world that I am eager to embrace her demands. But the fact remains that I don’t want to yield to her demands, I want to create my own. I want to issue orders and cast visions that blanket the world in multifarious colors.
Christians. Religious people. It all gives them meaning. Perhaps that’s what I want, meaning? But I want to imbue the world with my own meaning, my own idea of what’s worthwhile.
Everyone was happy. The sun burst onto the ocean of mortarboards. The speakers voice vibrated across the quad, through the trees and banners and flags. Sweat dribbled down foreheads and cheeks. They waited with much anticipation. The orations were terse, thankfully, but the list of soon to be graduates was long. The students waited patiently to stand with their fellow students and walk across the stage, shake hands with a woman they called dean and a man they called chancellor. Both were garbed in their ridiculous robes, donned like clergy, their oxford caps resembling the biretta of bishops. Pictures were snapped. Paper fans fluttered in front of faces to keep cool.
My row was called, I stood. My head panned the crowd of students looking for familiar faces and surveyed the visiting families seated beyond them. All were poised with adulation and excitement. Those standing with smiles and cameras greeted their proud accomplishments with waving hands and whistles. I stopped at the occasional friend peering back at me and smiled sheepish and coy. They would extend a nod and smile back, throw forward a thumbs up of approval, or hoot or hollar my name and applaud.
Libations followed, Champagne and strawberries, hors d’oeuvres and iced tea. And more pictures. And crying. The mothers cried. They voiced their praise to bystanding family. They hugged and demanded more and more pictures. As the heat took hold the elation subsided and these activities quickly grew stale.
Religious people. Why do they insist on being right? They hold that their law, their beliefs, their word is paramount to any other because it is divined by a god that seems to pay little attention and grace to others.
Everyone wants to be important, to have some significant place in the world. After all, isn’t that my greatest aspiration? Isn’t that what keeps me breathing on? To have a place, a location in the world that contributes to the cohesion and stability of others. But on what scale? Among a few friends? Within the family?
Malls. Mall nutrition. What is it? Not the food. It’s the spiritual nutrition. The power to adorn our lives with something articulated by our will, to accessorize with paraphenalia that communicates to the world that we are unique, that we are special, that we have something that sets us apart. So we combine all these these things, these mass productions, into a mural that comes to be known as our “stuff”. We wear this stuff and purchase giant sheds called “homes” to store our stuff. We buy nice homes in nice safe temperate neighborhoods with other storage centers, and we decorate our homes with stuff, we fix stuff to our laws, arrange the vegetation, hang stuff, drape stuff, shutter stuff, cabinet stuff, tile stuff, counter stuff, wood stuff. Stuff.
Malls. Everyone is exposed for everyone else to see. We observe their habits of mind through their habits of buying. What is cool? That purchase reveals quite a bit about what you think cool is. More importantly, it reveals quite a bit about what you think others think cool is. No one would dress too radically for fear of being rejected. We lie to ourselves if we think we act autonomously. No, we appeal to others for our approval, for our affirmation of self. This is how our meaning, our place in the world, is derived.
My world is fragmented. It exists as a barrage of interwoven confetti, threads that fray and blow about in the tapestry of life. My job consists of pulling these threads apart, unweaving this massive cartoon, this massive bedding where the dead sleep, so that I may knit my own garment to wear about and weather this world in.
Please, take me. Make me meaningful. And I read the books. I watch the movies. I appeal to the sources of authority. I remain subservient, never positing my own valuation, never acting on behalf of my own will, my own spirit. Oh, it is onery, it is cranky, but I mustn’t do anything too radical. Rubbish.
I love the spite. I love the scowl that onlookers provide when my antics, my bold reserve, treads upon their fabricated flowery vision of the world. Their monochromatic light is but a mere reflection of someone elses pulse, and they are frightened by my full spectrum.
Action, action, action. What is action? Action towards what? Vision, goals. Who has established these fictions? Who written them up? Who penned them with authority? Where is the man, the men, that insist on maintaining such a controlling culture, such a confusing collision of apathy?
I must find a job, in the meantime anyway.
I want people to laugh at me. I want them to scold me. To denigrate me. I know that if no one mocks me, I am not being offensive enough, I am not being bold enough. I must tread where no one treads, and that requires going where no one is going, where comfort and familiarity are farthest. Will I fail? I hope so. I hope to fail many times. And I hope that my strength builds with each fail, with each fall.
These religious folks are no different than these academic folks. Both are fearful of a world where they are in control. They fear themselves because they are unknown to themselves, and so they appeal to god and methods of confirming the reality of their senses. And so they become mere robots, slaves to metaphysical ecstasy or reified affection.
Need to write some emails.