Reconfiguring My Blog . . . And My Reality?
So, I took a short break from writing after my most recent experience in having my words ripped off. That sounds funny, almost literal, as though the page I had written upon had been torn from my journal and pasted into another’s. I suppose that’s as literal a vision as it gets here in this digital world. One of mysterious computer languages. Encrypted hieroglyphics. Translated. Captured.
As of the day of this writing, I had actually begun working on another travel story but my mind was pulled in multiple different directions.
My first task seemed so simple. I was searching for words used to describe the motion of unlacing my boots. I’m sure that sounds funny, but it will make sense someday (or perhaps not) when I finish that post. At any rate, my seemingly simple search led me to a post about the “solipsism problem.” I stumbled upon this in an article in Scientific American.
Hand movement, untying boots, was all I was looking for.
Merriam-Webster defines “solipsism” as: “a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing, also: extreme egocentrism.” The word itself is derived from “a composite of the Latin solus (“alone”) and ipse (“self”).”
And from John Horgan, the author of the article:
“Solipsism, technically, is an extreme form of skepticism, at once utterly nuts and irrefutable. It holds that you are the only conscious being in existence. The cosmos sprang into existence when you became sentient, and it will vanish when you die. As crazy as this proposition seems, it rests on a brute fact: each of us is sealed in an impermeable prison cell of subjective awareness. Even our most intimate exchanges might as well be carried out via Zoom.”
Humm, while our encapsulation may be physically complete, this theory, if one would call it that, seems not to take into account anything of external communication, or of our intuitive natures, or of our shared physical experiences. The mere holding of hands or a kiss would seem to me to pierce these prison walls and dispel the fate of this self-reflecting egoism. If not, perhaps our dream states and astral projection would nail shut the coffin on such mental masturbations.
Nor would I ever be so egotistical to think that the entire cosmos would be extinguished upon my singular death.
Although this theory, if one could call it that, can make for many an interesting thought experiment. In fact, it serves as the underlying theme of a good satiric work , “Breakfast of Champions,” by Kurt Vonnegut where the protagonist came to believe that he was the only human being and everyone else was a machine.
If chancing upon this line of reasoning wasn’t enough to overload my brain box today, once landing on the pages of Scientific American, I would hit upon yet another article from this same author. It turns out he is a critic of Buddhism and his story involved himself going on a Buddhist retreat. This skeptic, as well as all others in attendance, were encouraged not to be using their electronics, not to be reading anything other than the texts being taught from, and not to be writing or journaling.
The focus was to be totally on the training and the meditations.
What caught my attention, as often a detail of seemingly little consequence to the story does, was the author told his friend, while protesting about not writing, “I’m not sure what happens to me until I write about it.”
Now this I found to be profound.
Why so? Because we as writers are indeed in the construction business. We construct all of the entities that are the subject of our writings. Their actions and interactions. All of their attributes and all of their faults. And we relay all of the backdrop surrounding the events described. All of the nuances. The colors. The sounds. The smells. The tastes. The textures.
And that’s non-fiction writing.
With fiction, writers invent entire worlds that only exist in the mind. Characters and lifetimes from visions. Languages and alphabets. Years of history that have never transpired on our Mother Earth.
If a person is unaware of what he or she is experiencing (and I’m not saying that particular author is or is not) until committing it to paper, then by the time the ink has dried, the event may have shifted from non to total fiction. Said person is free to invent, to revise, to edit, to modify, to rearrange.
In short, to lie.
Does this not lead us back to that same egotism of solipsism? That all we can know is ourselves, and no one else exists? The world orbits but one.
To other writers maybe, but not to this one. I’ll do my best to relay my stories as the objective observer, but I’ll also include my subjective feelings. Contemporaneously. Without modification. Even if they show my weaknesses and faults and failures. Even if I’m not the center of attention. Even if I’m not some kind of hero. Even if I’m not part of the story at all.
And hello to the many great souls I’ve met on this journey.
I wholeheartedly acknowledge your existence and many thanks for all that you’ve shared.
Photo: The Prairie Smoke, a beautiful wildflower I found growing in the mountains of SouthEast Arizona. It need not re-write its reality. Its beauty can be conveyed without words. No one can define its boundaries. It, like all things in Nature, is pure perfection.
A not-so-final observation, if other forms of writing are so easily polluted, perhaps poetry is the only “true” form of writing. My hat is off to all of the poets.
Postscript: I am reminded of the phrase Memento Mori. Translated from it’s Latin, it means “remember that you [have to] die.”
A number of philosophers have addressed this, and supposedly a story is told that a conquering Roman general riding in a chariot in a celebratory procession, would have a slave standing behind him holding a crown above his head, while, in Latin, reminding the general that he was but only a man and that he too would die.
This was to encourage humility.
I’ve also read, in Merriam-Webster, that early Puritan settlers (in the US) were so fearful of death that they displayed this phrase on their tombstones as a message to the living to live a moral life or face eternal punishment. It was also said, that in earlier times, it was a European custom to keep a skull on one’s desk as a reminder of one’s mortality.
I suppose such a concept, Memento Mori, would not apply to the egotist of the solipsism theory, however. For when that person dies, they would believe they were taking the entire known Universe with them.
Perhaps that is the most perverse form of narcissism.
Oh, BTW, on the reconfiguring. And please excuse my rambling. I’m adding a few features to my posts that hopefully will not disrupt any readers, but will, at the same time discourage any who would seek to steal my words or pictures. I’ve no comment as to whether they are worth stealing. 😊 As you can see one of these features is playing around with the podcast function.
An update to the Podcasting – it failed with this piece. I’m obviously on the low end of the learning curve here. But it worked with other posts of mine and you shall be seeing more of those links soon.
Link Rot: I can never guarantee the life of any hyperlink to any web page. They do deteriorate over time, can be corrupted, and I’ve even seen them hacked to where they take you to other sites. The most embarrassing of which happened one year when the local news advertised a site that was supposed to stream the Mari Gras parade live – instead the link took you to a porn site.