September 11, 2017
there’s been a quiet, internal hum lately, a locus that finds the meeting points of much anxiety, fear, and disillusion toward the future. thankfully (and somewhat selfishly) this time, the emotional turmoil stems not from ideas of self worth, questioning of talents, or any sort of solipsistic rumination of the sort. it’s coming from outside the confines of my small apartment, from outside the mortal coil that presses on my over-active mind.
i’ve always been eager to learn as much as i can about a given subject; the heroes i admired were not necessarily men of great might and virility, but those of virtue, wisdom, open-mindedness, and curiosity. for that reason i find myself devouring as much information as i can when my interest is piqued. even a night spent getting high with friends - once the clichés of deep philosophical discussions, awe of our natural planet, and cosmic pondering have played out - is usually concluded with a deep dive into the annals of Wikipedia or a book, trying to understand something i didn’t before. i’ll be the first to admit that there’s a part of this hunger for knowledge that is self-serving, though i suppose all learning is, in a way. i’d like to know more. i’d like to understand concepts broader than my pay grade requires. i’d like to be perceived as intelligent, and i’d like to have the mental faculties to back it up.
it’s this desire for greater understanding that brings me to crossroads of emotional turmoil. simply put: is it better to know more about the world and carry the heavy head it endows, or ignore the finer machinations and focus solely on what’s in front of you? obviously there is grey area, overlap, and an inherent subjectivity to all of this, but the broader duality remains.
of course the arena this conflict arises most often (and one of the only places it’s so devastatingly disheartening) is politics. without mincing words, i am admittedly and unabashedly liberal, with a capital L. i consider myself left of ever political candidate i’ve ever voted for, and i’m a card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialists of America (a card that could use a little more use, i’ll admit, but i suppose that’s part of why i’m writing this).
a brief background: i voted for Bernie Sanders in Illinois’ primary election. i voted for Hillary Clinton in the general election, almost entirely out of fear of the alternative. without rehashing too many inane and needless arguments you’ve undoubtedly seen populating your social media timelines, i simply didn’t find Clinton an appealing or appropriate candidate, but my fear left me no choice. and since that day last November when The Worst Thing™ happened - the night i drank a six pack of Miller High Life on my couch, anxiously refreshing the exit poll data, the night i barely slept and woke up in a panicked frenzy of tears - i’ve been at this crossroad. i was through with the democratic party, and the subversive bone i’ve carried in my body as long as i can remember immediately showed it’s use. more so than ever, i began accruing whatever knowledge i could get my hands on that affirmed these “radical” notions i knew were correct. from the US response regarding the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to single-payer healthcare, i started to pay greater attention, but it came at a cost to my optimism. with all these atrocities committed by my country, all these backward capitalists feigning loyalty to their constituents - how is any progress to be made when everything continues to get worse?
in “Capitalist Realism,” Mark Fisher discusses the roots of our twisted brand of neoliberal capitalism growing so deep that we can see no future beyond it’s growing chasm. the plodding machine turns, and we feed it without question, because “that’s the way things are.” we grow listless, resigned to our fate. it certainly feels at this juncture that ignorance to the broader view would be more enjoyable. standing atop a maze this large only cements the sinking feeling that you are lost.
but i have to believe, in my chronic optimism, that this knowledge will serve me well in some capacity. that slowly, the seeds of new ideas will germinate. seeds that can see beyond this unsustainable spiral, that when planted together, can provide a much more beautiful, just, and egalitarian vision of the future, beyond this vacuous toil. i have to think they are seeds that only grow in the garden of this autodidactic tendency, but whose fruit can & will be shared by all.