Отклонения, лирически и прозаически
Essays
Stuffed Reality

All around me there is – and I have – stuff. Stuff that I have bought with the money I have earned working in a system whose main activity is to produce and sell stuff.

Me-buying is the quintessence of my existence within the framework of this social construct I – and we all – inhabit.

"Man is only truly a man when on the road," is a Bulgarian saying that most probably worked well to describe the fulfillment of one’s being in older times. Today we believe – or at least we practice so – that we are who we truly are while shopping. By shopping I do not mean only its city variety but rather all buying, all negotiations and bargaining, and profit and loss calculation of (the big) business.

We are all – with the exception of a very little and diminishing group living externally to the social construct of consumer goods and production system thereof – an integral part of this "reality" of production, exchange and consumption of stuff. This is a reality that is built upon the exchange and accumulation of money.

Money is an artificial construct – just like the reality in which it exists – which is supposed to replace the intrinsic value of the stuff being exchanged by means of money-exchange. Money in itself is useless pieces of paper or metal, and nowadays it doesn’t even have a material representation but is rather digital figures stored in computing systems. It will all vanish in thin air if we lose one of the main supporting elements of our civilization – electricity.

Money is often represented by the endless list of stuff that we are forced to consume – or convinced that we really need to consume for this or that end – in this monetary consumer reality. Large amounts of money are represented by luxurious versions of the same stuff that is sold to the less well-off parts of the population. The accumulation of money and money-representing material items does not influence any notable developmental changes or growth - save for often in weight - in the financially prosperous individual. Money therefore is not a necessary element of evolutionary progress.

The money-represented stuff that we are surrounded by and that we consume or utilize for various achievements is a burden so heavy that humans need to settle down permanently – or move very little – because of the immobility of the larger part of the stuff they possess and depend on. All this stuff weighs down on us, nailing us to the crucifix of our material existence.

The time necessary to procure all the stuff one requires, the effort in service of that same stuff – the production system, the thought of all the processes and moves that this involves – is what fills up, overflowing, our social life. The little time remaining after we have taken care of all that we must do in order to continue to survive and possibly prosper is hardly sufficient for any artistically creative effort or – at best – artistically creative life.

The goods-production-sales-consumption vicious circle of the present day social construct is manifestly inhibitive to creativity and art and life according to alternative rules/principles. Even if one manages to attain (relative) material independence from the system, for instance by living on a desert island, or in a secluded region where one can provide for themselves in full, without even the need for electricity or water mains, they will eventually be "rescued" or intruded upon by "civilization". This is most likely to conclude with the successful inclusion (restoration) of the individual to the consumer society. Those relatively independent (think: who inhabit the outer bounds of civilization and self-support) still most likely have to pay taxes to the state, money they have to earn somehow, thus participating, although minimally, in the money-exchange consumer reality.

This system has as yet not engulfed, enslaved, few small parts of South America, Africa and Himalayan Asia. Nowhere else in this world can one live without participating in this consumer society. We are traditionally raised to think that there is no other, no alternative reality. Our education system instructs us how to become good workers and good consumers. Our science is empirical and it will recognize nothing but what is measurable, weighable, tangible and thus – exchangeable and tradable. Very little of what is taught has a spiritual value, except maybe for bits of what is taught at art schools, where hopefully more attention is paid to the non-material "stuff".

We have been conditioned – by our education system, by the social construct we inhabit with all its rules and regulations – that we live in a finite reality. Everything in this reality is linear; it has a beginning and an end and constitutes the continuous process of accumulation and reduction of… stuff. Because resources and the goods produced from them are finite, they are assigned a value in this monetary system of value (think: money) exchange. Everything costs money – it costs money to obtain, to use, to keep, to consume, to dispose of.

This system is so advanced in its penetration into our lives that it also obliges us to pay a significant part of our earnings to the system just for allowing us to inhabit it, in the form of taxes and fees of all sorts. Not only is it without an alternative - therefore not a privilege one must pay for – but it is utterly exploiting and consuming our lives, our whole beings. We actually sacrifice about half of our time and effort paying for being allowed to participate in a system, which cannot survive without us.

This is a replacement reality, an Ersatz, a construct that has enslaved us and exploits us in a not particularly clever way, which - because of its weaknesses - needs to be constantly enforced and maintained by people like ourselves who are being paid to police this selfsame order, this consumer system.

We must realize that this consumer reality is dependent on us, and not the other way round. We can exist without it – but it cannot exist without us. This realization, however, cannot instantly make us free of this system. There isn't a border we simply need to cross and be saved/safe. Because we have allowed it to penetrate our existence so thoroughly, we cannot abandon it and look for an alternative. We are so closely connected to it, our lives are so permeated by it that destroying one we will surely destroy the other.

The answer then to how to find rescue is a sombre one. In order to free our spirit, we need to do away with the material bonds that tie us to this consumer construct. Because our bodily existence is now inseparable from this material reality, we must sacrifice it in the effort to save our souls.

Do not get me wrong. I am inviting anyone of commit suicide or destroy their physical body. This would be wrong. The solution will be offered to us then when it will matter little if we keep our physical bodies or not. The time is nigh when we will be faced with a choice, a choice very difficult to make because the alternative will remain as veiled in mystery and as insecure as it is now - because we do not know our true selves. The decision we will have to make I can only remotely describe as having to jump off a high cliff in an attempt to reach a distant shore which just isn’t there. Jumping, we will have to realize in absolute fullness that we have no chance for salvation of our material body. I feel it is going to be very much like a bird’s first attempt at flying – it either makes it or perishes.

Remember not to carry any stuff with you. And remember what C. S. Lewis once said: You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.

06 February 2010