What a hopeful chap that Camus, but such hope, he fails his own test
His boulder rests firmly atop his absurd postmodern hill
Camus can go no further, yet Sisyphus persists
Do not ask if he is happy (surely he is not)
Instead ask, does he accept his fate?
He ought to throw up his hands and beg forgiveness to the gods
Yet he persists
His actions speak for themselves
What do the actions of Sisyphus indicate about his beliefs?
What do your actions say about your beliefs?
What do you believe, really?
that pain is real, that suffering is real
that there is life, that there is death
that there is good, that there is evil
that there is truth, that there is knowledge
that truth is knowable amidst lies and deceit
that chaos is real, that order is real
that beauty is real
that God is … ?
For all our talk, we sure do act as if we believe
evidenced by his actions, there is only one belief Sisyphus holds
he fails — and he fails — and he fails
yet he tries again — and again — and again
It is as if the infinite power of the gods
to knock his boulder down back down the hill
has been matched by his stubborn refusal to give up
If the story is to be believed
Sisyphus once chained death and escaped the underworld
That is why the gods punish him
But clearly something still motivates him
He must believe that this impossible task is in fact doable
He once saw past the gods, he rejected them
I imagine his mind is freed of ego
and yet he is not happy, far from it
His torment is real — and – it – is – frustrating
He persists despite his
liberation from the unnecessary suffering of false beliefs
the gods of these traditions punish him daily
And he pushes against them eternal
He toils in a meaningless way
I do not see him as a hero nor as happy
I do not believe his fault was for defying the gods
Sisyphus once knew a path out of hell
His fault is a lack of wit and ingenuity,
a lack of wisdom and creativity,
to truly surpass what he must know can be surpassed
The burden of being
It’s a slow suffering
What some call samsara
It all starts there
in the edges of light and dark,
in that crisp texture of beauty,
it’s a constant reminder
of what is up and what is down.
And then, beyond the edges,
The bliss of being
What some call samadhi
It all ends there
the inevitable creation of the future
, is happening now
, in every moment
it could be the best possible to-morrow
, forged from the muck of yester-day
, so be it, to-day
and what say the muse?
, her ever-expanding beauty
, his forever forward
I reach for her on the pinnacles beyond thought
, out of touch, beyond Blake’s eternity
, and yet always present
without her it is hell
Before you dismiss beliefs in God or gods or faeries or elves or nature spirits or a belief in a mechanistic universe devoid of any supernatural entities — before dismissing the beliefs of others, recognize that all human perceptions are illusory and false, all of them, pretty much by definition they are not real, they are abstract metaphors attempting to make sense of a world outside of our senses.
If you’re going to dismiss false beliefs, then start with your favorite color, your favorite music, the beauty of a sunset — these are false beliefs. The sun doesn’t set. Color and music exist only in your mind, they have no external reality and there is no scientific basis for what is known as the qualia of these experiences.
We pretend science is mechanistic and yet every scientific breakthrough happened through a creative and playful insight, a creation of a new metaphor that while useful is still as false as all the others.
All of our ambitions and our every “will to power” is as natural and as false as believing in tree spirits. We devise these metaphors in attempt to make sense of the world and ourselves. We are the creators of these perceptions and there is no difference between you as the perceiver and that which you perceive.
But can you stop believing in music and color, can you truly stop believing in magic? Is it even possible not to embrace false beliefs?
Every time you think about “a life worth living” or “doing the right thing”, you are under the delusion of a false belief.
It is impossible to be human without these experiential beliefs.
But it is possible to know that a belief is false and still be uplifted by the power of that belief — it profoundly doesn’t matter that there is no external reality to the beauty you experience listening to music, or watching a sunset, or spending a quiet afternoon with a lover, or appreciating a babbling brook — to be human is to live with and of these metaphors.
The problem with beliefs is not that they are false, all beliefs are false, you may say some are useful and some are not — but even that conjecture of usefulness is itself a false belief (useful to whom? and to what end?).
The problem is when we get lost in the metaphor. The moment you see your beliefs as real, that is the problem — the moment you forget that your perceptions are only perceptions, that is the problem — this is what leads to religious fanaticism and suffering of all kinds; and while it’s natural to have false beliefs, it is wise to live with and of the beauty of beliefs. Believe in music, believe in art, believe in God if it inspires you to be kind, believe in tree spirits if it helps you to feel connected with nature, just don’t get lost in the metaphor, it’s not real, and that’s okay.
I like to think of love as an art. Like painting or music — you cannot expect to be talented in music without practice — love is no different. And that goes for both giving and receiving. With love-as-an-art you are both the giver and the receiver, the painter and the canvas; an experienced lover knows how to touch their canvas, and a good canvas in turn knows how to receive touch and illuminate something beautiful.
Love always starts with yourself, and with that most fundamental of questions, “who am I?”
Who are you to be loved?
Receiving love is kind of like hypnosis in that you can only hypnotize people who are willing (consciously and subconsciously) to be hypnotized! Even the most talented hypnotist cannot hypnotize someone too stubborn to be hypnotized. And in the same way, the worlds most talented lover cannot love a person who is unwilling to be loved. You cannot love a person who does not love themselves. In those moments such a person becomes an instrument that refuses to play; a canvas that does not hold paint.
Now of course, there is a form of hypnosis that works completely subconsciously without any will or consent, it’s a temporary, sort of deer-in-headlights form of hypnosis that illusionists use to distract a person to do something silly like steal their watch. It’s a con of sorts. And unfortunately, for many people, this is how they experience love — love appears to just happen — and it becomes a sort of game. Those who learn this con game are able to play successfully. It means temporarily blinding a target, and rather than stealing a watch, they steal a heart.
If you are not practicing being a talented lover, there is a good chance you are unconsciously playing this silly game, sometimes as the target, sometimes as the mark. Your basic needs met through what is essentially a con.
It is ironic that everyone who says, “I don’t want to play games”, is in that moment playing a game. If you really wanted to stop playing games, then I would recommend learning to love, become a talented lover, learn to give and receive, and be amazing and seductive to all the lovers in your life.
There are no rules to love, there is no score, because it’s not a game — like music and art — love can be practiced and enjoyed for it’s own sake.
Most importantly, love yourself, for it is the most significant relationship in your life.
Imagine a world where artists, rather than selling their artwork, were instead paid for their time; paid to work on art with other artists.
Imagine collaborative art projects with dozens, hundreds, or sometimes thousands of artists working together on large projects — imagine each artist being so well compensated that they give their solo work away for free.
Imagine large repositories of open art, free to all, to borrow and use for any sort of new project — friendships would be made, ideas would be born, and every artist could stand soundly on the shoulders of all those that came before — a culture would emerge where artists contribute to these vast and growing repositories of open art.
Imagine an economy where artists are in demand; teams of recruiters would persistently track every artist and seek to hire them for some collaboration or another. New graduates would be poached quickly, invited to join large art projects to work with the masters.
Imagine that as the demand grew, opportunities and new economic models would also grow, keeping all artists in constant demand, even as new people enter the field — a little talent and dedication would go a long way — it would not be a zero-sum game, it would be a continually growing field of artistic achievement, where we create the new economies necessary for the future to survive.
Venture capitalists would seek out groups of talented artists and pay them obscene amounts to start projects — imagine that an project would go on for years without any attempt at seriously monetizing the work, imagine money pouring in with only a vague sense that, “if this works, we’ll figure out how to make money later”.
Obviously, this imagined fantasy sounds absurd in the fine art world — today, galleries and artists do everything they can to sell “works of art” exclusively to buyers. Art is proprietary and unshared. To the winner go the spoils, to the loser nothing. This is a field where very few make a living, fewer still attain fame or fortune, and even fewer will (typically after their death) transform society through their art.
But this imagined fantasy, it does exist, this is exactly what the world looks like to the technologists, scientists, and artists that have birthed the Internet and the modern field of software development. From simple web pages to streaming media, smart phones and app stores — to social upheaval and ecommerce, society is continuously transforming — civilization is growing faster and faster as these technological artists create new economies and new opportunities.
We pay technological artists, we pay them for their time, and they are increasingly in demand.
By comparison the fine art world looks rotten to its core, as if it’s intent on poisoning its own future — this isn’t even a controversial statement — what is controversial is proposing an alternative.
At first blush we may think that artists are different from creative technologists. Even if that were true would it justify the abysmal treatment of art and artists in our culture?
Artists of all variety; musicians, painters, photographers, poets, … all of them offer a mix of creativity and skill — a blend of creative insight with technical execution. This is the life and soul of all art.
Today the technological talents are drawn to the forefront of change in society, shaping the future. Meanwhile, the non-technological artists are… relegated to the whims of a buyers fancy. The fine art economy is barely distinguishable from antique collecting, not exactly a space that nurtures innovation.
The future is being created now, and you won’t glimpse the future in modern art galleries.
Think about it — what will privacy look like in just a few years? What will governments look like in the future? What will corporations look like in the future? All of this is changing right now, and none of it in galleries.
Governments are being toppled, civilization and culture are changing faster than ever, if the artists are not the technologists then where– in the forefront of this rapidly changing civilization –are the artists?
Fortunately, there’s another way to look at this — the world is changing, the artists are fundamental to this change — they are not yet being compensated with the same demand of, say, software developers. Not yet.
Every day that an artists chooses to sell to a rich buyer, to partner with galleries and sell to the aristocratic whims of collectors — then that is another day our culture has failed to nurture art as an integral part of the social change that is happening, now.
Support art, pay artists, invest in artists, and stop buying artwork.
Island culture– there is so much potential in every smile and every laugh.
There is no perfect society, no perfect system, but perhaps there is the best in this moment.
If you struggle today hoping for a better tomorrow, have you not merely sown the seeds for tomorrows struggle?
We create the next moment continuously from the seeds of the present moment. The more I live, the more I travel, the more I realize that conflict produces only more conflict.
Often a conflict ends from the exhaustion of one side or another, usually both, then you have no peace– just exhaustion.
While there is no perfect society, there is a perfection in each moment; not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now — simply to make the best of the moment. In every moment there exists the divine; the actuality of the moment — it cannot exist anywhere else.
Engage with profound awareness in the world around you; recognize that you are this moment, the perception of the world as separate from you is an illusion — for who is perceiving? It is simply the universe reacting to itself, in only an abstract sense are you a component of that reaction.
The tree, the bushes, the wind upon your cheek, the lover lost in thought; all things you perceive are you — most literally abstractions in your head, and most profoundly all part of the motion of the universe, which if you like, is easily abstracted as “you”.
This is true of everything, there is no non-arbitrary division or separation between you as the perceiver and you as the thing perceived.
The perfect system, the ideal utopian civilization is easily understood with this awareness — do not be surprised if utopia is nothing but a euphoric calm, or a loving kindness, or a profound and simple freedom from suffering.
Any change may be possible, yet only without suffering can we attain growth and prosperity. Otherwise we are simply repeating our suffering: the same tired conflicts and divisiveness, the same endless revolution after revolution.