Everything we think has been categorized. If it has a name, it has been labeled and shelved next to a set of notions that society prescribes to us through media and culture. How can we break the panopticon of thought that sets brother against brother?
We can only see ourselves through a set of labels: good, bad, kind, rude, interesting, boring. These are labels that push us inside the box of their signification. When we describe something maybe we are limiting it.
Why are mysteries so appealing? They are undefined. What makes a painting interesting? Ex: Why does the Mona Lisa have that mischievous smile? Asking why is the most exciting part of a painting. Paintings can have mysteries that are never uncovered because they are a single image frozen in time, and their mystery will only loom larger with the loss of their context in the contemporary world.
The dilemma that traces back through every thought, and on which all our “Western” understanding of existence has been based: Aristotle or Plato? Is there one truth or multiple truths? The biggest fallacy is that believing there are multiple truths equals “freedom”. Define “freedom”.
Why is society so interested in everything becoming accepted? Normalized? This takes away the fact of rebellion, which is an active expression of our freedom. This is why people are so interested in crime. Just as in narratives, criminals make choices the average person would never dare to.
Rebellion is labeled as bad. It is bad as in “unclean”, dirty, like a prison cell; or bad as in sexy, which is “un-pure”. It is also seen as a method of overthrowing a system, and in this sense we root for the rebellion generally, because it invokes a sense of justice, and the breaking of boundaries that is so appealing to humans. We live our lives based on what we are told is right and wrong however, and for a mass rebellion to function, the majority has to believe that their notions of “right” and “wrong” are being violated. Therefore, in a “rebellion” in that sense, the rebels are still thinking within the boundaries of existence that were allowed to them. Real rebellion, rebellion of the mind, is essential to LIVING in the modern world. Living, that is, instead of simply surviving.
Media sells by creating a character that acts in a way that the viewer would never dare to. In the past, that character, like Odysseus, exemplified notions of heroics (i.e., “positive” actions), and according to Aristotle’s categorization of stories, those were dramas. Today, the media frequently shows people who do things we would never do in the negative sense, as in “reality television”, which appeals to our worst, most narcissistic sides. Characters that are “just as bad as us or worse” were categorized as comedies by Aristotle. Why do we now prefer our entertainment to depict those “just as bad as us or worse” than we are? The rat race of expectations has us so tired out from never being enough that we need to compare ourselves to such exaggerated examples of bad behavior that we can be reassured that we are “doing just fine”? When did our aspirations for being the best humans we could be become so bogged down in the word “can’t”? Why is the lens of negativity the lens that prevails?
The system is set up so that even before you are born you will be like the rest: attend a school system which does not teach a love for knowledge but instead how to pick the most likely correct answer on a test with arbitrary equations, one after the other. Go to college maybe knowing or not where your aspirations lie, all options that lie within the preprogrammed set of options. It doesn’t matter that you are eighteen and the weight of what you want to be for the rest of your life is forced upon you— as long as you go into debt trying to get “a degree”, you are “doing fine”. And then, in debt and spiritually unfulfilled by the years of normalization that the place you were supposed to be learning has forced upon you, you find you are just like every other candidate for the position you desire. You go to the doctor who prescribes you pills and you take them. You get a job, not the one you wanted, but they say if you are lucky, in a couple years you might get there. This is no news to anyone who has taken a cursory look at the state of our system. Perhaps the problem is just that: that it is a system, and we willingly buy into it.
Is the weight of freedom too heavy? Is the fear of not knowing too great? We are vessels of untapped potential, too conditioned to an arbitrary definition of being to throw off the cloak of “doing fine” and leap into the unknown.
What if we did more things, just because?
What if we refused to self-regulate based on the conditions of the panopticon of society and instead lived outside of the boundaries of the “possible”? That would be acknowledging anything is possible, and perhaps, that possibility is too great. I think for every sheep, willingly leaving behind the shepherd is against their nature. I think humans need humans, were made for other humans. I think therefore it is against our nature to go against the grain of what “everyone else” does, and venture onto another road. Maybe that is the heroic story of the modern world.
To dare to be different.