Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What do People Do all Day?

Strange exalted dreams last night. In one, a mysterious and vaporous supreme being was explaining to me why I used to have so many dreams of running in slow motion as a child (which is true). "These dreams," said the figure, "were important voices trying to make you aware that you carry with you not just a body, not just a soul, not even all of planet Earth, but all of the entire universe with you where ever you go. And that is a lot to carry." No wonder I wake up exhausted. So what am I telling myself here? I guess that our individuality is at least, in part, an illusion. As the great philosophers Crosby, Stills and Nash once posited: We are stardust.

In another part of the dream, I saw something spray-painted on a white brick wall: "God=Cause, Beings & Things=Effects". It sort of kept changing, as things in dreams do, but that is the formula my memory wants to recall. What a cool equation, and how random for me - someone who still has to add numbers with my fingers. I guess it's less mathematical and more of an abstraction. Let me see if I can unpack this stuff some more. Indulge me today, I've got bills galore to pay.

Dreams are great, but it's tough to make a living off of them. Storytelling, mythmaking, songwriting, artmaking, and so on... these are the best and most valuable jobs in my opinion. Why? Because they bravely occupy the rich and turbulent DMZ that straddles conscious living and the unconscious "imponderables" (the stuff us simply ignore even though we lug it around with us all the time.) These jobs drag the content and grammar of dreaming into waking life. The stuff of night held out in the cold light of day. These jobs own up to the limits of our consciousness, they stare into the blind spots and try to come up with analogies and metaphors for the strange feelings this staring invokes. Isn't it paradoxical that in our yearning to understand God or gods or the universe, our efforts are ultimately blocked by the capacity of our brains - the very organs through which our understanding must be accomplished? We need to make up stories in order to fit these concepts into our sense of valid experience. Our contact with life and death and everything in between must be indirect. Outside experience must be filtered through the perceptions of our senses and our consciousness and dressed up in familiar clothing in order to register.

In our world, artists, writers, filmmakers, storytellers, and to some extent the media are the ones who dress experience, who filter and reprocess overwhelming concepts into our terrestrial bound work-a-day lives. These are the people who work to draw the mind out beyond itself, beyond the facts and figures, beyond human logic, beyond our emergencies and to-do lists. By drawing our attention upwards towards things more mighty and awesome than ourselves, we (ironically) set a template for the god within. It is a trick of sorts that shocks and awakens our soul and conscience towards some kind of life force. Love and Death. Energy and dissolution. God and Beings. Cause and Effect. Rent and Taxes. Ugh. OK, enough... back to work...

(more on Richard Scarry here)


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