Awake at Night

Late at night when I’ve been sitting for a couple of hours, disconnected from daily living, I oftentimes develop a hyper-awareness. No earthly entanglements distracting the mind, just pure consciousness, no body within its surroundings, just drifting thought.

And in this state, I sense a wisdom I’m not privy to during other times. If I was concerned or confused about something, I’m no longer concerned or confused. In the form of thought or written word, separated from the physical, answers appear as if from within.

In the daytime, while engaged with daily tasks, my mind is befuddled by life. I’m drawn far away from this inner self, influenced by impulses, no longer the essence of understanding. So many times, as the day begins and draws me in, I forget the wisdom and tranquility I discovered in the solitude of the quiet night.

Hypothetical Robot

Imagine that you’re controlling a human-like robot — you’re sitting behind a desk at the controls, there’s a video screen and speakers and some haptic feedback.

Obviously, you wouldn’t want to press a button for each beat of the heart. Likewise, digestion and all that other internal stuff is too tedious to manage. Even walking, you wouldn’t want to think about putting one foot in front of the other for each and every step. Basically you’d want a lot of these physical systems put on autopilot so that you can concentrate on the more interesting aspects of life.

Having just sat down at the robot’s controls, you’re a bit unsure of how it all works. You’re unaware of what does what, where you should go, or what you should do when you get there. Your robot is also surrounded by a bunch of other robots. Obviously then, you’ll need some prompting to get through this life-like scenario.

To this end then, your robot has a mechanism of impulses that let it act on its own accord. These impulses are based on the characteristics of the robot, as each robot has its own particular suitabilities for given tasks. If you catch it in time, you can try to cancel these impulses, but of course, you’re not really sure if you should interfere.

After all, you’re uncertain as to how your robot is supposed to interact with its surroundings. The exterior realm is too intertwined to significantly influence, and its unpredictability makes planning difficult. So oftentimes it seems best to let your robot make its own decisions. Unfortunately though, there are times when your robot gets out of whack.

But being a novice, you’re not sure if the problem lies with the robot’s calibration or your own unskilled input. Really though, the effect is the same: you become overwhelmed and have a hard time. You don’t possess sufficient knowledge to fix either situation anyway. So in the end, you just have to improvise with what you’ve got and have fun playing with your robot.

Compromise of Consciousness

Within our thoughts, we’re so often confused by life’s outcomes. And within our body, urges often drive us to do the undesirable. So reason or intuition, acting independently of the other, seems a poor strategy.

A compromise perhaps? Can the consciousness suggest guidelines for the body to live by? Yet is the consciousness an optimal adviser, or more of an uninformed spectator? At best, this character we play is a compromise.

The naive idealist witnessing this world and the instinct-driven brute plodding through the labyrinth of life — a bewildered observer whose vehicle is set on autopilot. No instructions provided, misconceptions abound, just an awareness of a mind within meat.

And why does life try so hard to hide such a distinct duality. Constant activity engages the body, keeping thoughts ever focused on dramatic surroundings. In the tumult, the mind is swept into a sense of solidity and control.

Moral Spectrum

If a thought or feeling comes from within, from the gut, then it must be right, right?

No, we need a standard by which to measure our ideas and feelings. It’s natural to get angry, to pick out differences, to be fearful and selfish. But it’s also natural to be forgiving, inclusive, heroic and caring. So when we are capable of drawing from both ends of the spectrum, we need to determine from which end we’re selecting.

For instance, I tend to dismiss feelings and ideas that are based around anger, aggression, anxiety, fear, selfishness, divisiveness, exclusion, and negativity. Whereas I tend to favor what’s based around acceptance, inclusion, forgiveness, patience, generosity, gentleness, compassion, cooperation, and sincerity. My character is not this, but this is what I strive for.

How does one know which side to pick from? When I hear descriptions of items on one side, I’m in awe, I’m impressed and inspired by it. Whereas when I hear about the other side, I find it distasteful, and if emulated, I’d be disappointed in myself. So essentially, I just pick out whatever I find uplifting from wherever I see it.

My character still gets angry and anxious and the like, but I don’t encourage those ideas and feelings within my thoughts anymore. I used to be unaware and just accepted whatever came into my mind, but this was unsatisfying because the topics tended toward the darker side and made for an unpleasant experience. So now my mind is less cluttered, more disciplined, and my experiences and moods are much improved.

Malevolent Misdirection

An excerpt from the fictional tales of
The Gentleman from Massachusetts.

Those that control the bulk of society’s resources are to blame for a collapsing economy — an obvious conclusion, until their media mouthpieces repeatedly utilize misdirection to manufacture blame, placing it upon targets incapable of self-defense. Thus the weakest segments are attacked, those without power or influence are suddenly at fault for all of society’s ills.

Welfare, the lifeline tossed to those at risk, now becomes the sole source of economic woe. Lazy cheats! becomes their refrain to woo the working man into joining the chorus. Reform! they say. And like that, the working man in the middle, whose purchasing power dwindles before him, is misdirected to place blame where it does not belong.

Decency dictates, if reform is required, let it start at the top, amongst those immune to the ravages of poverty. Why should those with least have more trouble placed in their path? The problem lies not in helping those that lack, but in the imperfect allocation of society’s resources. Although the market system contains inherent inefficiencies, this tendency need not bring suffering to the many.

Those affected by market inefficiencies are due their share of society’s abundance, this is the guarantee given to all who align within a nation. What purpose does a commonwealth serve if not to provide the essentials of life to each and every citizen? Welfare therefore, is no gift, it is no charity, it is the right of protection provided to those that submit to membership in the body politic.

Spiritual Hedonism

To perceive suffering is to be paralyzed by its relentless prevalence within our surroundings. How can we celebrate knowing anguish encircles us? Therefore, we must recognize life’s fictional nature, and in doing so we become free to enjoy this world, able to partake in the feast and be merry. And although tomorrow we die, from our demise, we are born again.

Technological Hubris

That those of old knew less is ridiculous.
What do you know, modern man?
You know how to press buttons.

Your survival relies on what you misunderstand.
As trust in technology grows, so does frailty.
A break in the chain and it crumbles away.

At least those of old knew life was beyond control,
and knowing, gave thanks for things received.
Yet you modern man, not knowing, thank yourself.

Imagining someone somewhere knows something,
depending on the surety of answers for solace,
believing in the fantasy of factuality.

A machine may function as expected,
but the underlying why is never known.
In your understanding, it might as well be magic.

So what do you know, modern man?
Living within a world beyond comprehension,
speaking spells into the ether.