Sometimes it feels as if I do not exist. I have faded away so much that I am essentially dead. After following the patterns of humanity I am finally allowed to sink under the covers of my blanket and let the darkness of the night dissolve me. Moments like this, when only a sea of nothing clouds my eyes and I dive into that emptiness, really make we wonder what Descartes meant when he said that the reality of the human body can be questioned. Maybe, under all of that lavish philosophical makeup, he was just as lost and confused as the rest of us.
Descartes is a pretty interesting guy. “I think therefore I am” is what he said. That’s not real philosophy, they tell me: I thought you would know something more complicated than just that, will all those books you read. He came up in one of my books about consciousness, I tell them. It’s not my fault. I can’t help but listen to rap music for the instrumentals or eat peanut butter with apples so my mouth doesn’t feel funky. And I never really figured out what the consciousness thing is. Maybe it doesn’t even exist. Don’t tell Descartes that, though. Like all the famous people of history, he was wrong about one thing or another.
Yesterday I left the house and saw the sun set behind the house. Night was arriving and the branches of the old maple tree made it seem as if they were growing out of the roof, right above the place where I sleep. If I were to stand up on my bed and touch the ceiling, the branches would only be a foot or so away from my fingertips. I did not know that until today: loneliness had always told me that nothing exists beyond the confines of my room. The window is the only note of happiness, and I have covered it with notes reminding me of my preoccupation with the confines of my mind. That’s an excitingly damaging concept to philosophize about. Maybe I should become an existentialist and pretend that I have everything under control. Thinking about the infinite potential of my actions and that existing is a choice really makes me wonder what Jean-Paul Sartre was going through when he wrote that Existentialism is a Humanism: that everyone is important and meaningful, and that the earth does not spin for no reason. Wikipedia says he was five feet tall and wore glasses. But there are other reasons, of course.
A few days ago I saw a group of ants crawling up the water-permeated bark of a tree after a harsh autumn storm washed everything away. I wonder how they managed to weather that storm and why they wanted to do that anyway, when the only purpose of their lives was to crawl in meaningless directions on an insignificant tree. Maybe I should become a nihilist again. Nietzsche was five feet and eight inches tall, according to Wikipedia. Maybe he had nothing to prove so he chose the easier path, or maybe it was the most difficult one.
I’ve had a happy summer becoming a philosopher. I thought I was sophisticated and intellectual enough to come up with my own theories about the meaning of life. I thought a lot, but I didn’t think about where those thoughts came from: that’s the most important part of thinking, it seems to me now. None of my English teachers have ever liked my incessant use of the word “trivial” in my essays: the melted gummy bears in my jacket pocket aren’t trivial; the way in which the chair catches the rays of the evening sun coming through the window also is not trivial; the dead and forgotten leaves, even, are not trivial. They way triviality seems to slip subconsciously into my essays is the same way in which I throw around meaningful ideas in careless ways. Where do ideas come from? Why do they exist? I have to be careful: I don’t like contradicting myself.
Originally published on The Literati Mafia