Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Book vs. Us

On the one hand, there is the book. And on the other, there is us. I might say it's a form of Nurture vs. Nature where Nurture is the unchangeable WORD, printed and bound and Nature is the EXPERIENCES we have, separate from the word but reliant on it for some meaning or understanding (but that would go against all previous definitions of nature-nurture).

We have this immovable thing, this book, with inked sheets of paper where letters are frozen in time and space, where ideas move in a line from beginning to end without any detours.

And then we have this other thing, this fluid, fluctuating thing that is dynamic and conscious and free.

We have language and art to express ourselves. We form thoughts and we attempt to convey those ideas to others.

There are always these opposing forces: we want to live, but we also want to record what was lived. We have life. But we also want to share life with others:
"Do that thing you did before."
"What thing? This?"
"No, it was different."

We are always attempting to recapture and relive special moments. We take photos. We blog; we tweet. We paint cave walls. We get tattooed. We need to express what life means to us, as humans.

Or so it seems. We could be like animals. Even though I don't know what it's like to be an animal, my guess is that birds don't ask other birds what they think of their nests or dogs don't compliment each other's coats.

But each wall or blog post or tweet is a reduction of that freedom. Each wav and avi posted is also only a tiny fraction of our Nature.

What we live; what we observe; what we remember; what we share, are all smaller and smaller subsets of the whole of our Nature.

We live. But when we need to express how we live, we create books, songs, art, games, video.

We live this duality, but often misunderstand it. These parts need each other. But each time we neglect the one side, the other side rebels. Reflect on your life too much and you may forget to live it. Live too much without any reflection and you may seem crazy.

But there's no point in trying to find a balance. Each side needs to be fulfilled. Live. Record. Live. Record. Time moves forward and we can't do both at the same time. You can pretend that you can observe your life as you live it, but you are inevitably Schrödinger's Cat: just the act of looking alters how you live. Unless you're a true narcissist, then looking is all that matters.

So Live. Then Look. Or Look, then Live; it's your choice.

And if what you see is worth mentioning, do your best to tell others. Or just make it up and dare someone to call you a liar.

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