As someone who has studied art history, aesthetics, psychology, grammar, logic and rhetoric, I can read a picture like a book; I can listen to a speech or read an article in search of its messages and subtexts, the implicit and explicit. I am very conscious of imagery and meaning. I don’t read newspapers anymore. I don’t watch TV. I can’t even listen to the radio most of the time. If I do I try to do so with great detachment.
The implicit messages of our culture are cynical and horrific. Worse than this, they are extremely deceptive. I do not enjoy being lied to. I do not enjoy being told I am an isolated meaningless speck that must earn approval from beyond myself. I do not enjoy the valueless, vacuous idols that are forced upon the public imagination, or the implausible standards pushed forth as what we should aspire to. I do not enjoy the unspoken acquiescence to a culture based on the servitude and suffering of the many for the aggrandisement of a yet still unfulfilled few. I do not enjoy being treated like a simpleton.
But I am aware of the impact of imagery. These things are presented as ‘how the world is’, yet they are as true as a work of art or a poem is true. They are perspectives and perspectives are shaped, shaping entire eras.
Keep someone isolated and they’re easy to manipulate and control. That seems to be what current popular culture attempts to do to us, psychologically. Lonely people buy stuff and do as they’re told with a craving for outer approval that can never be sated. Such unfulfilled lives seem the cornerstone of modern economics and the spiritual crisis of our time.
We are deceived into compliance, more often than not unable to explore our authentic selves. Such expressions are deemed unimportant and peripheral at best, self-indulgent at worst. Yet those who pursue this path radiate meaning and purpose in a world rendered void by a general sense of nihilism. Our culture has no grand narratives beyond plundering each other and the Earth to the bitter end. How sad and childish that this seems the most captivating meaning we have conjured from the gloriously blank canvas nihilism presents us. We could paint anything.
Go within. You are not alone. Go within. You are loved and you are beautiful. Within you know this, but your mind has been trained to fight that inner knowing by a sick and self-destructive society populated by sick and self-destructive people, cut off from each other by illusions and stunted development. To extricate yourself from this will be the most difficult task you could ever undertake, for you must face it with only yourself as your guide. Yet in doing so you will find it to be the only thing worth doing. Your suffering will become a source for the surcease of suffering. Your loneliness will become loving awareness and interconnectivity. Your self will become your sovereignty.
Go within, become who you are and paint a better world with me.
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. — Carl Jung