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Thirteen Floors

I keep having this dream.

I’m in an elevator. I’m in a real high building, in an elevator, going up. I feel it in my gut, going up, and the tiny room around me is pushing into the air, fighting for space. Compressed air and such, you know.

And I hate elevators as it is, so this dream isn’t fun.

Anyway, the elevator usually shuts down, and the doors fly open. And the reason it shuts down is because the building is falling over, or falling into itself, the same way an accordion flattens all nice and jagged. So the building topples over, and I wake up, and I can’t breathe, because there’s no more air.

That, or the building doesn’t fall over. Instead, the elevator door swings open, and the only way out is into another elevator. So I’m forced into the next little metal cabin. And the room goes up up up, then the doors glide open, and into another elevator I go, endlessly. Just room after room after room, up after up after up.

I think about this dream every day. I think about this dream every time I’m in an elevator. And I suppose it’s my only real fear, more than any other everyday human fear: an elevator. Just because I expect to fall down into some unheavenly cavern, or sideways into a neighboring skyscraper.

I also imagine, more rationally, the elevator getting stuck. And suddenly its six strangers going through the motions of panic, inconvenience, camaraderie, inconvenience again, comedic relief, personal stories, cross-legged small-to-medium chit-chat, then the inevitable collective woohoo! when the lights come back on. And when the doors swing open and the group splits apart, they go back to being strangers again. I fantasize about this dynamic all the time. I think M. Night wrote a movie a while back using this premise, but I didn’t see it.

I haven’t written in a while.

Creativity moves in ebb and flow. It’s an animal that oscillates like the tide, like an elevator. I think a decent writer (or creative person of any discipline) needs breaks away from the pen to consume and absorb some real life shit, then cozy up to the chair or the desk or the horsehair bow and stretch and channel all that good juju into some magnificent vibrations, man.

I’ve been consuming some philosophy in my absence of word-juggling. I’d like to share a thought.

Quoting the eccentric Slavoj Žižek, “if there is a point in psychoanalysis, it is that people do not really want or desire happiness…for example, when you are in a creative endeavor, in that wonderful fever, my god, I’m onto something! Happiness doesn’t enter it. You are ready to suffer…you know what happiness is for me? It is an unethical category.”

I like that. I dig that. My favorite pieces of art, of music, my favorite fables, my favorite eras of history, the best moments of Shakespeare, of Camus, of Einstein, of Ghandi, of psychological surgical extraction, are all products of suffering. The best characters are the villains, always! The best songs are deep and heavy and make you feel like a fucking mortal. Oh man, that’s the good shit.

Granted, I’m still a sucker for Gangam Style on full blast, windows down, going 65 through deep Arvada, mid-July, sunburnt and iced-latted alike.

But it’s the suffering that creates.

Right now, I’m crunching through these words, these yellow figments, trying to produce something worth reading, worth writing. I’m not “happy” in writing this, but I’ll be “happy” in reading this, and “happy” that you did, too.

In philosophy, there’s a difference between “knowing” and “being aware”. This is quite a simple separation. “Knowing” is limited by the physical prowess of the brain. The ole noggin’. Despite the fact that we’ve sent humans to the fucking moon, we can still only concentrate on one thought at a time! What a humbling limitation!

It’s like being the world’s fastest reader, except you can only process letters instead of whole words.

s-t-a-n-d-i-n-a-n-o-r-d-e-r-l-y-l-i-n-e-p-l-e-a-s-e-

The idea of “awareness” comes from the paradox of the chicken and the egg. “Knowledge” is providing a distinct argument for one side: “the egg came first, because it was laid by a bird that wasn’t a chicken!” Okay, Mr. Neil Degrasse-Tyson.

“Awareness”, on the other hand, is understanding that both answers are correct, and both situations irrefutability accurate. That, even though you can only read a letter at a time, you are aware of the word, of the sentence, of the paragraph and the book to follow.

I beg the question: “are you aware?”

That’s all you need to ask yourself, every day.

“Am I aware? Am I actually aware?”

I could never, ever, fucking ever, know what happens to us when we die. I could never know such a thing! It takes a certain arrogance to pretend like you could know that. The flip side is simply that I’m aware that we die, and that something could happen! 

I’m aware of my dreams. I know they are not real. But I am aware that I have them.

I don’t know calculus. I’m aware that calculus exists, and that some folks know it, but I know I’m not one of them.

I’m aware of the idea of god, the universe, consciousness and hamburgers. I know that these are delicious topics of mental masturbation. I’m aware that we have different ideas of what we think we know about all of them.

I’m aware that elevators are unlikely to fall.

But I don’t know that they won’t.

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