keeping it real
(originally posted 11/8/2014)
Today I’d like to discuss reality.
That got your attention. Pretty heady stuff I know, but I’ve never let my complete ignorance of a topic stop me from discussing it. To compensate for my breathtaking lack of knowledge about the field of metaphysics, I will try and wrestle the topic in the direction of something I’m more comfortable with… language.
To try and define reality without using words seems an awful lot like the cartoons where the rabbit/pig/duck/etc, continues to walk along a path only to find that the animator has stopped drawing and they are standing in front of a blank backdrop. i.e. if there is no way to verbalize what you’re thinking as you watch a tree fall in the forest, does it matter that it’s falling?
Once you allow yourself to buy this premise, go ahead… this won’t take long, you begin to understand why our reality is so messed up. We’re using words and words are inherently complex and yet nobody wants a complex reality. While it is true that words can offer us some helpful red flags, starting with the word reality (What kind of a word has only seven letters yet has four syllables? Is it just me or does that immediately tell you that something is up?), it can also make everything we think subject to multiple interpretations.
When cement is finished drying, it is hard. When something is difficult, it is hard. My penis gets hard.
See what I mean?
I can’t even get a boner without having to deal with issues involving context? It doesn’t get any more primal than an erection, but even that seems fraught with double-entendres and although I might not be consciously aware of it as I go crashing around with one, behind the scenes you know my subconscious is hard at work muddying any waters it can get its hands in.
You know there is nothing more it would like to do than whisper “relationships are also hard” just seconds before I relinquish my seed.
I don’t want to argue that perception is the problem, I just want to stick with the fact that the words that we use to process information make it hard to stick with whatever reality we’ve invented in our heads for more than a short time.
Learn a new word or a definition for an old one and you forever change your reality.
Along that same line of thought is my fascination with men who, when referring to masturbation, use the phrase “I beat it like it stole something from me.” What exactly could it steal? Their innocence perhaps?
Even beat could mean assaulted or triumphed over.
Words, word, words.
I remember playing a prank on a friend who was staying at my house. What I did was cover a bar of soap with tons of my pubic hairs. It looked like a hamster with mange. Don’t ask me why, or the discomfort involved with getting the pubes, because it’s irrelevant. The point is that listening to him shower, I couldn’t wait to hear a scream or groan or something that indicated that he’d stumbled upon my soap and my plan to nauseate and amuse him had reached a satisfactory conclusion.
The problem was neither a scream nor a groan came. Twenty minutes later, he emerged without a care in the world. When I later snuck into the shower, I saw the object of my tomfoolery had not only been used but half the hairs were gone and the other half had been pressed into the soap. Pressed in as if forcefully pushed against a face… including a set of apparently-harder-than-you’d-think-to-clean lips.
I reeled. What kind of a moron doesn’t look at a foreign bar of soap? Did he think it was some sort of Somalian Monkey soap? It was only years later that he admitted that he’d recognized what I’d done and decided to play along to gross me out.
The point being, for years my reality was different than his reality. And why? Because of the words I’d used in absorbing the information around me during the event?
No. Not at all. I couldn’t have given a worse example if I’d have tried. A really, really horrible example.
Not only that but now I’ve discussed it, I can’t duplicate said prank on my next houseguest.
Although I did get to invent the visual of a bar of Somalian Monkey soap.
Without the words Somalian Monkey soap, you’d have never gotten the image in the first place so I have successfully rescued my original assertion. I was going to actually take a picture of a bar of soap coated with pubic hair for this story but then it occurred to me that I don’t need to. It now exists in your head without it. Somalian Monkey soap now exists because of the words you read. Obviously now you realize that I was being realistic when I said that language is the basis of your reality.