[Warning: This is a very different post from what you may be used to. It has multiple layers.]
Come with me on a thought experiment where I will play with your perceptions. To begin, you must blank your mind and, try as best you can, to empty it.
Now, what do you perceive? I should be the only thing on your mind right now, besides perhaps a persistent perception of yourself. How do you perceive me? Can you see me in your mind’s eye? Or am I more like a disembodied voice in a cave, speaking to you in ethereal tones? Perhaps you see me like some miserly old man, hoarding knowledge and secrets in his ivory tower. The way in which you perceive me will influence how you perceive my message; no matter how carefully I encode it, meaning does not exist until you decode it. And in order to decode my message, you take several things into account even if you are not aware of these things. Decoding is largely a process of perception, but it is also a process of assigning meaning; in other words, your very reality is constructed as you decode the world around you.
Allow me to treat you as tabula rasa, now. I will explain the story of the world to you; even though you think you know this story, and I think I know you think you know this story, I will be telling it anyway.
Imagine this image is like a tarot card I’ve slid across the table to you – a visual aid to help with the myth I am making. It is obvious to some that the world was begun in chaos, and as time passed, the world slowly worked itself into order. This is a very simple idea which is validated by pedestrian observations –mustn’t this be the case, we ask, when we realize the relative order we perceive as we age? Life begins chaotically and proceeds unto order. Minor pockets of chaos, swirls of disorder, are smoothed out by the immutable and eternal flow of time – this is the way of things, optimistic and reassuring despite evidence to the contrary. Perfection is merely a function of eternity. Or so some perceive.
Don’t like that tarot or what it implies, wanderer? Don’t worry. I probably have the world view for you somewhere in my stack. Here, try this one. Can you decode the reality here? I’ll lend you my aid – this is a more cynical outlook, though not necessarily a fatalistic one. A person who thinks like this feels like the good old days are in the past and the future doesn’t hold as much promise, yet this isn’t enough to get too worked up about. Life goes on, after all, and even if the future isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, you still have a life you’ve got to live.Mustn’t this be the case, wanderer?
I can sense you are not satisfied, wanderer. Moreover, you are frustrated, aren’t you? I hope you don’t feel I’m being patronizing. It’s easy to lose the fundamentals when you’re drowning in a sea of complications, and I felt as though maybe you were looking for something more basic. I’ve got one last tarot that may suit your needs – take a gander. You know what they say – third time’s a charm! Let’s decode the reality here – seems like life is very competitive and chaotic. Mustn’t this be the case,wanderer? Weakness cannot possibly survive at all, and in fact, death and destruction may bring about great change – although, it is recognized, we are unsure of what is beyond the great beyond. After all, that time has not come yet. But you’re the confident sort, aren’t you wanderer – the kind who likes to advocate that which you do not know?
Hmm. I’m getting the feeling you’re not sold. You must be very clever. Most of my customers have already bought in by this point! I’ve been in the business a long time and I’ve seen all kinds. That’s okay, though. I don’t mind a hard sell. In fact I rather look forward to them – they’re such a rare treat! Eons last an awful long time, don’t you know? The tarot hat trick didn’t do the trick for you, but that’s okay traveler. I have more tricks up my sleeve. Just take a look at this here rune:
Now there’s a holistic perspective if ever I’ve heard of one! It’s the circle of life, traveler, can’t you see it? It explains so much more than those silly tarot cards – don’t look at me that way, traveler, I knew you wouldn’t want any of that fake stuff anyway – and doesn’t it just give you a certain sense of…certainty? Things are inevitable, but since you understand your fate and the mechanisms that drive it, you can take comfort. No sense in fighting against the circle of life – it will crush you with its omnipotence and the natural order of things will carry on in only the way nature can. The more things change the more they stay the same – mustn’t this be the case, traveler?
Still haven’t bought in, eh? You’re no mere traveler, are you? I didn’t mean disrespect. I deal with a lot of people and I don’t experience time the way you might think that I do…there I am rambling again. What I’m getting at, is, sometimes I have difficulty reading people and knowing how it is they really see things. I’m just trying to give you want you want, interloper – the reality that will jive most closely with your inner desires and secure you that happiness. Who was the jerk that guaranteed us the pursuit but not the reward, anyway? But boy, you’re a tough sell. Let’s see if the next rune is for you, interloper:
Pretty clever, huh! You probably don’t even need my assistance decoding this one and constructing reality. You’re awfully clever interloper, but just in case there’s somebody else listening in, let me try and spell it out for them a bit. No sense in hoarding the truth, right? Obviously there’s no such thing as a circle of life – that’s silly, it doesn’t take into account culture; you know, time and place. Still, though, things tend to follow patterns, even though exceptions exist, and maybe there’s a universal culture and maybe there isn’t, and maybe some things are immune to the patterns but most things aren’t so why bother considering those paradoxes? This is all very enlightening, as you well know, interloper. It explains so much, but the world’s awfully big and hard to change, isn’t it? Oh well. Pick and choose the culture that fits you – that’s the secret to success! Mustn’t this be the case, interloper?
You’re still here? I should apologize, friend; I’ve been seriously underestimating you! Like I said, I’m just trying to give you what you want, and most people just want it easy. You’re a tough customer, a hard sell, that’s for sure. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. You know, this is a real treat. I don’t often get to dig into my collection of glyphs but it looks like this one might speak to you. Wouldn’t you know it, I got a glyph for everybody, that’s far too many glyphs to be having since so very few actually want ‘em. In any case, take a look, friend, and tell me what you see:
Awfully confusing, isn’t it? That’s okay. Maybe you see what I can see; maybe you perceive what I perceive. After all, friend, perception is reality. Mustn’t that be the case? I could help you understand this better, in theory at least, but there’s another rule. Something about prophets in their own land – I can’t remember the rule exactly, but I know it means I can’t share all the secrets with you. I’m sorry friend. I really am!
But you’re still here? You haven’t bought in yet? You…you want the secrets anyway? Well, brother. They’re not really secrets – not at all. You already knew the biggest secret – the best things in life come for free, brother. Here, let me show you:
Simple, really, when you stop and think about it. By the way, I’ve got a special task for you. Could you find me a reckless youth? I have a wild quest for him. I’m looking for somebody with pointy ears in green garb, golden hair. Swordsmanship skills are necessary and if he takes crazy and mystical sounding advice well from strangers that’d be a huge plus. Do you know the sort of youth I’m looking for? Well, I guess he doesn’t have to be a youth, brother, so long as he is free to act in a time of need – I think I remember something about him being destined to dispel the darkness. Awful alliteration and rather ominous but that’s the way these things go sometimes.
I don’t know if I should ask it, but, mustn’t this be the case, brother?