I am continuously, consciously drawn to this comic and its message. Originally saw it years ago now. It conveys something that has long resonated with me, unconsciously so.
The full gravity of this concept of ‘others’ is powerful — it appeals to our individuality, to the sense of our own specialness. These others are rare, and therefore valuable, like we believe ourselves to be. Even if it’s not entirely true (maybe we aren’t that unique), we want to see ourselves as different. At the same time, we do not want to be the only one. There are others. They are out there. They await us. It is just up to you to find those nameless others like your own intrinsic, seemingly unique secret self, the someones who wants more out of all this, this existence. A true kindred spirit.
It did not dawn on me until later in life, college even, that this was sincerely important, perhaps the most important thing I needed to pursue (even if I had no idea how to go about it). A true form of companionship borne out of an existential necessity I could feel but could hardly grasp or articulate. Someone I might be able to effectively communicate with. What a person to behold. If only they might come into being in a time and place where I could know them.
Leary’s quote, paired with the above comic, conveys the sentiment quite well.
This feeling, this restless longing for an unfelt personage as of yet unconceived and entirely unmet. For me, it was there long before the articulation and has remained long after the realization. I think this feeling is natural, perhaps intrinsic to our natures as human beings. It is this: a yearning to meet someone like your own self, a peer to relate to on a level deeper than you have yet known. To know some person who gets it the same way I do.
The truth is that it may not be possible; paradoxically, that is what makes it so crucial. Someone like me, not necessarily in personality, aptitudes, even style of thinking — just someone who… someone who feels the same way about all this as I do. It is a blessing to believe there is a ‘someone’ wielding the same sort of striving silent storm for more. A someone, this other, certainly feels as though all of this is either wrong or not enough or worthy of being changed. The person may exhibit it only some of the time, with some degree, in some situations. But it’s there. Just like it’s only sometimes there with our own self. It’s a strange thing, a nearly inarticulate desire which may not be capable of being spoken about, ever. Such a grave limitation does not negate the feeling, of course.
I think this strange brew of phenomena may have something to do with the depth in which we feel our own special, swirling sense of self, and the fact that it is never fully reciprocated in all of our communes with non-selves throughout our lives. We live most of our lives in our head, disciplining ourselves to some tune we can never quite discern. The tune is not our own. We cannot place its origin and yet we are beholden to it. The tune of culture, and of etiquette, and of the ethic of our time and place, it masters us. It is hard to get out of there, out of our self. But when we do, we are faced with the wide world of other faces and other difficulties and together, all their distressing and doubtful looks. And we have to try to relate. I think this may be the most challenging thing we are faced with.
Things are tough out here in this world: the one the non-others have fully programmed themselves to be blind to. This fragile and blunted existence full of dull automations and personal compromises; dream-sacrificing agism and stunted curiosities; the “be realistic”’s and ill-conceived, non-creative busy-bodying where we have thrown away growth from failure and risk-taking and the artistic ambitions of the common man in the place of pristine self-security in material objectives, non-contemplative status, hollow iconography, and all manner of incurious subroutines. We may hate all of this. If we can even step aside and observe it, we may decry it and try to change it. But we also hate feeling like an outsider. And we hate feeling like we don’t know where to go next. So we go along a path of less resistance, into perpetuity. (If we let it.)
As we grow older now, as we engage in this big program that is adult existence, we want something else, anything else. We wish to go away from this world we now understand. Reality isn’t enough; it is not what we thought it would be. So we keep moving around — mentally, physically, emotionally — trying to stake our claim upon some form of concrete non-suffering. We want contentment, but not boredom; we want fun, but not a struggle. We seek a hill worthy of dying upon, perhaps. We want a community – we want to be central, but we are also slow to embrace the real responsibility of leadership. We might try to create a world for our self, and for the absent, dreamt-of others. We create our own reality and await them. We think it can be better, so it must be, eventually. We just need time. We just need fulfillment. And this might be found in these others, wherever they may be.
Obviously, we think and we search (even if we never make any ground, even if we never make it off the ground). To varying degrees, we find our successes and failures. But this kind of activity is usually just a hobby we have to painstakingly carve out time for. Always we must persist in the higher world of adulthood and responsibility. We have to. It’s fine. But it is unfortunate too; it takes up most of our time. We have our job, and our living space, and our stuff, and our commute, and our sitting at the desk, and our old friends, and our drinks, our conversations, our arguments, our weekends, our ambitions and our compromises. Sometimes our obsessions, less often our dreams. We operate with a created self out here, one that is constantly being manually and automatically adjusted to the world around us. And eventually, it is not this kindred ‘other’ we yearn for.
I venture that this modernizing, acculturating, changing self is merely a simulacrum. We have crafted it for the outside world, replete with these ‘club passwords’ giving us limitless entry to places we don’t really want to be going. But we keep a secret. All along for the ride, we hold it to our chest with convicted fervor. We secretly yearn for more. It is displayed in our subconscious behavior, in the subtexts of our communications. It’s easy to see in retrospect, perhaps. It’s simple in notice to the other, perhaps. More than anything, we want to engage with so much forbidden territory, amongst ourselves, amongst the ones we think we may love. There is an unrestrained desire to figure out what the hell is going on. This goes on perpetually. If at all possible, we want a companion to figure it out alongside.
In this world, with our self, with the others — we seek an answer to a question unasked. And where else to ask it than in other people. People are going through the same thing we are. We know so certainly the simulacrum we currently inhabit is simply the first stage of an awaiting transformation, reserved with patience and grace upon delivery of the necessary shores of alliances with so many others. We generate an unqualified myth through the lense of a self we have created, in an unquantifiable world we can barely hope to understand:
We will meet the others and they will take us away, they will make us happy, they will subside our fears of dying without purpose, dying alone with these lonely thoughts in this mad world. This world. This one which could be so much different. All it takes is a person, a single companion, singularly shared dream. And then. And then, everything will be different. The suffering will surely end.
Our world would be different. The one I can build with those others like me. Once I find them all and we collaborate, everything will be good, if not perfect. Without all the sacrifices which are as unnecessary as they are soul-damaging. Without all the bad stuff we persist within, all the dross everyone else has just accepted out of hand.
Well not everyone has, of course they are out there…
I know / think / hope
they are out there.
This is a singular madness, there is no doubt in my mind. This desire — it is egocentric. It is narcissistic. Solipsistic. It’s too much to bear. It is absurd. And yet, I know I am not the only one experiencing it. And yet, is it fundamental? Do we need to find the others? What is at stake? In such ventures for these mythic others, what do we have to gain, and what do we have to lose?
there are others to be found. People that still have dreams, that are wondering and wandering, that want something more. Folks that give a damn about things that may not have any value, materialistic or intrinsic. Persons that are weird in their aspirations for passionate discovery of Truth in art, Truth in dreams, Truth in something like love. We are those who embrace life’s absurd struggle through art and empathy and love of one’s own flawed progress and love of all those we struggle alongside in the wider world. There is an inescapable need to experience this mad world with dreamers cognizant enough to see the absurdity and the contradictions, yet mindful enough to embrace the seeming meaninglessness with a strident desire to find their own meaning by any means necessary. Gaze out among the others who witness profound injustice with an inclination to break it down into its appreciable components with a mind to solve it and make the world better for it.
The other ready to create something together in a conscious collaboration.
The other ones who wish to change this world for the better; who can change themselves and each other in a mutual saga of anything but indifference.
These others are what I have sought my entire life.
They deserve to be found.
And I deserve to find them.
Do we need to find the others?
I think we do. I think we have to.