~ In solitude, in the silent repose of an incommunicable inner suffused with thoughts that never escape to a single other personage, there are potential revelations. Insular and untranslatable, they mostly remain stowed in the sole moment from which they were born, unspoken, untraversed, then inevitably forgotten, finally destroyed. Even unto your nightly ‘scape to the dreamlands, they are obscured or transformed. But some revelations persist. They return, with greater force, interceding a continuous ignorance; they must be faced, worked out, gotten-to-the-bottom-of, before one can move past. Before one can speak on them to another person, they must be.
Solipsism is a concept that has always fascinated me. ‘Only my mind exists.’ Like eternity, the heavens and the hells, it beguiles me to no end, and toward both extremities — awe and dread alike. The solipsist, in theory, is the singular locus of consciousness in the universe — the purveyor of All existence, All of reality, All other people and politick and the narrative run of physical historia arbitrated from this source point persona. You are the center of the universe. Is it like a brain in a vat, dreaming alongside a computer to mold this perceived world? Or more like The Last Man, walking in a world of ghosts, suffering from incalculable tedium, all externalities dreamt up as a sandbox to play in for the sake of a conflicted, insanity-dispelling fun?
What wondrous power a singular mind must have to dream up a universe? The solipsist is akin to a god… Whether in the tradition of the Enterprising-solipsist (I am God-Emperor-Creator, Reality unconsciously worships me as underling) or in the vein of retreat-solipsism (I am a god, the only one, I am alone…) the true blue solipsist is power incarnate. Along this imagined, demiurgic theorization, what kind of fictions might I be able to dream and manifest and ultimately -write- to a concrete page to be enjoyed by the projected subjects of my mind’s infinite playing? — i.e. my inner, ‘other’ people. / Ah, but what kind of narcissistic-sociopathic god-complexy madcap loser would devote any thinking at all to this esoteric gibberish? Reality and Truth are subjective, sure, utterly limited by measly human perception, absolutely… But this is unfalsifiable nonsense. Useless, and potentially nefarious. If true, like a god mired in The Problem of Evil, solipsism makes the source-dreamer a monster unduly responsible for all of the suffering of the universe’s great abyssal play…
Solipsism is not a belief, (it can be, I suppose) but is a thought experiment. Its hold on reality is within our imaginations — and in our imagined playing within it’s metaphysical / epistemological / methodological field — we can create new ideas astride its terms and tenets. It can be a clarifying fantasy in the terrifying new age of global techno-Kapital, ever-expanding, loosening our grip upon what is Real, breaking down and consuming what hope might one day come to us as… Like Rawls’ veil of ignorance, dreaming of our self as the core certain object of the solipsistic reality forces one to shift their perspective. Using imagination, we move beyond our accumulated years of rote behavior, to potentially inspirit new and different beliefs and projects to lay down upon the reality of our life and community, borne out relative to the experimental dream (where only you exist [solipsism] / where no one yet knows their position within society and yet must craft a universal social contract [veil]). But this is done only after returning from the experimental grounds with conclusions hypothesized, released from the mere thought of this unreality as a reflective break in your day-to-day. Like any fiction, philosophical ponderings can bear their own fruit to the sincerest undertaker; ‘Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures’ and so on… The Internet itself is a solipsism machine — at any given moment, when you spend time within the online digital halls, posting and sharing and getting mad/sad/glad at what you are seeing upon the screen, the only real person contained within this experience is you.
In the throes of this perforce extreme isolation and solitude (jarring even to a loner like me) over the months of this latest 21st-century chaos-year known as 2020, I’ve been theorizing upon revelation after revelation. Steeped in time that feels both distressingly limited and debilitatingly unlimited simultaneously (resembling another great thought experiment detailing quantum paradox —Schrödinger’s cat), I have spent my days doing many-various-interesting things… Reading and writing theory (k-punk, notes), reading and writing fiction (The Count of Monte Christo, Thresholds of Transformation), finally watching the films my decade-ago-self promised he would from the online halls of the IMDb, playing games again!, reading manga (Berserk, Hunter x Hunter), watching the 2019 anime I missed (Demon Slayer, Vinland Saga)… For months now, I have been cycling through these consumptions and creations like it’s my job. Astride every single ‘accomplishment’ therein, there has been self-reflections and introspections borne from the branches of their fruitions; step by step, scene by scene, I work through these worlds with my self in hand and my relationship to reality amplified in new and intriguing ways. I take something from everything. Everything I employ myself upon feels worthy, and I’ve been enjoying myself. Leisurely learning, earnestly entertained. I honestly feel as though I have wasted little time during this interposing period of relative impersonal unreality — in the depths of solo living in a city locked down, with dwindling interpersonal relations already well-frayed and untapped — endlessly meanwhiling amidst a societal crisis my attention has nevertheless rarely escaped from (I have been fortunate enough to be unaffected by the virus as of yet, and am currently privileged enough with personal savings to survive modestly well despite a lack of cash flow…).
Yet in my absolute solitude, I am both broken from reality and more steeped in its past & present — via art — than ever before in my life. I am currently a non-participant in the community as consumer (beyond food and rent) or converser (I spend days without speaking to anyone). I am no operative member of a professional enterprise; I am not a cog in the great machine, wheeling continuously unto the crux-entity at the center of our world known as Capital. Never have I been so long in a state of absolution from the tedium and toiling of school or work, to read and think and play and be away from any responsibility beyond to that of my sole self. Not since the depths of forgotten childhood, with all of the restrictions and incapabilities therein, have I been free to pursue my every inclination, no matter to its efficiency or monetary rate of return or its objective value to any but my own perchancing subjective judgments and whims. Despite more than troubling externalities in the world around me and crucial absences within my professional and personal life, objectively speaking, never before in my life have I been so free.
In the timeless chaos of constant personal decisions and overwatch (what day is it?), transiently unmoored from any dependency — (in either way, no one is depending on me, and I am depending on no one) — I am a new man. A stranger to every previous iteration of my self, there is time enough at last to consider the implications of this culminating reality I have crafted for myself.
Notwithstanding these blocks and barriers to any kind of true contentment, I have nevertheless tried to ‘make the most’ of my idle time. In truth, this work — call it ‘soulcraft’ — is currently my job. But it is only to me, for it comes without external remuneration, without outer acknowledgments beyond what I may bring to bear in the few receiving relationships of which I am a part. My checklist of daily readings, viewings, and writings representing my blocks of utilizable time is a consistent self-motivated ritual I have cast onto myself for my own purposes. For the most part, day in and day out, the work has gotten done; I’m reading more than I ever have before, I’m writing more than ever before, I’m thinking more than ever before… Invaluably, I have been in these experiences, then and there, within the flow of their duration, without feeling the need to be anywhere else but right there at play within that world. Present, with my sanity and self-worth dancing along the spectrum on the way, with all the disconcerting restless disquietude arriving inside to be combated with as well…
The work is intrinsic. And it may end up having no part to play in any reality beyond that that lies within my own little mind.
Thus, this final revelation: Solipsism as soulcraft.
We live in this world as passengers submitted, or rather thrown, into the thresher. Spirit made into meat — middle-way through, struggling to understand anything even as we are thrust into action — learning and sacrificing for productivity and responsibility unto our future selves and relative others and the unseen, unacknowledged stewardship of future generations… We are demanded to make something of ourselves before we understand who we are; we are asked to be of service before we are inquired as to our passions. Everything moves too fast. Incentives corrupt, cruelty wins out, chaos overrules compassion. Late capitalism and dominant ideologies dependent upon prejudice and greed and impossibilities of endless growth enforces its own shapeless, formless, inhumane telos upon us. ‘My heroes are dead and my enemies are in power.’ This era of ‘ended history‘ signifies we are the living dead… one last, final generation before an earned, silent midnight.
All this time away, all this time alone — has shown me the seminal value in consciously, introspectively using all this time for reading/writing/watching/thinking/enjoying/creating your arts, your passions, your inner worlds of attention as soulcrafting action akin to solipsism. Writing for no eyes beyond yours; experiencing a song or a film or a theory or any art that is good or bad or ugly for no transactional or quantifiable or materially significant reason at all. Theorizing and Committing to projects and endeavors and dreams with all your heart…but doing it first alone, without the security of a single other consciousness standing beside you in solidarity…and understanding that that Solidarity may never come, then going forward anyway. Going forward anyway, in spite of the restless uncertainties of the world around you.
Doing the work as if you are the only one that exists — and then going from there.
This directive is not strictly a selfish one, it is not even a directive. Share your experiences, please. Cooperate towards collective goals. But do not undertake the experience in the first place with any expectations of the Other looking over your shoulder and judging the action, a priori or a posteriori. Do the reading without expectation. Do the ‘work’ of this craft without anticipation of possible waste or inefficiency, deeming the time and action worthy or not before any of the road has been tread. Walk the path. Do the soulcrafting for you. And then, once you have crossed that final threshold, with self-conscious reflections in tow, reveal the revelations with friend or foe, in writing or speaking.
Or don’t. Either way, the work is done, your soul has been crafted, your universe ameliorated or enlightened in some small way. Go forth, and continue the work — as a duty to yourself, as an assumption of responsibility unto yourself — remorseless to the Other’s valuation of your labors. All the rest will follow. ~