Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn’t see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love. Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call this free will.
At least the ancient Greeks were being honest.
The sound shivers through the walls, through the table, through the window frame, and into my finger. These distraction-oholics. These focus-ophobics. Old George Orwell got it backward. Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed… and this being fed, it’s worse than being watched. With the world always filling you, no one has to worry about what’s in your mind. With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.
There are worse things than finding your wife and child dead. You can watch the world do it. You can watch your wife get old and bored. You can watch your kids discover everything in the world you’ve tried to save them from. Drugs, divorce, conformity, disease. All the nice clean books, music, television. Distraction.
You turn up your music to hide the noise. Other people turn up their music to hide yours. You turn up yours again. Everyone buys a bigger sound system. This is the arms race of sound. You don’t win with a lot of treble. This isn’t about quality, it’s about volume. This isn’t about music. This is about winning. You stomp the competition with the bass line. You rattle windows. You drop the melody line and shout the lyrics. You put in foul language and come down hard on each cussword. You dominate. This is really about power.
The best way to waste your life is by taking notes. The easiest way to avoid living is to just watch.
Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby (2002)