ROBOT OR FREE?
MARCH 1, 2012. The other day, someone asked me why I put together my new collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED. I said there were a thousand answers to that question.
Here is one:
There are some people who hear the word CREATE and wake up, as if a new flashing music has begun.
This lone word makes them see something majestic and untamed and astonishing.
They feel the sound of a Niagara approaching.
They suddenly know why they are alive.
It happened to me one day in 1949 when I was 11 years old. I was boarding a bus in upstate New York for a full day’s ride back down into New York City. I was sitting by the window as the bus pulled out of a parking lot, and I opened the first page of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, a perfect children’s book.
The word CREATE wasn’t on that first page, but I felt it. It sounded like a great bell in my ear, and I knew I was in a different world.
As you may know, I’ve been writing about the creative life for some time. For me, this life is a far cry from the pallid oatmeal of “peace through avoidance.”
The creative life is not about slogans and systems and intellectual finger food. It is about EXPERIENCE.
It’s about diving in. It’s about a kind of transformation that shreds programming and gets down to the energy of the Fire.
Most people don’t want to travel to that grand arena because they have been trained like pets by some sector of this society to be good little girls and boys.
The truth is, if people want to live the creative existence, they have to be willing to destroy—and the main thing that awaits their destruction, delivered with force, is their own illusions and their commitment to the World of Nice where doily power is the only power. Where that tired phrase, “the approval of others,” is the guiding precept and the stick of fear.
The creative life isn’t about little changes done in little penguin steps. It’s about putting your arms and your mind around Deep, Big, and Wide Desire. It’s about making that Desire come to life.
99% of the world has been trained like rats to adore systems. Give them a system and they’re ready to cuddle up and take it all in. If they have questions, or if they want to argue, it’s about how to tweak the system to make it a little better. And with every move they make, they put another blanket over the Fire Within.
They sleepwalk through life and say yes to everything.
Maybe you once saw something truly free that didn’t care about consequences, and it blew you away and turned on your soul’s electricity for an hour.
Maybe you’re sick and tired of bowing and scraping before a pedestal of nonsense.
CREATE is a word that should be oceanic. It should shake and blow apart the pillars of the smug boredom of the soul.
CREATE is about what the individual does when he is on fire and doesn’t care about concealing it. It’s about what the individual invents when he has thrown off the false front that is slowly strangling him.
CREATE is about the end of mindless postponement. It’s about what happens when you burn up the pretty and petty little obsessions. It’s about emerging from the empty suit and empty machine of society that goes around and around and sucks away the vital bloodstream.
People come to the brink, and then they stop. They opt instead for a form of hypnosis. They say, “I’m waiting for orders. I’m looking for a sign. I don’t have any primary impulse of my own. I want the signal that it’s okay to proceed.”
It’s a form of self-induced brainwashing.
Imagination transforms a life, but if people feel queasy about using imagination, they are stuck at the gate.
People pretend they don’t know anything about imagination, about how “it operates” (as if it were a machine), about what it can do, about where it can go, about how it can take them into new territory. They feign ignorance.
To protect themselves from elevating to a new position, a new space, a new perspective.
“I want to stay the same, and I’ll do anything to maintain that.”
This is why people seem to get more hazy and less intelligent as they grow older. And in order to do that, they have to appear ignorant to themselves.
People want a certain level of defined comfort, and they want to BELONG TO SOMETHING.
“I want to belong. It’s my reason for being. It’s my hole card. Therefore, I’ll sit on my imagination, so it won’t take me out beyond this thing I want to attach myself to.”
So it’s a test of loyalty. Do you want to remain faithful to an idea that is just a small piece of what you can be, or do you want to take the greater adventure?
The propaganda machines of society relentlessly turn out images and messages that ultimately say: YOU MUST BELONG TO THE GROUP.
The formula is simple. The group wants the status quo. Imagination transcends the status quo. Therefore, belong to the group and avoid the possibility of transformation.
This is, in fact, modern alchemy with a reverse twist. It is engineered to put people into a position of less power. Advertising is a program founded on the ideal of Huxley’s Brave New World, where everyone is happy, happy, happy—and if they aren’t, they can (and must) take a drug (or a convenient substitute) that will restore their “equilibrium.”
No imagination required. No creation required.
Day after day after day, year after year, the media celebrate heroes. They inevitably interview these people to drag out of them the same old familiar stories. Have you EVER, even once, seen a hero who told an interviewer in no uncertain terms: “I got to where I am by denying the power of the group, by denying the propaganda that says we all have to BELONG.”
Have you ever heard that kind of uncompromising statement?
I didn’t think so.
Because it’s not part of the BELONGING PROGRAM, the program that society runs on to stay away from the transforming power of IMAGINATION.
Jon is the author of the new collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED.