Michał Karzyński

Cirkus Redux

As I was standing in that office, I could barely stop myself from a burst of laughter. I managed to contain myself and turn the laugh into a big smile as I approached the lady with whom I was going to talk. But inside I was roaring with laughter at the serious lady behind her little desk, with the little stacks of papers arranged neatly and her little coffee mug, her telephone, the guard standing watch by the door, the signs on the walls, the whole shebang.

It’s not that this place in particular is funny, it’s the same everywhere. People are playing a big game, here we play “house”, here we play “city”, here we play “country”. Games. Rules of these games are written into laws. Following them is more important then following rules of other games, because it’s not possible to just walk away, or at least not easy.

But it’s all just a big game, or to use a better, Hindu metaphor, it’s a play. We get assigned roles: son, man, businessman, father, etc. We are supposed to follow the script assigned for each part in this giant pageant. It greatly saddens me, but also makes me laugh out loud, to see people who take their roles so seriously, that they forget that they are merely divine actors in this three ring circus. Sadly, you find them everywhere, struggling with their problems like Sisyphus, not realizing that the mountain is scenography, and the boulder is a prop.

What these people tend to forget is the real reason why we are all here in the first place. The only thing that makes animals like us superior to the rest of this zoo, is our ability to appreciate truth and beauty. And both are external to us, we can no more create them then we can clap with one hand. And yet without us, they do not exist. We are the beholder, we are the conditio sine qua non for their existence. Truth and beauty. We are the eyes of the universe, nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

And if we forget this, if we don’t take the time to appreciate nature, music, art, each other, then we loose the only thing which makes us human. We revert back to the state of an animal, but worse still, because that of an animal tamed and caged. Nothing more then cows grazing in the field, and no more useful then our milk.

We risk becoming automatons, ready to sacrifice ourselves in the name of technology. The support structure for such behavior is already here, in our technocratic, plutocratic, rule-of-the-average civilization. Democracy, still the best form of government, is also the best system to average interesting things away.

If we end up following these rigid rules, with the only aim of consumption and reproduction, then we will have stopped being human. We may be contented, we may live long and productive lives, but if we live in a world sans ideals, we will have been just a step on the way to something grander. Perhaps the technology we create will someday awaken, as we have failed to awaken and realize, that it is now the bearer of truth and beauty. Perhaps these machines will be more human then us.