Empty Vessels

Is this…This is* the first time in human history that we are watching life more than living it. We’re willingly subjecting ourselves to narratives of fear when we have no faith or belief system separate from the orthodoxy of information: media and TV “science.”

My name is Max Baer and my nervous system is simulated stimulation; much better off than Jared’s lonely, isolated flesh. No one will visit him without a mask. People disappoint him but his two devices moan with pleasure. He can smoke all the cannabis he wants, but it won’t save him from his post-modern, self-medicated swamp of racial distinctions and moral ambiguities, social simplicities and religious decay on the open market of Fear. Comment sections tell me I’m a cynic. But how do you think I met Jared?

Po Lin Monastery

It’s sad to see him like this; scanning comment sections for hidden truths. But Jared has been here before; leaving football as an activity AND social network has left a massive vacancy in his identity. The TV says he will inevitably develop a neurocognitive disease. CTE. How do you combat TV hypotheses?

But he’s not alone. Athletes to janitors, teachers to chefs; those who are largely dependent upon society to inform their personhood are losing the structures that inform them of the personal coordinates of who they are in these Corona times. According to Forbes, 10 million Americans have just lost their jobs. 

Po Lin Monestary

Yet people disappoint him and compassion escapes him; with their physical social structures foreclosing, even family functions are fluttering in favor of the blue light of a digital existence (Why are WalMart touch-screen self-checkouts wrapped in plastic too?) And these people, your own families–those who find themselves without identity and filled with the most fear–are informing themselves primarily through a disproportionate amount of media consumption–News Networks, Netflix. What season of Ozark are you on? Sanctity is lost, minds are hollow. “Tom Hanks, give us our orders.”

We need public crises to inform us what to do, fill us with a Cultural Script. Catastrophe is a catalyst for morality. Can a nervous system solely dependent upon a media broadcast to form a threshold of self-awareness required to develop self-governance? I doubt local or national governments want you to recognize you have that choice.

Woman – Tian Tan Buddha
Symbols – Tian Tan Buddha

IN A SOCIETY IN A SOCIETY IN A SOCIETY where the most prevalent and widest accepted form of social equity is “open mindedness,” we succumb to an endless vacuum of swirling personal, communal and familial morality. For years, “Open Your Mind” is whispered in our ears as we painstakingly spread our legs for new life to rush in. We’ve been bread for this psychotic break in reality. The way most people have structured their morality (or life approach) is through the provided guidelines from religious storytelling and ancient text (even if they’re loosely related, or perhaps even in direct contradiction to it). Our collective and individual fears were moralized and have given us behaviors to act out in times of crises, confusion or threat. Societal structures (government institutions and corporations) used to have to compete with Western religions on how to guide peoples’ fears and what to tell them what to do. Can – should – will science govern morality? But no matter – your Instagram insights and analytics tell you when to bend the knee; IG keeps you open-minded and ready to pivot, right? On your game, guided. That is, until the algorithm inevitably changes at the whim of a de-moralized data scientist. Then what?

When Jared left football, he left an identity, an IP address within a social network of understanding where he stood. That’s when he realized his social media profile produced a stronger signal than did his physical existence. No practice, no weight sessions, no Sunday fight. The actions required of a professional athlete informed him of his personality more than anything else in the world. When those stop, crisis walks in. When we’re not running into each other we lose a mechanism of identity formation. For the lucky ones, family or prior interests to sports can sometimes produce stronger behavioral influences and provide some type of personality retention from prior behavioral downloads.

Tian Tan Big Buddha

We no longer have the moral tenets of religion to house our surfacing, unhinged, non-structured fear – fear that arises in the face of the unknown, unexpected or uncertain. Those tenets–and the structures behind them–have expired in their power to dictate behavior over The State, and TV science. And I think those entities combined (the state, the media) are trying to eliminate the value of the powerful human capacity of belief – because it’s an impediment to what they dictate. Undeclared faith went from being a right to socially profitable. You can buy the ‘Fear of God’ off a Nordstrom’s rack. Maybe I should be busy building my own stables to corral public fear. Yeezy taught me.

Offering of the Six Devas
Po Lin Monastery

Since we don’t have strong enough institutions that compare to (or compete with) the corporations running the country, we fall prey to boogeymen created by statistics on television, disseminated via phone. Selecting ‘Spiritual’ on your Bumble profile has done you really well. People WILLINGLY download the new rules because it gives them some semblance of personhood and connection – because their previous identities have been halted and essentially stripped (again: we need engagement to understand our place, our roles). This is how Bill Gates becomes a controversial figure: to some, a messiah, to some satan incarnate; he rises in the absence of individuals’ morality. People have drifted.

When you are abruptly deprived of what gives you identity, personhood and daily purpose, you become vulnerable to the next best story that frames who you are in your new, unstructured world. This pandemic is an opportunity for corporate power structures to reinstitute their power dynamic through ‘made for tv’ News and capitalize on feeble stances. Are you a Byrde or a Langmore? A Conservative or Progressive? A Stark or a Lannister? You COULD just avoid all of that and ground yourself in older texts, scripts, characters that have withstood disease, famine and ‘Imagine’ sung to selfie sticks. But is that ‘On Brand’? While our complex social structures collapse, WE become the currency; actors in a real time production. And to keep our jobs, we purposely impair our judgment in the name of novel morality and new ethics – it stimulates the brain, walks us into new enclosures that protect us from ever understanding the federal reserve.

Again: we no longer collectively possess the institutions (religious guidelines) that shield us from societal storytelling (news, commercials, ads, sponsored content, branded content). Instead, we mask (muzzle) ourselves with rosaries of a new religion.

How much you wanna bet at one point you thought it was oppressive when a Muslim woman covers her face with hijab, protecting her from the disease of Western Culture? But here you are, finding your own masked morality when you abide by the mask mandate of the state that you believe is morally righteous; ‘flattening the curve’. A catchphrase and catchall that justifies Western reasoning. But the difference here, is that this mask is not strengthening our social fabric, it’s pointing directly to its permeability. Its flimsiness. Its poor quality.

Your humanity is being stripped such that the laws and the rules that govern that humanity are permanently changed. I’m not asking that you go cough on people, just be aware of your reality–what is actually changing and what isn’t.We are currently vacating our physical realities.

The most popular narratives of fear win, and there are organizations and corporations jockeying to capitalize on peoples’ confusion: an economic and moral shutdown disguised as a disease. With people masked and under surveillance, what isn’t possible for them?

Jared told me he just got word that one of his former HS football coaches was diagnosed with ALS. After all the CTE research done and conversations had over the last two years, it’s hard not to feel like it’s your obligation to dump EVERYTHING that you’ve learned about diminishing capacity during that time. If there was a way to synthesize some of the largest reproduced line of thoughts between academic disciplines it’s – “if you don’t use it, you in fact lose it.” The more you reduce your input and output capacities, the smaller your capabilities become, the less your neuronal network has to fire and connect various localities of your brain that carry varying, yet interchangeable capacities (Neuroplasticity).

Collectively, we are not operating at full capacity. A reduced usage of neural pathways creates a simplified existence; which in most cases is necessary to make the back end of someone’s life more functional. You prepare them for death – and depending on how “Spiritual” your Hinge profile says you are, behind that lies new life. Is this our destiny? But when you manipulate an environment in relation to a wider spectrum of age and cognition, in our country’s case, the median age of an interconnected western civilization, what socioeconomic shutdown gets you is a form of early-onset dementia…an unfortunate set of consequences formed from limiting the psychosocial pathways in our collective brain, the daily constructive hurdles for your mind. In your routine’s absence, the TV scientists inform you of how fucked you are unless you wear their mask or take their pill.

This is a test of faith; if you have any left. I tell Jared all the time, “I don’t care what you believe. But believe something. Declare it. Educate yourself, investigate your thoughts. In the absence of our own, we give in and tune in to someone else’s. We all have something that is at the tip of tongues, or in the back of our minds quietly nagging all of our decisions. So, while you’re sitting around the house, turn up the volume.”

I like Jared. But he’s an empty vessel filled with other people’s thoughts