I was reading an interesting passage from Augustine the other day contemplating the definition of what exactly is meant by “present” in terms of time. It’s interesting to consider that the minute you say “now,” as soon as your vocal chord ceases to resonate you are already in a new, future “now” and the “now” you just proclaimed is in the past. It seems in adulthood that linear progression is lightning fast. We’re forever treading water in the past while trying to anticipate the future without ever truly living in the present.
And yet when you’re an infant hardly cognizant of the world around you, let alone of your own place in it, you don’t really have a concept of past and future. It would seem improbable for a baby to lie there and think back upon the delicious breakfast it just had or wonder when dinner was coming. Everything seems eternally “now.” It’s like an elongated present that only shrinks as you grow.
I’m a fan of the Russian writer Daniil Kharms. A concept of his is the notion of the most perfect gift is something like a wooden stick with a wooden sphere attached to one end and a cube to the other. It is useless – it communicates nothing symbolically, metaphorically etc. Neither does it have the capacity for memory. Completely useless, yet it is completely independent of everything definable on the planet. It breaks the logical chain. Nothing seeks it out and no effect is generated by its cause.
Admittedly there is no grandeur in seeking a life that is useless. However, I must admit there is a certain appealing omnipotence to molding oneself into something utterly indefinable by anything more than two simple words – female human (in my case). To be beyond definition, beyond the need to seek connection to the world around you. Not needing to draw upon anything in your immediate surroundings, to be complete self generating in terms of emotional and intellectual fulfillment. The only rupture in such an individualized world being perhaps the desire for others to see you as an example and follow suit. Perhaps it is more or less the Buddhist concept of attempting to reach nirvana in a sense. But one has to wonder if you can achieve utter independence then perhaps the opinions of others wouldn’t matter so much, materialism would become pointless and the world could become a less war torn mess.
If someone walked up to you and asked, “if I could grant you one superpower what would it be?” what would you say? I imagine most would say they’d like to be invisible, others might like to live forever, speak to animals or have unnatural strength. It’s interesting that no one ever seems to transcend the boundaries of their own body even when given license to do so. They still tend to limit their imagination to the boundaries of their own experience. The immediate reaction is to go for an enhanced physical manifestation of one of the senses that you already possess. Basically improve upon an existing model. Why not scrap the model altogether?
How much more exciting would it be to be totally unbound by human constraints. Instead of simply enhancing a sensation you have already experienced – hearing, speaking, living, or observing etc. why not be boundless? I would wish to be air. That which is uncontainable, undefinable, and in a constant state of unpredictable change. It is probably the one element that is not objectified in any way because it is beyond all description. It has no physical attributes and no discernible senses of its own of which we are aware and could dissect its properties by.
It is all powerful without even realizing it – because there isn’t a single living creature both human and animal alike that can survive without it. The beauty is that in its very existence it is the life force that sustains everything and yet it knows no arrogance because it isn’t even aware of its own power. It is never envied, forced to defend itself or worshiped and yet it can give or take life without even intending to do so – simply by being present. It is in essence a god that is not even aware that it is god. So while it is all powerful it is at the same time in a state of pure humility by virtue of the fact that it is completely unaware of all it gives to a world that it is an intrinsic part of, yet hardly ever contemplated by.