freewriting + an hour of editing.
everyone perceives life in their own way. individually. i cannot in any reasonable manner expect you to empathize. at the same time, if you do empathize, i appreciate your ability to understand me without being me---but i also wonder if you assume that our shared reality translates to us the same. so there seems to be a range of empathy where the maximum can never be achieved, or maybe there's no maximum---you just merge with the person and become one like gotenks and then get to know yourself more. empathy is some kind of driving function then, something that pushes us forward on this vibe of "i want to understand myself and other things better than i do now because what a relief it could be. to move with fluidity, handling resistance as it comes, with syyyyyneeeeergyyyyy".
but how could i explain the hundreds of thousands of seconds, an infinite number of moments that create the ever-evolving lens through which i perceive life? when we say life do you and i ever mean the same thing? should we expect each other to? or should we instead acknowledge that your architecture is different than mine (if we were machine learning models) and our objectives may not align either.
those are two types of forces (architecture and objectives), which attract, whereas i see empathy as more propulsive. we assume that we will share a similar architecture to those who look like us (because we used to define our architecture much more locally than now) and with those who have the same objectives as us. i think our "architecture" and our "objectives" create our culture. but nevertheless, even within the same culture, there's a variety of objectives to choose from and all of us have a somewhat different architecture (small differences can lead to huge ones over time because we evolve really fast, or at least have been "recently", as individuals and as a species).
this sort of "inclination toward groupings" creates communities, organizations, companies, families, couples, partnerships, friendships and hopefully improves our connection with our subselves. what of the underlying forces? second-order forces? the acceleration to our position in this society? what drives the drives? motivates the motivations? what is the shape of the space within which these different forces are induced?
i'll start with a 5-part-prose which explores an adversarial relationship with the shape of the space within which our cultural forces are induced:
what matters most to me in a collaboration is having the same vision underneath which we are driven by our respective interests. if our visions do not match, we will eventually part ways, as we are driven by different motors, and pulled toward different goals by different forces. yet we are both driven, by something, and we are pulled, by something else, and that is a shared experience, our shared existence in the shape within which culture formed. cells in a petri dish. this is fundamental enough to build empathy around.
i feel that i am pursuing a vision different from what I perceive as the vision that drives our civilization. i can't articulate that vision yet, but it still guides me. it also leaves me with nowhere to go. unless i practice escapism, which happens through my art. when i confront this culture, and face the music, i experience a range of states, from grief-stricken, to numb, to inspired, depressed, invigorated, all revolving around the gap between my vision and your vision. our vision and the group's vision. all the way out to the dynamic between our culture's vision and our civilization's vision.
i can't seem to get to you or you to me, but i feel the necessity to coexist. i don't always want to coexist unconditionally. i am learning that i can fully, non-judgmentally, observe and respect what i experience only if i do the same for what you experience, even if i can't quite understand it because those two run on the same logic. it's just as confusing to me to process what I feel about a situation as is what you do. in some ways, coexisting unconditionally frees me of the burden of judgment, for myself and others. i stop casting shadows on you. i allow for both you and me to fully exist in my reality. i choose my lane, you choose yours. we both share the road.
i cannot define myself without acknowledging you. it is our collective existing which allows my existence. i need air, water, food, safety, belonging, love, all the way up the hierarchy to self-actualization. i'm not sure why it's designed this way, but the fundamental unit is not (always) the individual. the fundamental unit can in some cases be the system. the individual is the deepest, most ambitious goal that a system can have. (Maslow's Hierarchy, in this scenario, may be better visualized as concentric spheres instead of a pyramid, which is sort of an inverted sphere in this analogy.) the lofty diametric goals of a system changing an individual, and an individual changing a system. in each case that which changes is also changed in some way through that process. every action has an opposite and equal reaction, even if it's proportional across a system.
even if it is uniquely programmed into each of us and not as organic as i feel it must be, there is something in you and of yours that nobody else can access. if they can, well then they can access everyone's and that just becomes the new baseline for the rest of us. we still have boundaries that each other cannot penetrate. deeper ones past the ones that each other can. stuff that even you are not fully aware of. soul stuff. vibe stuff. the pool where your thoughts come from. your first principles.
back to my original discussion: similar to the shape within which culture is formed, there is a shape, defined by the first principles of who we are, within which we develop. i think that those two shapes are not exactly the same. a culture's shape does not have to result in an equivalent shape of the individual. there is an individuality to us even amongst our shared existence. i don't know why i think (or we think) that we come from somewhere outside of the system (i.e. "we are born into this world"). i think that notion of "the beyond" is engrained in us, maybe by design or maybe by culture that has engrained it in us. that we come from beyond the boundaries of our physical reality. a meta-universe within which universes are made. we very well might. but we would still be part of a system. it would just be a system that has different first principles than the system we are in. and maybe those are the first principles that we are made of. meta-universe first principles.
or maybe there is no meta-universe, and we are stuck living in this boring old universe. if we do not come from beyond the boundary of our shared reality, then we come from within the system that spawned the culture we are born into. our birth can be defined as an event which is likely to occur in the system because it is designed to allow it. from this viewpoint invidividuality is being threatened. it can be seen simply as one characteristic of the system. one that looks discrete but is part of the continuum. and maybe the best way we have to describe this characteristic is that "it comes from outside of the system" even if it comes from within. maybe it's programmed in so that we are not stuck with a finite set of solutions. we have something in us that's molded from the system, and something in us that is the antithesis to it. it's sort of the distinction (or lack of) between a character in the game and the game itself. the full spectrum of our experience is: (individual) <---> (system of individuals). yet it might also be seen as: (system) <---> (individual instance of system). individual inherits traits from its parent class system. the individual is only accessed by the individual, but cannot exist without other individuals or an environment. i cannot go into you and experience your individual. that's impossible. it's your's to know and protect. but i can inquire, and explore, and provide analogies, and try to undersetand your analogies.
similar to how culture changes from reverberations through the system (in the form of conversations and decisions, hypernormalized by social media) the individual changes due to stimuli from the system. yet there is something inherently untouchable in both that the other can't access. there is some foundational piece which must be removed, and in order for it to be removed the system must either collapse or be replaced voluntarily. similarly, there is some foundational piece that we have to get to know about ourselves and the process of finding ourselves leads to our individual collapse or healing. that's at least how it all feels.