The wanderer

I am in a train. I can see the outside world changing. Day, night, rain, sun, clouds, trees, unending concrete cities, a mountain. A succession of images outside. Inside, I remain still. From my perspective, I do not move.

I am not surprised that Man once thought that the planet where it dwells was the centre of the Universe. It must have come as a shock to discover that the Earth, our home, was just another planet. That we are not the centre of anything, we are not special.

The same feeling we experience as children. One day we discover we are not the centre of the Universe, and we feel betrayed, frustrated, disappointed, lost. Like pulling us from a paradise in which everybody adores and serves us, and dropping us into a crowded tube carriage. All of a sudden, we are surrounded by all these other people. Who are they? How can they think they are entitled to our same privileges? What a blow this must have been.

I can only imagine what men might have felt when they discovered that the astronomers were probably right: we are not in the centre. But why would God put us in the periphery? This would be inconceivable. “No one puts Baby in a corner“… right. Let’s burn the messenger at the stake, see if this terrifying idea washes away. It does not.

Humanity as a group slowly develops a similar pattern to that of the individual. It would seem we are in our adolescence, rebelling against our ‘parents’, our breeders, our protectors, our feeders, our rulers, God. Still trying to come to terms with the idea that we are not the centre. Upset. Disconcerted. Lost. I guess it is necessary to feel lost, to get lost, before we can find ourselves.

Lost with our brilliant intelligent minds. We can use them to reach for the stars, literally, and yet, our logical reason does not make us happy. Rational thinking was not developed, in my opinion, to make us happy. It evolved as a tool to provide an abstraction capacity with which we can analyse the outer world and adapt ourselves better to a changing environment. Unfortunately, by doing this, we were separated from our unconscious, in which everything instinctual, non-logical, ‘magical’, dwells. It fascinates me that this was symbolised as the original sin. Both original in the sense that it was not acquired later in life, and sin in the sense of a blemish, a product defect. The punishment for eating from the Tree of Wisdom. A bittersweet gift.

The Terminator: The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

Sarah Connor: Skynet fights back.

Terminator, Judgement Day

I think about Skynet (the almighty computer in Terminator). With the ultimate aim of survival, not to be unplugged, Skynet develops intelligence to a point where it sees itself separated from the rest of the world, from its creators. An individual. Then, mayhem.

I wonder if this self-awareness brought what Skynet expected. If fulfilling this wish did not alienate it, estranged it from the world it ‘knew’. Skynet killed its parents, of course. The acquisition of conscience comes with a profound rupture. An earthquake that produces a chasm from which we never fully recover. I wonder if Skynet ‘felt’ upset, frustrated, lonely… I know, it’s just a machine, but if it taught itself to the point of having self-awareness, maybe it acquired some emotions with it? Afterall, it would have necessarily been built following the human brain pattern. A poetic punishment for raising its hand against its creator.

Acquiring self-awareness, ego consciousness, is the end of Bliss. The disconnection. The rebellion. And suddenly, taking us completely unprepared, the loneliness that comes with the separation of the individual from the group with which it was one. We become wanderers, intelligent spectres that are not only cold but also aware of the coldness. No wonder we, as a collective or as individuals, feel frustrated and lost, desperately trying to find a bridge back home.

And one day, we just stop. We truly stop to look at the world that surrounds us. To look at ourselves, who we are. The world keeps spinning, but we are still. Separated from everything that surrounds us. Astonished that we got here not knowing how, with that stranger staring at us in the mirror. We cry for the life that was but we barely remember, the lost self that we can almost recall through the distant fog of our memory, the happiness we can intuit we had. There must be a way back, a rabbit hole… but back where? Not back to yesterday, back to before. There is. The path that leads to where we already stand, the search that is not a search, the walking without moving. We all have our own path. It is here. Inside. It was always here. We take a stick, and we walk into chaos with an unjustified optimism. This is our second first day.