For Something Real (Written April 15, 2014)
Oh! for a strain of music,
Oh! for a breath of fresh air,
Oh! for a brain that’s thinking,
Oh! for a heart that cares.
But where can I find such haven?
Where can I find such bliss?
Where can I search for magic
When I can’t see through the mist?
What is the point in the babbling
When no one hears the sound?
When they don’t even know what they’re saying
And just circle ’round and ’round.
But oh! for the heart that’s caring,
Oh! for the thinking mind!
Oh, for music worth hearing!
And for wonders that wait for me to find.
I wrote this while thinking about how I somehow feel like I’m seeing a world that other people just don’t. Like I am looking and seeing what can be, or could be- what couldn’t possibly be, except in my head- and they are seeing how it isn’t what they like. I argue with people who like dystopias, not because I don’t think they are intellectually impressive, or insightful, or deep, etc., but because I don’t understand why I should spend multiple hours of my life immersing myself in, literally, the full extent of man’s worst faults. And how many of these stories end well? Brave New World, 1984, these stories end with suicide, with the lone hero giving up on his convictions and turning to the other side. I hated reading Hunger Games. I read it for the first time before it was popular- a long time before- and it literally made me feel ill. Katniss is just despicable. And you know what? Just like every other dystopia, it ends with her being miserable and twisted. I haven’t read Divergent but if it ends with the main character giving up and siding with the government she is fighting against it would be no surprise. It would just be yet another dystopia. These stories have always felt to me like they are there to point out that there is no hope. Fahrenheit 451 is sort of an exception. Sort of. When the rest of the country gets destroyed he happens to be safe, and his friends do to. There is hope in that ending. And most people say it is the most shallow of its genre. Why? Because there is a light at the end of the tunnel? If you’re gonna read a dystopia (or recommend that somebody else does) because you think they need a wake up call, then I can understand that. But I don’t understand it otherwise. Why would you immerse yourself in such total pessimism for any other reason? I would rather look for the good in life, or at least look at the bad in order to change it or fix it. I know life is hard. I know that. But… well, that doesn’t mean we have to be miserable. That would just mean that you’ve lost to it. To quote Oscar Wilde,
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
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