Stop giving me what I ask for and start giving me what I want.
I don’t mean to start another blog post with a comment on Mad Men but the show just gets me thinking. This week it’s a season 5 episode, Signal 30, that got me thinking. The subject? Our ambitions and what we truly want. In it one of the characters, who has worked tirelessly to get everything they wanted, realises that they are desperately unhappy. Despite having everything, they seemingly have nothing. It’s a rare moment of brute truth in the series, a character finally admitting that a lie they tell themselves everyday isn’t true.
It got me thinking about the way our lives work. We spend them pursuing things that we think we want until we find ourselves in a place entirely unexpected. This can be good, we might accidently find ourselves happy, or it can be disastrously bad, such as the case of the Mad Men episode. So it got me thinking about the choices I have made to get myself here. If I spoke to my 16 year-old self he’d probably be quite surprised that I’m in Korea studying History and Politics. It’s interesting to reflect on it, especially as I had a dream last night where I was confronted by several of my old high school teachers.
Last week I also read a book called the White Castle, by Orhan Pamuk. It’s mostly about a character obsessed with the self, who asks the question why am I what I am? The White Castle is introduced much later in the novel and it’s not really a spoiler to reveal that they never reach it. Perhaps the white castle is a metaphor for the self. We often see ourselves as virtuous, aiming to be good people, but is that an attainable thing? The White Castle for a time paints a man confessing his sins and another disgusted by it, claiming that he would never do something so horribly. It’s interesting because throughout the novel we are told he regularly visits brothels, he regularly does bad things. He sees himself as purer though, as an unreachable white castle.
It’s odd because the character in the White Castle pursues something so madly that he ends up unhappy, despite getting everything he wants he relies that he never really wanted any of it. Instead he found himself after something completely different. He was simply trying to find what it meant to be who we are, are we just a sum part of our actions or are we something more? Signal 30 seems to suggest we are something more. The character has always lied to themself, thinking that they wanted everything they now have, but in the end realise that it simply isn’t true. We are much more than what our conscious mind lets us think we are.
Finally, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube today by a man named David Boyle. He’s a conspiracy theorist who believes in some very weird and strange things. What struck me was the question of how he has got there. He says he has studied thousands of works and consulted thousands of sources but he rejects pretty much every proven theory, from science to history, which has ever been accepted by their respective communities. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the thought. How could someone who obviously have intelligence come with, to be frank, ridiculous notions based on nothing more than the wildest speculation? Yes, the world has its mysteries but, if you watch his videos, what he offers is madness.
Anyway, it got me wondering about how we end up where we are. It would be quite a good story to tell how a man ends up rejecting everything our world is based on but try and do it in a believable way. I suppose the only problem with that is what if you actually manage to convince someone? If you succeed in making it believable you probably would. Anyway, I suppose the ultimate question is always what has made me, me? What decisions led me to here? Were they the right ones? And, perhaps most importantly of all, is it what I truly want?