Nov 07, 2014, 09:17AM

Connection and Its Discontents

The rest is noise.

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The search for connection. It's a dangerous thing. The more you need it, the more unfulfilled you likely feel. The depth of that need leads to constant disappointment. And yet, without it, what are you, but an isolated incident of humanity? Without the search, empathy dissolves, irritation grows, and eyes narrow.

As if the urge to reach out weren't always there, sometimes amplified by our modern tools.

If it’s unrecognizable, it’s been lost somewhere in the abyss of the decades and dashed hopes. Or maybe it was hidden in your parents’ layers of pain and the urge to reach out was smothered early.

If you’re like me, you find fuel in unearthing voices and scavenging humanity. If you’re like me, your voice gives you life. You dry up in isolation. If you’re like me, this is for you.

How did you learn to trust? How did you learn to stop trusting? I used to give most people an exaggerated benefit of the doubt. I never fully trusted myself. I learned to trust in the power of the unstable in order to do more than merely function.

Those who attempt to rely solely on themselves inevitably feel the void too strongly. It is always there, that glimmer of emptiness. None of us get out of here alive. Some of us merely float through.

Conversation keeps the glimmer away. Listening to music, to the conversations of others, to the words of artists and searchers in endless interviews. All of these things keep it out of reach. A single-minded focus, an obsessive pull, a documented goal, these things temporarily keep it away. Until the focus lessens, the pull subsides, or the goal is achieved. The dust eventually settles.

Watching our shows, glimpsing the scripted truths of fictional lives. A vicarious existence that illuminates our collective search. The personal revolution of Walter White becomes our impersonal, vicarious revolution. The delusions of Don Draper become our delusions. The overwhelmed yet reflective me-first voice of Hannah Horvath feeds our own narcissistic tendencies. The beautiful confusion and paralysis of Louis C.K. becomes a window on our own absurd existence. The Marc Maron interviews that seek to find the seeds of seriousness under the cover of humor become our own seeds of thought.

The art changes because it relies too heavily on the audience. The audience overanalyzes the art to the point of absurdity. The microscope turns everything on its head. If everything has meaning then nothing has meaning. Everything is worth watching and nothing is worth watching.

We restore ourselves through sleep and food and laughter and love, but when we are quiet there are moments of static revealing the underlying, subterranean truths. Moments of uncertainty and anxiety and twinges of recognition that cosmic forces are never not at work. We stay subconscious because of the oppressive heat of this type of thought. We are infinitesimal and insignificant and yet we take these pictures to inscribe our names in the bark of some timeless tree. Documents and the act of documenting become a fascination and threaten the spontaneity of absorbing life in its splendor. The artist never stops documenting, never stops twisting and turning.

Writing has always been an act of documentation, of attempting to filter thoughts into coherence. A taming of the chaos. Synaptic happenings and zig-zag patterns. White noise helps us sleep. The sirens are gone and the comfort returns. It is artificial noise but also natural. The light from the screen glows but not warm as a fire would. It glows cold. On that screen these thoughts become words.

We need our selves. We need others. We need to know and love ourselves in order to know and love others. The rest is noise. We need to need less and to feel more. Instead the fear of emotion and its illogical power intimidates too many. The impossibility and sweep of humanity, when we examine it. Forever grappling with directions and forever seeking validation. Words that exist only once you see them in the corners of the darkness. The glow of a screen and the cover of noise. The unlikely nature of it all.  The search for meaning and wonder. The dreams that remain.

—Follow Jonah Hall on Twitter: @darkoindex


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