My Trips to Planet Sand Dune
This is the meditative essay I wrote for my English class
by Chris Barclay, obviously
Imagine a thousand daddy long legs crawling and wriggling their needle-pointed legs all over your bare fleshy body, making for you a bloody sweater all the way around your squirming, screaming body, and you will know how I feel in the middle of math class.
Fellow students gaze into their tiny screens, and in an instant, they transport themselves to Planet Snapchat. Perhaps, I think to myself, it’s a form of panopticism, or maybe, it’s another law of physics. “Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.” Gravity never breaks on Planet Snapchat, and the light blurs around one’s own face to create illusions of light. The index of refraction is null. Walls are white. Little knick knacks riddle the room: a bright green tabloid, a newton’s cradle, the new tablet, a few strings of yarn, a video game. There, on that planet, there is no sun, but instead a lukewarm blanket with a small incision. A pinhole camera, to insulate oneself—and one’s eyes—from the harsh gamma rays showering down outside. When you look up, the moon is a perfect circle, the sky is a rosy pink, and every time you blink you throw up rainbows.
Meanwhile, my half-dreaming mind sings to me the gospel of Planet Sand Dune, where silky dull-gold sands roll in giant waves. A white-yellow orb sweeps a glowing orange luster around every rolling hill of sand. The orb fuses itself with itself with itself; energy is simultaneously created and destroyed. The winds of the planet thrust hot grains of glass-quartz up into the air, cooling it to a warm before setting it down again. Sun-heated, these sand dunes refract hollow light inside themselves over and over, hoarding in their bellies the energy from the over-compassionate sun. The mechanical sleds you drive drift you up and down the ever-sloping dunes, and the constant rhythm really does give you a sense of meaning.
Planet Sand Dune has become my safe haven. It gives me the luxury of coasting through class without feeling the needles wriggling themselves under my skin. Here on Planet Sand Dune, light refracts into imperfect rainbows and strikingly neon laser-beams. Sand melts into glass sculptures, and strange hourglasses can be pulled up from the ground like fossils. Everything can be defined by a few sine graphs, and, like the graphs we create, the sand dunes slope up and down, up and down, up and down. The surface of everything is in constant motion, yet everything beneath is at constant rest. The sand dunes turn themselves inside-out, engulfing other sand dunes. And things move quicker on Planet Sand Dune, you can feel yourself rolling along the dunes as if it were a sea of dreams. But Math contains paradoxes: with logic, math defines the world around us, but in and of itself, math is completely imaginary, a meaningless sum.
I guess in this jostling Beckett-style play, you could say that Planet Snapchat is a form of shade, and Planet Sand Dune is just a form of water, and both are just trying to distract from the heat radiating off the fluorescent lights of this, my unpedagogical prison. Planet Sand Dune is a screensaver on my computer that I stare into. I daydream. Sometimes it works, but other times it just makes me so sad I’m engulfed into this fear. The fear that all of us truthfully are connected to these invisible leashes, getting forcefully dragged around, and having at the end of the day to have the leash taken off, watching TV or playing video games to distract from the pain of leash-marks around all of our necks.
In the end I think we all become disillusioned to the fact that it mattered so much. “The traveler in the inverse illusion that is singular mortal form/ Is never alone as he believes, though all he meets and knows/ Seem to enter or leave his view like spirits through walls/ Or descend soundless through the floors of their bodies.” Perhaps you’ve felt an eerie quivering about growing up to be another cog in the machine. You maybe bank on that, trusting that your government will provide for you just as you will do for it. The problem we forget is that our government is no society, because society is the people we know and the community we belong to rather than the external force that governs our lives. It’s a question you must ask yourself: is daydreaming immoral? Rather, is it immoral to commit treason in its slightest form: free thought? To study the material, pass the tests, go to an institution, and live the rest of my life. But am I doing it out of my own will, or freedom? A government is a tricky bitch, especially if it’s a purportedly “self-governed” one.
But we aren’t in a “self-governed” society, are we? We live in a semi-cosmopolitan bureaucracy, and perhaps it’d be more accurate to say that the school system, to the daydreamer, is a totalitarian panopticon, where we feel free to go on snapchat and/or our laptops, but at the end of the day we bend to completing homework and tests. We bend to the will of our guards, who decide what letter or number we’re all assigned. We bend over our backpacks, and stare at our knees. Do you not think it’s odd that we live with the institutionalized notion of “cool kids” and “dweeb kids,” dividing us up into cliques and classes and really generalized idiosyncrasies? We’re advertized notions of how to express ourselves, assert our individuality, and stand out from the crowd, just alongside the millions of other people on Planet Snapchat reading the same Buzzfeed or Mashable or Brother or DailyMail or Cosmopolitan or Tastemade or Comedy Central or Entertainment or Self or Vulture or Complex or Vogue or People or CNN or Fox or Food Network or Wall Street Journal or Sweet or Essence or Popular Mechanics magazines on the “Discover” page. You know how you can tell if an image is virtual or real in physics? If the image is right side up, yet unable to be projected, then it’s a virtual image. Only real images reveal that the world is fucking flipped upside-down. So please, please tell me that it’s in my best volition to stop daydreaming in class. That going into literature is more of a risk to myself than, say, advertising. That I should stop reading David Foster Wallace, or The Book of Life, or Martin Luther King Jr, or Milton or Thoreau, or whoever I find particularly fucking interesting that one slightly different day in the middle of class.