An Insult to your Intelligence, an Op-Ed
Footnotes are marked with ^(number). Thumbnail credit: David Locke from Goole, East Yorkshire (Flickr)
This is the One-Person Lat Pull^1. Sit down. Take hold of the handles. Straighten your back. Keep your legs bent. Rest your feet on the ground. Optionally take a deep breath. And gently pull the bar back towards your body until the handles are near your shoulders. Bring your shoulder blades as far back as you can. Keep your back straight. This movement, done correctly, strengthens your Latissimus dorsi, teres major, middle trapezius, and your rhomboids. Get your vertical column in order first, for you will do this for the rest of your life.
They’re everywhere you look. Stimulus. And when you shut your eyes, they’ve infected your brain. In a study^2 by Vsauce’s Michael Stevens, a human goes nuts when kept for 3 days in a small white room with little to no stimulus but one’s own thoughts . Nuts. Your circadian rhythm goes bonkers, you lose sleep, your emotions defenestrate themselves, hallucinations creep into your skull, you may develop depression, you’ll want to talk to your family, you’ll want to see anyone. A similar effect occurs inside the anechoic chamber^3 hidden within Orfield Labs in Minneapolis, Minnesota. You can hear your blood churn in your veins.
A solid metaphor for life is the Sierpinski gasket. It’s a cuneate fractal. The bigger picture is made up of smaller, familiar pictures which, in turn, are made up of smaller pictures as well. Every atom within us vibrates and reacts to every other atom. Watch as they bounce off the stimulus around themselves. As their brief interactions redefine their place in space-time. When you’ve filled in your entire picture, completed your entire life, your distinct picture unveils itself to be a series of repetitive moments which have followed all the same fundamental rules. Any apparent differentiating factor either luck or twisted fate, predetermined and explainable.
The rules are simple. The outcome is predictable. Perhaps this is why the human brain evolved to not be able to focus on one stimulus for an extended moment of time, it’d drive itself nuts. Confronting the reality of solipsism is impossible. We’re all someday going to return to dust. We’re given this body, some handles to take ahold of, and the instruction to lift the weight of one’s conscious an infinite times. A sisyphean workout. So what’s the purpose of the machine? Are we all simply a mechanism of our own entropy?
The machine’s^4 purpose is to give us the means to transcend our own banality. We do it everyday without realizing it. You’ve repeated the same task until it’s unconscious, you do it in your sleep. Limited to your own mind, you’ve already transcended existence. It’s mad. You’ve constructed your own reality around you—you have friends, they’re important. Your work is important. Your feelings and time are, as well, important—so that life is this amazing acid trip. You can do almost anything. Life is a burden because anxieties are a stimulus. When given the option between boredom and pain, humans choose the latter. Remembering this hopefully brings you ease, because life—and death—would be infinitely more boring within a vacuum of stimulus. The phones ring too loud, and your weak Keurig^5 spilt all over your favorite shirt. But you’re alive. You, an insult to your own intelligence, envoy of hope and resilience.
This Op-Ed ends with an anecdote. We both were staring at a picture of a loving dog in need of a new home. Comic Sans. Contact info in easily tear-offable strips. Her, with untamed eyes and stringent black hair, and me with my stupid blue horse shirt. “I love dogs,” perhaps, I said because this statement rhetorically works with any normal individual. “Why?” “Because, well they’re extremely empathetic creatures. They only know to love others.” “But some are awful dogs, extremely mean. They only know violence and survival.” “Do you think it’s a learned trait, though.” “I think they’re born with it.” “But most are nice and loving.” “I think they’re able to be trained. Humans, you can’t train because we have big minds and can think about thinking.” “Dogs are pretty one-track minded. I was thinking about this the other day, the difference between metacognitizance^6 and.. self-consciousness yeah. Dogs are self-conscious—” “Yeah Dogs can only think about being. They only think ‘there’s that bone’ and ‘I’m hungry’. They can’t think about thinking. When you’re young, you at some point think ‘hey I’m thinking about this thought. I’m thinking about thinking—” “We’re meta-cognizant. Perhaps that’s why we’re able to love dogs so much, because they’re happy. Ignorance is bliss.” “But ignorance isn’t bliss.” “How so?” “Well you can’t really be happy with ignorance. That’s why we have God. He looks out for us.” I tense up a little at the devout statement, self-conscious upon coming off as tense and giving away my atheist-ity. “How so?” “Well we all need leashes. Civilization would crumble without Him. Like humans can say ‘Oh I have all the power now’ and destroy, but God’s like ‘without me you’d just die. With me you live eternally. Gosh humans are so dumb.’ You know, he’s probably laughing at us right now.” “Do you think that’s why He loves us? Because we’re just like dogs to him?” “Haha, probably. We all need leashes, you know. From going insane. I was thinking last week. We need his leash, from being suicidal, a tug in the right way. Hearing him say ‘Hey! Don’t go that way—the bone is that way’ and saying back ‘thanks, God! Yeah I found the bone wow that was a close one’” “So we’re like dogs to God? We’re just these stupid creatures who can think-about-thinking and look down at dogs for only being able to think, but we’re actually on the short end of the stick—” “I think so. That’s why we need God. I’m Heaven, by the way.” “Heather—Heaven, like the place?” “Yeah, what’s your name?” “Chris. Nice to meet you, Heaven.”
- Priced around $1634 and designed by the elusive Belson Outdoors Inc., the Two-Person variant machine exists, predominantly, within the vicinity of upscale outdoor parks. The One-Person version, as seen above, comes in Green, Red, Blue, White/Red, and Black/White. The model number for the pictured version is Model #78000044.
- A.K.A. the world's quitest room. The sound level of the room measures in at -9 decibels. The strange foam walls absorb 99.9% of sound. There is no noticeable echo.
- A human. The machine does not refer to the Model #78000044 One-Person Lat Pull. Buying the Lat Pull does not guarantee personal transcendence.
- "weak Keurig" is redundant, included for the rhetorical purpose of relating to the target reader's own dull everyday experience.