I tend to think IQ is somewhat overrated. As an example, I’ve met people who are smarter than me, but the realm of experiences available to them just seems smaller than mine. This is what happens when you have a hypersensitive personality: Your brain overprocesses everything. That’s not necessarily positively correlated to IQ, because it’s per definition not efficient, whereas IQ is suggestive of an efficient brain. I’d rather have a big brain than an efficient brain. I’ll give an example:
Now there are two ways you might respond to this: You might say “Haha yeah” and scroll on. Or, if you happen to be like me, it clicks. You sink into your own mind. You’re there. The truck begins to manifest itself, you feel as if you’re sitting high above the road. You gaze at the desert that ends in claustrophobic darkness, as you impatiently wait for the first sign of the next motel you’re going to stay at. You hear the mad caller rambling about the Chupacabra he saw on his porch twenty years ago and for a brief moment you wonder: “What if?”
And the whole vision becomes captivated, compressed into the timbre of a song, specifically just the guitar tune at the start of this song:
And you might say: “But why? Why this song, made in 2017?” Because it’s hypnagogic pop: It’s entirely meant to capture the memories of a past that haunt us in the present. Ariel Pink was born in 1978 and said in interviews he wanted to be 21 forever. So the song is supposed to sounds like what we now imagine music we’d hear in 1999 would sound like.
And I don’t invent this on the spot. I’m just trying to capture in words, how my brain functions, what happens in my mind within a few moments of seeing 127 characters on Twitter.
When I began working from home a few years ago, every evening I had one of two options:
- I can do my job properly, spending my time verifying people’s transactions to make sure they’re not being scammed.
- I can vaporize a small bit of weed, put on some music and become utterly immersed in it, to directly pick up on every tiniest bit of meaning to be found in every instrument, to understand the whole picture, to cause everything to have such profound meaning and extreme beauty that I can only scream like a maniac into a pillow so that hopefully the neighbors won’t complain.
And in this sense, it’s utterly paralyzing. It’s much easier to be a productive member of society if most of the things you run into just don’t mean much to you. And if I had this with one genre, I suppose I’d grow bored of it eventually and be able to move on with my life. But I seem to have it with everything, generally for a few months to a year until I have exhausted it and move on to the next thing.
And in a sense it almost begins to feel like an obligation for me. And I cringe at the thought, I’m embarrassed to admit it, yet that is genuinely how it sometimes feels. Someone dedicated much of his life to making vaporwave music videos out of Spongebob episodes. There are a total of 17,000 people who have seen this:
No normal functional member of society has the time and energy to produce what this guy produces. So what is the noble path? Is it to file your taxes, to pick up the phone and talk to the customers? Or is it to bask in the genius and insanity that no more than 17,000 people in the world seem able to recognize? Is it to extract every last single drop of meaning, to fully immerse yourself in the vision of an artist who will be lost to time, who will die forgotten with the rest of us along with his vision, once the electrical grid collapses?
My mother noticed this when I was a child, that I became obsessed with something for months, until I exhausted it and moved on to the next thing. And my poor mother was trying to somehow figure out how to fit this into a societal framework: “Well you’re watching Jurassic Park for the seventh time now, maybe you want to become a paleontologist?”
And I don’t just have it with music, I have it with Indie games too. And of course I have it with the environment around me. A red neon sign when I walk through Rotterdam at 1 AM in the rain in the middle of winter, after I vaped a bit of cannabis? I’m captivated. I’m consumed by qualia.
We often say to people who study Archeology, or Cultural Anthropology, or Philosophy or Art History, or anything else along those lines that there’s no demand for it, that society desperately needs plumbers and nurses and people who studied STEM. But I don’t think that’s fair: IF YOUR BRAIN CAN EXPERIENCE WHAT IT MEANS, YOU’RE PART OF A RARE MINORITY IN SOCIETY AND HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO BASK IN IT.
Do we really need someone to write about the herbal knowledge of Pomo hunter-gatherers in rural California from the late 19th century, when people are dying on the streets of San Francisco today? When you truly bask in something, when you submit to the experience and immerse yourself in it, then you dignify its creator. And if the creators became the victims of sex slavery and genocide, then there is very much something to be said for that.
I guess I could turn it off. I could ditch the cannabis, become like the average white collar American and start functioning on Aderall and Caffeine and become a productive member of society. But I can’t say I want to. And I can’t even say I feel guilty about that. I can hardly see myself doing a white collar job ever again.
I suppose I could imagine myself maintaining a graveyard. To wake up at 6AM and ride your bicycle to work, to see the beams of light reflected in the fog around the moss-covered gravestones at 7 as you start your shift, as your head hurts and every nerve in your body suffers because your entire personality is incompatible with waking up early, that is a spiritual experience. And maybe then you’ll learn something the Aghori know.
One week into my tolerance break now, I feel as if I understand how to articulate what I really want from life in words: To find somewhere in the vast expanding darkness, bright specks of light that everyone else ignores.