Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur”
(NOT) COMING SOON
Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur”
(NOT) COMING SOON
Before I start this rant I can’t help but feel like I’ve read everything I’m about to write before. This “perspective” on Valentine’s Day, a day meant for love and affection, is nothing new or original, and has been expressed by plenty of people, probably more eloquently than I am about to considering I’m doing about three things at once at the moment.
That’s my disclaimer I guess. Oh, and it’s two days late.
What I’m going on about is of course the way Valentine’s Day seems to have become the commercialization of Love.
St. Valentine was, contrary to popular belief, not a single person. Rather, St. Valentine represents a whole host of saints who were martyred during the reign of the Roman Empire when the Church was still young. The more popular story, and most probably the one that led to the association of Valentine’s Day with Love, is the story of one specific Saint whose actual name was lost to time. He became famous (or infamous) throughout the Roman Empire for carrying out marriage ceremonies during a time when it was forbidden. The emperor of the time (and his name escapes me) forbade marriage to all young men since he thought men in love weren’t as good soldiers.
The Saint disagreed, and he carried out marriage ceremonies in secret until he was discovered and consequently sentenced and executed.
A few hundred years later, the Pope declared February 14th St. Valentine’s day.
While the foundation of this day is admittedly romantic, a Saint martyred for the sake of love, society today has completely lost sight of that, as it has a lot of things.
I’ve suddenly lost my inspiration for this rant, and it comes as I realize that people don’t really take Valentine’s Day that seriously. At the very least, I definitely don’t.
It’s an insult to the concept of Love and Companionship to accord a lone and single day for the celebration of it, and ultimately reveals what an ostentatiously greedy and self-serving day Valentine’s Day really is.
If anyone actually reads these, your thoughts would be great :)
“Humanity’s true divinity lies in its ability to create,”
– Peter Joseph, Zeitgest
We, as a species, are relatively weak. The lack of impressive claws or savage teeth might make some people wonder as to how in the world we evolved to build the civilizations we so cherish today. But the human mind is graced with the ability to do something so incredible, and yet so taken for granted, we barely acknowledge it as the miracle it is. Indeed, as we acknowledge it less and less, we’re less inclined to tap into this ability of ours and as a result we lose sense of the universe around us. In the end, we’re left with an existence so devoid of spirit and color that we, in all regards, lose our humanity.
Put simply, the mind has the ability to imagine, and to create. But we’ve all heard these flashy words before, from well-meaning famous quotes like Einstein’s “Imagination is more important than knowledge” to ambiguous descriptions from artists trying to tap into their “creative” side. What in the world does it mean though? “Imagination” is one of those words that describes something in an abstract sort of way, an intangible sort of way. A useless sort of way. Especially when understanding what imagination means is the difference between using it and not at all.
There is an incredible amount of examples for what imagination is, but that’s only because imagination is really just a word for something else, something inherently fundamental in the way the human brain works. Our ability to comprehend things like symbols and metaphors (one object or idea representing another object or idea, for example the way the sun is used as a symbol for happiness, truth, rebirth and various other things that are seemingly unrelated) is actually the exact same mechanism used to associate the things we perceive on a much simpler level, for example the way we can associate speed with a car. In the example with the sun, the things it symbolizes are associated to it in an abstract method. In the example with the car, the speed is associated to the car as an base characteristic of that object.
I’m coming to realize that examples aren’t my thing. Let me try again.
The ultimate point being made can be understood when we think about the “role” of originality and creativity in today’s society. In the world of today’s media, literature and art, we have writers, graphic designers, artists, authors and various other professions that make it their goal to produce some sort of creation that embodies a unique and “original” idea. When these people fail, the masses are ruthless and relentless on their criticism of the said creation.
Here’s an example I’m more confident of. Recently the over-hyped movie Avatar directed by James Cameron came out, and the box office results were historical. For all those who had the mental capacity and attention span to look past the incredible CGI and effects realized something very unsatisfactory. For the minority of today’s population that appreciates a storyline more than fancy effects, Avatar was a huge disappointment. Why? Because Pocahontas and The Last Samurai pulled off the exact same story, except better. The story in Avatar was said to be “unoriginal”.
Now let’s stop there for a moment. This was an expensive movie, and hours upon hours of work went into it, we would therefore assume we’d have a public reaction proportional to the amount of work. Hard work pays off! They say. That obviously was not the case.
I would argue that this dissatisfaction is fundamentally rooted in the human mind’s passionate drive to form new connections with the world around it and to create a new perception or interpretation. The Unoriginal Story, offering nothing new or of value that the brain can build off of, does not satisfy this primal instinct. And while I call it a “primal instinct”, I use the term loosely. We’ve become disassociated from it, since the society we live in finds ways to keep us entertained and never bored, and we no longer feel the need to think on our own. A problem, therefore, takes root.
Creativity is often considered to be first and foremost a tool for artistic endeavors, and only artistic endeavors. This under-represents the miracle that is our mind. Creativity and imagination are fundamental aspects of the way we think and can be used just as impressively in every area of human understanding. The mathematician devises a simpler way to reach a solution by forming a new connection between two relationships. A programmer can take a 20 line function and reduce it to 3 lines in a way that would surprise the programmer himself. A chemist will, in the right mood of course, come up with an ingenious new way of creating a compound. All these are just as good examples of Creativity as an application in art, or literature.
The problem is that we don’t seem to understand that. We limit where we think we should apply creativity.
We do the world a disservice when we memorize a piece of information. Memorization, like the unoriginal story, is the bane of the human mind. In the same way, by memorizing something we give the brain nothing to work with, nothing to build off of. That piece of information will just be floating aimlessly in the cloud of neurons, disconnected and alone, incapable of merging with another tidbit of information to form a more complex web of relationships.
You can really understand what I’m getting at if you’ve ever sat in a highschool science class. Fluorine has a higher electronegativity than Rubidium, they tell us. The students scribble down this seemingly irrelevant piece of information, storing it on a piece of paper just so that they can re-memorize it later on when the test-date comes around. Even when we do formulate an explanation, it’s often devoid of a true fundamental understanding of the atom as a piece of the universe and of nature, and instead is an understanding that represents the atom as a term limited to the science room. The fact of the matter is, if students, when presented with a fact, tried to establish it within their minds by relating it to all the other pieces of information up there, this new fact would become a part of the aforementioned neural web. This would explain that odd phenomenon of students studying (memorizing) for hours upon hours only to do horribly on a test when the kid next to you who skimmed through his notes ten minutes before the test managed to get a grade embarrassingly higher.
Reaching out with the mind in the areas of science and math is no different than imagining a design when in art or a character when writing a story. They use the same mechanism of connections and relations. That is what the flashy word “Imagination” really represents. It represents the building of a network as the universe feeds us perceptions and sensations, a network that grows more and more complex and that evolves to staggeringly higher levels of understanding, allowing us to contemplate and accommodate even more facets of the universe that it is simply waiting to reveal to those that possess the miraculous driving force of a curious mind.
It’s time we reconnect to the most incredible thing we as a species are capable of, and that is quite simply the power to connect.