Before Michael Caine classed it up in Interstellar, the 2014 revisit of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night was a poem that English majors read. The most recognizable work by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, the work was (it is said) inspired by Thomas’s dying father. It urged him to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Live, while you still can.
Not bad advice, given in assorted formats by various philosophers, writers, and thinkers through the ages, and words we best heed before we lie on the deathbed. Regardless of how old we are, what we do, and the level of our physical ability, we are all given 24 hours each day and enough breaths to get through them. It is what we do with those 24 hours, and those breaths, that makes a difference, although it’s understandable if we doubt that this is so.
Movies, magazines, talk shows, pop-up ads, Facebook memes, reality TV — the ultimate result of these highly influential corporate products is that the people who consume them (that’s us, the “consumers”) often feel that we have no good to give to the world: we do not have the staff, the money, the prominence, the influence, the financial backing to reach lots and lots of people with what we do or say, so why bother?
So . . .
We consume — not just things, but trivia, spending an increasing amount of time with our heads bent, eyes focused on a small digital phone in our hand. Flip, flip — we scroll from one social media post to another, the most demanded of us that we Like it, or Retweet, or Share. Sometimes, we get extra creative and type out something salient:
Very little is asked of us but to look and absorb, and as a result, we are becoming accustomed to doing — actually doing — very little throughout the day beyond that which is required of us for a job, or for school, or for the corporatized community service activities we are pressured, er, encouraged to participate in, to prove that we are “valuable (yet not valuable enough to pay) members of society.”
But in the same way that we were not designed to eat, and eat, and eat without expending our energy somewhere, we human beings were not designed to be consistently entertained, constantly led from one (digital) event to another, required to do nothing but passively accept what is put in front of us. Brains, in their own way, have the capacity to grow fat and complacent.
We humans were designed to create, to make, to take existing material and fashion it into something new: we knit, cook, garden, write, paint, sculpt, make soap, do woodwork, question, imagine, and think great, original thoughts.
Or rather, we should be, and would be doing more of this if we weren’t looking at the creations that other people have created — many of these, if they are put forth by mass media (90 percent of which is controlled by a mere six corporations) which do little more than lull us into a particular way of thinking, bait us, persuade us, prod us in a particular direction (left . . . or right) and leave us feeling increasingly inadequate.
There is no other You on the planet. There is no other person given particular skills, interests, abilities, desires, dreams, and people around you, who can benefit from your putting to use those good things.
Let us not go gentle into that quiet darkness of lethargy, stagnation, and dormancy.
Rage, rage against complacency, obedience, and boredom.
Sometime, before we die, let’s get off the phone and do something which only we can do.
I write. My Norwegian Artist paints, really, really well. Our cell phone does two things — makes and receives calls — and is a dinosaur in an age we call progressive. If you like beautiful art, then please view Steve’s original paintings, consider commissioning a customized artwork, and/or visit the merchants below to find Steve’s work as licensed, home decor prints. A companion article to this one is, When You’re Glued to Your Phone, You’re Not Creating.