Weave: On Freedom

Freedom is not the same as having the capacity to endlessly consume. The latter is not freedom, its cancer. And I fear we Americans are confusing the two all the time.

What happens when we define freedom as addiction? We pervert the original vision the founders had of Man, a vision far too cognizant of his shortcomings and tendency toward corruption. And we bring the excesses of Promethean man to its logical conclusion.

Having been unsatisfied with stealing fire from the gods, Promethean Man consumes it endlessly, and burns up his own insides in the process. This may feel dramatic but I think it is an apt metaphor for some of our consumptive patterns, especially as they unfold on social media.

Exteriority shapes interiority, and vice versa. If we interface with the world as though its only purpose was to bring us constant dopamine hits, we will start to treat ourselves and each other in this way, like heroin hits. We will find ourselves easily bored and untrained in the ways of solitude. 

That pioneering spirit which has defined the American ethos for so long is going to start to look like restlessness, a murky lack-of-centeredness; like the fictional story of John Smith falling for Pocahontas in Terrence Malick's gorgeous 'The New World,' where Smith could not fully surrender to his love because he had no center on which to stand in the first place. He searched endlessly for something outside of himself perhaps because within there was nothing solid to be found. And in this sense, it was not Smith who discovered the new world but Pocahontas, one where many Europeans were strangers in a more tragic sense of that word, as they were strangers to themselves. To make this alienation an aspiration is to complete the act of selling your soul.