A Dream

Monday, June 23, 2008

Suppose for one moment that there exists a world that is very similar to ours except for one aspect. Suppose that one aspect is that sight is done in reverse. In this world, you do not see things. Rather, you are allowed to see things. You can see the image of something because it lets you see it. In this world, vision is achieved in reverse - unless an object allows you to see it, it will remain invisible to you. Inanimate objects possess no will, and are allowed to be seen as soon as they are within the range of normal sight. Every thing else, the living creatures, cannot be seen until they see it fit that you see them. This is a world where everyone is a ghost until they decide to come alive.

A child is born within the confines of PGH. He is born blind and seeing at the same time. Around him are objects - a bed, a stainless steel pan, and fluorescents flickering above. Sounds of rejoice are heard, but there is nobody else around the room. The baby cries at his fate, his fate of being alone. Suddenly, he is hoisted by an unseen hand, held with his feet and inverted into the air. A mild slap in his buttocks is felt. He cries some more. The infant blinks, and in opening his eyes, he sees the first person of this world - his own mother. She is smiling, and there are now two of them in the room. He calms down, and rests at the mother's bosom. He shall remain alone with her in this world for a while until he feels the need to be alone for the first time.

In the next room, a man is dying in his bed. The room is noisy, but there is no sound of mourning. Death is merely the disappearance of a person, and in a world where people are mostly unseen, this is nothing out of the ordinary. Soon he expires and as the beddings is changed; his body is discarded with the sheets. There is no remorse spent on the man. And the only thing he will leave behind are memories of his voice, and only for as long as those who have heard it are able to keep the memory alive.

In Malate, a young man walks into Common Grounds, a noisy club. As he steps into the door, he hears the booming fusion music. The interior is filled with chairs, tables, drinks, lights. He stands alone in the middle of the bar and takes a drink. He feels dancing around him, elbows rubbing, hips grinding - but he is the only person in the room. The music plays on, and soon he feels the creep of alcohol in his blood. He starts dancing as well, without being inhibited. He will not be seen by anybody else - hence he can do whatever he pleases and is never embarrassed. The sun rises, and the music dies down. The man quietly finishes his drink, gathers his belongings and leaves the bar without ever coming across another human being. The man feels satisfied, and will keep on going back, though fully knowledgeable of the fact that he will never see what it truly is like to be with people.

Along Taft Avenue, cars move to and fro, but without any drivers. In this stream of traffic, no cursing is heard, only car horns. People do not curse, for there is nobody to curse, the cars could be moving by themselves to nobody's care. In this world, traffic rules are carried out with religious zeal. Pedestrians cannot be seen by the drivers and could be anywhere. When the stoplight turns to red, all cars stop as necessary, and never moves an inch too soon. Public transportation can only stop at certain parts of the road at certain times, for there is no telling if there is anybody flagging a jeep down. One simple cannot see such things. Work for the transport driver is a thankless one. He will never really know whether he has a passenger or not. Instead he just drives in loops, stopping and moving as dictated by his schedule, never waiting for anybody. People go places without coming across other people. Everything is made quickly.

Within the University of the Philippines, a class in Sociology is in session. Books are on the table, writings are on the chalkboard. There is an examination on going, but no papers are ever used. Examinations are done verbally, for there is no telling how easily one could cheat his or her way in a written exam, with the eyes invisible from the professor. In the examination, everybody is silent until their names are called, and by then only the professor and the student. Nobody ever cheats, for whispers are too easily heard. Books are always available but the answers are never made to appear in books for it will make things easy for the students who need to learn hardship. Such is the conduct of learning in this world, a world were books are always open, and never able to teach what is necessary.

Two friends are walking side by side along the Bay Walk. They have known each other since birth, and have grown up alongside one another, but without ever seeing each other. They talk of many things, food, the view, the passing kite that is pulled by the same air that pushes it, the band of instruments playing at a distance. Adjacent to them the sun is slowly setting. Both friends remain quiet. In this world, people hardly stop talking. By giving out commands, opinions, expositions, they are deemed existing. The moment people stay quiet, they are assumed to be no longer there. There is no silence but that of visual silence. But as the sun set, the two people stood quiet. The embers of the afternoon sun touched the see and turned the waves into magnificent burning ripples of fire. At the last possible moment, just before the streetlamps lights up and the sun vanishes, the two friends look at each other and see for the first time – and only for a few fleeting moments. They will never see each other again for the rest of their lifetimes, but they deem the experience to last a lifetime. They are to get married soon after, and live their merry lives at the companionship of the other.

This is the world of effects. You see the consequences of people but never the cause. A fire is lit, a tree is cut down, a bottle of milk is overturned, and people never ask how. In this world, everything is explained by not explaining at all. Things are just as they are. The cause is always unattributable, and people have learned to be accepting of this fact.

This is the world of will. People are no longer inhibited by coexistences hence they do as they please. They are no longer made liable for their actions, and they develop their own set of principles. Some people grow conscious of the unseen world, and try to imagine as though they were within his presence - though he will never be really sure of such a thing. Others will learn to be carefree, assuming that the world is indeed for their own purposes - and mankind is a solitaire in the rough. Criminals are indistinguishable from saints. Saints, indistinguishable from gods.

This is a world where privacy exists as the most important element of life. People go about with their lives without ever letting themselves be seen by most people they know. And in being able to do so, gifting another with the privilege of vision becomes almost priceless, more so than respect, and only a little below true love. Couples get to see each other, and then shy away at first sight, or they stay within the vision of each other, and find the world suddenly cramped, choking. There is no room for two people in the world, and they soon make do with the setup of being with each other and never seeing eye to eye. In a world where privacy becomes more valuable than living, life itself becomes privacy incarnate.

In this world, loneliness is a constant in the atmosphere, from man's first breath in living in this world, until the last one he draws shortly before his death. Loneliness becomes a companion of life itself, and soon enough it becomes accepted in normalcy. In this world, loneliness is the vision that never disappears. One accepts his solitary nature as quickly as he would the need of air to survive. This is the world where everybody is born alone, lives alone, and dies alone, and everything is done in communal singularity.

I had a dream last night, and in that dream this world is real.

Written for Mau, at the request of writing an essay about changes made by information technology. Republished with permission.

1 comment:

Menaya Garces said...

This is beautiful. A world of effects, indeed.


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