What Mark Greif wrote about anaesthetic ideology
Maybe it’s the definition of experience (sorry, you’re going to read this word ALOT) as “the habit or creating isolated moments within raw occurrence in order to save and recount them.”
I picture myself journaling about a singular experience, midnight mid-summer skinny-dipping with friends, the writing of the paragraph its own diarist experience documenting a burned-up moment sequenced out-of-order with an end, and beginning, middle. End.
This teenage experience of wading in a moonlit lake would, like other novel experiences, “furnish your storeroom of memories: incidents of sex, drinking, travel, adventure”, experiences that are “limited in number, unreliable, and addictive.”
Now Greif does not grieve as much as I about the warning sign he nailed onto the hedonist storeroom of memories that live rent-free in my mind. He insists this habit of happiness-by-experience results in “a life of permanent dissatisfaction and a compulsion to frenetic activity.”
Anyway, you’re either over or under-whelmed by life, but the break doesn’t happen right away. One of his best parts: “you don’t wake up the morning after some final orgy of experience and discover that you can’t stand any more. It seems to be, instead, arbitrary and eruptive… experience becomes piercing, grating, intrusive. It’s no longer a prize, though it is the goal everyone else seeks. It is a scourge. All you wish for is some means to reduce the feeling.”
What next? Besides asking yourself rhetorical questions?
The tendency then is to double-down on intense augmented experiences. Or else you go to the other pole. No, not the one you’re thinking, though playing the song “Born to Die” in the background will get you literally closer to diminishing “experience’s reach” by learning (partially) how to “die”.
You’ll know when you don’t feel it, when ordinary moments dull your senses, when you lose the ability to see beauty, when you pass your joint left in a never-ending circle of hell because you can’t stop won’t stop practicing methods that “try to stop you from feeling.”
One trick is to 1) ask yourself how much you relate to the weeknd’s song “can’t feel my face” and 2) ask yourself whether the weeknd made better music before or after that song’s release.
You’ll have all the answers you need. If not, we’ll cover this some more later.