Selling Charlie's Sunset
On the exposition of my thin desires, and the epistemological role of the crucible when it comes to knowing the difference.
Life can sometimes come at you so fast and feel like such a crushing weight that you’re forced to let go of every superficial concern that you once had. Since you would not voluntarily let them go, life simply forces you to. You must confront your limitations, mortality, hopes, fear, and desires. Then, after a 16-hour day of trying to keep your head above water, of survival, you turn on the television and see Jason Oppenheimer on Selling Sunset faking a self-important phone call, or run across twitter feud regarding the results of a poll about Barbenheimer, or witness what seems like everybody else on the planet (that place known as the Internet) posting their fitness W’s. All the while you are just happy that you made it to the end of the day. And then something more terrifying happens: rather than the television or youtube videos or social media scrolling serving as a tranquilizer for the soul, as you had hoped or expected it would—a medication that might help you fall asleep, or at least take you away from your anxiety for a moment—these things feel like a heap of burning coals on the head and the heart, and you realize that they are not your friend. It is the point when you know that the decadent entertainment and the real suffering you endure cannot co-exist. You finally encounter reality, in its rawness, and the lightness of being you see in the various tubes around you becomes unbearable; you realize that the reality of your experience is the real stuff of life—not the mediated reality that has been piped into your head day and night by the technicians of the artificial. The responsibilities that lie before you become everything. The fourth wall has been shattered.
If I’ve learned anything since the short story that I’m about to tell you, it’s that the fourth wall is one that I must shatter each and every day in order to remain in the real.
Between 2018 and early 2020, this process of coming back to the real was a daily activity for me. I forced myself to look at the messiness of human life, and then to immerse myself in it and learn to be in it. The juxtaposition of that life with the curated world around me was enough to make clear what was real and what was not. And this forced me to make some serious choices about how I wanted to live.