There is no single accepted universal meaning of life. Scholars have debated for millennia without a concrete resolution, while in the meantime countless individuals have lived, struggled, thrived, suffered, and died. With meaning? Without meaning? Does it matter? Who cares?
Individually, subjective life is full of meaning. Ephemeral in a universal context, subjective meaning is all that we have as individuals to gauge our existence against a backdrop of immutable physics and mathematics. We each have our own story.
In weaving our own tapestries of meaning, whether combining our threads with others or cutting loose, each story may be interpreted either as a fleeting microcosm or an entire universe filtered through myriad perspectives to form the gestalt perceptive “foam” often referred to as reality.
The languages in which our stories are told, or in which others’ stories are interpreted can be verbal, written, visual, physical. We can use sound, sight, and touch to transmit and receive, with varying success and ability. All is filtered through each individual’s lenses.
As an artist, I revere those who maximise the ability to communicate meaning in the most general of terms. Words change their meaning over time. Metaphors come and go. Everything is fleeting.
Take this production by Conspiracy, a team of programmers, musicians and visual artists:
For some perhaps this seems to be a simple diamond hovering through a bunch of landscapes.
For me, a pulsing light representing the id, from the potential of childhood encased in a simple polygon traverses a world of discovery, from birth to death, learning the landscape, experiencing hardship and loneliness, companionship, beauty and danger, facing the unknown until ultimately we take the final journey.
Seven billion stories unfold, without uttering a single verbal word, or telling us how to feel, the simple vessel of meaning in a three minute demo leaves itself open to our own subjective interpretation.
Other narratives may tell a similar story, with starkly contrasting aesthetics and agendas:
On a geopolitical scale, the world is complex, often dark and confusing. The contemporary canvas of existence is one of noise, where every colour, every thought, every feeling crashes into our subjective experience constantly, streaming into our minds through social media, television, radio, newspapers, books, podcasts and blogs.
The very idea of a shared experience, a common ground, a single accepted “safe zone” where we can all be human seems so distant. It seems much easier to reject it, and seek personal meaning in my own reality however ephemeral and universally meaningless it may seem.
But, in one way or another, the chemical processes in my body influence yours, yours influence others, and so on. All seven billion of us are physically entangled with each other through vibrations of sound and electromagnetism, and the billions of our ancestors who were born and died before us, and all of our descendants, whether we acknowledge or desire it or not.
All I know is it takes a shape, a colour, a sound to give meaning to an idea that stretches beyond racial, cultural and ethnic boundaries. That knowledge can be used to promote peace and understanding as much as it can promote hatred and violence.
Seeking a common ground, where our agendas are clear, and where the interests of a peaceful coexistence trump those who would manipulate our minds to their own ends may seem to be a losing battle. Is it even a battle worth fighting? And how should that battle be fought?
There are seven billion answers to this question.