The Man Behind the Monitor

Don’t worry, I’m currently working on more INFP-related content, just taking a “short” break from such topics to explore… other thoughts. 

I’ve been thinking a bit about consciousness lately (as ya do). This train of thought was spurred by one of Vsauce’s videos on consciousness. I recommend watching it. However, I guess I won’t be asking the question of what is consciousness like Michael did as I will be just exploring consciousness. This post is from a journal entry I wrote today for an English class of mine, so it’s more of a train of thought than a detailed, structured post.

What is consciousness? Yes, that is a rather deep question.

On some days, I can’t help but feel… stuck. We all manage to interact with other people, other events, and other lives to the point that we don’t feel cut off. We’re in the ever flowing web of action, movement, and media that is the world around us that we feel like a member of society. We are a part of… life. Life is flowing and changing and rippling all around us, but we know how to ride the waves, we know how to navigate the waters. We’re not just someone riding the current; we are a part of the current. Even though we may only be a puzzle piece in a large expansive puzzle, we all feel a part of the much bigger picture.

I have felt this way before, but on some days, I feel stuck. I feel detached from everyone. There are moments where I just feel like sitting in a public place and just watch the people walk by. Everyone is so involved in their daily lives; everyone is so invested in everything. Of course, they are, who wouldn’t be? It’s rather fascinating, really, to just watch the people as they walk by and be able to glance at the tiny glimpse you’ll ever get of their lives.

I feel detached from everyone else. There are moments I sit in the corner of the restaurant, glancing at all of the people as they chat, eat, and have a good time. It can be relieving and relaxing sometimes not to be a part of that. To not be a part of society or a part of social life. To be detached. To be an observer for a few moments before the tide of life pulls you back in. I listen to the eating and conversations as I clean up tables at my job. I listen to the voices and chattering in the classroom before the teacher enters the room. Sitting quietly, isolated, alone in a crowd.

In these moments of detachment, I am aware of myself more.

I am not sure of what I am. I can feel myself, whatever “myself” is, coursing through my arms, legs, fingers, toes, ears, eyes, nose. I can travel down to my foot and feel the pressure on my heel and then feel myself quickly race back up to my head and feel the collar of my shirt scratching the back of my neck. My headquarters, where “I” am located, are literally located in my head. It’s as if I’m a towering skyscraper with two windows to stare out at the city down below, and yet I feel small in comparison to everything around me.

I can feel my brain in my skull sometimes. I feel like I’m located at the front of my skull, behind my eyes, with the large battery or computer that is my brain sitting right behind me. Some days, my brain feels empty, as if my skull is just an empty auditorium that projects thoughts, images, and feelings in the expansive empty cave of my skull. I can see my thoughts and hear them. Sometimes the empty cave plays music and I let it vibrate against the sides of my skull, letting the earworm distract me from present matters.

I can feel my brain more when I have a headache, turning a section of that empty cavity into a pulsing, aching mass of flesh and tissue.

“Myself”, whatever it is, is staring out the two holes drilled the front of my head so that “myself” can breathe and not be disconnected from the rest of the visible world. It’s so lonely in here every now and then. Sure, the auditorium will play dreams at night or daydreams in the day, but it’s so much better having two windows to look out and not be left out of the beautiful world outside.

My brain somehow manages to take the windows or monitors and create one ultimate image. I’m not sure what shape the image is, an oval or a circle. Nothing exists outside of the shape of image. This image is really, everything. As I let my eyes search the edges of my vision, I realize that the image is more like an ellipse. The space between my eyes has been cut out. This image… this monitor… it’s my world. I often wish I could look at other people’s monitors; peer out through other people’s windows.

I know how I feel, but how do other people… feel? I’m stuck in here, in this floating mass gliding through space. This fleshy machine of limbs, muscles, organs, tissues. This vessel carries me everywhere I tell it to, as I sit behind my monitor, staring out at the world through my eyes. This vessel disobeys me sometimes. My feet glitch and run into chairs and the legs of tables, stubbing my toes. I trip and fall. My foot looks for another stair step in the darkness where there isn’t one, and my foot falls a hundred miles.

The little person that is me is staring out through the two windows is trying to think through everything, watching and analyzing the people and situations outside my two windows, the only filters into the world around me. Sometimes I wonder if everyone I interact with has a mind as well or if everyone is a robot, somehow managing to interact with me in a humane way. Sometimes I wonder if my eyes and senses are just creating an intricate tale of humanity, like an extremely advanced dream, and that I’m stuck inside this empty cavity, believing everything I see to be real. Obviously, none of those thoughts could be true, but I have weird thoughts like that.

I don’t have to think about breathing or walking. I’m stuck inside a giant machine of tissue and organs. I have been transplanted inside this fleshy machine and awakened at birth. Is this the right body? Maybe my consciousness got put into the wrong machine at birth. It doesn’t matter now. I’m stuck here. I have to maintain and clean this organic computer or else it will take over. My consciousness will be too tired and the machine will be in control.

This body, though, manages to control me. I have to feed it, water it, clean it, put it to sleep. This machine is never satisfied, always craving, thirsty, hungry, aching, tired.

I am still unsure of what I am. I’m a thing, sitting behind a monitor, watching, taking notes. I have this giant auditorium, a giant mind to discover. Memories, thoughts, songs, images, and dreams to discover. I’m stuck inside yet I’m stuck outside too. There’s not I can do to change my current external life. Somehow, me, the man behind the monitor, manages to navigate the vast waves of life when this machine isn’t exactly fluid. Some days I feel like I’m in touch, literally, with myself and this machine, and I can play sports and run and jump and walk and climb without issue. Other days, I feel like I’m driving a car. Sure, I have experience driving this thing, but I’m still detached from it, and I make mistakes. I brake too hard. I go a little too fast, and I end up looking clumsy.

I’m limited. My arms only stretch so far. My legs are only so long. My head is only so big. My form is limited.

It’s weird, this organic computer. I can move my fingers at will. But what does that even mean? I don’t feel like I’m pulling a switch, telling my body to extend my hand or snap my fingers. These fingers are a part of me… they are me. I feel like I’m a lonely man behind a monitor, but I also feel like I’ve been stretched out into a doughy mass of a humanoid structure. My movements are weird and alien, but I’m stuck in this form.

When I think of a friend, I don’t think of their brain or their mental state. Sure, I might think of their personality, but I think of them. Their physical form. Who just thinks of someone’s mind?

Can I correctly identify myself as mind and body, or am I just a consciousness, a thing sitting inside a skull, a man behind a monitor? What am I?



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