By Alex Blum
NOTE: This one’s from freshman year, not as complicated, but a nice concept
Walking through the city, we find a world that spans outward from our perspective. The shining skyscrapers reflect an endless sky. The park benches reflect the shadows of trees above. But if it happened to be August 6th of 1945, the benches would reflect the ashes of dead children. The sky would reflect the death cloud of the city. These two experiences are necessary to paint a full portrait of the city, and yet we can only have one of them. Those who inherit the legacy of annihilation live in a different world than the Americans who cheered the news of the bomb. Those who have not experienced the ruin of the city cannot understand those who have. We all experience a portrait of the world, and yet we are enslaved within our own portraits. We deny the reality of the other because we are so trapped within our own experience, and our experience of the world is a Monad. Each human being can be seen as a Monad – a perspective, an observer, a cul-de-sac through which soul passes through matter. Can we ever see the city as it truly is? Can we transcend our own Monads and understand the reality of the other? We must create the perspective that is every perspective, the eyes that see the self as other and the other as self. This is the pinnacle of our conscious evolution, the Monad that contains all other Monads, and thus reflects reality most clearly.
We are ensnared in paradox, living as an observer in a world where all others are the observed. We see the world through our own eyes, a literal and metaphysical truth. I am myself and all else is other – and yet this is only true for one single locus in the universe. To anyone else, they are themselves and you are the other. This is a trivial fact, and yet within it we see the relativism that we are forced to accept. In 1945, we could not live as both an American citizen, joyous at the war’s end, and as a Japanese citizen, hunks of flesh hanging from our body as we found the corpses of our parents burned into the sidewalk. Our perspective is so painfully limited that we can never truly see the other as we see ourselves. We must pick a reality and stick with it, and other Monads are merely tertiary to our own. For the American citizen, the pain of the devastated Japanese is their problem. If the Japanese were victorious, then they too would shrug at the pain of the devastated American. But this is pure relativism. This is nothing more than slavery to the times that one lives in, and the space that one happens to inhabit. This kind of limited perspective is so simple and unevolved that we cannot stand for it – we cannot be relativists who entrench ourselves in one perspective and refuse to let go.
One Monad, alone, is a dead end. It is a slave to external stimuli, controlled entirely by its own experience and its own reasoning. The Monad must break free. It must expand over the whole world, and enrich itself through the perspectives of other Monads. And yet, this is the ultimate heresy to the ego. The ego fears other Monads, because the perspectives of others are dangerous. Our values, our ideologies, and our very souls must all face the infinite tide of the other. It is this tide, the sea of other Monads, which truly terrifies us. The suggestion that we may not be who we think we are. The suggestion that we are in fact what we despise in others. These suggestions cannot be entertained, and the perspectives that express them must be ignored. The American cannot empathize with the Japanese, nor the Vietnamese, nor the Yemeni, because it would cause our ego-crafted reality to collapse. If the other is the self and the self is the other, then we have murdered ourselves a million times over. Surely we could never face this, so we hide from it.
But we can hide from it no longer. To ourselves, we are the observer, but to everyone else, we are just one more face in the crowd. If we can justify the slaughter of other people’s children, then we should be willing to justify the slaughter of our own. If we cannot, then we are cowards who cannot face the repercussions of our own actions. Thus the synthesis of all Monads, the synthesis of all experience and all perspectives, leads us to a state of absolute empathy. When the other dies, we do not feel their pain. But if we did? If we saw every family as our own? If we saw every broken life as our own? That would be the end of hypocrisy. When we see the life of a drone strike victim as our own, it is no longer justifiable. As the intellectual distance between ourselves and our experience fades, so too will our excuses.
Perhaps that is wisdom – the attainment of many lifetimes worth of perspectives. The expansion of one narrow Monad into something far grander. We must evolve beyond the limits of our own perspective and attain the transcendental Monad, or we will forever be trapped behind the relativism of one observer and the rest of the world. We are only the observer in one reality, and that reality is no more legitimate than any other. Surely, we must act as if all others are unique observers of the world, a truism so utterly obvious that it hardly needs stating. Perhaps those who justify the suffering of others prefer solipsism. It would ease their conscience quite well.
This Monadology is a way of seeing the world through invigorated eyes. Empathy is our pathway to the Monads of others, and it is through those Monads that we may evolve as individuals. Each Monad is a spectrum, an array of color created through the interplay of light and darkness, with the material world acting as a prism. The surface reveals only a smiling face, a single hue, with all the rest buried deep inside. If we unearth the color within others that we see so clearly within ourselves, then we can transcend our individual limits and find a Monad that reflects more than just one point of view.
We are each experiencing a unique aspect of this world. Tucked away in every life is an aesthetic, a tone, a feeling, an immaterial force that that person came to represent. In stories, this is evident. The mythical framing of the character takes on a life of its own and becomes far more than the sum of its parts. We are all characters, each revolving around the perspective of the main character, who is at once everyone and no one. Can we kill? Can we ever justify the annihilation of the spiritual force that each human being truly, fundamentally is? We must seek to understand and absorb the experience and nuance of each Monad, each piece of the complete soul, and we will arrive at a more complete truth, and a more honest worldview.