The Gustavian Weekly

The subversion of sense | The Gustavian Weekly

By Dimitri Diamanti Staff Columnist | October 29, 2010 | Opinion

To start, I would like to relate a little anecdote of mine that I hope will illuminate my thoughts here.  Recently I was wandering through the Arboretum, on a particularly windy day, when I realized, for whatever reason, that I was hardly using my sense of smell. I was surrounded by things to be sensed, but wasn’t bothering to do so. Naturally I immediately began smelling industriously to ensure that I was not being denied some delight of the senses. But for the rest of the walk the thought stuck with me, why had it not been second nature for me to automatically smell?

Historically, smell has been an incredibly important tool, helping to discern a grand varieties of things, but here, in the pantheon of my mind’s functions, it was relegated to a rather undistinguished level of priority. When I thought about it further, I realized a number of other such important tools have also been rendered  less and less important in the modern day-to-day routine.

Our bodies really provide us with very little today, they protect and house our minds but that’s about it. Otherwise, what comprises our existence is trading our time and the processing power of our minds for both comfort and necessities. We are being compensated, yes, but the general modern lack of impetus has rendered the rest of our actions meaningless and superfluous to survival.

College especially seems to have this effect on people: our lives here are so compartmentalized into the places and times where different types of activities happen. There’s the place I eat, the place I sleep, the place I study, where I drink, the places I socialize, where I am entertained; its all laid out for me. I hardly even have to think about it; I just have to think about what activity I want to do and whether it’s time appropriate to do it.

Really, I don’t even have to think about that. If I wanted to simplify, I could simply submit in all matters of personal preference entirely and follow a completely organized, pre-ordained path, and I could do that without it seeming strange. It is very strange, however; it is haunting to think that the only decisions and judgments made during these large tracts of my life could be rendered completely inert by convenience. I am used to my actions feeling inert or meaningless due to existential angst or my personal philosophy or whatever, but convenience is a far more insidious and dastardly foe.

Fortunately, however, we do not have to accept this bleak picture of our present state of affairs. If we desire it and have the slightest bit of will, we can provide the coloration to life that gives it vibrancy; we can explore our senses and surroundings, but otherwise we subsume ourselves into complacent oblivion.