Tuesday, February 3, 2004

A Crowd is Just a Gallery of Pictures

In Spanish, my junior year, Señor Smith asked some question and I was the only one to raise my hand. He made some comment along the lines of "Victor's the only one here", leaving out "who knows the answer". So from that we had a nice laugh and some conversations about how I was the only one in Spanish class, and all my classmates were just figments of my imagination.

I realized, at some point, that they were right.

Other people don't exist.

Those who walk around, smile, talk, and clearly exist in a physical sense, what are they? Are they human? No, they're just vague shells. Talking, moving automata and simulacra. They have no depth. What are their families like? What do they think, dream, hope, fear? What do they do in their spare time? As long as I'm just sitting at my desk listening to the teachers' lectures, none of those questions have any answers.

I can't feel terribly sad about tragedies that happen to people I don't know because those people are just names or numbers. When the World Trade Center was destroyed, I was upset in a general sense, but it never really bothered me that thousands of people lost their lives. And yet I can empathize with characters from books, comics, movies, television, roleplaying--characters that do not exist, never have, and never will--because they're more real to me than other people. I know they have feelings to be hurt, dreams to be lost, friends to be protected: I can see them, read about them.

But without a narrative like that explaining to me why I should care about these people, I just don't.

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