idol |ˈīdl| noun
an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.
Idols are ancient, bizarre objects, aren’t they? They’re for primitive people who believe that praying or sacrificing before the peculiarly crude work of art will bring their wishes and desires to fruition. Idols are obsolete; we’ve moved on, have we not?
I believe this a modern illusion.
To be sure, we have progressed in so many ways, but our human psyche is the same psyche that was in these primitive ancestors of ours. Life has changed drastically through the technology of our greatest minds; we live in an veritable elysium of which the primitive mind could only dream, yet dreams still come and we long to live in infinite realities. We wonder whom we would have been in another life, or we wonder what might have been possible in this life had we not been involved in such or had avoided something else. Humans have always wondered, always wished. We are religious: we love to worship, to be transported out of our world, to call up fantasies and phantasms, or enter into the metaphysical, the ultimate reality.
Idols are merely the symbol, never the reality. Our ancestors knew that, though we mock them.
Idols are, in fact, all around us if we’d care to look, and we produce them in quantities unmatched at any time in human history. Our idols are no longer wood or clay; they are plastic and metal. We give them to our children and we gather them as adults. Fetishes to our fantasies! Our modern houses hold shrines of glossy screens that grant us our dreams in waking life, from Sunday football to cinematheque.
Do you have an obsessive attachment to an object? Does it deliver dreams to you or remind you of dreams that might have been? That’s an idol to you. And in a thousand years someone will call you the primitive ancestor and scoff.
I know of no more perfect idol, thus far created, than the video game console. It is the bane of the males of my generation. It promises us lives of the people we could never be; and, the more technology progresses, the more it renders fantastic realities in tremendous artistic beauty unparalleled in physical life. The developers play Siren to our psychology, designing playgrounds we never want to leave because they reward us with our desires, whatever they may be. No crude idol could ever deliver the way the video game can. It is our modern magic.
I remember a time when playing video games was something innocent that my friends and I did after school, but I also know that it eventually became an obsession. As a creative, I would get lost in the worlds of video games; I was compelled to go back to them more than I wanted; even in the activities of life, I would find my mind wandering to the world of my recent game. I could not focus because the smoke on the screen was obscuring my vision of the world around me.
Video games were my idol, and they delivered dreams I could never imagine on my own.
I played video games for over fifteen years, beginning with 8-bit hardware and progressing to the future-charged hardware of the past five years, and I know that I am leaving that culture at the golden age of its greatness, if greatness is aesthetic triumph with a malignant essence. I would think it incredible to find one popular video game untouched by the occultism that permeates the industry.
This week I no longer own a PS4; I am purging my collection, destroying my idol.
Therefore, farewell, old familiar. I won’t miss your corrupting influence, your ever-increasing violence, your burgeoning sorcery, your seductive visions, and your exploitation of human greed.
Since divesting myself of gaming, I can write again. When I go to sleep, it is no longer an empty vacuum–I can dream again. And, though this world is hard and painful and tortuous, that’s what makes it real, that’s what makes it meaningful.
So, I encourage all of you who read this to discover your idol. It’ll be that fixture in your mental landscape, that one thing you could never part with. It’s familiar, it’s almost like home, but it’s an illusion, and it’s draining your life and giving you nothing genuine in return.
However, a warning: don’t dash your idol on the rocks without first finding what gives well-being to your life, otherwise you will fashion a new idol, a heavier idol, and it will be all that harder to remove.
Trade death for life, madness for music.
It is infinitely worth it.