Sisyphus, stay! 

Sisyphus, stay!

It always comes back to some nihilistic sense that, while there is but reality and nothing more, even reality is superficial. An associate remarked the other day that in order to achieve one's principles one must sacrifice those principles.

This is to some degree true, but perhaps only for a certain limited set of paradigms. In a time when I believed in causes such as Liberal or Democrat or Leftist or even Anarchist, I could be heard to lament that understanding was difficult in the practical sense. My childhood battle was heavy metal and creepy horror. In the age of the Antichrist Superstar when imitation-of-life violence in the wake of Tarantino has become so stale that we must suffer imaginary matrices to justify gratuitous violence one can only marvel that the censors don't wish for the good ol' days when Ozzy made himself a target, King Diamond fed the frenzy, and antipersonnel art spat rhetorical shrapnel to obliterate Private Ryan.

And yet amid it all it was easy enough, being raised in a holiday-Lutheran setting, to imagine the difficulties some people had with Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, and others. But in allowing space for understanding one might find their opponent stepping up, rabidly gobbling every inch given. By the time it was over and "Luke Skywalker" inherited the PMRC mess, the mudslingers had advanced; arrests were made, lies were published, and hysterical censorship advocates staged a fake war for children's minds.

There really was no point to trying to understand the opposition then. But in order to be inclusive, tolerant, and accepting ... how did I find myself intolerant of the ideas that breed censors?

In the extreme, we might look to the recent Bush Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and while the former is more understandable than the latter, we might look to the "peace" movement (as opposed to an anti-war movement) and say, "What are you going to do?" What, as a pacifist must I resort to violence? Come now: the people won't revolt until they're starving, perhaps, but did anyone ever bother to ask why exactly they're starving?

And what makes the whole schmoo difficult to balance is the wobbly factor introduced by the simple observation that none of it really matters. In the end, bin Laden gets part of what he wants as American troops move out of Saudi Arabia, but it doesn't really matter.

I might get someone's attention by smashing them in the back of the head with a two-by-four, or, as some would have it, flying a couple of jets into the World Trade Center, but in the end, what of it really matters at all? At best, I've pissed somebody off, and what's more they can point to the revocation of principle.

And in the end, this is what I get from a conversation that seems a thousand miles away. A friend was lamenting the failure of another friend; when you really need him, it's always about himself.


As I sat and listened it struck me that for my friend, too, it was all about himself. I might agree in principle as regards the specific situation, a seeming matter of common decency, but beyond that let's just leave the broader splatter of crap out of it. It's always about the self; even communalism is about the self; cooperation is about the self.

There is nothing that is not about the self.

But why do we waste so many words, so many dollars, and so many hours of life teaching children otherwise?

It's not to condemn the Lutheran pastor who taught me, "God first, others second, self last." I may disagree with most (including atheists) about God, but from sharing to cooperation to the godforsaken buddy system, many Americans of my generation were taught the benefits of cooperative, and to some degree communal, thinking.

And, just like, "Liberty and Justice for all," some of us bought that crap. And we're stuck with it. At thirty I've come to see life according to a high-minded notion of species and cooperation; sometimes I think it's just politics to justify the things I think are cool: legalized marijuana, literate and daresay educated masses, space travel, artistic freedom, longevity, orgasms ....

But instead of disgust I admit to feeling a small measure of pity. My friend is trying; really, he is. He just wants to get on with his work so he can get about making other people's lives better. But in order to do that he has to stand up and make certain demands of others on his own behalf, and on a certain level I share his disappointment at the response. More importantly, though, I mourn the simple fact that, at present, I am simply out of magic tools to make the guilt of selfishness go away. I am not a priest; he does not believe in God. I have no Frinkabater. I have no hocus-pocus.

Of course, who says it's my hocus-pocus to give? Who says its mine to give a damn at all?

Return to Main Page


Add Comment

On This Site

  • About this site
  • Main Page
  • Most Recent Comments
  • Complete Article List
  • Sponsors

Search This Site

Syndicate this blog site

Powered by BlogEasy

Free Blog Hosting