Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dating: Why?

A Cynic's Guide to Dating  A Nihilist's Guide to Dating  An Ataraxiast's Guide to Dating

Julien's Guide to Dating: The Whys

I think I want to fall in love again...

…but I don't really know what that means.

I honestly can't even really remember what falling in love is like... 

Part of the problem is that I'm a guy and thereby cursed with the sin of lust.

Sin starts right where the red arrow indicates, at the tip, actually. 

In some cultures, a penis that curves towards the left is considered especially sinister. LOL. Get it? Sinister, left, sin...get it, bah, whatever.
Here’s one such example of sin getting the better of me: If I'm buying groceries, I'll start wondering about the lady at the register... "Could she be single? What's her life like?” and then I'll think, "Yeah, it'd be kinda cool to get to know her as a person, and maybe even have a positive impact on her life...and then what I'll do…is FUCK her...FUCK. HER. HARD."

I'll be honest...if the line's moving fast, I'll skip right to thinking of the fucking part...

So sadly, up until recently, other than dirty filthy coitus, I couldn't really think of any other reasons to get in a relationship. Why should I get in a relationship? Why should anyone get in a relationship? If you're not gonna have kids, what's the point? Just empty sex? 
[Editor's Note: Just empty sex? That would be a great relationship.]

Fortunately, I racked my brain for twenty minutes and here's what I came up with!

Why Get In A Relationship?
  • The Bill Withers Theory
You should get in a relationship… so you’ll have someone to talk to...somebody to lean on…

…but, to be truthful, I've nary met a person who didn't have friends or family to talk to.

I wouldn't lean on this dude, even if he was the last dude to lean on, on earth!
  • The Show-Off Theory
 You should get in a relationship… to show-off and show-up your friends, enemies, coworkers, etc.

There’s nothing better than making other people jealous. Feel free to go places with your significant other and say to everyone, "Hey! Look at this dude (or hot piece of ass) I reeled in. We’re tight...that's why we're holding hands…in PUBLIC!!! BITCH!!!"

  • The 21st Night of September Theory
You should get in a relationship… because you love the other person (whatever that means).

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that it is possible to love another person without being in a relationship with them. But if you’re the possessive type, feel free to claim exclusive ownership of your man/woman/thing.

  • The S/he’s Perfect Theory
You should get in a relationship… because this person is perfect, and you want to be with them forever...

…but do you really want to be around somebody forever? 24/7? That sounds exhausting...I mean, even perfect people have to poop.

…but of course, this is different…your boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever actually is perfect.

All I can say then, is...good for you! You’re pretty lucky to have found someone perfect...considering the list of men and women throughout history that have actually been perfect is pretty short.

Come to think of it, I can only think of one man that was perfect. His name was Jesus.

  And he was celibate.


PS - Let's all lay off the bullshit-romantic clichés. All those old sayings are so tired…

"Oh, such-and-such completes me!" Completes what? Another person makes you whole? So before this relationship you were just part of a person, but now, thanks to this separate human being, you’re a complete person? What the fuck does that even mean?

PPS - Speaking of clichés, don’t people say, “If you love something, you should let it go”? Seems like getting in a relationship would be the exact opposite of that. Oh well, whatever.

PPPS - I know Jesus wasn't actually perfect...but he did have great hair.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ultimately...

I've given birth to you...

So that you may watch me die.
So that you may experience a deep sense of loss.
So that you will feel left behind.
So that you will be all alone.

Hopeless, in despair.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Death

Excerpts from Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych
"It's not a question of my appendix or my kidney, but of life and...death. Yes, life was there and now it is going, going and I cannot stop it. Yes. Why deceive myself? Isn't it obvious to everyone but me that I'm dying, and that it's only a question of weeks, days...it may happen any moment. There was light and now there's darkness. I was here and now I'm going there! Where?" A chill came over him, his breathing ceased, and he felt only the throbbing of his heart.

"When I'm not, what will there be? There'll be nothing. Then where will I be when I'm no more? Can this by dying? No, I don't want to! ...What's the use? It makes no difference. Death. Yes, death. And none of them knows or wishes to know it, and they have no pity for me. Now they are singing and playing. It's all the same to them, but they'll die too! Fools! First me, and later them, but it'll be the same for them. And now they're merry...the beasts!"

Anger choked him and he was agonizingly, unbearably miserable. "It's impossible that all men have been doomed to suffer this awful horror!"

Breathless and in despair he fell on his back, expecting death to come immediately.

In the depth of his heart he knew he was dying, but not only was he unaccustomed to the thought, he simply did not and could not grasp it.
_______________________

Life, a series of increasing sufferings, flies further and further towards its end - the most terrible suffering. "I'm flying..." He shuddered, shifted himself, and tried to resist, but was already aware that resistance was impossible, and again with eyes tired of gazing but unable to cease seeing before them, he stared at the back of the sofa and waited - awaiting the dreadful fall and shock and destruction.

"Resistance is impossible!" he said to himself. "If only I could understand what it's all for! But that too is impossible. An explanation would be possible if it could be said that I've not lived as I ought to. "There's no explanation! Agony, death...what for?"
_______________________

The question suddenly occurred to him: "What if my whole life has been wrong?"

It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might be true after all. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which  he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. His professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and his family, all his social and official interests, might all have been false...

There was nothing to defend.
_______________________

In the morning when he first saw his footman, then his wife, then his daughter, and then the doctor,  their every word and movement confirmed the awful truth that had been revealed to him during the night. In them he saw himself - all that for which he had lived - and saw clearly that it was not real at all, but a terrible and huge deception which had hidden both life and death.

All revealed the same thing. "This is wrong, it's not as it should be. All you've lived for and still live for is falsehood and deception, hiding life and death from you."

Prosti   Propusti
_______________________

There was no fear because there was no death.

-Leo Tolstoy

I really love this short story...

To people who haven't read the whole thing, first off, I suggest you do. It's a super-short read, it's funny, it's somber, and it's interesting.

Essentially, Ivan Ilych is a guy who's sick, but he's not sure what he has, and he teeters between hope and despair as he lies on his death bed. From the excerpts above, you can tell Ivan Ilych begins to call into question the purpose of life and what it means to live a good life...

I imagine you can read about death and the afterlife in the bible and other places...but Tolstoy's version is so much more...terrifying? Satisfactory? Real? What I mean to say is that I'm not a big "pearly gates" guy, or "God is bearded dude" guy...so I found this to be a kickass piece of literature. And I don't say that often about literature.

Near the end of the story, Ivan Ilych concludes that life is an illusion. Essentially everything we do in our everyday lives simply masks the reality that one day, we're all gonna die. It could be in a couple years, months, or days, but the true, underlying reality always awaits for us.

That's what I love about this short story. Your entire life you prepare for dances, look for a better job, worry about what kind of food you're eating...but it's pretty much an illusion. It's almost as though we're all playing pretend...we're all pretending the terrible inevitable won't happen to us.

Every adult, and even most teenagers, know that at a certain point or another, we will simply cease to exist. And yet, death doesn't bother us that much. Death bothers sick people. Death bothers old people. Death bothers people who are grieving a lost life. But for most of us, death is an afterthought. We're all aware death is there, but we do everything we can to bury that reality. It's bizarre. I sometimes wonder if as a society we're all too eager to avoid thinking about death. Certainly it can't be a bad idea to prepare for our confrontations with death...after all, death is the only thing that you really get in life.

Think about it. What do you have right now that you'll have forever? Nothing. But death...death lasts a lifetime. Longer, actually.

Maybe if we were more comfortable with the idea of death, we'd able to kindly grant others the right to die. You know? That way they could go out with a little dignity, instead of being unable to move, doped up on meds, in constant pain, and crapping their pants? (By that same token, 'Death of Ivan Ilych' could be viewed as a piece which argues strongly against giving people the right to die...)

But I guess the only way to "live life" is to not think about death. Yet the only difference between you (alive) and a dead guy (adead) is that your heart is still beating, and his ain't. On a universal scale, that's not a huge difference.

Meeting Death

When Ivan finally meets death, he discovers that death is actually nothing.

It's a weird thought. We all meet death and yet none of us really meet death. In fact, you die before you meet death. The only thing you know is existence, and death is simply the absence of that existence. Death is nothingness.

I suppose it makes sense then that we're afraid of death. Death is something we don't know. In fact, death is everything we don't know. Death is the complete absence of knowledge and being... Death is the absence of knowing, feeling, thinking, and being anything at all.

What's even weirder though, is that from a theoretical standpoint, existence is actually more death than life. Time and space (the universe) are infinite. You and I, we're finite. So let's do some quick math:

Let's say you're fortunate enough to live to the ripe old age of 92 (you're looking good by the way, are you using a new moisturizer?)

The universe/time/space is infinite.

So... 92 years, divide by infinity...equals...let me see...


Zero.

Life is actually the closest thing to nothingness there is! It's practically nothing. Life is essentially nothing. And death? Death actually is nothing! Or everything...depending on how you look at it.

So not only is there no death, there's actually no life! No wonder life is so scary. Life is practically nothing!

Anyway, now that that's all cleared up, I'm gonna go back to eating this bagel with cream cheese. Good night.

-ImNotJulien

PS - Of course, I'm talking in macrocosms...and most people don't live, or think, on that kind of scale...but that doesn't mean it's not real. Simply because we live our day to day lives in blissful ignorance, it doesn't exclude us from the larger universal truths. The good news is though, because life is so close to being nothing, it doesn't really matter whether it has meaning or not. Life just is. Well...life is more isn't than is, but you get the idea.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Disease of Entitlement

I just saw the Conan O'Brien documentary..."Conan O'Brien Can't Stop" (which should probably be called "Jay Leno Can't Stop" - har har har).


Anyway, as much as I like and respect Conan, the movie was a pointless waste of time. It had no real narrative, none of the poignant questions were asked, and overall it seemed like an afterthought on the part of the producers and director.

What I did find interesting though, and wished I could have seen more of, is Conan's real motivation for doing the tour and the documentary. Or really, what motivates a man to keep working after a $45 million settlement.

Although I can't recommend the Conan doc, I definitely would recommend fans of late night television pick up Bill Carter's "The War for Late Night". He gives an uber-detailed blow-by-blow of the whole Tonight Show fiasco.

To make a long story slightly shorter, back in 2004, Conan was prepared to leave NBC unless he was promised the Tonight Show in his next contract.

What's the big deal about The Tonight Show? For starters, the Tonight Show airs at 11:35pm, and at one point, was hosted by Johnny Carson. The earlier time slot means more money. The fact that Carson hosted it at some point also has some sort of symbolic value for the sycophants who actually watched that turd of a show. Translation: Conan wanted his name alongside his idol's.

Conan had followed Leno for some 15 years, and felt it was his time to stand in the slightly larger spotlight. Conan could have stayed in New York, and he could have stayed at 12:35. But he NEEDED to be on the Tonight Show. The documentary never really explains why Conan felt this way...and they probably avoided it on purpose, because the answer ain't pretty: Conan is sick with the disease of entitlement.

Conan repeatedly claims "I'm the least entitled guy I know", yet two seconds later is saying "I'm so angry other people [i.e. Jay Leno] get to be on TV, and not me."

Television ain't the make-a-wish foundation. It's based on ratings, revenue, star power...but mostly ratings. Conan's ratings sucked. I'll be the first guy to say that NBC didn't really give the show a chance to succeed, but nonetheless, Conan was master of his own destiny...not to mention, nobody really owed him the chance anyway  [I understand it's popular belief, but beyond your parents (and maybe your siblings) nobody really owes you shit in life. It's sobering, but true...more on this later].

The truth of the matter is, this sense of entitlement...that he is somehow owed something better than he received, is indicative that Conan O'Brien is likely a narcissist.

I'm not a big fan of Murray's "narcissistic triad", but bear with me, as it seemingly applies to Conan O'Brien:
  1. Entitlement: Conan felt he deserved the Tonight Show...because he's special...and, well, just because. Also, Conan worked hard...[so did Jay Leno]...but Conan worked hard too dammit...and Conan's a special little boy.
  2. Disappointment: Conan gets shived by NBC execs/his own team of agents, and becomes despondent. 
  3. Rage: Conan gets mad.
  4. Time-out: Conan is sent to his room to think about what he's done.
Alright, that last stage I made up.


But, in any case, it did get me thinking about what role entitlement, jealousy, envy, and to a lesser degree, jenvy, play in our lives and society at large.

As a kid I learned all about the green-eyed monster...mostly from those lovable Jewish grizzlies, the Berenstain Bears.

I'll be honest, I don't really remember the story too well. I think Bart or whatever the boy's name is, gets a cool looking bicycle (pictured above) and then his sister gets jealous, so she pushes him off the bike...or maybe she stole it and took it down to the ravine where all the potheads toke up, and traded the bike for some shit hash. I don't remember exactly, but it's something like that.

Anyway, the point is this: It's bad to be envious of what other people have. It's bad to feel you should have what others have.

I guess.

And yet entitlement seems to be an intrinsic part of North American culture: 'Oh, you don't have the new iphone? What a loser.'...'You bought a new car? This is a newer one'. From a young age, we're taught to want what we can't have, and be envious of who we're not.

Now entitlement can't all be a bad thing...otherwise, how could it still exist? It must somehow have benefited mankind at some point, since it's been selected for over the last few millions years: Ergo, entitlement increases your chances of survival.

Humans wouldn't have been around for long if we sat around saying "Please, big tiger, no, you eat me! I know we're both hungry, but I had lobster last night...so you go ahead..."

Bad example.
So it then makes sense that we have feelings of entitlement...and that we even get jealous of people who have more than we do...because, quite frankly, it's good for you and your survival!

Jealousy, envy, and entitlement are also all linked to upward-social comparisons. And being upper class is something we all strive for...I've never seen a person walk by a homeless man and wish for the hobo's clothes...and really, when was the last time you heard someone say: "You know what I deserve? A shittier job WITH LESS PAY!!!"

And it wouldn't make sense to hear that anyway. If you have less, you're less likely to survive.

So if entitlement is essentially good for your survival...how is it also a disease?

Entitlement works against the community and the populous at large. I could whip out some bullshit figure now, about how 95% of the world's wealth is under the possession of 5% of the people...but I don't really need to. All you gotta do is look around the world and see that humans aren't particularly good at sharing. It's the same thing that makes public health-care a novelty instead of the norm. The arguments are always the same: Why should I pay for yours? What did you do to deserve it?

In a bizarre way, entitlement slowly becomes this weird, wicked, misanthropic attitude. Entitlement blinds us...it makes us incapable of performing acts of benevolence.

At this point, I should probably point out that entitlement and benevolence are pretty much human concepts. I don't think a pack of hyenas considers benevolence, or entitlement for that matter, while they're tearing apart an old ass lion (I don't know if hyenas eat lions, but I think I saw it in the Lion King).

So maybe as a society, and as a human race, we're actually getting better, not worse. Maybe we've evolved from animals that had ZERO benevolence and 100% entitlement (with survival in mind) and we've slowly become...dare I say it...wiser? Kinder? Gentler? Nobler? (Is nobler a word? Fuck).

I know we have wars, and commit horrendous crimes against one another...but maybe the world's not headed to hell in hand basket. Maybe we're actually getting better.

The only thing I'm really basing this on is personal experience. I think entitlement is a very childish sentiment or attitude. We've all been the kid in the candy store.
I want it I want it I want it I want it (No, seriously, I kinda want this).
 But I've found that the older I get...the less I feel that way.

Quite frankly, there are very few things that I really want (besides basic human rights...which I'd also like to point out...are human). But of the things that I do want, I don't really feel all that entitled to have any of 'em...so I guess what I'm arguing is that it's probably possible to live without a huge, overbearing sense of entitlement...

But in its defense..entitlement is obviously a tremendous motivator for some people. Like good ole Conan.

-ImNotJulien

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mediocrity Haunts Me

I sometimes wish I was really good at ONE thing.

Swing and a miss.
Whether it's been sports, music, or academics, I've been pretty mediocre at nearly everything I've ever done.

Piano, hockey, soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, school, radio, furniture restoration, handyman work, writing, BMX...I'm average at all of the above.

Sometimes I think it's because I only have a cursory interest in many of these things....whereas some people know exactly what they want to do right out of grade school, or high school.

Not me.

At one point I went to a Toronto Police Q&A. Then I did stand-up for awhile. Then I worked as a garbageman. Then I studied psychology at university.

I was average at all of it.


Don't get me wrong...I'm alright at a lot of different things, but I'm not great at any one thing. Just passable across a multitude, and it's gotten me thinking about mediocrity...

I think a lot of people are probably cursed to be mediocre...actually, come to think of it, a lot of people are cursed to go without potable water (1 billion), shelter (1 in 5 worldwide), and food (900 million), but whatever.

The glass is half empty.

The point is, the rest of us, we're all very alike, because we're all pretty average. Average looks, average height, average weight, average smarts, average everything. Most people are pretty mediocre at their jobs, too.

The people we tend to idolize, however, are those who are exceptional at one thing or another. Musicians, comedians, athletes, artists...they all excel at what they do.

Now some would argue that they are born with an innate talent...and I wouldn't disagree, but there is one great equalizer out there for all us normies: Work ethic.

The problem is, work sucks. God does it ever suck. Working is like the worst thing ever. I love sitting around reading...watching movies...playing video games...doing nothing. Doing nothing is great. But apparently doing nothing doesn't build greatness.

QUIT READIN' AND GET BACK TO WORK!
So if you're mediocre like me, know that it won't be easy to make anything of yourself. You'll have to work harder than everyone else. And that's a tough realization to come to. Nobody wants to hear that. Nobody wants to hear "Hey, you'll exhaust yourself, and you still might not succeed..."

But I figure it's worth a shot. After all, nobody wants to be mediocre their entire lives. (Some people are probably fine with it, but they're already dead on the inside).

What I start to wonder about though, is whether or not anyone can ever get that chip of  mediocrity off their shoulder. I just watched the Foo Fighters documentary, and Dave Grohl talked about how during Nirvana's heyday, none of them ever felt like what they were doing was a big deal...and I guess in a sense, that's what has kept him motivated to make music this whole time. The guy has enough money. He certainly could have quit a long time ago. But obviously he's driven to prove himself, time and again.

Anyway, I don't know how much any of this is worth...but it's food for thought, and there's gotta be worse things than thinking...maybe.

-ImNotJulien

PS - Kind of a mediocre ending to this post...typical me.