I’m glad that the only faith that I’m into is George Michaels’.
Garrick… Where have you been you 80’s joyful dancing ninja?
- A Good Friend
I’m glad that the only faith that I’m into is George Michaels’.
Copyright © 2014 Hexx Allure.
When the death of a major public figure emerges such as Robin Williams, or Phillip Seymour Hoffman, or Maya Angelou, the many throughout the world collect to mourn, reflect, and contemplate. The difference between Maya Angelou and the two former names is that the first two died in their own hands, and one was intentionally done that way.
When juxtaposing Robin Williams with some other victims of suicide, there’s a very jarring note about the two: Robin Williams was enormously successful, and others end their lives as a result of not attaining success. There’s also other famed individuals who fell victim to suicide or suicide attempts whose work is widely praised: Tony Scott and Artie Lange, to name just a couple. I can’t help but over the last year or two no longer see success as an antidote to one’s grave emotional plights.
We live in a society in which we’re sort of unconsciously (and consciously, if you happen to identify it) brainwashed to live up to its expectations - success being one of them. Many of us feel defeated or demoralized or end up in a grave of self-abuse (literally, sometimes) if we haven’t yet met that criteria of success or expectation. And to compound those sullen feelings of defeat, we have social media bombarding us with images and stories of those who have received a taste of success, big or small. When exposed to those images or stories, even those who have tasted success may shrivel up a bit in their shells, feeling their own success was not adequate. They may be paralyzed in self-loathing, reflecting on what they haven’t done in their life. How tormenting.
Many of us try to be true to ourselves with our own individual ambitions and aspirations, with our goals and fantasies, but underlying it all is an undeniable craving to earn the respect of our family, friends, and peers - or even strangers whom we won’t ever meet. Perhaps it’s human, that craving; after all, we are an inherently gregarious race. Some seek success in the interest of financial gain; others, for respect or notoriety. Or for sexual/romantic marketing. And some are more modest than others. But these aren’t all the only reasons; why would I be writing this right now? There’s nonetheless that self-interested reasoning that comes with a hobby or passion we dabble in or devote ourselves to.
These stories like Robin Williams’s, to me, are a testament to what success is, which is already an ambiguous term measured in various ways. Here he was, an enormously successful artist who proved to not be impervious to (intense) despondence. I know that, as I tread this path of life, if I don’t find success, I must nonetheless find my own happiness, peace, and content. I must unplug myself from what society demands of me so I can embrace that peace and content. I think that’s why Russell Brand sought spirituality/philosophy - he realized that success and drugs are a futile and volatile propeller to peace. Success is sort of synthetic and disingenuous - it’s still a product of society. And it doesn’t render you invincible to sorrow. Philosophy can forever remain esoteric and largely emancipated from society. It bears an eternal armor.
That being said, it’s not unreasonable to seek success. Success, though it’s a product of society, is also a product of one’s labors (unless you’re Kim Kardashian; but, in not measuring success monetarily or with fame, is she successful?). To expect the most of yourself is, I believe, a component of living a life of virtue. I suppose it’s when you begin to put success on a pedestal that you’re susceptible to emotional or existential doom. But if you want to write a book or write an album, if you want to paint a picture or paint a house, if you want to become a lawyer or a doctor, even if any those seem like insurmountable undertakings, you should listen to that calling, even if success seems elusive or unimportant. There’s always a risk of not finding success, but at least you’ll have done something for yourself, and you’ll likely find others you have moved or affected as a result. If there’s any sin in the world (besides ignorance, as Socrates or Buddha might have said), it’s ignoring your dharma.
I don’t know why Robin Williams took his life. But, knowing how my hyperactive brain activity has worked (and still can work) at my expense, I understand what it’s like to feel those feelings. But Williams seemed to have a brain chemistry that surpassed the chaos of my own, and thus I have a hard time conceiving what that’s like. I do speculate whether that proved to be the root of the issue - that manic, restless pandemonium upstairs that isn’t sparse of words. And if those words come from malicious and insidious voices, it isn’t difficult to listen to them. On the flip side, if the dam that floods the mind with words is broken with positivity and ebullience flowing, it’s incredibly rewarding when they sink in. Yet for the chronically or inherently depressed, or to those who are introverted with chaotic minds and/or internal locuses of control, there’s always this vulnerability lurking somewhere in the mind and spirit that’s tempting to succumb to. That insidious voice that invites you to dwell on which isn’t true or on which isn’t the least bit constructive or healthy, is so tempting to subscribe to. It constantly tests one’s resolve, and many, under its mercy, break.
I wonder for how long Robin was feeling this way. Did he take his life as a result of specific events? Was it troubling, agonizing feelings stretched out over time that just never ceased? Was it a perpetually shadowed part of his mind and spirit that consumed him and ultimately prompted him to take such an action? Was it a collection of these? Being someone who once was so abjectly depressed and regularly harboring thoughts of suicide - at times praying to a god that I never even believed in to not allow me to wake up the next morning - I sympathize painfully for Robin. I obviously sympathize for any victim of suicide, but in the wake of a death like this, in which an icon that actually comprised a major entertaining sector of my life has fallen in his own hands, I connect and reflect perhaps a bit more.
I feel some droplet of guilt in turning Robin Williams’s suicide into a musing on success - it may seem like an apathetic, inhuman and insensitive approach to a tragic death that ripples throughout the world, especially since it’s so recent. But I’ve mused on this in the past and this sort of event supplies more fodder for more reflection. I just hope this isn’t perceived as, “This is immediately what you thought of upon hearing Robin William’s death - success?”
Robin long ago effectively cemented himself as a pop-culture icon, and further, a pillar in the comedy and film industry. I haven’t explored all of his work, but from what I’ve gathered he seemed like a genuine human being with a tender heart. He also, as I mentioned, effectively comprised fond childhood memories for me: between Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Jumanji, and Aladdin - all some of my favorite movies as a youngster - Robin can’t be forgotten to me.
This sentiment is actually sort of ironic, because his consciousness enables him to identify the erring of consciousness itself.
So even though I do enjoy this sentiment, which is a sort of dour, maybe cynical perspective on human consciousness, I rather think human consciousness is nonetheless a remarkable element of the unfolding of nature.
Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an an enormous reward. You will have created something.
Kurt Vonnegut (via perfect)
I think this is from his memoir, A Man Without A Country, which is the only Vonnegut book I’ve read and is actually a hilarious, informative, and fun read.
*You are listening to a song called “Fly” while you watch birds soar above you
(Devin Townsend Project - “Fly” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9TAkfMonnk)
*You look up and in the sky a plane is flying out while you are listening to a song with lyrics singing, “…and from time to time I’ll pass on by, but I’ll never stay.”
(City and Colour - “The Golden State” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2MPLmp8TuQ)
*You finish playing The Beatles’ “Blackbird” on guitar and the sounds of birds chirping nearby immediately follow.
(The Beatles - “Blackbird” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaSMROk-D-A)
*You reach your destination in your car and the song you were listening to finishes the moment you put the car in park.
Humor is humankind’s singular resistance to gravity - as gravity tries to keep things heavy and bring us down, humor keeps things light and uplifts us.
For materialistic people, material objects are like Horcruxes - when people lose them, they feel as if they’ve lost a piece of themselves.
I’d rather be with someone for who they are rather than what they are.
Let me get right into it: it’s almost impossible to not feel a fiery hatred toward the book’s focal subject, a widespread religion known as Mormonism.
In the first 60 pages of Jon Krakauer’s Under The Banner of Heaven, I’ve already been disgusted, infuriated, and broken out in laughter. Disgusted by the egregious treatment of women (especially very young women), infuriated by what fundamentalist Mormon zeal perpetuates and encourages, and made laughing both by Krakauer’s undisguised cynicism toward Mormonism and the behaviors of its fervent followers, and by the sheer preposterousness of Mormon foundations.
Mormonism, according to UtBoH, began in the early 19th century under the questionable labors of Joseph Smith, the son of a hyper-fanatic religious mother. He began dabbling in necromancy and scrying, seeking “peep stones” that Smith was certain could help lead to buried treasure. He was eventually, at age twenty, a “professional” scryer, hired and paid to use his magical peep stones to locate myriad valuables, including one job when he drove from his home in New York to Pennsylvania to locate a wealth of silver for a farmer. He was paid rather generously for this job in particular, but the silver never materialized.
Eventually, however, he was taken to court and subsequently condemned and renounced, accused of being a phony. But it wasn’t long until scrying and peep stones came back into his life. One night, he was greeted by an angel named Moroni, who insisted that under a tree in a field nearby was another treasure of great value. Listening to Moroni, Smith indeed found the objects under the tree, but was told not to extract them quite yet. Four years later, he returned to the same spot, located the same objects (only this time with a young bride named Emma whom Smith essentially badgered into a marriage that God required; Smith, in a conversation with God, was told he’d never attain the plates if he didn’t marry her), and extracted them from their home. They were gold plates with Egyptian hieroglyphics, and with them were “magical spectacles” sent from Moroni to decipher their meanings.
Smith labored intensely to decipher said messages, using a scribe named Martin Harris to record data. However, thanks to Harris, the translations were soon rendered lost and never found again. This, in turn, infuriated Smith, but, determined, he nonetheless returned to translate the messages again to get them written and solidified. To do this, he used a different technique, as the spectacles he used previously were not given to him again by Moroni. His technique instead was a practice he had learned from a neighborhood girl named Sally many years ago, who claimed to have divine talents. The technique consisted of submerging his face into an upturned hat - so as to completely exclude light - with a peep stone in it, and stare until a vision of divinity/magic emerged. Instead of placing a peep stone into the hat, however, Smith this time placed the golden plates into the hat and thus, using his own divine powers, was able to translate the messages of the plates to his young wife, who served as the scribe this time around.
When the translations were complete and recorded, Smith looked to get them published. The skeptical publisher demanded $3,000 from Smith to get the works published - an astronomical sum of money, especially at the time. Smith, seeking guidance from God, asserted to his former scribe Harris that it is God’s demand that Harris foots the bill:
"And misery thou shalt receive, if thou wilt slight these counsels; yea, even the destruction of thyself and property….Pay the printer’s debt!"
Credulous of Smith and fearing God’s mighty capacities for atonement, Harris abided, selling all his farm to finance the publication. Nine months after the translation was completed, the book, at 588 pages, was put on sale in the printer’s storefront in Palmyra, New York. On April 6, 1830 - slightly more than a week after the book’s publication - Joseph Smith formally incorporated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Indeed, Smith’s dubious translation of the gold plates serves as the foundation for the widespread - if not ubiquitous - Book of Mormon, which is now embraced by millions around the world.
To simplify the story in a quick synopsis, the foundations of Mormonism rest in the labors of a religious zealot’s erroneous translations of Egyptian hieroglyphics, labors that consist of a young man’s staring into a hat and forwarding the information to his biddable and equally young wife.
Now, over the course of the 150 years and in the name of Mormonism and its God, girls as young as 13 (and even younger, I’m sure), are indoctrinated, forced into marriage (or sometimes unforced as a result of their early indoctrination) with men four times their age who already have a wife or a plurality of wives, are raped and impregnated and live hollow lives as slaves to their husbands. People are murdered by crazed Mormon zealots who are directed by the voice of God. Entire communities, steadfast in their faith, are dictated by prophets who converse with God. And the prophets’ word, which channels the word of God, overrules man-made law, since God’s word is held as supreme law. This means that if a young girl is involuntarily married to an older man who “hears the direction of God”, or is forced into sexual activity with them, this is deemed as valid, as it’s God’s will to allow such. Polygamy runs rampant in these communities. At one point, heterosexuality and sexual intercourse with African people were punishable by death. And complete, unwavering obedience to both God and the prophet is considered of chief importance in these communities.
Thanks a lot, Joseph Smith, and all your docile, gullible followers who have subscribed to your word.
And just think: I still have over 250 pages to read. I’ve only received the tip of the iceberg.
It’s a bit disturbing that any medicinal marijuana user in the U.S. is, at least on a federal level (and state, depending on where you live), technically a criminal.
Intelligence is not a “telly” quality - as in, one shouldn’t have to assert that they’re intelligent; it’s a quality made evident through exhibition.
A human, as an individual, may not warrant or earn your respect; that’s fine. But a human should at least receive your respect as a human.
You are not your car. Your are not your house. And you are not your job.