Monday, October 03, 2011
It is not my fault I notice things.
I've felt compelled to say that a great deal in my life. I had a sort of knack for ruining amusements for my acquaintances. I'd offer a mordant observation about something --offhandedly, usually -- and somehow I was the bad guy because it rang true to the hearer's ear and ruined their enjoyment of some pop song or TV show or whatever. They'd get mad at me for speaking the truth without malice. I found it very curious. It's not my fault that Bruce Springsteen can't sing or play his instrument, even after four decades of trying, and is a lame lamebrain in the bargain. It's not my fault for noticing that, either.
People don't like to consider, never mind admit, that they're susceptible to conditioning and appeals to their cupidity and herd instincts. That's why they bristle if you don't like what they like. Their affection for things assigns an importance to them that cannot be challenged. It doesn't matter to them that their affection for things was likely manipulated in the first place. They'll get mad if you even broach the subject, and tellingly call you a sheeple on a good day, or much, much worse if they think you're gaining traction. They think they like Apple computers because they're smart and smart people like Apple computers and not simply because a rapacious creep got every school in the country to use the useless things to the exclusion of all else and now having the close button in the wrong place is all they know. Me? I've more important things to care about. Like what you like.
"Like what you like," is likewise a common thing for me to say. I made money playing a comic version of a Bruce Springsteen song, and smiled while I did it. I try not to assign ponderous importance to trivial things. But most people aren't like that. A vicious narcissism rules the age. People will fight with fists over the primacy of Katy Perry over Lady Gaga. People want to write their condiment preferences into the Constitution. They believe that their love for things, however acquired, places the imprimatur of importance and goodness and intelligence on the objects of their affections. You can get shot for wearing the wrong laundry at a football stadium. People have OPINIONS now, not the lower-case kind.
Personality cults abound in a world of unbridled, crabby partiality of course. Politicians and businessmen are made into messiahs, not functionaries. If you oppose them, or are even ambivalent about them, you're evil. Of course anti-personality cults appear, to associate odd, cookie duster moustaches and stiff-armed salutes to innocuous, if venal, persons. Everyone's both a bohemian corporal and John the Baptist at the same time, depending who you ask.
It's getting especially tiresome here in no-man's land between those trenches. One side adores people and things you find tiresome or useless, and there's no rest from it, either, as the other side does nothing but talk about the same persons and things all day long. One cannot notice that both opinions are held by persons who are immune from the results of both their own and the competing worldviews. You all count coup in an effeminate set-piece, while a loaded pistol is in the nose of the rest of us.
You can both claim it's friendly fire, but the mortar shells all fall in the same place -- nearby, thanks. It's not my fault I notice that.