Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Common Man is Better Than Everyone Else

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Dear Internet Diary,

There is a pervasive belief out there that "smart people," or rather, people who like to talk about ideas, more than talking about other people,

  • have little common sense
  • like to complain but don't offer solutions
  • think they are better than everyone else
  • don't live enjoyable lives
These beliefs were recently leveled at the Hellbound Alleee crew, on an internet audio show. While I managed to resolve the issue in as friendly a way possible, it continued to gnaw at me, possibly because I don't have a life, and possess no common sense.

As far as the charge that I think I'm better than everyone else (I think I'm sort of different, and I really want and try to be better), not only is this belief the reason people like to hate the French, it's a complete mirror reflection of the person making this charge. The fact is, people who hurl such charges against weirdos like me often point out their own elitism. They point at their pious humility, their status as a man or woman of "the people," the way that they are "just like you."

How condescending that is!

Since I am such a big man, and am too insecure to back down from such a challenge, I'd like to refute the accusation that because I am seen as an intellectual, I don't know "how to live life."

I happen to have lived more than enough, in fact, I probably should be dead, for all the stupid stuff I've done. But for all of that, I've lived, man. I've really lived.

I climbed mountains, rode rivers, fished and explored. I spent half my life as a performer, a singer, a concert violinist in musicals, symphonies, weddings, ceremonies and restaurants. I acted and directed plays, wrote musicals, juggled and performed acrobatics in a comedy troupe, wrote and conducted string quartets, and taught it all to children.

I hobknobbed with deadhead hippies, drag queens, transexuals, punk rockers, beatnicks, religious cultists, the clinically insane, the suicidal and post suicidal. I've mingled with rockstars like Kurt Cobain, Joan Jett, the Beastie Boys, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, even stepping in to sing at a show. My best friend in school was the intellectual heir to Gloria Steinem.

I was a christian fundy, a liberal christian, a skeptic, an objectivist, an atheist, a democrat, a libertarian, an anarchist, and was there to help start third-wave feminism. Yes, I used the 3 r'd "grrrl."

I experimented with drugs, and had several torrid affairs with wonderful and awful boys, and amazing girls. I dealt with drug addicts, dealers, prostitutes, battered children and girlfriends, hardcore s&m fanatics, and even a cross-dressing, ex-con murderous rapist. I successfully fought off a crazed intruder in my home when I was only 20 years old.

I put down roots, had a non-traditional family, grew a garden, dug ponds, kept chickens, then left it all, my stuff, and my country, to live over 3000 miles away in a place where I can't speak the language, all for the love of a man I had seen in person once, for 2 wonderful weeks.

I've lived, and what I haven't done, Francois has.

The best part is, I'm not yet 40 years old. I've come into my age to discover that the point of it all is not the roller coaster ride, the excitement, the danger or confrontation. Some of it is the risk, the facing of fears, indeed. But the most important thing to understand in knowing "how to live" is how to appreciate, how to enjoy the still moments, the beauty around oneself. I know that if I died now--I's hate to--I wouldn't have missed out. But even better is that I still have half a lifetime to go. Who knows what I'm going to see and do?

So, in your face, superior, common sense, men and women of the people. I like to talk about ideas, and what comes with that is something called curiosity. That's what gets you some living. Lots of trouble, but lots of living. I'm not interested in a "whose better competition." That's a waste of time, when there is coffee to drink, ducks to feed, and cross-dressing rapists to confront.


Mark Plus said...

This reminds me of what H. L. Mencken wrote about christian fundamentalists while reporting on the Scopes Trial:

The so-called religious organizations which now lead the war against the teaching of evolution are nothing more, at bottom, than conspiracies of the inferior man against his betters. They mirror very accurately his congenital hatred of knowledge, his bitter enmity to the man who knows more than he does, and so gets more out of life. Certainly it cannot have gone unnoticed that their membership is recruited, in the overwhelming main, from the lower orders -- that no man of any education or other human dignity belongs to them. What they propose to do, at bottom and in brief, is to make the superior man infamous -- by mere abuse if it is sufficient, and if it is not, then by law.

Such organizations, of course, must have leaders; there must be men in them whose ignorance and imbecility are measurably less abject than the ignorance and imbecility of the average. These super-Chandala often attain to a considerable power, especially in democratic states. Their followers trust them and look up to them; sometimes, when the pack is on the loose, it is necessary to conciliate them. But their puissance cannot conceal their incurable inferiority. They belong to the mob as surely as their dupes, and the thing that animates them is precisely the mob's hatred of superiority. Whatever lies above the level of their comprehension is of the devil. A glass of wine delights civilized men; they themselves, drinking it, would get drunk. Ergo, wine must be prohibited. The hypothesis of evolution is credited by all men of education; they themselves can't understand it. Ergo, its teaching must be put down.

breakerslion said...

I have recently been noticing how humans will often automatically resort to querulous, petulant, or surly behaviors as a sort of internal face-saving mechanism.

The unscrupulous rabble-rousers are validating this resentment at being made to feel stupid or inferior in some way. They tell their followers that the fault lies not within themselves, and that they are right to fear and distrust that which they don't understand.

These situations invariably remind me of the line in the play "Bent", where the Gestapo officer crushes a pair of glasses under his boot and says, with dripping scorn, "Intelligentsia!"

Hellbound Alleee said...

I love it and my heart is filled with blood.