Free Writing

Long Form (Or How to End a Rant with a Casablanca Quote)

Part 1: Who’s Ashamed of Being Mostly Sad?

Once, over alcohol, I told a girl in that Humphrey Bogart-cynical-wise-man-of-the-world-style that the default sentiment of a person is sadness. She, of course, not getting that I was simply reenacting a character in Casablanca in my own mind–as I am wont to do whenever I am working extra desperately hard to impress someone–didn’t agree with me.

Matter of fact, she had quite a violent reaction to the statement as if she suddenly choked on a rather large cockroach swimming in the mojito she had been daintily sipping; she was so vehemently opposed to my opinion that it almost got too frustrating to illustrate what I was conveying because she kept trying to cut me off. Nevertheless, I still did my best explaining to her that if you really think about it, those quiet times when you’re alone and you’re not talking to anybody or engaged in some form of entertainment or activity (like that sometimes blessed, mostly wretched thing called a job), the lingering feeling there–and you’ll feel this only if you were absolutely honest with yourself–is that of sadness or loneliness.

Now, hold your horses and take a seat if you find yourself experiencing such a violent reaction yourself. Let me clarify. You see, happiness is a conspicuous thing. And I’m not talking about the big, bombastic moments when you’re overjoyed like when you receive a birthday gift you’ve long wanted or when your partner finally acquiesces to your weird, disgusting request during sexy time because you’ve found it convenient to make them feel guilty for not agreeing to do it with you for years; I’m saying happiness is a very noticeable thing, even when it takes the form of the subtlest feelings of contentment or satisfaction that one feels in a normal day.

When you’re happy, you know you’re happy. You take note of it in the back of your head usually without intending to. Try to remember the last time you were glad and you’ll know exactly when that happened and what you were doing or what occurred to bring about that positive emotion to blossom in your chest. That can’t be an accident. There’s a reason happiness stands out in your brain like a pink elephant wearing a blonde wig dancing the ballet.

There’s this notorious nihilistic South African philosopher named David Benatar (and if you’re hopelessly entangled in this nasty business of reading someone else’s moribund brain farts like I am you would’ve heard of this bloke) who saw pain–a function of life–so worthless and unjustifiable that he believes human beings should never even be born into this world in the first place. To clarify, he’s not talking like a misunderstood ’90s teen here who listened to too much goth music and had an overabundance of mom’s mascara;this is not something shallowly emo but instead a metaphysical conclusion drawn after establishing certain solid philosophical propositions. Benatar is not saying death is preferable to living. He’s saying it’s better not to have lived at all.

Now, you might be a generally pain-free person perhaps because you’re healthy and live a comfortable life surrounded by loved ones, and you sometimes sing in the woods with some cute, little bunnies and chirping bluebirds all around you, but that is not the point. Benatar argues that all in all, living in the presence of pain (which everyone would necessarily have to go through at some point) is enough reason to say life shouldn’t be.

Granted that is an extreme way of putting it (or not–what do I know? Maybe you’re hardcore and in fact drink the blood of bats at night); but Benatar points out something I sincerely believe a lot of us normally don’t pay attention to: that pain is everywhere and if you’re not in the midst of it now, then good for you, chum, but you can trust that it’s waiting to ambush you just around the corner. Maybe in the form of a clusterfuck of deadlines in the office, or getting into a fistfight with your boss because he caught you checking out her underage daughter online, or getting bitten by a tarantula which just happened to build a cozy home in your dumpster of a desk drawer, or slipping on someone’s used sanitary napkin, or your girlfriend breaking up with you for an exceptionally hairy and sweaty guy she met at the gym, or finding out you’re harboring the newest, zombie-turning iteration of the bubonic plague. It doesn’t matter. Unjustifiable, metaphysically inexplicable pain–and therefore, sorrow–has all of us in its big, black address book and will surely ring our phone anytime soon. Maybe some 5 minutes from now.

To put it another way: pain, sorrow and sadness make up the canvass of life and the occasional droplets and blobs of paint strewn across it is happiness. Overtime, paint thickens as more and more layers in different colors are brushed on top of each other, but underlying all of it is still that rough, blank base of negative existence that won’t go away because, in a sense, it is the very foundation of experience.

We all know this: happiness is a precious resource, a pricey commodity. You buy it, I buy it, they brand it, your pathetic friend rents it, and some people have made lucrative careers out of literally killing for it. In this state of affairs where happiness or contentment occurs so infrequently, your brain can’t help but mark those bright moments for memory, possibly to create a pool of happy thoughts from which it could draw strength, hope, or positive energies from during times of bleakness. You know, just another built-in survival skill your species’ amazing evolution handily equipped you with?

But coming back to this conversation I was depicting a moment ago wherein once again my impression of Humphrey Bogart failed to impress the opposite sex, this particular lady didn’t agree with me at all. She said something like, “Well, that must be just you because I’m definitely not mostly sad. I’m mostly happy.”

I didn’t believe her one bit. Her eyes told me otherwise.

It got me seriously wondering about why anybody would want to pretend that they’re mostly happy instead of admitting that they’re mostly sad. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being mostly sad, is there? I realize that a good part of the game of life is peppering social media with pictures of our pleasantly smiling faces while in picturesque vacation spots but you’d have to be a pitiful simpleton if you’re convinced that’s the whole point of living. Certainly, Shakespeare’s classic tragedies didn’t come about because he was inspired by everyone who expressed approval of his beach pictures.

So please allow me to say that again: there’s nothing wrong with being mostly sad and admitting you’re more on the dismal rather than on the delighted part of the spectrum. You don’t agree? Then let me throw you a bit of a bone here. Consider this: sadness, at least on the surface, doesn’t say anything at all about the life you live, whether you’re a good or a bad person, or whether you have a productive existence or an existence of so little value that people will only muster to shrug their shoulders and let out a big yawn if you died.

Gloominess doesn’t necessarily mean you’re making all the wrong choices in life although some people do have a tendency to make boneheaded decisions that result in awful situations and, in turn, to the feeling of being down in the dumps. But a host of other factors, such as chemical reactions in our brains, which we don’t have control over, circumstances that we find ourselves trapped in, or just the repulsive music of the decade could be to blame. Despair can sprout anytime, anywhere, and for virtually any reason; it would be unjust to put all the blame on poor you.

And in the afterlife, it’s not like God will open his sacred tome, finger the pages, and read about how cheerful or cheerless you were when you were breathing, and then condemn you to hell if he finds out you were a melancholic, neurotic, people-hating social disease who spent too many days skulking under the table in your room and not enough days taking a shower. “Ah, I see you’ve been a disgustingly unhappy person on earth. Unforgivable! I therefore banish you to… er… more sadness in the form of afterlife’s signature eternal suffering!”

No, that doesn’t sound even remotely possible at all (though frankly all bets are off when it comes to guessing what happens after one passes away and I wouldn’t be too surprised if we die and discover that heaven is nothing like what everyone said it would be, and in fact it’s nothing but an unkempt apartment where somebody left last year’s pizza underneath the couch’s cushion and there’s a stinky pile of clothes on the floor that need washing). Sadness doesn’t say anything about your value here on earth, so therefore it isn’t something to be ashamed of.

Here’s the deal: if you told me you were 98% sad during the course of a day, I wouldn’t think anything of it, though I’d definitely appreciate your honesty. But if you told me you were 98% happy every single day, I would simply smile and think you’re a big bag of bullshit not worth talking to.

Part 2: People Worth Talking To

In another discussion borne of another confluence of social necessities, over another set of food and drinks, one person told me that there was this guy in their office who was remarkably brilliant but hated people. This jolly person I was talking to recounted how he invited this remarkably brilliant but people-hating guy to lunch one day but this guy said he couldn’t come–the reason being that if he went to lunch with them, then he’d have to talk to people and at some point, he would get really bored, and he would have to stop talking to them. The guy I was talking to replied, “You know, you could’ve just refused!” And we laughed heartily about it.

We laughed like perfectly normal people disbelieving the antics of what could be a crazy, cold-blooded sociopath-in-the-making but the truth is, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was laughing about–the fact that this remarkably brilliant, people-hating guy was such a gigantic jerk who’s clearly dead inside or that, secretly, I shared his assessment of the situation and his sentiment regarding the discomfort of having to endure conversations with some people–even those who are pleasantly friendly, and not the least bit obnoxious.

But isn’t that the reason why we find ourselves laughing most of the time? Because we are actually laughing at ourselves? Because we are secretly amused with the imagined shadow of ourselves doing the stupid thing that another person ended up doing? And the opposite is equally true: we oftentimes cry because we see our image superimposed on another suffering soul’s face.

Now, please don’t crucify me for the banality of this proposition but, ultimately, everything’s all about ourselves. The person you most know about is not your brother or your sister or your significant other, but that bloke hoisting your brain in their skull, wearing your clothes. We are the massive black hole that gave birth to and in the center of our own universe (or our own multiverse if you’re mildly schizophrenic).

From the moment the world starts to make sense to us, we form concepts only in relation to ourselves, weighing, measuring, ascertaining them through a natural compass of pain and pleasure. In this way, one man’s favorite snack becomes another man’s poison, and one person’s pretty face becomes another one’s phantom. You’re conscious of anything only in its relation to your experiences (your favorite stinky doll or mattress is probably associated with comforting memories). You know me only in my relation to you.

I know one guy who hated chicken so much, it literally makes him vomit his guts out every single time–and he doesn’t even know the reason why. But the reason for that strange logic is in his mind all right–encoded into the folds of his brain though the key to it may be lost to him forever. To this chicken-hating, otherwise normal guy, it won’t matter how much you describe to him that spicy buffalo wings dripping with sauce taste like heaven; to him, it would taste and smell like a steaming bowl of poop soup.

And you know what the totally weird thing is about humanity? There’s bound to be somebody out there who thinks a steaming bowl of poop soup is a 3-Michelin star delicacy.

So going back: me and this jolly fellow had a good laugh at this person’s anti-social oddity over lunch but, in reality, I mostly laughed because I didn’t want to embarrass the storyteller, considering he graciously made the effort to entertain us as we killed time before our orders arrived (and I couldn’t emphasize more how much people who help us kill time during awkward waiting situations should be thanked; in my book, they are nothing less than heroes and saints). In truth, I simply thought that the remarkably brilliant, people-hating guy was in love with himself that much more, which, looking at the big picture, is not that big of a deal.

Thanks, Whitney Houston, for drilling the greatest love of all into our heads.

Why would he want to hear somebody gossip about who Ms. Jackie at the HR is dating or pay attention to three-minutes’ worth of badly misinformed, sadly misinterpreted, overall cringe-worthy political opinion, when he could listen to the fascinating voice in his own head? Think about it. If Albert Einstein were living now, would he find much interest in Netflix when he could tune in anytime to the show in his head for free and witness the secrets of the universe unfold in spectacular 8k ultra HD? Granted this guy we’ve been examining is certainly no Einstein but I’m sure he still found more reasons why being alone was a vastly more exciting prospect than being with other folks.

But aside from that endlessly entertaining voice in your head, who are those other people worth talking to? It’s tempting to say they’re those who have the most quantifiable utility to us–“quantifiable” because if we were such a douchebag to actually sit and ponder how much each person in our life could help us achieve or impede our goals and wants, we’d be successful in doing so. We could segregate the winners from the losers and throw the rotten basket away. It’s not something someone with a clear conscience and who was brought up by their parents with genuine love and care would do, but it’s definitely a viable option.

However, the truth is far more complicated than that, thankfully! People are an undecipherable lot in that sometimes, it’s the most dreadfully useless persons they like or fall in love with; men and women who are the equivalent of the human appendix–a vestigial organ that you could usually surgically remove without causing any problems to the other organs of the body. And yet, these useless, worthless people are, for some, the most indispensable in their lives though they couldn’t readily pinpoint why. They wouldn’t be the best conversationalists and may not even speak as much as grunt like ogres would, and, all in all, they could be what amounts to a good-for-nothing, bloodsucking scoundrel. But such qualities wouldn’t matter if love got involved since this powerful force would steamroll over all those ugly bumps and cracks on the surface, smoothly paving that loathsome, questionable character into nothing less than Humphrey fucking Bogart.

You could probably then say that the people who are worth talking to are, more often than not, those superfluous to one’s existence. Maybe due to the fact that excessiveness is an unmistakable characteristic of life.

Part 3: Please Distract Me From the Fact That I’m a Big, Breathing Bag of Meat

Which brings us to the third part of this drunken rumination: forwarding this theory that life is all about excessiveness because the more excessive a thing is, the stronger is its power to distract you from the fact that you’re nothing but a delicate breathing bag of meat.

Have you ever stopped yourself in the middle of chewing a sizable chunk of hamburger, looked intently at where you bit off the bread and patty, and just marvelled at the fact that you’re eating basically the same material as yourself? I know I have. This “food”–supposedly so different from the one who devours it–is organic tissue, muscles and fat singed to a crispy, juicy brown ball of goodness that essentially has no difference to the mouth that’s eating it: meat eating meat.

Our biological simplicity can be pretty scary if you put down your hamburger and just think about this for a second. I have oftentimes rattled myself at the thought of just how literally fragile we all are (I’m not talking about your fragile emotions if you’re a sentimental crybaby, but that also supports this concept that we’re all feeble creatures). One would think the apex predator and the primary driving force of change in the expanse of a planet would be something more beastly and durable (I’m thinking fanged, metallic beings that process inorganic matter and nuclear waste for energy, or maybe like Goku’s race, the Saiyans), but no–it’s just these whole lot of awkward, two-legged barrels of meat who are suffering from all sorts of diseases, including hilariously petty things like “heartaches.” “Oh, mother, I can’t go to work today–my heart is aching!”

Knock on wood, but ending the life of the average member of this apex predator species is quite easy (and you know, that’s why hit men are overall kinda cheap, especially in a Third World country like the Philippines). We’re basically lumbering giant water balloons terrorizing towns and the townspeople, forgetting the fact that a well-placed ballpoint pen pointed upwards can puncture and deflate us anytime. And I think we are deeply aware of this tremendous vulnerability, so, as a species, we’ve made it our critical mission to hide that fact and practically forget all about it. And how do we do this? Through culture. Flashy, garish, mostly pointless, shockingly pretentious culture.

And lest you think I’m just hating on beautiful things and beautiful people, let me develop that idea further. I don’t hate beautiful people–well, not all of them. Beautiful people and beautiful things in general give us relief from the general misery and ugliness of life (and nowhere is that more apparent than on PornHub–where you can access the ultimate benefits of unbridled beauty for free). It seems to me that culture is all about trying to construct the ultimate image of beauty no matter how it eludes us because beauty hides those pathetic, pulsating pieces of meat or those lumbering giant water balloons that can be punctured anytime.

Nowhere is this obsession with excessive beauty more blatant and overwhelming than in a modern art museum. Virtually none of the artworks in this place need be here–existing, inviting people to gawk at them and whisper ludicrous interpretations but, nevertheless, they are. I’m specifically thinking about those kinds of art that look like 3-year-old children could have produced them if you gave them three buckets of paint and enough space to do whatever they wanted to do. Five years ago, a painting by artist Barnett Newman, featuring a single white line across a blue canvass–a piece that looked almost exactly like a ping-pong table and would probably do fine as a ping-pong table–sold for $43.8 million at Sotheby’s; while I admit I don’t have the slightest training in discerning abstract expressionist art from something that could have been painted by some bloke taking his Monday morning crap, I just can’t see even now how such a thing could be valued at $43.8 million. If you wanted evidence of worthless excessiveness worth more than the lives of millions of people, you’ve got it right there.

Let me illustrate this further. If we’re being very strict about the requirements of life, all we need really are just some leaves and bugs to put in our mouths and water to drink and we’d survive just fine (yes, I know I’m throwing hyperbole like ninja throwing stars here but please bear with me). This bare minimum of survival, however, isn’t really living, is it? “Living” is piling up unnecessary things on top of one another–knowledge, spirituality, sentimentality, romanticism, artistry… until we’ve pretty much forgotten that we could actually drop all of these any second and get back to eating bugs and we’d be all right. In short–the gaudiness in a modern art museum reminds us that life is all about this astonishing excess, which is a requirement to say that one really “lives.”

And that’s why I don’t agree that the poorest people in this world “lives.” They’re definitely existing, but I’ve seen a lot of dead people lying more comfortable in their coffins.

The pursuit of excesiveness happens not just in art though but in everyday life. To give an example: your day is spent looking for those sought-after “distractions.” How to kill time? How do I push myself to be productive today? How to have fun? We’re recklessly driven by this persuasive force to continuously, sometimes maniacally, look for things and activities that could cover these long hours.

What your distracting yourself from isn’t really the stagnant state of your love life or the tight deadlines waiting for you at your workplace but the fact that you’re a bag of meat slowly but surely spoiling and decaying under the heat of the sun. You’re scared that the piece of meat that is you will go bad before anything in your life starts to get good. To point out the tritest thought, “living life to the fullest” is merely maximizing the pleasures this world has to offer because in the back of our minds, we know we’ll perish soon (and we are perishing now as you read this fucking long-ass article) as meat necessarily does the moment it leaves the vagina–that lovely pink piece of meat from which all other pieces of meat come from.

Living ostentatiously is somehow a protest to the way the universe conspired to give us such weak bodies. So we have to be as extravagant and as unreasonable as possible because every time we do so, we raise a big, fat finger to the irony of existence and we exclaim that we are more than what we seem to be–that we’re not just organic matter temporarily passing by due to the complete randomness of events in the cosmos, but rather, we are dazzling beings destined for greatness, glory, and some lasting legacy we’re not entirely sure about.

But don’t ask me what that legacy is. I’m probably just someone you stumbled upon on the internet while you were searching for porn.

Part 4: But Why Should You Believe Something You Just Came Across on the Internet While Searching for Porn?

Responsibility–our mothers and fathers never tired of hammering this into our heads and spanking this onto our butts but still it never seemed to stick that permanently, did it? You may think that you’re responsible but, bad news, you’re really not.

If you were responsible, you wouldn’t have let your precious time be consumed reading this rant that someone who may just be a legit lunatic typed in a cell in some dark, twisted mental facility hidden underground where scientists are conducting experiments to develop a drug that could induce people to give opinions on subjects they have no expertise about.

If you were responsible you wouldn’t have read past Humphrey Bogart’s name in the first paragraph because it’s obviously a splashy shit of an article that thought too much of itself, and is an absolute disservice and slight to the grand manliness of Humphrey Bogart who didn’t have to do too much and say too much to be of significance.

But you didn’t. You’re still here, perhaps waiting for some punchline that won’t come. Maybe I’ll make a note to deliver it later.

If you were responsible enough, you would’ve spent your time reading other articles by more authoritative sites out there; sites where serious investigative journalism dig up irrefutable facts that are so cut and dried all you need to do is just put them in your mouth and proceed to digest. This world is awash with facts. It’s a testament to how irresponsible people are that there’s even such a thing as “fake news”–that there are even so many arguments and disagreements going on when the cold science is out there for everyone’s perusal. Why are we even debating climate change and why are we even talking about whether we should try to do something about it or not? We’re so dumb we deliberately choose to be idiots in the face of so much verifiable, unquestionable knowledge. In a similar vein, why are we even discussing whether people of the same sex should marry or not? Is it so hard to imagine that 50 years from now, the hopeless ignoramuses who are against this would look like even bigger hopeless ignoramuses when kids in the future read and snigger about this pointless problem in their textbooks?

A thoroughly responsible individual would’ve definitely chosen to consume something with actual citations, APA, MLA, and Chicago. A singularly responsible person would’ve dived into a piece of writing that took its time to respect the past by mentioning those intelligent people before who have already spouted its old, hackneyed ideas (you don’t seriously think I was the first one who thought we are nothing but vulnerable water balloons, did you?). In fact, an exceptionally responsible human being would make absolutely sure that all that their brain absorbs is measurable, unassailable, ironclad truths like “a triangle has three sides.”

Congratulations! Your parents clearly didn’t rear you the scientific way. There are obvious lapses in your judgment and your reasoning flows like a grimy sink clogged with someone’s armpit hair. Your logic is not so much a logic but a bunch of three-syllable kindergarten words repeatedly screamed over and over again until the listener surrenders at the threat of you dealing them serious physical harm. You are a caveman. An unshaven, grubby neanderthal who worships bears and mates with creatures that are not even of the same species as yours, grotesque little fuckers called homo sapiens.

If given good advice, you would listen to it beaming then discard it away faster than vomit gushes out the throat of a drunken man. If you were told you act like a booger-eating halfwit in love you would keep on dining on your plate of booger anyway because you’re a booger-eating halfwit in love. And if it were pointed out that you are, in fact, in love with an earwax-gobbling blockhead, you wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to leave that earwax-gobbling blockhead of a lover and you two will end up binging on boogers and earwax forever and ever until you die surrounded by your mutant children.

You refuse to believe. You refuse to believe that a triangle has three sides. You would try to find a hole in seamless logic to serve your own purposes and self-interests, usually to make you feel better. You just can’t accept that you’re wrong and that you have glaring flaws in your beliefs and in your personal hygiene–because you’d rather eat a steaming bowl of poop soup than admit someone’s better than you. You are the proudest heap of bullshit to ever come out of the plains of Africa. An insecure, insufficient, inflexible, incongruent, incontinent amoeba of incompetencies and influencer of inconsequential things that’s not going to help move things in the right direction for this world one bit.

I wish I could say that’s ok but it’s not. I guess the only shred of solace I can give you is that everyone’s in the same boat, even the wisest ones. Heck the smartest fellow humankind has ever produced, our guy Einstein, was more or less responsible for the atomic bomb that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and it sounded like he regretted it plenty, too.

Now that’s irresponsible.

Part 5: Hope Blossoms in the Valley of the Dumb

Is it really cynical to admit that the odds are against us? Last year, Oxfam, a nonprofit working to end injustices in the world that cause poverty, released a study that estimated there were a total of eight men–eight men who may as well be gods for they could poop anything into existence if they wanted to–who were as rich as the poorest 3.6 billion people combined. Nine countries hold nuclear weapons and and a good number of their heads of state are men who could be clinically diagnosed as dunderheads. In the Philippines, the people voted for a man of the people only to discover later on that he was a man built for ending the people. I know because I voted for him, too. In a large swath of the world, the Marxist dream has ended because, apparently, all the masses wanted for comfort so as not to revolt was for their vacation pictures to be sufficiently Liked on social media. People have succeeded in turning racism and bigotry into everyday jokes that we have more or less assured ourselves that the more light we shed on these issues, the jokes are just going to get better and better. Your boss has dropped all pretense of being benevolent and has figured out you’d lick his hiney for peanuts, anyway, if they assured you your job was secure. Love, in all its forms, is still as scarce as it’s ever been and the few moments it suddenly appears like an unexpected Pokemon, you realize it’s a selfish, store-bought, rehashed tragedy waiting to happen. You’re still aching in about twenty-four different places because you’re growing old faster than the latest meme, and above all this–above all this–when you take the time to sit back and think about it, life still doesn’t have plans to make its meaning clear to you. Is it really cynical to believe we are riding a flaming chariot to hell?

Despite all these hardships, we stupidly carry on and persevere in attempting to make something for ourselves. You still work your day job and your night job and your midnight job and your self-handjob until you sleep dreaming of another bout of jobs for tomorrow. Hey, maybe you’ll get promoted. After 10 years. Enveloped by a stifling cloud of loneliness, you still feebly reach for your mobile phone to make a pathetic attempt at connecting with someone out there, anyone, who may have the luxury of a few seconds to talk to you. Maybe tell you your hair looks soft. And when they type in on that little screen that your hair does indeed look soft, you clasp on that memory so desperately it could mean the difference between a good day and a bad day, a good year and a bad year.

Because we are impervious to facts and hungry for tales. We love stories about people who overcome adversity as if one rags-to-riches story nullifies a thousand stories of people who didn’t so much as fail as got stepped on by an AT-AT. They didn’t even have time to say “Youch!” They simply disappeared without a trace, unremembered by graves, completely alien to history books.

Imagine that there were a machine delivered from the future to the present by a special Amazon service and this machine spat out an itemized inventory of the failures, torments, and sorrows you’ll have to endure for the rest of your life, would you still go on? Of course you would. You’re built to believe. In fact, said inventory could probably anger you so much you’d demand a refund from future Amazon for offering such a shitty service. Your very consciousness is forged to believe in unknowables while conveniently disregarding the fact that 99% of the most important things are already known. This is the reason why religion is possible and romantics exist.

From this fatal allergy to truth, amidst the confusion of not knowing enough, basically due to the condition of being apallingly dumb, a sort of magic materializes out of thin air. This magic hypnotizes us into believing that it’s possible to turn the tide against the cruelty of the circumstances; that if we fought hard like mad dogs snarling and drooling in an arena of death, we could emerge victorious. Get a raise or a match on Tinder. Make daddy proud for once.

This is hope and it blossoms in the valley of the dumb. If another asteroid were again to smash the face of the planet, we’d have hope to thank for the many tales we’ll leave behind. For if nothing else, even if narratives, autobiographies, histories, and romance novels were imperfect and mostly false, life would still have been about telling a trillion stories and the earth would remember us as great storytellers–flamboyant and bewildered.

**********

From Casablanca:

Rick: Don’t you sometimes wonder if it’s worth all this? I mean what you’re fighting for.

Laszlo: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.

Rick: Well, what of it? It’ll be out of its misery.

Laszlo: You know how you sound, Mr. Blaine? Like a man who’s trying to convince himself of something he doesn’t believe in his heart. Each of us has a destiny – for good or for evil.

Rick: I get the point.

Laszlo: I wonder if you do. I wonder if you know that you’re trying to escape from yourself, and that you’ll never succeed.

Rick: You seem to know all about my destiny.

Laszlo: I know a good deal more about you than you suspect. I know, for instance, that you’re in love with a woman. It is perhaps a strange circumstance that we both should be in love with the same woman. The first evening I came to this café, I knew there was something between you and Ilsa. Since no one is to blame, I – I demand no explanation. I ask only one thing. You won’t give me the letters of transit: all right, but I want my wife to be safe. I ask you as a favor, to use the letters to take her away from Casablanca.

Rick: You love her that much?

Laszlo: Apparently you think of me only as the leader of a cause. Well, I’m also a human being. Yes, I love her that much.

**********

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Brain Dead Serious

A Man Who Doesn’t Have Enough Space in His House for All His Existential Shit

DON: Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. This is Don Fernandez, your host for yet another edition of The Human Condition, bringing you the most striking interviews of common people you wouldn’t normally think about if you had something better to do. Tonight–Mr. Theodore Gonzalez–a man who doesn’t have enough space in his home for all his existential shit.

Mr. Theodore Gonzalez–can I call you Ted?

TED: Yeah. You can call me Ted.

DON: Ok Ted. You called us for this interview bec–

TED: You can call me whatever you want. I could be Ted or Theodore or Mike or Richard. In the end, who am I?

DON: Uh-huh… Yes, I see that this is part of the personal problem you’d like to discuss with our audiences today?

TED: Audiences? Oh, you mean those presumed subjects watching me through their TV sets? I wish I could be sure there were really existences behind those eyes fixed on the screen because frankly I highly doubt it.

DON: Oh… kay…

TED: Yeah, I mean, I’m not even sure you’re here. Are you here?

DON: Well, I think I’m definitely here. You’re looking at me, Ted.

TED: Am I? Or are you just part of a simulation run by highly advanced beings in the 31st century and I’m nothing but a character in their sick version of a video game?

DON: Ok, ok. Wait a minute. Let’s stop for a second here, Ted. We’re already getting ahead of ourselves. Can you please give our audiences a proper introduction to your issue? You said there’s not enough room in your house for all your existential shit.

TED: Yes, there’s none.

DON: Obviously.

TED: Yesterday, I tried to fit all my existential shit in a box but it wouldn’t fit.

DON: How so?

TED: Well, I was about to put all my existential shit into the box, which I found under my bed, but then while I was doing it, I realized… I couldn’t find the box.

DON: So… so the box disappeared?

TED: That’s the funny thing. When I thought about it… it dawned on me that the box wasn’t even there in the first place.

DON:

TED: You see, I placed the box on the floor. And when I did that, the box was clearly on our wooden tiled floor. But when I opened the box and gestured to dump all my existential shit in it… it… “Poof!”

DON: Poof?

TED: Poof!

DON: C-could you please clarify? It’s a little vague what you’re trying to say…

TED: The box melded into the floor. The floor melded into the box. I couldn’t see where the floor ended and the box started. See–what do you call a box, anyway, and what do you call a floor? You’re going to tell me a box has eight corners. It’s a three-dimensional object made up of two-dimensional squares. And the floor is something you step on and it’s sometimes wooden, sometimes ceramic, sometimes plastic. But what if I don’t agree with you? What if I told you the thing you call a floor is a rooster and the thing you call a box is a pig?

DON: What??

TED: They’re a rooster and a pig. I couldn’t fit all my existential shit in a pig.

DON: I am… I am completely lost.

TED: People have agreed on calling a floor a floor and a box a box but what if I don’t agree with them? I mean, there’s no real universal rule that limits me to that strict definition. If I wanted to call your floor a rooster and your box a pig, what would you do?

DON: I-I guess nothing?

TED: You are a really good actor, you know, for a simulation.

DON: I’m sorry? Like I told you, Ted, I am NOT a simulation. I am not fake. I am here. I am interviewing you about your existential shit that you can’t find room for in your home.

TED: Yes… Because my home is overrun with roosters and pigs.

DON: Ok… Let’s run with this… Maybe we could get somewhere here… If you really believe that your floor and your box is a rooster and a pig, then why not just scare them away to make room for all your existential shit?

TED: Because they didn’t share my language.

DON: You don’t need language to scare away a bunch of animals, Ted. Just wave your hands and make scary noises and they’ll go away.

TED: No, these roosters and pigs are speaking a fourth-dimensional language that my three-dimensional ears couldn’t possibly hear. These things-in-themselves are forever out of my grasp, clucking and oinking behind a veil of reality that I couldn’t pierce… There’s a whole farm of there out there, Don. An invisible farm.

DON: Please… please stop.

TED: It’s not for lack of trying on my part, too. This morning I tried to store all my existential shit in a spare room in the basement. It’s pretty expansive. Even my old motorcycle is in there, so…

DON: So that must be enough space for your obviously huge existential shit, right?

TED: Nah.

DON: Dare I ask why?

TED: Because my motorcycle has turned into a blue whale.

DON: Goddammit.

TED: I couldn’t even step into the freakin’ room. This monstrous blue whale was squirming and spewing water all over the floor–I mean this floor made of pigs–and all the boxes–I mean roosters holding all my other junk–were really wet.

So in the end, it wouldn’t fit even there. Nasty business. I actually just sold the house this morning.

DON: Please don’t tell me why.

TED: Because when I tried to just leave all my existential shit there on the living room pig-floor, the walls became a troop of baboons, the carpet turned into Albert Einstein’s poop, and the sofa revealed itself to be none other than Michael Jackson.

DON: *Breathes heavily*

TED: So as much as I loved that property, having spent so many lovely days there with my ex-wife, I just had to sell that shit to the first man I met on the street. For chump change, mind you. I mean, shit, what would he do with all that racket at night? Pigs, roosters, baboons, and Michael Jackson trying to wake up the neighbors. Not to mention he’ll definitely step on Albert Einstein’s poop the next morning, slip, and maybe even injure himself. Hah. Poor guy.

DON:

TED: And to your audiences, I say screw you, you pieces of 31st century codes and pixels! You ain’t fooling me! Can you hear me out there in the real world, you 31st century alien bastards?! Screw you and your mothers or wherever the hell Big Bang conspiracy bullshit you came from! I never bought into this spacetime propaganda you’ve been trying to drill in my head! Science ain’t true knowledge! Wormholes and strings and multiverse my ass, you sons of big bang bitches! I think therefore, I am!

DON: I’m afraid we have to cut our program short again for tonight. ‘Til next time. This is Don Fernandez, host of The Human Condition, saying goodnight and good luck.

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Free Writing

There’s Probably Not a Lot of Meaning Left in the World Now But at Least I’m Not Single

There’s probably not a lot of meaning left in the world now but at least I’m not single.

Growing older, causes may die, races may be run, and the thirst for high adventure may be quenched, leaving just a musty old room filled with empty space where youthful dreams once thrived–it’s admittedly depressing and picture-perfect suicidal at times–but at least I’ve got a girlfriend.

And not to brag about it but just to illustrate my point: I have a totally magnificently bonkers girlfriend who cures all the existential ailments plaguing my being.

Case in point: I would sometimes find myself looking into the distance, pondering what the point of living is but then out of nowhere, she intentionally steps in my line of sight and ruins every deep, dark feeling of mine with her lovely smile and her awesome legs, and suddenly I forget everything about what I was being sad for in the first place. Works every time and it’s great!

I know that might sound like objectification and there’s a chance it is to a large degree but it’s the plain truth, sir, madame.

We may be victims of this oversexualized society but we are not incapable of speaking the truth in our hearts though it might be dehumanizing at times.

But I digress.

I’d honestly hate to be that guy who looks into the abyss without a girlfriend pestering him for a selfie.

Selfies with the girlfriend plug the massive black hole in one’s chest sucking the joy out of the universe (and if you don’t acknowledge you have such a black hole right between your nipples, you are nothing but a sad, lying, booger-digesting gorilla). These selfies may be distractions from the all-too-important internal conversations you have with yourself when you’re alone in your bed in the darkness but at least they’re honest-to-goodness happy distractions. If you’re happy, it can’t be all that bad.

A lot of people would say being happy is the only point of living, in fact. Precisely why some people could survive on porn, video games, and weed–those tried-and-tested packs of happiness that are more or less accessible for every man and woman. And child.

Needless to say, a real relationship is much harder to get, let alone maintain and grow. And that’s why in the grander scheme of the hedonistic scales, a girlfriend is much more valuable by far.

Because if you think about it, a girlfriend is a handy answer to that question that’s always burning in the back of your mind: that question of why the hell you’re even here? Why are you not your dad’s wasted seminal fluid dripping down the bathroom drain? Well, I guess if you’re able to make someone like your girlfriend happy (provided she’s a completely rational individual who makes choices and not in fact just a code you wrote to laugh at your every ill-delivered pun or otherwise a pot of cactus or a piece of scab you named Janet), you must have earned your stay here to some degree, have you not? You’ve got a purpose. You’re not merely your dad’s seminal fluid dripping down the bathroom drain though you might still feel that way sometimes.

Living is much easier with that question quelled. Tragic accidents, such as getting hit by a speeding car while crossing the road, can easily happen when you succumb to existential questions like that in the middle of existing. And the worst thing about such a horrific turn of events is that the newspapers would never say you were actually being philosophical in a mobile manner in that moment; they would only say you got hit by a speeding car because you’re an idiot. Which of course would be a total shame.

Not to say that a lot of mobile philosophers are not idiots because in all likelihood, they are to a large degree.

So the truth is, I’m really sad for all those people who just couldn’t get a girl or a guy or just a sentient humanoid being to care for them back in a completely non-platonic way. And by “non-platonic” I mean you have unholy sex once in a while and your mothers should be ashamed of ever conceiving you. It truthfully is just a total waste of time and resources to be walking this earth without such terrific company.

I know some people say being happy doesn’t require another person, and some would even post those pretty quotes on Facebook, but I call bullshit on that giant tower of stinkin’ dung heap.

Porn, video games, and weed–as good as they are–can only get you so far. Any decent, self-respecting human being would not be content to snort those basest of modern pleasures for the rest of their lives, though admittedly a lot of lives in the history of mankind have been wasted in a lot of dumber and pointless ways. But that’s no excuse.

Not even the healthy options like climbing mountains or painting in water color pastel hues are that much of a difference. The additional health benefits and skills you develop with such hobbies will definitely be appreciated but they can never guarantee peace of mind. Just between you and me, you might be better off with just the porn, but to each his own, I guess.

But seriously, from a guy who’s been through the withering deserts of singlehood for years, please believe me when I say getting a girlfriend as good as mine is absolutely worth it in every way.

Bonus if she also loves you.

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Brain Dead Serious

8 Ways to Find Your True Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life

A life without meaning is a life not worth living. If you wake up every day not really knowing why you should even go on and not just go back to sleep for all eternity, well, one could say without being too blunt that you’re overdue for a personal session with the good ol’ rope and bucket. To help you avoid such a gruesome ending to your days, and be a complete human being who greets the world with a sunshiny smile every morning, we have compiled tried and tested ways that will aid you in your desperate search for that elusive meaning of existence.

1. Travel around the world! — Have you ever stopped to wonder just how tiny the portion of earth you’ve covered contentedly going to and fro your office every single day? Shame on you if you haven’t even visited another country or gotten to know a different people! Everyone knows you won’t find any meaning in the same boring hellhole you’ve been living in for the past 25 years. The secret of existence is a precious nugget of knowledge only starving people in the slums of Asia and the deserts of Africa can give you. In exchange for some clean water. And chocolate bars.

2. Start living the beach life. — Did you know that all life came from the oceans? Yes, evolution tells us that we all started out as glorious sea creatures before adaptation gave us ugly legs that enabled us to walk the earth, thus, effectively condemning ourselves to centuries of toiling this godawful land. It’s high time we go back and embrace the high tide. Sell all your belongings and move to a seaside community where you’ll be in touch with your early evolutionary roots. But we don’t mean just spend your days getting a tan and riding a banana boat–that stuff is for common tourists who might as well drown themselves for living meaningless, hedonistic existences! You have to sell everything, even your clothes, and essentially… become a fish. You can start by cutting gills into your neck.

3. Surf! — Of course, not everyone is ready to go full fish. That’s ok. You can still be one with the water while retaining your mammalian respiratory system by surfing! Get your own surfboard and start riding the waves, contemplating the purpose of all this–everything around you–in between troughs and crests. Propelled by that strange force only the laws of physics can sufficiently explain, you can begin by pondering that question pulsating right at the very heart of this existential conundrum: why are you trying to stand on a plastic plank in the middle of a goddamn body of water? Also, why are you listening to reggae and acting all Rastafarian when you don’t really give a shit about anything except the height of your waves? These are basic philosophical puzzles that you will nonetheless fail to answer because you have the attention span of a Brazilian wax landing strip.

4. Climb mountains. — Meaning is one of the hardest things to get on earth, second only to 8 hours of sleep. So if you can’t find meaning on the seafloor, it could be on a mountaintop. Pack your mountaineering equipment and brace yourself for hours and hours of miserable walking like a Hobbit on a mission to Mordor. Hiking is a prime, literal example of the journey being more important than the destination because discovering the key to the mystery of Being lies along the arduous trek to the top. What basically happens is that you’re putting yourself in so much unnecessary pain and anguish that when you finally see there’s nothing at the top but the same crappy soil you’ve been trudging on forever and a sky that looks as plainly sky-ish as skies get, cognitive dissonance kicks in and you tell yourself blatant rubbish like “Those people down there need to see this or they’re missing out on life.” Maybe. Or maybe they can just simply look at your pictures on Facebook in the comfort of their own basements while munching on Cheetos.

5. Do yoga. — Meditation is so passé. Unless you’re ready to go full monk and burn yourself (alternative to going full fish), you’ll never find meaning in mere meditation. What you need to do is yoga. It’s deep and hip, and it’s filling your Instagram with mutant women doing cartwheels. This spiritual and ascetic discipline from India is your expressway to existential enlightenment–and the best part of it is you can do it every day after work or on weekends (if you’re a filthy casual). Stretch your muscles in various torturous ways and bend yourself in horrific shapes reminiscent of nothing less than the human centipede. The goal is to achieve complete spiritual calm in the midst of all this bodily chaos. The more farts you unintentionally release and the more bones you crack, the better. Snapping your own neck and rendering yourself in a vegetative state actually gets you nearer Nirvana because perfect immobility opens up all those stubborn chakra valves that get in the way of true self-understanding.

6. Collect things or build stuff. — The very purpose of our opposing thumbs is to enable us to hold little things that our ape cousins can’t. You’re wasting your potential as a perfect crafting machine if you keep your hands idle. So get into the building business and start disappearing for days only to randomly reemerge in the living room with a neckbeard and stinking of vomited nachos to the utter shock of others. You may also collect stuff like action figures, stamps, dried bugs, toenail clippings, and your neighbor’s underwear (if you’re that kind of sick). The point is to shut yourself in so much and drive yourself to unholy levels of unkemptness that the world will only be too happy to leave you the fuck alone. And in those long, lonely moments when your introspection is at maximum, you’ll surely stumble upon some kind of meaning to the utter madness. If not, well, at least you have a badass sailing ship replica that screams “voluntary self-castration.”

7. Fall in love! — How often have we all heard that love is the answer? Well, it doesn’t matter how many times we hear it because it’s true–love is the answer! Or rather, it’s kind of a lazy summary of the answer. The answer in its complete form is this: “You are an incomplete shell of flesh who’s pretty much useless and obviously pathetic if you are unable to find someone who has a great need to suck your face in public. Someone who has such a great appetite for sucking your face in public that he or she will do it frequently and over a lengthy period of time even as you start showing him or her the true you who’s an overall idiot and couch potato. Once you find this strange person with an insatiable need for sucking your face, never let him or her go because you’ve made it, baby, and it’s all that really matters in life.”

8. Drink. — And finally, when all else fails, drink. Gulp that alcohol down until you find some meaning at the bottom of the glass. Repeat ad infinitum if no sobering existential epiphany happens. As a last resort, you may try breaking that glass or bottle against the table and then holding the jagged teeth close to your heart. Do it quickly like you’re grabbing the hand of someone you love whom you’ve not seen in a long time. Trickling blood is a good sign life is finally leaving you, and you’ll soon be able to ask god himself just what the heck the point of living is. Of course, you’ll soon find out that everyone up there already knows the big secret; they’re laughing their butts off about it every day before sermons. Too bad none of them can actually go back and tell the tale, including you.

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