Tag : anti-social
One of most interesting developments in the Human condition occurred in the small-backwater-town of Enfield, England, just 16.3km from Charing Cross, 18.8km from the London Stone and in case you are an abradant cockney, 18.9km from St. Mary-le-Bow, you dandy city-folk.
In 1810, at age 40, philosopher but mostly part-time cat farmer Meil Sans Bishopsgate had, after living a tremendously menial life come to the realization of his sad menial life and decided to do something about it. Being far too poor to purchase bullets or rope, he decided to make the best of it.
He immersed himself in philosophical study for two years at the Clarke’s School in Enfiled, with the set intention of improving the quality of his being or at the very least be able to then afford a bullet or two – the second, in case he missed.
Sans Bishopsgate almost quit his studies mid-way due to the elements and the never ending stream of insults coming from the children who attended the school -although in all fairness, from time to time, the teachers joined in too.
His muse, per-se, was a young and brash tuberculosis ridden boy who beat Bishopsgate to a pulp outside the local pub after a fight broke over the iconic importance of the King James Bible, England’s level of abject poverty and Meil having a stupid name. In his memoirs, published for his mother in 1815, Sans Bishopsgate describes the incident in detail and joyfully recalls, ‘Damn Keats’ boy. Hope he dies soon.’
After finishing his two years of standing outside the window where the philosophy class was taught, a full year of what he called ‘staring up at the sky’ followed with him to the conclusion that he was perfectly happy in his life. Meil wrote, “Even though, I have yet to taste the pleasures of the flesh, one must wonder, what does the body of a man truly encapsule? His Spirit? His gravitas? Does a man’s worth be set upon his receding hair line? Would the tender touch of a woman, nay, the spectacle of her bosom and weaving flocks heaving through the wind from a galloping horse bring peace to an aging man? Am I able to achieve these sights with my bare hands and sheer will?’ Sadly, Meil’s body was found at his mother’s cottage the next morning. Who knew? Sliding off the stairs head first had accomplished what self-illusion and the two bullets encrusted on the wall had not.
In the end, Meil Sans Brishopsgate peeked into the human psyche seventy-three years before Freud and coining the term “Mid-life Crisis” in the last page of his journal. Now, used by men loosing their hair and in desperate attempt of transcendental gratification. For this, he will always be remembered. By the way, that Keats boy ended up becoming one of England’s best poets. Go figure.
San Francisco – In a bold move President Obama signed an executive order lifting the ban on stem research instituted back in 2001 by the Bush Administration. The order signed on March 9th is being hailed as ‘exciting news’ throughout the scientific community as it re-opens the path for possible cures for a myriad of diseases and disorders which affect millions of people, such as Parkinson’s, diabetes and cardiac malfunctions, just to name a few. Needless to say this is bound to ignite some fury in partisan groups who see this move as not only a declaration of being in touch with the 21st century but a middle finger to all that is moral in Christian values, like the Crusades.
‘We could not be happier,” said Cardial John Matthew, ‘this is a sign of the times which Christians everywhere should rejoice. We are moving one step closer to Jesus and the Holy Father,’ and Cardinal Matthew is not alone, back in the US shouts of exilihartion are being heard in religious quarters most evil, Godless soul-dead non-believers would not expect to hear. ‘Obama has really proven to be Satan’s lapdog and a harbinger, we could not be happier! It’s fabulous! It is obvious the Rapture is a coming soon. From now on he can do anything he might was well he pleases, I am just going to sit on a lawnchair and crack open a Bud. I am going ot heaven, he is not!’ added Pastor Ned Haggard, ‘By the way, it’s with an “N” not a “T.”
A spokeperson for The End Is Now, a Christian interest group in San Francisco whose main mandate is to inform people of the upcoming Doom’s Day has hailed the move as imperative to the end of times. ‘Steve, one of our members, who was watching the signing on the news swore he heard hoofs of four horses coming from the TV, I am sure he was joking but we were sooo high that afternoon… Who knows? Either way, I will step on the side of caution and believe him. Hey, you aren’t going to write the thing about being high on your article, right?’
On the West coast, MSNBC reports ‘Supporters of Change’ a Pro-Choice group are very optimistic while hailing the unsung heroes, mostly actors and politicians –no one would have cared if a dentist becomes a quadupligic after a horsing accident– who would had quietly aided the pro-movement on Stem Research had they not gotten sick and paraded stem research to whomever listened. ‘They are real heroes, we are just having a party in their behalf on April 1st at Hooter’s private party room. If you are coming, we have made arrangements at 7:00pm, remember it’s BYOB. It may take a while, but chances are it will saves lives. We are with the Religious right on this one, what does a stem cell look like anyways?’
One of my favourite guilty pleasures as far as documentaries go –yes, they too can be guilty pleasures– is Supersize Me. Many of you may remember the 2004 Oscar nominated film about Morgan Spurlock, a man who decides to throw health and common sense to the wind and eats only McDonald’s for thirty days straight. Did anyone really think the guy would not get any fatter? Please. If anything, it squarely highlights humanity’s inbred voyeuristic and sadistic tendencies. Same can be said by the explosion of reality shows clogging the airwaves for the last decade. Yes, TV’s Suvivor is that old.
Having said that, this is what A. J. Jacobs has accomplished, a reality TV show created in book format or intellectual fluff, if you will. Yes, you are curious. Yes, you want to see what happens. Then he writes about his life and when I mean his life, I mean, everything. Going for Chinese with his father-in-law, taking his son to a jungle gym at a park, doing his wife. Fantasizing about doing his wife’s friend! Uh, okay… Anyway, the book is more about the man’s neurosis and mysophobia: A peep whole into a not-so-really interesting life. Sure, he mentions some interesting factoids which will undoubtedly be used to amuse your less thansecular friends. For example, the Bible is actually cool with slavery and it is okay to beat the living bejesus out of them –granted they must live at least a day or two post-beating, ’cause otherwise, if they die, you know, it ain’t so cool (Exodus 21:21). Or the term ‘Scapegoat’ is ironically of Jewish etymology. For real, the head Aaron confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on the Day of Atonement into a goat. Then the goat, symbolically bearing their sins, was run off a cliff. Splat! I can imagine my friends sighing already! I will give A.J. points for creatively using the Bible the same way Spurlock milked McDonald’s. Are they the first ones to ever do so? Heck no. But self-experimentation under the cloak of a higher cause is the new, hot marketing tool on the scene.
As I mentioned in the first part of my review, A.J. does not shy from pointing out he is doing this enterprise as a book project and there is nothing wrong with that. However, later in the book when he attempts to highlight a sort of religious awakening within, is where it stops being cute intellectual fluff and becomes a manufactured chain of events which are meant to pluck on the emotional strings of the reader –like the death near the end of the book. I am not denying it happened, however you can sense that actions have been filtered through a literary prism before being neatly set on the page.
Perhaps I was asking too much. Perhaps knowing someone is doing something for a paycheck drains its respectability. As you can’t shake the feeling you are being shepherded into a product, not sharing a journey. This rule especially applies when the material in question is of spiritual and ethereal context. Like the Law of Attraction ‘coaches’ **cough**The Secret**cough** who teach students to free and release themselves from their worldly chains and miseries for $250 per seminar. Of course they forget to mention Zen Buddhists have been doing that for 1445 years. For free. These examples are all a reminder that enlightenment, whichever way you wish you find it, can be found with curiosity and most importantly, within each of us. But it cannot be reached by neither a prescribed capsuled period of time or in Oprah’s choice for book of the month. Even if it is for the low MSRP of $23.95. However four million people have already done so, I call that a ‘crash diet for the soul.’
In the end, The Year of Living Biblically is enjoyable as any fluff. As you are left feeling that A.J. learns nothing deeper than Biblical trivia which will last him for a lifetime of parties, family gatherings and maybe some talk shows. No, A.J. your PR and marketing handlers were only half right. Yes, it was a one man’s quest to follow the Bible literally, that you did for the most part. But was it a humble one? Not by a long shot. No my friend, you made some good coin. Was that the point?
Darwin is rolling in his grave. Well, more like twitching uncontrollably, maybe doing a little heaving, which surely it is hard after being dead for 125 years. You see, although technologically humanity has moved forth in amazing strides, other developmental trends have in fact backtracked into more primordial states. Which ironically is due to our greater understanding of our own psychology.
You see, we have learned a lot about our raw behaviour and the human condition over the last couple thousand years, which in turn, could be used for the greater good of us all. Instead we have shamelessly used this knowledge to manipulate ourselves. So, the more we move forth in self-awareness –a point of evolution which would have made Plato, Socrates and many others incredibly proud– we again, specifically Western society, have reduced it to a tool for selling wares by seeding basic fears.
Many years ago the point of adverting was “Product “XYZ” is great! Give it a try.” I would call that the typical idea of an ad. They have a product to show you, you make the final call.
Messages of today lack devil-may-care coolness, with most ads reflecting a more desperate “Don’t have ‘xyz’?’ What is wrong with you? You can’t happy. If you had XYZ you would happy, NOW!” Then they have some sort of sexual/financial hook. You know, a reminder that you too can be hot/rich/get laid or all three, especially in beer commercials.
In the other hand, a lot of commercials basically just insult or patronize you. The problem is that it has now become so blatant and done so regularly that we don’t even see it anymore. Can you see the insulting trend on these ads –mind this this are some of the worse– this one from McDonald’s, this Republican Radio ad? This mini-movie (read: long ad) rams its warning into your head of just how unhappy and lonely you too, could be, you will be if you do not use their product: Shampoo. Most beauty product ads are watered down versions of this one. Love how the guy just can’t have enough of her hair! Look at those beady eyes! She will never be alone again, ever.
This is really disastrous when you take into consideration that our brains can’t filter out the stuff. On conscious can for the sake of our wakeful sanity but not our subconscious, and if you hear something repeated enough times, well, it sticks. Studies have been done about this and proven true. So after endless streams of commercials meant to use your sense of self-worth to sell their product, what do you think it is going to happen to you in the long run?
Well, you get funny, nicely brainwashed people. Fighting over the dumbest things. Like video game consoles. For example, check this interesting article I read about the “Fall of Man,” which documented *some* PS3-related injuries on the days after it was launched.
Is this what we are using our vast brain power for? Brainwash ourselves into a Sheep global village? What is wrong? What’s worse is that we are aware of it and yet do nothing about it.
Since Television is consumerism’s main tool and Gospel –I recommend reading an excellent book called the “Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television” by Jerry Mander. No, no conspiracies or communist manifestos, just an ex-adman’s cold, hard look at the stupid box seating in our living rooms. If anything you owe it to yourself to be informed.
So, is Consumerism 21st century’s newest Religion? It already has its own holidays. Like Christmas, and my favourite, the United States’ own Black Friday. Where else can find you can find avid –and some would say, rabid– faithful rushing to a church at 5:00am?