‘an attack on love’ or ‘im lonely, but right’ part 1

probsyou i blame the beatles. ‘love is all you need’ might as well be the credo of our times. what is the solution to every problem in the world? a big greasy helping of the l word. in society, at least in the (sub)strata i operate, religion is dying. ‘faith in god’ has been replaced with ‘love conquers all’. im not saying this is a bad thing, just that its not the liberation from dogma we might think it is. to paraphrase, the greatest trick that religion ever pulled was to convince us that it didnt exist. religion was for silly peasants worshipping the bearded sky wizard. we sophisticates have evolved past that. we have quantum physics, psychology, and google to explain the world and our place in it. we tell ourselves that we have replaced faith with evidence based reasoning. we turn to science to provide all the answers to the universe. so far it seems to have worked out pretty well; microwave ovens, for instance. i will concede that science explains much of the “hows” of our world. im just not sure if it explains the “for whats”. that was also a function of religion. sure it explained why the sun rose every morning but it also prescribed why you should too. thats where love comes in. romantic love, especially, fills the vacuum left by religion while seemingly eliminating all the negative baggage. all the potential for salvation with none of that ego bruising submission. sounds nice, right? not when youre a perpetual single man in his early thirties surrounded by romantic fundamentalists. for me, romantic love is the last tyrannical force in our culture treated as unquestionable virtue, an old testament god demanding complete allegiance.
i get it though. i understand the appeal. as simon may put it in his excellent book ‘love: a history’, ‘we moderns are desperate to preserve an indestructible residue of the divine in a world powerfully dedicated to the abolition of the divine – but unable, in reality, to give up this most fundamental human need’. in other words, we all know there is no sky wizard. worse, we are all aware of the awful shit that has been done in the name of competing sky wizards. yet, on some level, we still really like the idea of there being some kind of sky wizardy in play. we still need to put our faith into something. so as a compromise, we infuse the sacred mystery into our human relationships. the connection to the divine becomes through each other, each of us a conduit and receiver. it is the one area of life where irrational beliefs and behaviours are totally justified. we believe in magical thinking like ‘soulmates’, ‘one in a millions’, ‘love is all you need’. sounds like sky wizardy to me.
like any religion, faith plays a huge role in romantic love. even when you are single you are told to have faith that there is somebody out there for everybody. if you dont think people believe that with religious fervour, argue the opposite at your next dinner party, see if you get invited back next month. thats the first commandment of romantic love: thou shalt believe there is someone out there for janice. it has its roots in old platonic ideas that at one point we were these complete beings with two heads and four arms that were cleaved apart and forever looking for our other halves. you know, that completely rational belief you hear about all the time in all those science journals. if you actually unpack this idea that ‘there is someone for everyone’ it reveals a lot of the underlying beliefs we have about romantic love. foremost, it is the belief that everyone deserves romantic love equally. i personally dont believe that anybody deserves anything, but thats a whole other argument. the belief is that no matter who you are, what you do, you are entitled to be in love. a problematic statement; does everyone really deserve to be loved? its nice to think so but maybe youre an asshole. do assholes still deserve love? more importantly do they deserve love as much as non-assholes do? if they do, and love is all you need, then whats to dissuade me from being an asshole? doesnt exactly provide a great moral framework for dating does it? at least god demanded you were nice to people. if there is somebody out there for everybody does that mean that the worst piece of shit in the world and myself have the exact same chances of hitting the love lottery? dont get me wrong, i think everybody should be afforded compassion and empathy but to believe that that the transcendent experience of two souls fusing together is equally accessible to everyone is another matter. it actual diminishes its worth if it can be gained so easily. that is, of course, if i believed it existed in the first place. i mean everyone has the right to climb a mountain, but how many of us actually can?
the second article of faith is that romantic love is unconditional. you know, like youre supposed to love god. totally a reasonable expectation to put on another fallible human. you slam these two ideas together in the social subconscious and you get the idea that there is someone out there for me who will love me no matter what i do as long as i love her too. sound familiar? sounds like a long haired palestinian dude i knew about two thousand years ago. the best part is that now your saviour isnt some inexplicably white dude nailed on a cross but an actual human you can have brunch with! heres the rub, we all have an intrinsic need for the sacred in our lives. if you deny that there exists a transcendent dimension to life (ie hippie mumbo jumbo) you will be forced to find that sacred in the material world. as a result we infuse our romantic relationships with some crazy grandeur we used to reserve for god and are inevitably disappointed when they fail to be the transcendent experience we innately desire.

im so lonely

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‘reflections on sepsis’ or ‘my blood tried to kill me’

the paramedics who picked me up viewed me with suspicion. justifiably so – my apartment smelled of recreational drug use, undercutting any claim to genuine emergency. probably just another hipster greened out on his bedroom floor. to be honest, i was suspicious myself. after all, i had experienced these symptoms before. we, my room mates and i, even had a name for it – ‘toronto fever’. a combination of exhaustion aggravated by a strict diet of venti starbucks and next gold regular. when i first arrived in toronto, three weeks shy of a year ago, i spent the first week or so bedridden with my first case of tf. shaking under the covers, regretting that i wasnt in a serious relationship or at least back at my mother’s house. basically, wishing that i had someone to bring me soup. thats what it all really boils down to in the end, someone to bring you a chicken noodle and make sure you dont die. in lieu of this i had a room mate curious enough to investigate what sounded like a book case falling over. turned out it was just yours truly losing consciousness in a crumpled mass of septic shock.

by the time i had gotten into the ambulance the tone of the paramedics had become somewhat more grave. they had measured my vitals and realized this was not just a case of hipster exhaustion. my blood pressure was dangerously low and i had the heart rate of an octogenarian on morphine. as we sped away in the ambulance, one of my room mates sitting beside the other remarked to no one in particular, ‘we almost made it a year’.

we arrived at the registration to the ER and my shoes got lost. the doctors started working on me with an urgency that dispelled any hope that this was a result of too much coffee and cheap darts. at that point, whether consciously or not, i mentally detached from the whole situation. i felt like a nascar that had just pulled into the pit. i was being poked and prodded, hooked up to all manner of machines, making sure that i was still pumping the correct fluids at the appropriate rates. it was explained that i had an infection that had spread into my blood. i had gone into septic shock. you dont have to be a doctor to realise that using the word ‘septic’ to explain anything in your body cant be good.

i kept asking what the time was. i wondered if i should call my family. i mean i may have been laid out on a gurney riddled with angry bacteria but there was no need to wake up anyone too early on a saturday morning. turns out catholic guilt is immune to sepsis.

part of my hesitance in calling was that i was mentally downplaying everything. i just kept thinking to myself stay calm, relax, youre going to be fine. the trick to getting through an ordeal in the emergency room is just to tell yourself that everything that is happening to you is perfectly normal. ten litres of iv solution? par for the course! cant get a catheter in so they have to jab you in the bladder by going through your abdomen? happens to everyone! getting transferred to the ICU? what? youve never been? even in my semi-delirious state i knew that ICU was not a good place. i have seen hospital procedurals. the c is not for ‘cuddling’. at that point i told them to call my parents, after all it was past nine o’clock.

the ICU is kept cold, to keep the smells down.

one day later i was transferred to the 8th floor, general internal medicine. the language of moving from ‘intensive’ to ‘general’ gave me a sense of relief. my family had arrived and i spent the next week bedridden attached to a catheter which is the acme of discomfort. i pejoratively referred to it as my ‘dick tube’ in an attempt to regain a modicum of masculinity. in my weakened state language was my only real way to keep sane. every time a nurse drew blood or emptied a catheter bag i made sure to thank them, often to their confusion. if you have the presence of mind to thank people, even in ridiculous scenarios, for things that they are probably rarely thanked for, it makes you feel more in control of the situation. it diminishes the weight of what happens to you. it allows you to keep some semblance of dignity in a situation that pretty much robs you of any. i think i really learned that after the third time i shat myself. or as i phrased it to the nurse, ‘my bowels moved involuntarily’. technical nomenclature, passive sentence structure, like my sphincter had breached a contract clause. thats the thing about the hospital, nobody ever just calls it piss and shit. its bms and passing water. bowel movement sounds like a section of an orchestral arrangement written strictly for tubas. but its all part of it. “’shall i bring in the commode?’ ‘oh you mean the lawn chair toilet hybrid that i shit into a bag from? sure! wheel it in here sister’”.

what surprised me was how soon i became, perhaps shameless is the wrong word, but ready to forfeit any claim to being a self-sufficient adult male. its a little disconcerting how easily i took to being infantilized. your world shrinks down into minuscule tasks. getting out of bed under your own power. breaking down the getting out of bed into all its composite steps, skipping none, lest you pitch over and extend your stay. going to the bathroom under your own power becomes your whole wednesday. the crazy thing is that you get this weird sense of freedom in simplicity. all your existential desires and conceptual forms of stress evaporate. all you have to do is focus on getting better. you actually start to feel a little guilty, slightly lazy that this is all you have to do. i could see the appeal of münchhausen syndrome. it makes life very uncomplicated.

florence nightingale syndrome, it totally makes sense to me now. becoming infatuated with doctors and nurses is inevitable. ive always had a thing for professionals. i have a jewish grandmother living inside me. i swear to crom, as i was lying there in the emergency room getting worked on, one of the first thoughts that came into my mind was ‘if i go back now, how long until i finish law school?’. im not sure what triggered it. some strange combination of being surrounded by a room full of people who have their lives together when mine was so obviously falling apart. who gets sepsis? with doctors, the appeal is their intelligence and ambition. with nurses, you realise why they include the ‘in sickness and in health’ caveat to wedding vows. sure, it is easy to make a relationship work when everybody’s vital signs are healthy. but how do you know this broad is going to stick around when youre shitting yourself into an adult pull-up? with a nurse, you already got that base covered. shit, she’s the one who brought you the pull-up. plus, she’s already seen your penis. and under less than ideal conditions. yet lo and below, the fruit cups doth appear.

a few weeks later the realisation that i actually could have died really sank in. that simple focus on the day to day recovery slips away and allows some perspective to assert itself. i was back in my apartment, the scene of the crime. just before i feel asleep, in that moment your internal monologue gets whisked away into dream, i was overcome with this physical sense of fear in my chest. there was nothing rational about it, just an intense feeling that a semi-trailer truck had whizzed by an inch from my nose. i was more afraid in that moment, weeks later, than at any point since i first collapsed.

i write this in an attempt to work it out for myself, to glean some kind of larger meaning or at least to put what happened into some kind of context. i wish i could end this with some kind of epiphany about life or with some enlightening perspective youve never heard before. some magic alchemy of words that will spur you to never waste another second and live life to its fullest. but i cant. everything i learned has been said before. ‘the clock is ticking’, ‘our grip on this life is more tenuous then we think, especially when we’re young’, blah blah blah. the difference is that there is knowing we are mortal on an intellectual level, and feeling it in your gut. we know that on an abstract level someday we will die. but waking up with a feeling in your chest like your soul just got a case of vertigo is an experience i wouldnt wish on anybody, but that i am personally grateful for.

‘just saying …’ or ‘your lack of gumption upsets me’

say what you will about terrorists, at least they never post a link to an article by prefacing it with “just saying”. the very fact that this is an accepted idiom may be the harbinger of the cultural destruction they have threatened us with for lo these many years.
a significant majority of sharing on social media is creating an ideal persona. a perpetual highlight reel. i get it, we create ourselves online not only by the production of words and images of our own creation but by the consumption of ideas, which in the realm of social media is ipso facto conspicuous. about as conspicuous as the casual use of latin. for instance, you share a link to an article defending free speech not only because the cause resonates with you but to be seen as resonating with the cause. too cynical? is the motivation for sharing on some level to share in the credit of what you posted? i wouldn’t go that far but when that notification sounds, is it your faith in the first amendment that is reassured or your own good taste? this doesnt even bother me, information and the medium its presented in have always had a reflexive relationship. its only when preface any post with “just saying” that my panties get in a bunch.
this cowardly disclaimer usually prefaces a post of somewhat controversial nature. any topic your grandma would consider impolite dinner conversation. yet as your grandma also believed, ‘dont let your mouth write a check your ass cant cash’. i realise im making some bold assumptions about the gumption of your granny, the point being that the expression ‘just saying’ amounts to rhetorical cowardice. if you are going to post something, at least have the testicular fortitude to defend it. hiding behind a waiver of ‘just saying’ is like living vicariously through a child but then sneaking out half way through the recital after an ill spun baton detaches a retina. in for a penny, in for a pound.
worse, ‘just saying’ diminishes speech itself to mere noise. its less of a disclaimer against a specific argument but an assertion that argumentation itself is impotent; that its ‘just speech’. as if words had no ability to affect concrete change in the material world. its basically the ‘sticks and stones’ argument, which as the bespectacled and chubby amongst us can tell you, is painfully untrue. oddly, the inherent contradiction of prefacing an argument with “just saying” renders the subsequent argument toothless, seems to elude those that employ it. the equivalent would be a sportscaster constantly reminding you that its just a game. ‘in the larger context that forty yard return doesn’t really mean much what with all the starving children.’ then why the hell am i watching?
maybe i am taking this too seriously. i mean after all its only facebook, right? the solemnity of an argument is as reliant on the context in which it is made as the content of the argument itself. you could argue that i am affording a pinky swear on a park bench the same gravity as a solemn vow in a cathedral. as someone who is unpublished by anyone other than myself my seeming elevation of social media could be a roundabout attempt at elevating my own writing. subconscious narcissism aside, the role of social media in our lives is still in flux and its potentiality imperfectly understood. a medium that can inform us of a death of high-school friend only to be followed a mere finger scroll later with a list of ‘top ten celebrity haircuts’ has a scope so manifold in breadth and depth it belies meaningful interpretation. from this perspective, the waiver of ‘just saying’ could be forgiven. to expect someone to be held responsible for the consequences of a post made in a medium not fully understood is perhaps unfair. it would be as presumptuous to ask a castaway, after throwing a message in a bottle, for its tracking number.
the dilemma can be framed as such: what are the rights and responsibilities of the sharer? i would come down on the side that its akin to being an editor of a small paper. a paper so small, its in fact just you. as an editor, you share what you think are the best stories, the credit being yours only in finding them. of course, when a story proves to be false, its the editor who writes the apology. it is up to you if you want to be a tabloid or the times, but either way: own it. im just saying …

‘thoughts on the fappening’ or ‘stop looking at pictures of my girlfriend’

Jennifer_Lawrence_by_Gage_Skidmore

im in love with jennifer lawrence.

there it is, ive said it out loud. officially my position on celebrity crushes is righteously cynical. they are pathetic on the side of devotee and cynical on the side of demigod. superfans waiting outside morning shows with placards confessing their love for a millionaire who sees them as nothing more than a droplet in their revenue stream are the acme of delusion. to believe you have some kind of dialogic connection to a carefully crafted two dimensional rendering is either symptomatic of an internal reward system gone amuck or a culture on the whole where celebrities themselves have become their own pantheon to whom adherents make their own displays of devotions and cast their secret prayers. either way, it’s the reserve of the sad and lonely.

that is of course until jennifer lawrence came on the scene. full on instacrush. as beautiful as she is, it was her easy charm in interviews that drew me in. she seemed like the girl next door under the bright lights of fame left with only her wits to reconcile the difference. the fact that she had filmed “house at the end of the street” in my hometown somehow added to an aire of star-crossed attainability. at a recent get together of friends i implored one attendee to regale me with his story of chauffeuring her around the city, a story he had at my request told many times. this retelling came with the addendum, “she actually kind of reminded me of [name of my ex-girlfriend]”. i felt like elaine finding out that she was just john f. kennedy jr.’s type. he was trying to hurt me, obviously. to suggest i had some glimmer of compatibility with this rarefied beauty was a too-cruel attempt at injury. it spurned visions of weekend getaways to the gananoque, just me and jen, joking how there couldn’t possibly by a thousand islands, salad dressing puns, etc. this is the level of self-delusion i allow myself. its romantic, ludicrous, and ultimately harmless, i tell myself.

it was for this reason i choose not to look at the hacked photos of her online: they would only serve to detract from this illusory relationship. for those photos to fit into the fantasy, i would have to believe that they were made specifically for me. and let’s be honest, this is the appeal. if you wanted to see pictures of naked women, it’s really not the hard. just google ‘boobs’. the real appeal of these photos is their private nature, their intended audience of one that has now been usurped by millions. many people have argued that they were an attempt to bring these celebrities down, to objectify them. i think it is almost the opposite, to make the 4chan plebs feel special. it is who you need to believe yourself to be for this fantasy to work that is the creepiest angle. the suspension of disbelief required to enjoy a good film in a cinema allows you to lose yourself in the narrative and maybe feel something. it is, at its best, an egoless communal experience that can feed the soul. that is the experience that great actors help give us by giving of themselves. the suspension of disbelief required while jerking off to stolen pictures of the same actor while a laptop over heats on your chest all the while on some level telling yourself these photos were made just for daddy seems like a markedly sadder experience. that’s the creepy part, that the real titillation is from the fantasy that she sent these photos you herself. imagining yourself with a dream girl is one thing, tacitly condoning the invasion of a stranger’s privacy to fuel it is another. i realise there are larger moral questions surrounding this even but that’s the one i feel is the most greasy. does privacy exist now only as a fetish?

to Winter

old man winterFebruary 9th, 2014
RE: Cease and desist
Dear Mr. Frost:
This CEASE AND DESIST ORDER is to inform you that your persistent actions including but not limited to forcible confinement, assault causing bodily harm, public incitement of hatred, and any and all meteorology resulting in the near literal severance of the pudendum have become unbearable. You are ORDERED TO STOP such activities immediately as they are being done in violation of any reasonable elemental expectancy.
I have the right to remain free from these activities as they constitute harassment, and I will pursue any remedies available to me against you if these activities continue. These remedies include but are not limited to: discussion ad nauseam of the atmospheric transgressions with anyone in possession of the power of speech, long introspective afternoons questioning my chosen nation of residence, and malicious aggregation and ignition of any and all fossil fuels.
Again, you must IMMEDIATELY STOP all hibernal pursuits and send confirmation that you will stop such activities by way of a decent weekend. You risk incurring some very severe environmental consequences if you fail to comply with this demand (see aforementioned spite fires).
To ensure compliance with this letter, and to halt any action I may take against you, I require you to fill in and sign the attached form and raise the average temperature to at least 5 ºC within 10 days of your receipt of this letter, or St. Patrick’s day at the latest. Failure to do so will act as evidence of your infringement upon my climate rights, and I will immediately be forced to contact a travel agent to remedy the situation.
Sincerely,
E. Nuff

Cereal Spokes-Characters Feel The Pinch

As fewer and fewer people incorporate breakfast cereals as a part of their morning meal, Kellogg’s and General Mills have had to make some tough cuts to their marketing budget. Long time spokes-characters such as Tony the Tiger, Lucky the Leprechaun, and Snap, Crackle and Pop have seen their hours greatly reduced or have been let go entirely.
Tony the Tiger (nee Anthony Felinson) has mixed emotions about the development. “Well I certainly don’t feel ggggreat about it” told reporters when reached at the Felix Gym in Venice where Tony works part-time as a personal trainer. “On one paw I feel guilty for fattening the pudge-os up, but on the other I have created a great client base. At the end of the day, I still get to yell a lot.” Lucky, working in the United States on a conditional visa, now faces deportation back to Ireland if he cannot find work elsewhere. “Sure, I’m grossly under-qualified for any other line of work”, Lucky explained bent over a shot glass of Guinness, “I mean literally, I’m five inches tall”. The trio of Snap, Crackle, and Pop have taken a more upbeat perspective on the development. “It gives us more time to focus on our real passion, music” Crackle explained via Skype. “For so long we have been pigeon-holed into this Saturday morning, kid-friendly, part-of-a-complete-breakfast bullshit”, explained Pop, self-described bad boy of the group, “Shit I’m a grown elf with grown elf problems”. Look for the trio’s new urban inspired album “Gat, Cracker, What!” to drop in March. Perhaps most tragic is story of Trixx. With a long history of substance abuse problems, the downsizing proved too much for troubled rabbit. He was arrested early yesterday at the border in Juarez, Mexico under suspicion of drug smuggling. Sources close to the department say after a full body cavity search police were baffled to find half a kilo of sugary powder lab reports confirm to be a cocktail of high fructose corn syrup and artificial colourings. When asked to comment the defiant Trixx proclaimed what its seems consumers across the country have concluded themselves, “I guess those Trixx aren’t for nobody”.

devising a global utopian systems and other things to do in hotel rooms: thoughts on the jeremy paxman russell brand interview

i have more than once come across those who believe that if you don’t vote you forfeit all claim to political credence. this argument bothers me for similar reasons that it bothers Brand, it reduces all political engagement to a line up at a booth in a high school gym every few years. on a certain level you are exercising a choice, but a choice that been prescribed to a degree that severely mitigates your individual level of expression. a most probably fallacious comparison would be if you arrive at a cinema and ask what’s playing only to have the attendant at the counter responds, “’big momma’s house 4: the quest for peace’, ‘win a date with Tom Berenger’, and ‘the slow and lugubrious’”. dejected and disappointed you return home with your 13.75$ unspent. does this make you some sort of cinephobe? hardly, if anything you most likely hold the medium in high esteem. now, in some nightmare universe where these were the only three movies, ever, and were continually being played, with perhaps a redux released every four years, you might stop going to the movies all together. would that be a sign of your apathy towards the medium or a reflexive response to the content the medium delivers? worse, would others meet your opinion on film with contempt because ‘bm:4’ was not worthy of your consideration? yet when the established political system churns out their set of candidates for our chosing there is the tacit implication that they represent, not only the best, but the entirety of the viable political spectrum. therefore, anything or anyone outside this false spectrum is by definition not politically viable, not in any serious way at least. you are allowed to hate certain players but never the game. any objection of that magnitude is tantamount to poor sportsmanship.
i still believe you should vote. i believe it was Winston Churchill who said, “democracy is the worst form of government, full stop. now if you will excuse me i’m late for a sausage luncheon.” Aristotle believed it to be the lowest form of government, the highest being aristocracy. “why let the needy rule as opposed to the best? too much talk of goats and goat related inequities” he was known to mumble in that place with the pillars. though not perfect, democracy is the best system we have so far. frankly, arguing about alternatives seems a bit academic or at least premature. Brand argues that voting makes you tacitly complicit in the system. is it not possible to vote and also be explicitly against the system? can you not vote for the member of parliament most aligned with your anarchist views and also participate in an anarchist group on the weekends? sure its hypocritical, but you’re a member of an anarchist group for pete’s sake. i believe that hypocrisy is underrated. what it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in sheer efficiency. you really can get so much done. if you want to affect real change as opposed to merely holding the moral high ground of ‘being right’, cognitive dissonance is the only way to go. a useful attitude to adopt is to see voting as one facet of a larger spectrum of political action. it is only when seen as the end all and be all of political participation that voting becomes merely what Brand refers to as a release valve. at worst, casting a ballot ever few years absolves people of any pangs of responsibility that might arise as they watch the state of affairs worsen around them. at worst, it is the sum total of political engagement; at best, the beginning.
the true danger though with the argument that voting is a prerequisite for political credence is that it conflates political power with political authority. the whole thrust of Paxman’s line of question is what qualifies Brand, or gives him the right, to be the guest editor of The New Statesman. in essence, Paxman is asking Brand the rather specious question of ‘do you think you deserve to do this?’. my problem with employing the language of rights is the implicit power structure the language creates. rights are always ‘won’, ‘awarded’, or ‘given’. this must mean that there is something or someone who gives, awards, or deems the winner. the true agency then remains in the hands of this nebulous adjudicator and the recipient of this right merely exercises it at the munificence of those in charge. it is part and parcel of the delusion that the political system is a big family unit. you may be allowed to use dad’s car, but it’s still dad’s car and you are using it merely by his permission. it is not freedom but merely an expanded set of options hemmed in by your father’s judgement. the language of power, on the other hand, is ‘taken’, ‘wielded’, ‘exerted’. think of that visceral feeling of independence you experienced as a teenager. for the first time you were interacting with the world as a separate entity outside the family unit. that moment when you stopped being scared of the older kids who hung out in the park. they always made you nervous because they seemed to be aware of, but not quite under, the authority your parents represented. then one night you realised you were those older kids. though just a taste, that power is so thrilling because it is deeply and intrinsically personal and innate. it is more than an expansion of permission but a realisation that permission is not necessary. the true beauty is that this creative power can be combined with the power of others into ways that often end in things that couldn’t be imagined before you started. at that age it’s usually a bitchin kegger but i’m limited by my choice of analogy. reduce that kinetic adaptive power into something as obsequious as ‘rights’ and you limit that power’s potential. all right, but down that molotov, i shouldn’t have used munificence. the m word always gets people riled up. the point is that the political system is not your dad. don’t wait for someone to give you the right, as Brand put it, just take it.

and just as addendum added for additional amusement:
Brand at one point accuses Paxman of confusing seriousness with solemnity, here’s what John Cleese had to say about it:

 

getting what you deserve and other spells part 2

when we start thinking in terms of deserve we are already up to our collective testicles in fallacious thinking.

the first mistake is to believe we live in a meritocracy. if you still suffer from that delusion i invite you to graduate from high school. worse still is to believe that merit itself is some sort of driving force that permeates and binds the social world together. merit is only an abstract idea, it has no agency of its own. at best merit can be imagined as a form of consensus, at worst a benevolent authority actively reordering causality in our favour.

an illustrative example of this reordering is the just-turned-sixteen-year old stomping their feet in an empty driveway. why hasnt an automobile materialised on their big day? they took all the right steps, namely surviving a hundred and ninety-two months. even though there is no actual causal relationship between age and vehicle ownership, if you believe that once you turn sixteen you deserve a car, you are inferring there is. and you probably also suck. by saying ‘i deserve’ you are appealing to merit as though it was a concrete authority with the ability to intercede in your life and rectify the perceived misallotments. merit has no existence outside of those who have the ability to bestow it. now, your initial response to this might be that the kid just doesnt deserve it. he’s done nothing for it, hasn’t earned it, doesnt need it. its my argument that none of these factors matter.

it is seductive to see merit as an objective, impartial, and consistent agent of equality. wouldnt it be nice if there was some nurturing force out there making sure everyone played nice? but your mom just isnt here bro, stop looking for her. we fool ourselves into thinking that merit operates under fixed and, even more delusional, discernible laws. in other words, we not only believe that life is a fair game but that we have figured out the rules. this perspective is particularly flawed because it fuels the belief that, in order to get what you want, you merely need to design your life in accordance to these laws.

underlying this approach to life is a latent belief that merit behaves like a natural force such as those explained by physics. as the laws of physics binds the physical world together so we believe merit binds the social world. then like an engineer who designs a bridge in compliance with the laws of physics, we plan our own lives guided by our unfounded belief in the laws of merit. as though we ourselves were building a bridge, we approach success as merely a series of necessary steps performed in an prescribed order. we believe that if we live in accordance with the laws of merit our bridge will stand. and then this happens …bridge

the difference is that unlike physics there are no real laws to merit. again, the closest we come is consensus, which by its very nature is in a state of flux, therefore, impossible to codify. the only thing keeping that bridge up is how well its construction obeys the laws of physics. when a bridge collapses it’s not because someone changed the laws of physics when nobody was watching.

yet when some aspect of our own life collapses isnt that how we often respond? as if some immutable law had somehow been transgressed? if we view merit as having the same character as physical laws of nature we react one of two ways. we continue to believe that the world is a fair place and we simply didn’t deserve happiness. we are probably being punished for that time we stole the fat kids three musketeers bar in grade three. how many times do we have to apologize for that? or conversely, we straight up lose our shit. when something unfair happens, we act as baffled as if a steel bridge had spontaneously dissembled and rearranged itself into a giant spire bearing a resemblance to an outstretched middle finger. we act as if the physical laws of nature have been broken. the apple has floated back up to the tree. it defies belief.

or we realise that opinion without power is nothing but a fart in the wind and thats all believing you ‘deserve’ anything is.

Ottawa comedian only homegrown talent in national competition

Ottawa comedian only homegrown talent in national competition

Ottawa-native Jimmy Cassidy will be the only comic representing the city in a national comedy competition spanning coast to coast.
The up and coming comic traveled all the way to Montreal to qualify for Canada’s Next Top Comic contest.
He’s currently competing against 20 other semi-finalists from across Canada to get a spot in the finals this September.
Getting a spot means an Ottawa comic will be at the 42nd annual Just For Laughs festival in Toronto.
Ottawa residents can help give the local talent an edge in the competition by voting online. Voting begins July 29th and runs until August 19th. Visit http://www.siriusxm.ca/nexttopcomic and be entered into a draw to win a trip for two to Toronto to see the Gala, slated for the opening night of JFL42 – September 19th, 2013.

In the meantime, Cassidy is available for TV spots, including morning show comedy segments, to talk about the contest and what it means for the Ottawa comedy scene.
More information on the contest can be found here:
https://nexttopcomic.siriusxm.ca/Home/ContestDetails
More information on Jimmy Cassidy can be found here:
https://jimmycassidy.wordpress.com/
Important dates:
voting runs July 29th to August 19th, 2013
JFL 42 starts September 19th, 2013
Contact info:
e-mail: jimmycassidybooking@gmail.com
telephone: (613) 853-5469
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