Everything you believe in is some trumped up idea developed to foster your illusions. Don’t believe me, I’ll prove it. Give me something you believe in. Anything. Big or small. What defines you? What drives your passion? What makes you tick? Great, now back up and give me some room, because the shrapnel flies when I start in on dispassionate observations.
Led Zeppelin. One of the greatest band of all time right? Yeah, they’re frauds, and I was onto them at a very young age. I knew there was no way one guy could come up with all that brilliant music. I know, the other guys came up with some of the music, but most of the credits for writing the compositions go to Jimmy Page. I knew, even at a very young age, that there was no way one man could come up with that much brilliance. I was a dumb kid at the time, so I thought he sold his soul to the devil. I was eventually vindicated when we all found out how much material he stole. They say he only stole some songs and some riffs. I read a report that suggested that of the first four albums, he/they stole ten songs by some measure, debatably, arguably, and whatever qualifiers we need to use to avoid incriminating lawsuits. I say we don’t know the full extent of his/their theft. I say they’re damned thieves who probably stole more than we’ll ever know. Look it up, there are lawsuits all over the place for infringements, unauthorized borrowing, and outright theft. I was so excited when I read that. It was vindication. All you silly idiots who believed that they were geniuses were wrong. Look at you! Are your crying? I enjoy the taste of tears. I don’t know if disappointment makes them extra salty, or if I just enjoy the taste of victory. Do you mind if I lick them off your face?
Who’s your favorite actor? You know what, don’t answer that. We tell our people our favorite actor with pride. We talk about the best movie from their catalog, and we say that it was their movie. Have you ever seen the list of credits listed in your average movie? There are at least hundreds of names? How many people were responsible for that movie? What percentage of that movie’s success was due to the actor you love? They’re vehicles for the lines, the action, and the drama, but how much time do they sit in vehicles before they’re called upon to do a scene? They don’t call it the-hurry-up-and-wait industry for nothing.
The production crew hates calling the lead actor to the set, so they spend most of their day readying the scene for them. They hire stand-ins to get the shot right, and they work with the screenwriter to make sure the lines won’t cause the actor to have a hissy fit. The actor steps from their trailer, says the lines a couple times, and they all move on. Most actors hate walking onto an ill-prepared set. They don’t want to stand around to make sure the lighting is right, and the scene is perfect, so the production crew stresses each other out to make sure everything is perfect for the entrance of the actor. The actor finally enters and delivers the line, as if it’s on the fly. It’s not my intention to suggest that convincing a group of people that you’re another person is easy, or that I could do it. I’m talking about the audiences reaction to it. I’m talking about how we immerse ourselves in movies to such a degree that we believe they said the line they read. We do that. We all do it. We say, “You know it’s like Jack Nicholson says …” He said it, but he read it. He memorized the line, but he didn’t think it up. A screenwriter thought up that line. Now, Nicholson probably said it with more flair and charisma than the screenwriter could’ve, but how many takes does the production crew have to sit through before he got the line just right? They’re frauds perpetuating a myth that we love.
My favorite artist was “hardly there” in the production of my favorite album. “What?” It was largely a creation in the minds of a producer, the guitarist, an expert mixer, and a number of other credited players who helped my favorite artist produce the product I’ve loved for decades. I learned an important lesson the day I read that: Ignorance is bliss. If we want to continue to love an artist, particularly an actor or a musician, we shouldn’t read websites or watch documentaries that dive deep into the creation of our favorite albums.
How about Stephen King? Do you read him? Yeah, he stole the idea for one of his most popular books Misery from an Erik Keene’s dead aunt? Our initial inclination is that Erik Keene was a delusional whack job looking for a way to harass King and his family, and while that might be true with Keene, how many struggling writers submit rejected ideas to publishers only to have the core idea of that rejected manuscript show up in that publisher’s favorite author’s library? How many authors simply run out of ideas? How many writer’s blocks have ended with a stolen manuscript? How many big time authors were so frustrated by their writer’s block that they threatened to retire? How many desperate publishers, bent on retaining that big name, help them come up with ideas? Where did they get those ideas? They stole them. Your inclination is to infer that I’m saying this happens all the time. I’m not, but has it ever happened? Does it happen more often than we know?
How about Walter Payton? If you love football, you know he’s declared one of the greatest running backs in NFL history. Have you ever seen the guys from the 70’s and 80’s trying to chase him down and tackle him? They’re so little. With the size, strength, and speed of the NFL today, Walter Payton would probably be a third-down, situational back, nothing more. You might think that’s idiotic, but this is what we do when we attempt to tear down everything you believe in. We take your favorite bands, your favorite authors, and your favorite athletes, and we tear them apart. Nugget by nugget, brick by brick. This is our way of saying we don’t believe in you anymore, and we’ve broken free of any shackles we once had by believing in you. We have nothing to rebel against anymore, all of our parents are dead, so rebelling against you and everything you believe in gives us gas to dispel that feeling of individuality we never strove for in our teens in the manner most kids did.
There’s poetry in baseball, and baseball is poetry, punctuated by plays like “The Catch”. Willie Mays made “The Catch”. It was poetic right? Wrong. I’ve watched that catch so many times over the years, trying to figure out the big deal. I know it happened in the World Series and all that, but people say it was one of the greatest catches of all time. Have you seen that catch? I thought it was barehanded for whatever reason. It wasn’t. It was just a catch, and a catch we probably see a couple of times a year in major league baseball. Hell, I think I did it once in softball. It wasn’t a special catch by any means.
You might not care about Willie Mays, but do you care about the Nebraska Cornhuskers? Yeah, they’re frauds too. You probably still celebrate the years they won three national championships in four years, but I say the only reason they won them is that they had such an easy schedule. Admit it, they were frauds. Everything you believe in is fraudulent.
Demystify the past? What are you talking about demystify the past? I’m talking truth here brotha. I have no skin in this game. I want to know the truth? Why don’t you? You and the collective ‘we’ have trumped up these otherwise marginal people and accomplishments, and it sends a tingle up my leg when I’m able to pop a hole in your delusions. You’re all so ridiculous. You believe in things, and it makes you happy. Your passions breed a sense of fulfillment, even when what you know they’re false. That’s why I feel the need to correct the record. I don’t allow myself to believe in false things. Why do you? You can try to turn this back on me, but what are you going to squash? I don’t believe in anything. I have no passions, so good luck. It makes me feel smarter to know more than you and all of your silly idiot friends who believe in things and develop passions.
The past wasn’t as great as you romantic types thought. It’s a narrative for the romantics. You’re not a romantic? Look at all the silly people you believe in. Why do we believe in people? Why do we trump up their rather routine accomplishments, because they’re about us. We’ve found a way to live vicariously through their accomplishments to idealize who we wish we could be. We treat diminishment of their accomplishments as a personal insult.
What’s the flip side of the coin? You think that by diminishing others’ accomplishments, I hope to relieve myself of any disappointments I have in my life? All right, I’ll admit that my life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would but who’s has? I have some accomplishments in life, but they pale in comparison to these false gods you worship. They’re silly people. You’re silly, and we’re all quite boring, so we assign poetic majesty to the little things and these little people did who supposedly did big things, so we have something to believe in.
I see what you’re doing though. You’re trying to find a super-secret part of me to analyze. You’re trying to find my motivation, so you can dismiss my findings. Go for it. Smarter people than you have tried. They were wrong, and you’ll be wrong. This is not about me. It’s about you. I’m a blank slate, an empty vessel, like the actors you adore. Have you ever heard the theory that the more devoid of a core personality an actor is, the better they are at filling that void with a fictional personality? That’s me. I have no motivation, except to prove you, and your fellow romantics, wrong. I find that so satisfying that it quenches a need. I don’t get passionate about silly things. Why do you? Why do you believe in anything? I seek to question that which you believe in, until it leads to an ultimate deconstruction, and I hope to help you ultimately reach a higher sphere of consciousness where nothing is real. It’s about you. It’s not about me. I have no skin in this game. I’m a dispassionate observer who believes that you romantics who seek poetry and majesty in the past are just plain silly. In the battle between mind and heart, most of us know that our passions will not withstand scrutiny. I dismantle these beliefs, because I think intelligence dispels belief.
One thought on “Demystify This!”
That was quite a conversation! ;)
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