Sincerity Mc Sincerityface how we grieve for the loss of you. Reagan became the great communicator and we all laughed, and then Trump started hunting the Nobel Prize and we started to give up in resignation. A young fan of a middle-aged rock band lobbied to get them to play one of the world’s shittiest rock songs and they did on national TV. Of course there’s no accounting for taste unless that taste is purely a function of a marketing industry that produced not only the marketing but the product in such demand. Then taste is nothing more than manufactured. And everything we care about is really just products of corporations, including our ideals of love and accomplishment.
Watch enough blockbuster films, and absorb enough advertising at the gas pump, and soon enough you won’t know the difference between your life and whatever cliché of the day we have on hand to describe the brainless metropolis, hive-mind, or cult we all ascribe to.
Wouldn’t it be something if instead of being exactly the same idiots we’ve been since history has been recorded that we actually outgrew some of our more ludicrous activities and moronic beliefs? If you read the books of the Old Testament and read Herodotus and Homer you find yourself immersed in an ignorant and fractioned world. Little of it is about understanding or grand achievements attained through cooperation. It is largely about war and deception, and it seems that our lives are universally plagued by these same problems even two or three millennia after the description of events in this ancient literature. And then even modern people who should know better flow downhill like those before them and learn very little about how to think or be critical. They imagine they know what an argument is because they’re superbly stubborn and behave as if they’re playing some kind of team sport that they’ll get a trophy for if they just continue to claim to be unconvinced. And why should anyone be convinced, most of our most popular stories are about a kind of righteous stubbornness that leads to terrifying violence and we mostly want to reward the courageous murderers and dead for their desire to kill and die for something they imagine is worth killing and dying over (though they are mostly children who are sent into these battles, without the wits to really think for themselves). For many folks this righteous violence might be inspired by almost anything—breakfast cereals, neighborhood superiority, sexual inclinations, random places of birth, differences in skin tone . . . the list of things people will kill and die over is amazing. And it is as if there are no other human activities that we can be proud of. No works of art, infrastructure, or preservation, no reversal of destruction, no act of teaching, no achievement of freedom unattached to violence seems to create in folks a point of pride. If in fact love isn’t something we can be proud of how are we so obsessed with it?
It occurs to me that many people salve the fact that they accomplished little and have nothing to crow about by pushing their children into doing things. Somehow through family, friends, or sports affiliation people are able to imagine other people’s skills or achievements reflect positively on themselves. Some people rub elbows with wealthy people in hopes of that connection proving lucrative.
At some point people with children retire from life. Their lives with you have come to an end, they aren’t interested in doing art or going camping or playing in a band or some sports thing with you anymore. What they are interested in is creating that world for their children. Instead of the videos of your friend catching a big fish at some favorite fishing hole you experienced together, you get the video of a toddler fishing there and you’re supposed to absorb that as a kind of replacement of your own life. I’m not interested in people’s kids. I am interested in my friends and my life, not the process of retiring my life so that I can watch kids grow up. I know this sounds dastardly. But the reality is none of us should retire our lives so that we can watch kids grow. It is my extreme position that life and skills and experience should be shared, but should not stop happening because there are children involved. And what are you raising those kids for anyway? So they can turn around and raise kids? Is that perpetuation of a reproduction cycle that satisfying?
Some years ago Harvard smartypants, neurologist, and cultural critic Sam Harris was suggesting we shouldn’t lie. His essay came across as extremely naive. Like, Dr. Harris haven’t you ever worked for anyone? Lying is essential to survival. What he should have written was: it would be very nice if we didn’t have to lie. I could be on board with that. But most of us lie because lying keeps operations rolling smoothly and keeps people you don’t want in your house out of it. There are times I wish we didn’t have to lie so much. For example, why do we continually play games with relationships and reproduction? We seem overly fascinated with other people’s sex lives. Some young fellow at work with four or five kids already just fathered a pair of premature twins. They were not prepared for twins nor premature births. The situation is dire. He was poor to begin with, and now is bankrupt. Most of the folks interacting with him seemed incapable of grasping his concerns. But this isn’t a new thing, we’re all pretty terrible at grasping, or even caring to grasp, other people’s despair and conundrum. We tend to want to just paste over it with happiness and unconcern. We mentally glue a smiley face on our friends and move on. It’s a kind of triage. Imagine being a cardiologist, all day every day, dealing with dying people, their faulty tickers. You are providing a real and sincere service, that is granted, but there’s no chance you could possibly process every patient’s needs, horrors, and fears in any meaningful way. What you do is rapidly move from one to the next accomplishing some necessary duty for each.
And so, sincerity in this context comes to me from great distances. We now live in a humorless age, because we’re watching our government brutally treat immigrants. We’re watching our people transform into a great hate machine of the sort Nazi Germany manipulated into being. The “how does it happen” is no longer a difficult question, all you need is a little trumped up fear and an obsession with extremism and you can produce a cadre of idiots willing to kill and die for preposterous platitudes that they can barely pronounce. Our extremism allows for no subtle ground—drop bombs or shut up.
The legions of “don’t give a fucks” are on the march, and while they aren’t worth listening to, they manage to look compelling. They build their richass church and block traffic on Sundays, getting their luxury cars into the massive parking lot, and go pray for Trump while the itinerant workers sweat on their lawn underpaid in cash by the scumbag landscapers who will rail about their small business concerns. Ever tried slavery?
Yes I want some sincerity, but it’s been tricky in this age of fake news and cult of personality. I’m not interested in hipster irony anymore. I’ve been begging for one actual honest hippy for years. Possibly it’s Pollan and his survey of the psychedlics. That might be the best I get for a while. Or maybe it’s the Japrock I’ve been able to set my teeth into of late, Minami Deutsch have been rocking my rental house well for a few months now. At least there are a few still trying, still fighting back the tide of the “don’t give a fucks”.