The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.
- Thomas Paine (1737–1809)
The goD Allusion and the Self Fulfilling Prophecies We Tell Ourselves — Shameful Satire
Negate Narcissus and Resist Temptation
Inspired by Thomas Paine (1737–1809)’s quote, “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection”. The titled responsion is reflective in nature.
The epitome of individualism is found in North America, specifically the United States of America. This is not a pejorative, nor should it be. This particular shade of individualism is often studied in the social sciences and the American lifestyle is the baseline.
How To Keep That Damn Devil Way Down In The Hole
“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection”
- Thomas Paine (1737–1809)
“Ob-la-di, ob-la-da! Life goes on, brah!”
-Paul McCartney (1942–1966)
“The Dude abides.”
-Jeff Lebowski…but nobody calls him that; he’s
if you’re not into the whole
I don’t know if you’ve caught on by now, but I’ve got a major case of the blues. This is not a new affliction; as far back as I can remember, I have had the blues. I don’t remember the first time I met the blues — maybe it was back in kindergarten when all those kids told me their parents wouldn’t let them come to my house because my family might be connected to al-Qaeda; maybe it was when I watched my dad lie to my mom and then his own mom, confirming to me (at the age of three) that I would never be able to trust my own father; maybe it was at my first birthday party, when I saw the guy in the Barney costume smoking a cigarette and eating mashed potatoes on our deck, sending me down a rabbit hole of uncertainty that I, in twenty five years, have yet to find a way out of (and, at this point, I truly don’t think there even is one).
Perhaps it was before all of that. It is entirely possible that my blues are the result of unresolved dilemmas from my last incarnation, and I am now dealing with the tangled, mangled web of confusion that they have laced.
The mere fact that we are born at all is enough to give us the blues, to be honest. Existence in the realm of suffering is pain, to echo our humble friends the Meeseeks, as it provides us with the knowledge that suffering exists, which severely bums us out, while also opening us up to the potentiality of becoming afflicted with this suffering ourselves, which would bum us out even more.
Significantly more, if I am being frank.
Please let me be Frank. I am tired of being Joey Bishop.
You know what?
On second thought, I will be Sammy Davis, Jr.
That was what my uncle used to call me when I was a wee one, before I had any idea that the man had a glass eye, or what a glass eye was for that matter.
Sammy Davis, Jr., that is. Not my uncle. His eyes are both composed of corneal fluid.
Meanwhile, my eyes are composed of corneal flakes.
Laugh at my pain, will you? It is all I ask.
I don’t ask for much. That is the nature of the blues, though. It doesn’t care about who you are. It doesn’t care about what you’ve already overcome. It just keeps coming and coming (pause) until, before you know it, you find yourself surrounded by more blue than the island of Kahoolawe.
Some of you may have taken this all to be some extended lament about the sorry sack that life handed to me. If that is the case, then let me assure you that to take such an interpretation of what I have said would be to deeply misconstrue nearly all of it and apply one’s own emotional projections onto a series of objective statements. Up until now, I have only confessed to having the blues. At no point did I make a value judgment about the blues. I just told you I got it bad, but I didn’t say that ain’t good).
But surely the blues must be awful, right?
I wear my blues like a badge of honor; damn right I’ve got the blues. I wouldn’t have it any other shade — no red, no pink, no brown, no purple, no yellow, no green…okay, maybe purple. Purple can stay.
The rest of you: beat it…stat!
In all seriousness, the fact that, for generations (dating back to the days in which cotton fields were filled with workers that…well, let’s just say they didn’t exactly have a union, now, did they? I am sure you are aware of what I am referring to here), people have been able to channel all of their suffering into something beautiful is truly a testament to the resilience and resourcefulness of the human spirit. The blues makes me proud to be a human being.
Alas, even my cat gets the blues (as do cowgirls, but I digress). When I hear those desperate, longing meows every time I skip past the poor little guy on my way out the door to go chase meaningless green pieces of paper (or, worse, spend some on a girl whose name I probably won’t even remember in three weeks), I hear W.C. Handy. I hear Bessie Smith. I hear Sonnie Boy Williamson. I hear Ma Rainey. I hear Slim Harpo. I hear Lightnin’ Hopkins. I hear Buddy Guy. I hear Jimmy Reed. I hear Jimi Hendrix. I hear Keith Richards. I hear Eric Clapton. I hear Duane Allman. I hear Derek Trucks.
Shit, I hear myself after enough whiskey, for real. But only on the nights when the whiskey doesn’t drag me towards an early odyssey into the world of dreams. Whiskey, come to think of it, is not even a deciding factor in whether or not my playing will be inflicted with blues. If I’ve got a particularly egregious case of the blues, it is going to make itself known through each and every note — regardless of whether I make any sort of formal announcement regarding my blue condition.
Is it depression? I don’t know, man. Probably. I don’t look at it like that, though. I think labeling yourself in such a manner only places unnecessary limits on your ability to make yourself happy. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own happiness, as you are the only one who knows what truly makes you happy. And if it makes you happy, well, can it really be that bad?
Why the hell are you so sad, then?
God bless you, Sheryl Crow.
If she is ever touring near you, go see her. You will not regret it. Hell of a show.
Everyday. Every day. Every…day. Every. Day.
EVERY DAY I HAVE THE BLUES
But why would that make me any different than any of you? We’ve all got our own blues — there’s my blues, yer blues, D blues, constipation blues, and, of course, the one we have all been inflicted with: Earth blues.
Unless, of course, you are a subterranean homesick alien. Then you’ve got them subterranean homesick blues.
Those might be some of the worst blues to have. Understand the gravity of such a condition; you have been confined to a planet which is not the one on which you were born, nor is it the one where all of your family and friends hail from. They are all long gone, as is your home planet. You have been relegated to the resident ne’er-do-well of the Milky Way, the third stone from the Sun, the only floating rock in the (known) universe on which you can eat shaved ice, clip your finger nails, and watch The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, simultaneously, all while taking a number two.
You would, essentially, be like Kal-El of Krypton.
If you don’t get that reference, then I want absolutely nothing to do with you. Uncultured swine. I refuse to explain it to anyone who is confused. I mean, if you have not seen Superman in the forty two years that it has been available for your viewing pleasure, then I really do not know what to tell you except, do better.
Shit — I guess I did sort of just give it away right there.
Can’t win ’em all, can ya? Eh, pal?
Where’d ya go?
Woah. How did you get over there?
Uh…I don’t know, dude. It’s just kinda where I am.
Yes, but how did you arrive at such a location?
I…uh…you know what, man? I have never actually taken the time to really think about that one. To tell you the truth, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. Honestly, I have been so busy dealing with this landlord situation, I have not been able to think of much else for the past few weeks.
What landlord situation?
Oh, it’s nothing much. My landlord just stopped by the other day and said that if I didn’t get a rug soon then he would have to evict me.
Evict you? For not having a rug?
Well, it’s really only because the people downstairs have been complaining about the noise.
The noise that comes from not having a rug? I did not realize the absence of something produced a noise.
No — the noise my cat makes all night playing with his stupid little jangly balls.
Oh, those are the worst! Did you hide them?
Yeah, but he keeps finding them!
Damn. That’s one smart kitty.
Yes indeed. One of the smartest there is.
Freakin’ A, man. So what are you going to do, then?
Well, I mean, I guess I have to get a rug.
Why have you not gotten one yet?
Have you been to a rug store lately dude? I have a miniature panic attack when a coupon expires. Do you think I can afford one of those overpriced Persian behemoths? Besides, the cat is just going to ravage it to shredded wheat within a week.
You really think so?
Oh, I know so.
Hmm…that was rather un-Socratic of you.
What do you mean?
Saying that you “know” something to be true. How can one truly “know” anything at all?
Oh, man, come on. You know what I mean.
Nonsense; I know nothing.
Dude, don’t be absurd. Socrates was no post modernist.
Are you getting echoes of Foucault from my statements?
Shit. Maybe I have been dipping into too much Derrida these days.
Yeah, be careful with that stuff, man. It will turn your mind into mush if you aren’t careful. I have seen it happen to a friend of mine.
Yeah. Old college buddy. Captain of the debate team. Seemingly well adjusted lad, liked to watch sports, play video games, maybe hit the town every once in a blue moon for a few brews and a plate of Ionian nachos — you know, regular guy stuff. But then, after a little bit, I noticed our conversations started to take a detour into the…strange. The very strange.
Dude, I don’t even want to get into it. I just know it all started with Baudrillard and pretty soon I was getting earfuls about how Deleuze and Guattari had proven all monetary transactions obsolete, so he doesn’t owe me that seven dollars and fifty cents (I was even willing to waive the fifty cents) for Korean barbecue the other night.
Exactly, mate. It was real weird.
Well, how is he doing now?
Oh, completely bonkers. Utter lunatic. Off his rocker. Koo Koo for Cocoa Puffs (though he tends to opt more for the Froot Loops these days, which I can respect; sometimes so much chocolate can be a bit overwhelming, and besides, it is always good to switch things up).
Wait, what? You can see what is inside those parentheses?
Of course I can. Did you think they were hidden or something?
I…I guess I did.
Quite odd, indeed.
So, then, brother: how have you been dealing with those landlord blues?
Ah, man — lots of different ways.
Oh yeah? Like what?
Cooking, cleaning, writing, reading, reconnecting with old friends and distant relatives, rediscovering all of the things I used to be passionate about in my youth, giving myself a goal to strive towards each day, each week, each month, each season, and each year, so that I can tangibly track my progress as a human being, racquetball.
Ooh, racquetball. That sounds fun.
It is a ton of fun. Do you want to play?
Let’s do it, then.
And, on that day, the most glorious game of racquetball in human history was played. There was no loser — only two winners who happened to score a different amount of points.
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