Pure signal.

For Abbie and Jerry

For all of the tired tirades on emergent fascism in America — the one absolutely lethal white-knuckled hand on the throat of expression which, while not being organized explicitly, crushes the life from more living than all other possibilities combined is the fear of being ridiculous. Let us be careful here with both out words and ideas. It is not a fear of appearing ridiculous — for sure it must be, but only justifiably so. If one is to be taken by another as ridiculous in some kind of avant guard way — where with the turn of a bon mot the urinator is caught in the deflection of their own stream — that is acceptable. We will risk being outrageous, so long as the ridicule we face is of well defined, and we can laugh with our friends about it.But the idea that we ourselves may have missed something, and that we may stand out as justifiably ridiculous. That someone will point and we will not parry, but stand revealed as an undesirable category — or worse — a monster, a being without category! This is the great nightmare driving forward the twin engines of consumerism and style. We purchase recognizable feathers and glue them with banality to our ugly naked bodies. (is there any greater taboo than public nakedness? Violence isn’t banned from television.)

And god knows, money is always safe. Joe Francis is not ridiculous. Please keep this in mind — a painter or a poet or a liberal may be ridiculous — but not Joe Francis. He is a criminal, perhaps — but if you were to stand up in the Hippodrome and castigate him for the production of utterly banal trash he would be able to say “Yes, but I made several million dollars.” and you would be shouted down.

You can say, and maybe even find a few friends to agree, that you were the one in the right, but Joe (when he gets out of jail) gets to buy the cars and the suits, and get on the short lists of the nice clubs and whatever it is that you think you are going to with-hold from him, there is someone else with a better one who is going to share it — because be he rapist, pimp or pervert — he understood the market and he made it his bitch. You on the other hand were seen with a yellow parasol reciting limericks standing in the market place downtown. And worse, you were wearing tattered shoes. What a lunatic — you may not have fed cocaine to underage girls to get them to take off their cloths for the camera — but you have done something much worse — you were silly and irrelevant — and worse even than that you were a 501c3.

So if you are making money you will never really be ridiculous.

If you are invisible. You can be batshit crazy and safe, as long as you are invisible. Have a long conversation with any 5 people you pass on a daily basis who you do not normally speak too. You will find out that 3 of them are actually somewhat terrifying. But you could sit next to them on the bus for 10 years and never see it because they figured out while still, likely, in elementary school that silence equals safety. Their ideas are likely more wacko than, even, average, those calm faces — because people who don’t talk about what they think don’t benefit from reality checking.

Whatever strange tribal beliefs you uncovered in your anthropology classes are nothing compared to the inner life of the quiet ones who surround you. I would say that, deconstructing the word “average” which we were just using, the silent crazy ones are in the majority — and they will still come out to see you burned for heresy because they have understood that as long as you are silent you are safe. We laugh at people wearing foil hats, but rely on someone very much like Santa Clause to protect us from our fear of death. We talk about average as if the majority had a handle on anything — but the average person walking down the street believes, in the privacy of their own belfry, every bit as much deeply inconsistent and frighteningly insane crap as a high level Scientologist.

But if they remain silent they will never really be ridiculous.

So hypocrites and whores are safe — and you still want to be safe. You still won’t do what you want, not so much for fear of what will happen, but for fear of what people will say. Where, dear friend, does that leave you at the end of the day?

And all of this has been building to a point — which is this:

That is why the Yippies were cool.


February 12, 2008 - Posted by | People who fucking Rock

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