May 22, 2013
Masturbation: The Typing Requirement
Posted on Jun 23, 2011
By Mr. Fish
When it comes to the creative arts, the only profession that seems capable of purging its weaklings is sports. Why is this? Why is there always an audience for excruciatingly mediocre artists in this country, but not for clumsy, uncoordinated ballplayers? If Ryan Howard, for instance, suddenly started trying to catch line drives with his cap or if he continuously forgot to bring a bat with him to home plate, he’d disappear from public view. And, yet, there’s Mary Higgins Clark at a tiny signing table at the head of a bug-eyed chow line made up of people starved for completely unwholesome breath mints shaped like little skulls. And there’s Stephen King in an Alfa Romeo, speeding along the Gulf of Mexico and, miraculously, not sitting alone and unshaven in a dilapidated trailer in Fort Wayne, Ind., spreading marshmallow fluff on a Pop Tart and wishing that he knowed how to work a hammer or sumthin’.
Again, why is this? I have a theory.
There are two kinds of activism. There’s the organized kind and the individual kind. The organized kind is typified by all the marching and leafleting and fundraising that come out of a group of people who wish to cure a perceived social ill that has either atrophied into the norm or, if unopposed, is threatening to atrophy into the norm. These are people who want to stop the natural gas industry from fracking up the environment, for instance, or people who think that creationism should be taught in public schools in place of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The individual kind is simply the act of not adhering mindlessly to either the demands or expectations of the dominant culture or what is verging on becoming uncontroversial public opinion. It may manifest itself merely in having a disagreement and then a conversation or a debate with somebody else, usually in an attempt to change his or her mind; specifically, it is not shutting up when faced with controversy in the name of politeness, cowardice or sheer stupidity.
Both kinds have benefits that, when unified, can affect the most positive change. Or, conversely, together they can have the most deleterious effects and inspire the most treacherous results. And that’s the point: Typically, when one decides to save the world, he or she is deciding to save only the parts of the world that he or she finds most flattering to his or her ego and sense of right, wrong and beauty. After all, what good is a savior’s concept of moral law without the implied lawlessness of contrarians who embody a contrary point of view?
When Buddha said, “There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it,” he was speaking more as a keen observer of human nature than as a moralist who sits in judgment of some intrinsic good or evil. He recognized how, by observing the symmetric physics that determine the symbiotic truisms that constitute the material balance of the universe, a human being is prone to confusing his or her interpretation of reality with reality itself, thereby investing his or her own subjective understanding of things with the irrefutable concreteness of objective matter.
Such a person will imagine the light of his own moral judgment to be precisely what determines the darkness intrinsic to all other competing moralistic visions.
Saviors, thusly, can never be trusted to be anything but mere amplifications of the dimmest wits among us, who are those who imagine that their concept of virtue is the version best suited for everyone. In fact, I always thought that the unfortunate deification of Jesus Christ and the subsequent scriptural moralizing that his biographers had him engage in for the sake of inflating their own importance were grotesquely unethical. Wasn’t the notion that we should all help the sick and poor and love our neighbors radical and mind-blowing enough? Did we really need to have a savior who could also communicate with fish like Aquaman and get a dead guy to wipe the pus out of his eyes and start turning cartwheels around the room, yipping and yahooing like a goddamn hyena? I mean, why create a fictional Jesus who is immortal, knows he’s immortal, yet still goes around pretending that his being crucified is a merit badge signifying some kind of sacrifice, as if trading in mortality for immortality wasn’t the tactical equivalent of abandoning a sinking ship or escaping a burning building. Who among us wouldn’t jump at the chance to exchange the slow, meaty disintegration of our own imperfect biology for, among other things, telepathy, the power to turn invisible, the ability to travel through time, to blow shit up with our mind, to be able to fly, to get to hang out with every celebrity who will ever live, all the while maintaining a perfect swimmer’s physique and a blood/alcohol level that hovers somewhere around the typical monster truck rallier’s 20 minutes prior to the fucking awesome arrival of Bigfoot? The only thing I felt that we should pity Jesus for was his fashion sense, which has never advanced much beyond what Roald Dahl’s Uncle Joe wore for decades prior to Charlie yanking the golden ticket from his Wonka Bar. Like Charlie, I think it might be high time that we demand that Jesus put some goddamn underpants on and humble himself by walking among the living.
Now, before I pretend that I was never ever guilty of thinking that I, myself, might make a halfway decent savior as a writer—having fooled myself into believing that I had been saved by the writings of S.J. Perelman, Albert Camus, Chuck Jones, Friedrich Nietzsche and Woody Allen—let me share with you the form letter that I used to send out to the publishers and editors of magazines and newspapers and publishing houses who rejected my work with their own form letters back when I first started out as an author:
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