By Eric Le Roy
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles on ThinkMyTime are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the official stance of the blog's owner. We believe in the value of free expression and open dialogue, and as such, articles are published as they are, allowing for a diversity of viewpoints and fostering the spirit of free speech.
Many old codgers like myself will tell you that among the tortured pleasures of old age, there can be these nuggets and chestnuts: (1) you know who you are; (2) you have a pretty clear and accurate view of what life really is minus the bullshit; and (3) you are free to say what you really think (unless you live in places like Russia, China, and North Korea. It even helps if you own your own home, including a car, and have a fridge full of beer, pie, and fried chicken.
Otherwise, (even if you work full-time, as I do), you have plenty of time to reflect. Hmmmm…let’s see…what did I learn in all those years? I mean about myself and my fellow humans. Just the purposes of general tidiness, I will present a checklist:
Table of Contents
(1) Human character has not changed much if at all – not throughout recorded history and probably not even among the hundreds of thousands of years long before. Technology has changed. People haven’t. Once the homo sapiens got rid of the competition (specifically, the Neanderthals), corporate culture was born and has never looked back. I mean it this way: the homo sapiens prevailed for one principal cognitive advantage: they knew how to organize. On his own the human being couldn’t deal with an enraged tomcat. But give a guy a gun and Board of Directors, and there’s no stopping him. Morally, humans have for the most part had the good sense to improve cosmetically; we don’t skin people alive or set fire to them in the town square (although in places like Iran anything is possible) But it doesn’t mean that our good and bad qualities have altered much. People are generally OK under unthreatening circumstances, but such vices as greed, envy, jealousy, dishonesty, uncontrolled ambition, narcissism, viciousness, cruelty, and a thousand others haven’t changed one iota since I was a kid, and if you read the books I’ve read, they haven’t changed since Day One.
(2)Life is mostly fake. Of all the insights I have gained, this is probably the most fascinating and demoralizing. I use the latter word because, although many would not believe me when I say it, I have always been hopelessly naive. Nobody has ever WANTED to be a believer more than me – which is why I have consistently become enraged when almost everything turns out bogus. Now I guess I am used to it and just respond with lyrical streams of the vilest profanity in the history of the world. Of course that doesn’t let me off the hook either; I’ve done more than my own share of posing and posturing. And yet, in a world where so much is distorted with mirrors, where so many ‘spontaneous’ moments are proven to be choreographed, where ‘Image is Everything’ – as Andre Agassi used proclaim in TV commercials – where social media crams ridiculous visions of faultless beauty and gushing ‘happiness’ down our throats when it’s transparently false, and– to top it off, where people walk around with fake tits, fake lips, fake hair, fake nails, fake booty asses (white women who want to be black), fake orgasms, fake love – this is why I have not the slightest doubt that AI robots will easily substitute for ‘real’ humans both in the bedroom and elsewhere because nobody will care that it’s all fake. ‘FAKE’ is the new reality. I personally would prefer a robot who says she loves me and doesn’t really because ‘she’ is simply not programmed to feel such things to a real woman who says she loves me, but doesn’t even though she is biologically and psychologically programmed to do so. It was the late Robin Williams who said: I used to think that the worst thing that could happen would be to end up alone. Now I understand that the worst thing is to be among people who make you feel alone.” In this push-button planet, there are more and more advocates for the ‘guaranteed result’ (the ‘sex worker’ or the AI lover girl) than all the office politics and war-of-the-sexes bullshit that cuts off your nuts before you even get one.
Besides, nobody understands the behind-the-scenes choreography of life better than a psychopathic serial killer. The best of them can successfully mimic every known human emotion that we regard as ‘positive’ after they have just finished dumping their victims off the side of a narrow mountain road populated by jackals and buzzards. Interesting that the jackals and buzzards recognise who they are immediately, but they can fool the police, their work colleagues and even their wives and girlfriends for years.
(3) There is a permanent need for spirituality, but religion is one of humanity’s biggest frauds and worst infections. Anybody who has ever gone to an AA meeting will know the difference between the two: “Religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell; Spirituality is for people who have been there.” I have understood the wisdom of this since the first time I heard it. Now, ‘spirituality’ may seem like one of those nebulous New Age terms that the vapidly cheerful ‘life-affirmers’ always trot out, but to me it has a more specific meaning: it is the ‘sixth sense’ that some people have which enables them to experience their existence on a higher level. There is nothing ‘textbook’ about it.
For example, one day in North Carolina, I was walking through a forest and came face-to-face with a deer. The sleek, golden, rippling animal and I simply stood looking at each other and I understood that, for some reason, the deer was not afraid of me. And I was also aware of my unconditional love for the deer. Then after drinking each other in, our faces – his slightly bewildered and mine completely so – trading looks as though we had just shared the first dawn of all creation together – the deer bounded away and I wandered home. I never told the ‘guys at the plant’ or the ‘lads at the bar’ about that because I knew that they wouldn’t have had a fucking clue what I was on about. It was a spiritual experience that I felt to the core of my being, but kept to myself. I still regard that as a privileged moment and am very selective about whom I share it with.
Religion, on the other hand, requires a submission to dogma created by a pack of contentious fools and agenda-merchants a long time ago, their conclusions invariably being founded on superstition, deliberate falsehood, and a lust for bloodshed in the face of any opposition. There have been more deaths, mutilations, gruesome tortures, ‘excommunications’, racism, sexism, general hatred and sexual dysfunction accruing from the Virus of Religion than for any other reason. It is a plague I don’t need in my mental neighborhood. When Dylan Thomas writes (in “Fern Hill”) “...and I was prince of the apple-towns” I get emotional, reliving the innocence of boyish, callow youth. When the religious witch doctor-warden tells me that “Christ died for YOUR sins'', I want to put as much geography as I can between myself and that nutcase.
That there may be a spiritual friend for me out there somewhere in the cosmos – well, this dream has never left my mind and heart. It doesn’t mean I have to beg some scowling old hanging judge with his lazy ass planted on a celestial bench to forgive me for the ‘sin’ of being born and existing.
(4) There is a strange kind of Pied Piper music in people’s heads which causes them to succumb to mob mentality and mass hysteria. I have seen this over and over again. We can begin with the Salem Witch Trials. A number of innocent people met their doom because a bunch of villagers got on a fanatical roll and couldn’t stop. It is almost certainly a quality that dictators grasp perfectly and turn to their advantage: the tendency that great swaths of the population have to enter into collective madness at the same time. Look at any Hitler rally or Pentecostal church service in full swing and you will see the same wild yet weirdly stony glint in the eyes of the totally committed. If you look at old films of the girls and even women when Elvis and the Beatles stood before them convulsing their hips or wagging their heads, you will see it: the ecstasy and lunacy of total hypnosis.
There is a famous story called “The Lottery” which involves the ritual drawing of slips of paper in order to establish which of the townsfolk will be stoned to death as part of a time-observed fertility rite. The enduring, matter-of-fact horror of the story is how it is set in mid 20th century small town America. The key moment for me is how the friendly, plain-talk conversations of the villagers suddenly dissipate into a lethal hush and the common-day, hanging-out-the-washing eyes become the pebbles and rocks of ancient sacrifice: “And then they were upon her” is the last line as Tessie Hutchinson is put to the stones (but not as she might have wished). And, though the story ends there, you know that afterwards the villagers will be back at work and by evening concerned with normal things like peeling potatoes and spanking their kids. Until the next lottery.
In the present day, the Woke progressives will vilify me for saying this, but I believe that #MeToo and the Abuse Excuse (there was a period America now mercifully forgotten, when everyone suddenly remembered that they had been ‘abused ‘ as a child) represent conceivably true events which became, in many cases, self-serving fantasies. I think most of the child abuse crap started with a pair of murderers known to us as ‘the Menendez brothers’, who slaughtered their wealthy parents and then swore it was in response to hideous and draconian abuse they had suffered all through their innocent childhood. (If not dead, they are still serving life sentences.) It touched the ‘Nerve Collective’. Soon it was a cause celebre. EVERYONE suddenly recalled taking it up the ass from the sadistic stepdad or getting the lit-cigarette-to-the-genitals treatment from Aunt Minnie who was stepping in when Mom was serving out her jail sentence. That most of it was sheer fantasy I have not the slightest doubt.
I feel the same way about #MeToo. Suddenly, women are remembering sexual ‘assaults’ that happened 20 and 30 years ago and claiming to have been traumatized by them – so much that despite successful careers with lucrative compensation, numerous trips to the Maldives, Barbados, and Dubai, ‘caring’ partners and trusted friends aplenty, it has ALL been a (sadly) failed attempt to cope with insomniac nights and unrelenting trauma because, back in the Drive-In Movie days, pimply-faced Jimmy Rocks fingered them in his Daddy’s T-Bird when both were paralytic on booze or at Johnny Cool’s birthday party when the quaaludes were being handed out like sunflower seeds.
When true (and especially serial) atrocities, such as in the Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein cases, stern measures must be taken. But Stormy Daniels? Many men have lost their jobs and reputations over allegations that just as likely weren’t the real deal. But the accusation is enough. So the beat goes on, either as gold-digging scams or because of sheer hysteria, which often amounts to no more than the kind of media-sponsored neurosis-based pandemics we have grown used to.
The Black Lives Matter gambit falls into the same category. Enter ANY big American city and the first thing you will see is how the headcount of blacks hugely outnumbers that of whites. Moreover, the mayor is often a black female. There are not enough white cops around to arrest 1/10,000th of these folk even if they wanted to. The cops don’t just walk up to people (black or white) at random and say “You’re under arrest.” That is something much more likely to happen in Russia. But let there be one incident every two months where a nervous cop plugs a show-time African American waving something that might be a gun at the officer and all of a sudden we’re back on the plantation.
(5) The homo sapien is irredeemably destructive i.e. Human beings ultimately ruin or destroy every other living thing they can get their hands on.
Sad to say. Very sad to say. But true nonetheless. With so much potential to do ‘good’ the Human Ego is never content until it bleeds everything dry, exhausts the supply, drains it to the dregs. The fact that innocent emblems of nature are systematically destroyed just to put some whore in a fur coat or its antlers up on some lousy prick’s wall above the fireplace is disgusting beyond words. To say nothing of what the homo sapien has done to the environment. Since people are never going to improve or modify ‘character’ the way they constantly do with technology, it stands to reason that there is no living thing – be it a plant, a fish, a bird, or beast (reptiles and insects too) that isn’t holding its breath just waiting for the sapien to self-destruct and the ‘human’ phase of the earth’s existence to end.
- There is ALWAYS another surprise. Just when you start believing that you have life ‘figured out’ – that all the goodies have been consumed and all that’s left is just a playing out of terminal repetitiousness among people whose T-shirts say “Red Flag!” with a picture of one just under the letters – something amazing surprises you. The moral of the story is: “Stay the Course”. Don’t kill yourself. Remember that champions often fall behind; most figure a way to win because they are champions.
- I believe in ‘kindred spirits’. There is a saying that I trust in completely: “For those who know you, no explanation is needed; for those who don’t, none is possible.” Follow enough roads in life and you will meet your true fellow travelers and DON”T waste your time on such bullshit as how formally educated they are or how much money/status they have.
- Get a dog. You will find that a devoted animal such as your dog is the most sincere and unconditionally loving friend you will EVER have. If you have no one else to do it with, sit with your dog and look at the stars with him/her and discuss the universe. Some of them even like to watch football.
- Stay relevant. For all the talk about racism, sexism, etc. one of the most neglected is ‘age-ism’. It hurts when people disregard you because they see no further use for you. It hurts when attractive women who once would have given you a second look just gaze right through you as if you weren’t even there. When younger people think that you are just taking up the space of the ‘living’-- and old people get stabbed through the heart with these invisible daggers every day – I have the solution. Get in their face. COMPETE. Outwork them. Make yourself indispensable. And use what you have found out, i.e. Who You Are – to break down their facades with your now fearless, nothing-to-lose attitude. Don’t let them push you around. It doesn’t mean that you should become an obstreperous old fart box, sneezing on every Christmas tree and shitting on the Easter Bunny. It doesn’t mean becoming a nay-saying hidebound fool. It means Think Young. Stay informed and accept that the world is moving forward, not backward. But don’t be too shy to point out that in some ways the past – the tactile past – was better than all this digital, virtual reality make believe we have now, most of it carried out in an isolation as subtle as it is dehumanizing.
- Don’t be ashamed if you still register a sexual impulse. Why is a young guy with a boner to be admired but an old guy with a hard-on is a ‘dirty old man’. We are all still people. Do NOT be ashamed of yourself and keep active. Make them accept that you are not going down without a fight.
Having said that, be generous in sharing what you know with others, especially the young, if they come knocking on your door and ask. Chances are they won’t take your advice there and then, but later on, they will understand that you weren’t as dumb as you looked.
- Always remember that, finally, you are a child of Nature NOT of the Production Line. Embrace the life Nature has given you and try to trust that Death is also part of Nature’s wisdom.
- Look for the truth, the authenticity, the true beauty of life in its small, honest details. Develop what Ernest Hemingway called a good “Shit Detector’. When you smell Shit – and there is a lot of it in this life – some of it over-powering, a lot of it sneaky and seeping – know it for what it is, and distance yourself.
- Remember that you are ultimately alone, but do not hesitate to seek companionship. We are all in the same Trick of Shit. When the plane crashes we scream together, but we die alone.
- If you find ‘God’, wonderful. But don’t grovel. Just say “Hi God’. And take your dog for a walk because, if all evidence I have seen is true, the dog loves you more.