The Poison and Wine of Laughter – Part 1 (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 199)

The difference between these two forms of laughter, better stated as amusement or willfully applied humor, might be the most tragically misunderstood and misinterpreted experience in the universe.

The Poison

Amusement has become the expected and the demanded law of the land by the herd. People declare their overt fondness and preference of friends and mates that keep them amused on a perpetual basis while they discount or minimize the need and importance of all of the person’s other qualities and character traits. Internet dating sites clearly display this knee jerk regurgitated “Isn’t it obvious, just like everyone else knows and says, duh?” proclamation; being amusing is the one trait cherished above all others and an absolute must have in any potential suitor interested in a possible relationship or even one simple encounter.

It is also a prime defining trait of psychopaths and the psychopathic manipulation of others. The uncanny ability of a psychopath to intoxicatingly bedazzle their “victims” into a giddy state of apathy and unconcern for reality, consequences, and ramifications, is well documented in the psychological and behavioral literature. Players seducing their prey for the night, slick willy businessmen sealing a deal, con-artists conning, heretical revival preachers enunciating and gesticulating their flock into hyper-emotional overload just prior to the passing of the collection plate, and corrupt politicians charming the masses into blind passionate obedience via the bombast and hyperbole of vitriol against a scapegoat, all exemplify amusement being implemented in its more malignant version.

A more benign form of amusement involves much less overt manipulation and a significantly lower conscious awareness of  intent by the implementer. This manifestation typically expresses itself via more basic, mundane, crude, unintelligent, and a lowest-common-denominator-bonding-experience that thrives and energizes itself on folly, ridicule, debasement, trash talking, or blubbering non-contemplative mesmerization. Fart jokes, burp songs, practical jokes emphasizing cruelty, engaging in trash talk with rival sports fans or about a previous romantic experience, and the subtle influence imposed on specific independent individuals by their larger group amusement state or more accurately, their larger group – pseudo, pretend, and feigned – amusement state, all exemplify this dynamic. Even the use of boring and uninteresting conversation, or numb and fake conversation, with only a subconscious intent to unconditionally ensnare another’s attention, is an example of this woeful benign amusement.

While the benign form of amusement may sometimes be harmless and/or a simple break from reality and contemplative awareness, typically both forms are dastardly and heinous. They both promote delusion via withdrawal and distraction from visceral perception and awareness; they negate reality, serving the same effect on people as that of an addict succumbing to a fix or a hit. But the drug of amusement is tragically and counterproductively swallowed under the satiating pretense of enlightenment and a desired interaction with the best aspects of life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Amusement is the doublespeak-doublethink bastardized child of, the Bizarro antivilian to, and the Dark Sided Sith, of aware and willfully applied  humor. Do not mistake this poison for wine, no matter the sparkle, spectacle, and charmful elegance of the decanter it resides within.

(continued and completed in Part 2)

Cribb          2017

Anything for Diversion (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 181)

“There are quiet places also in the mind,” he said, meditatively. “But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately—to put a stop to the quietness. We don’t like the quietness. All the thoughts, all the preoccupations in my head—round and round, continually.” He made a circular motion with his hand. “And the jazz bands, the music hall songs, the boys shouting the news. What’s it for, what’s it all for? To put an end to the quiet, to break it up and disperse it, to pretend at any cost it isn’t there. Ah, but it is, it is there, in spite of everything, at the back of everything. Lying awake at night, sometimes—not restlessly, but serenely, waiting for sleep—the quiet re-established itself, piece by piece; all broken bits, all the fragments of it we’ve been so busily dispersing all day long. It re-establishes itself, an inward quiet, like this outward quiet of grass and trees. It fills one, it grows—a crystal quiet, a growing expanding crystal. It grows, it becomes more perfect; it is beautiful and terrifying, yes, terrifying, as well as beautiful. For one’s alone in the crystal and there’s no support from outside, there’s nothing external and important, nothing external and trivial to pull oneself up by or to stand on, superiorly, contemptuously, so that one can look down. There’s nothing to laugh at or feel enthusiastic about. But the quiet grows and grows. Beautifully and unbearably. And at last you are conscious of something approaching; it is almost a faint sound of footsteps. Something inexpressibly lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And, oh, inexpressibly terrifying. For if it would touch you, if it were to seize and engulf you, you’d die; all the regular, habitual, daily part of you would die. There would be an end of bandstands and whizzing factories, and one would have to begin living arduously in the quiet, arduously in some strange unheard-of manner. Nearer, nearer come the steps; but one can’t face the advancing thing. One daren’t. It’s too terrifying, it’s too painful to die. Quickly, before it’s too late, start the factory wheels, bang the drum, blow the saxophone. Think of the women you’d like to sleep with, the schemes for making money, the gossip about your friends, the last outrage of the politicians. Anything for diversion. Break the silence, smash the crystal to pieces. There, it lies in bits; it is easily broken, hard to build up and easy to break. And the steps? Ah, those have taken themselves off, double quick. Double quick, they were gone at the first flawing of the crystal. And by this time the lovely and terrifying thing is three infinities away, at least. And you lie tranquily on your bed, thinking of what you’d do if you had ten thousand pounds and all of the fornifications you’ll ever commit.” He thought of Rosie’s pink underclothes.

“You make things very complicated,” she said, after a silence.

Antic Hay

Aldous Huxley          1923     

An Orwellian Bible Study (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 160)

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not money, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not money, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not money, it profiteth me nothing. Money suffereth long, and is kind; money envieth not; money vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. . . . And now abideth faith, hope, money, these three; but the greatest of these is money.

I Corinthians xiii (adapted)

Keep the Aspidistra Flying

George Orwell          1936

Bokonon’s Republic (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 159)

Bokonon had written a whole book about Utopias. The Seventh Book, which he called “Bokonon’s Republic.” In that book are these ghastly aphorisms:

The hand that stocks the drug stores rules the world.

Let us start our Republic with a chain of drug stores (prioritizing the protection of our own individual health, aches and pains, on our own demand via corporatism), a chain of grocery stores (our individual gluttony of the gullet supported by corporatism), a chain of gas chambers (prisons, a militarized and bullying police force, and any “indigenous” national scapegoat to take all the blame and be punished for being the enemies of public good and general welfare that they happen to be), and a national game (to obsess over and rewrite as our bullying team tries to destroy every other team in an over-dominating spectacle: the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, etc, etc, etc.). After that, we can write our Constitution (any way we want because everyone is too egocentric to care about anyone or anything else other than their own selfish distractions, excuses, and entertainment).

***forgive the added Cribb explanations in parentheses for those who get the original untainted and glorious satire of Vonnegut as it stands in its own succinct purity.

Cat’s Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut          1963

The Uneconomic Man of Natural Law and No Excuse (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 150)

Individuals who would otherwise be subordinated are clever enough to form a large and united political coalition, and they do so for the express purpose of keeping the strong from dominating the weak. Nomadic foragers are universally—and all but obsessively—concerned with being free of the authority of others.

-Christopher Boehm, Primatologist

An individual endowed with the passion for control would have been a social failure and without influence.

-Erich Fromm, Psychologist, referencing Prehistory

By now, everyone knows “there’s no free lunch.” But what would it mean if our species evolved in a world where every lunch was free? How would our appreciation of prehistory (and consequently, of ourselves) change if we saw that our journey began in leisure and plenty, only veering into misery, scarcity, and ruthless competition a hundred centuries ago?

Difficult as it may be for some to accept, skeletal evidence clearly shows that our ancestors didn’t experience widespread, chronic scarcity until the advent of agriculture. Chronic food shortages and scarcity-based economics are artifacts of social systems that arose with farming. In his introduction to Limited Wants, Unlimited Means, Gowdy points to the central irony: “Hunter-gatherers. . . spent their abundant leisure time eating, drinking, playing, socializing—in short, doing the very things we associate with affluence.”

Despite no solid evidence to support it, the public hears little to dispute this apocalyptic vision of prehistory. The sense of human nature intrinsic to Western economic theory is mistaken. The notion that humans are driven only by self-interest is, in Gowdy’s words, “a microscopically small minority view among the tens of thousands of cultures that have existed since Homo sapiens emerged some 200,000 years ago.” For the vast majority of human generations that have ever lived, it would have been unthinkable to hoard food when those around you were hungry. “The hunter-gatherer,” writes Gowdy, “represents uneconomic man.”

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

The Contorted, Twisted, and Bastardized Form of “Love”, We have All been Taught to Believe is Ideal (Love vs Sex 237)

Written by Percy Sledge and first recorded in 1966, “When a Man Loves a Woman” hit a cultural nerve. The song shot to the top of both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. Another version, recorded twenty-five years later by Michael Bolton, also went straight to the top of the charts, and the song now sits at number 54 on Rolling Stone’s list of the five hundred greatest songs of all time. Nothing is more prominent than love and sex in Western media, and “When a Man Loves a Woman” is an example of the message whispered in romantic ears throughout the world.

What does Mr. Sledge have to say about a man’s love for a woman? What are the signs of true masculine love? Copyright restrictions won’t allow us to quote the song’s lyric in full, but most readers know the words by heart anyway. To review, when a man loves a woman:

  • He becomes obsessed and can’t think of anything else.
  • He’ll exchange anything, even the world, for her company.
  • He’s blind to any fault she may have, and will abandon even his closest friend if that friend tries to warn him about her.
  • He’ll spend all his money trying to hold her attention.
  • And last but not least, he’ll sleep in the rain if she tells him to.

We’d like to suggest an alternative title for this song: “When a Man Becomes Pathologically Obsessed and Sacrifices All Self-Respect and Dignity by Making a Complete Ass of Himself (and Losing the Woman Anyway Because Really, Who Wants a Boyfriend Who Sleeps Out in the Rain Because Someone Told Him Too?).”

Sex at Dawn

Ryan and Jethá          2010

A Glorious Life of Trinkets (WPMY 140)

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from the things she found in gift shops.

Slaughterhouse-Five
Kurt Vonnegut 1969 and true to this day…

We lost a big part of America when they successfully convinced the lower and middle classes to love trinkets over a simple existence. We lost more of America when we were taught Willy Loman’s golden carrot dream was more noble and righteous than being a blue collar worker of integrity and pride and stability in loving and providing for our families basic needs. The blame is almost never completely unilateral, but those who entice have motive beyond mutual respect and that motive almost always involves the destabilization and plundering of others.

Cribb          2016