Politics Magazine

Paradiso, Inferno, and Genius

Posted on the 27 January 2016 by Calvinthedog

An intelligent Hell would be better than a stupid paradise.

-Victor Hugo

One of the problems about very smart people, geniuses if you will, is that they actually accept the above as an obvious truism. Well of course! Of course an intelligent Hell would be better than a wonderful Idiocracy! Smart people don’t even have to think twice about that.

Whereas your average person of average intelligence thinks this is sheer lunacy. Most people spend a good part of their lives shielding themselves pain and painful situations of all manner. If you think about it, this is one of the main themes of life for most people. Look around at the people around you: Most of them are trying to forget about everything bad that has happened, is happening and is probably going to happen in order that they may stay halfway sane at all.

They literally cannot cope with pain. How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t want to talk about that,” or “Do not mention that person’s name to me ever again”? To me, this person has a very low threshold for emotional pain.

I think about the various lousy to nightmarish people who have run around my life on a regular basis, Why? I don’t know. Mostly because painful experiences of the past generally are not something that freaks me out. I can think about them all I want to without getting too upset about them.

Of course, I always frame this situations as “I was 100% right and they were 100% wrong,” and when you frame it that way, even the worst experiences of your life are not so unpleasant to think about as you see yourself as a heroic sufferer like Jesus on the Christ, the fighter for good and light up against the forces of darkness. Why should it upset me to think of such things? I was the force of good and they were the force of bad or at least idiocy.

Further, I, generally speaking, always try my hardest. If I try my hardest and things still screw up, honestly I have never blamed myself.

Once I told my mother, “You know what? I think most people are actually trying their hardest all the time. Even the people who fail all the time are probably trying their hardest.”

Of course this goes against American radical individual where every yellow brick road is possible if only one strives enough and all failures are simply due to not trying hard enough.

My mother said, “Well, of course. Everyone is trying their hardest all the time or most people are anyway.” She continued. “What else can you do?”

Which brings me to my point. “What else can you do?” Indeed.

All you can do is give it your all. Or at least that’s what you ought to do. It’s what I do. There are very few things that I deliberately screw up. There are very few social interactions that I deliberately fire a torpedo at.

And indeed, guess what? If you really did try your hardest and you failed anyway (which in my opinion is probably the reality of most people’s day to day existence), well, what the Hell else can you do? You gave it your all. You gave it your all and it collapsed anyway. Ok, there’s nothing more you can do.

As my mother said, “What else can you do?” Indeed.

What else can you do? All you can do is try your hardest, and I believe that you should. If you try your hardest and things still blow up, as seems to be the theme of life, you simply shrug your shoulders. You are off the hook, innocent, set free. Yes, things predictably more or less dive-bombed, but it’s not even your fault. Because as long as you are trying your best, any and all failures are generally speaking not your fault, or even if they are, they are perfectly understandable mistakes that any human can make.

And when you see yourself as innocent of most of the fuckups of your life (as I do), painful memories are quite easy to deal with. It’s just a memory of me trying my hardest and things blowing up anyway for another reason, honestly because other humans decided to blow it up, not me. I was the good guy. They were the bad guys, or the idiots. Or it was all down to fate or the Gods. I’m off the hook. Why should I run from this memory?

There is no reason to run from your pain. Sure, we all have things we cannot handle. I do myself. There are certain positions you cannot take if you are my friend. If you take those positions, I will leap out of my chair, get right in your face, and threaten to murder you right there on the spot.

Why? Because you are not allowed to take that position in my presence. In some of my wars between me and my shifting enemies, all of my friends must take my side 100% and oppose the other side 100%. If you can’t do that, you’re gone. You need to go away. You can side with my enemies all you want, but you can’t be my friend and do that.

As such, I have made my peace with much of my life. The wonderful things, the awful things, and the overwhelming majority of things that hovered and drifted between wonderful and awful but usually settled in around frustratingly mediocre, I have pretty much accepted it all. I tried my hardest.

And if I messed up, fine. I learned my lesson and in general, it’s not going to happen again. If I was wrong, I was wrong. Not a problem. Life is a learning curve. Live and learn. That’s what you are supposed to do in life you know: life and learn. This means that failure is inevitable, but it can at least be interesting and possibly a learning experience.

When people forget that life is an endless, more or less stumbling about in the dark sort of learning process, they have locked themselves into a fortress.

And here we merge into the lands of the primitive defenses and at worst the personality disorders.

A fortress called “I was always right and they were always wrong.” A castle called, “Everything I did in my life was successful, and there have been no failures.” It is truly incredible how many people you see every single day for whom this is a personal motto. They tend to be in their late 20’s through middle age.

People who stay this way into old age are a wreck, for old age is when most of the defenses are supposed to come down. Hence why personality disorders tend to weaken and mellow in middle age.

An old saw says, “If You want to know the truth about anything, ask an old lady.”

Exactly. Why? Because her defenses are pretty much collapsed. There’s nothing to defend against anymore. There’s nothing to be insecure about. Although there is truth to “Golden years, my ass!” in health terms, old age should be a time of relaxation, of letting go, of detachment from all of those ugly things you have clung onto your whole life because you had so much to lose.

Now in old age, you haven’t a lot to lose anymore, so the drawbridges can come down. We can fill in the moats.

And we merge with the children in the second childhood called old age. Why are children so relaxed? They have nothing, so they have nothing to lose. And with old age, the two ends of the circle meet again, and hopefully, we can start, haltingly, to not give a flying fuck like those children running wild without a care in the universe.

Because they, the children, have nothing so they have nothing to lose. Because we, the old, having not much anymore anyway as most vanities fade like a slow receding tide, also have nothing to lose. The baby struggles to walk on his sea legs, but he smiles at the world ahead. The old man, his twin, struggles to walk just the same on his own sea legs, but he curses the sputtering engine jerking to a halt. Beginnings and ends merge in the great swirling circle called the universe.

When you ain’t got nothing, you got noting to lose.

– Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone

And here our song comes to an end.

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