Optimism? … sounds like a trap. How Deconstructive Theory has ruined my life.

Posted: August 5, 2012 in Comedy Journal, Nonfiction

If you stare at something long enough, it quits being beautiful. You can’t see it for what it is, only for what it’s not. I think the same is true of knowing things. When you understand something… you see the little ugly bits that make it not perfect, and you can’t look away from them. Even flawless and irrefutable things; A mother’s love, music, WrestleMania. They all fall apart on close inspection. They have blemishes and tired eyes that make them less than you want, or even need them to be.  A mama bear’s love for her cubs make her eat your baby up, and snap your wife’s back in half. Bad move camper dad. The Nazi’s marched to the only classical music that anybody still gives a shit about. Robust works of beauty and power ideal for marching over skulls to or pushing people into holes. And one time, Lawrence Taylor wrestled Bam Bam Bigelow in the main event…  fucking terrible.

So maybe at least ideas or pursuits can be good? Curiousity must be a beautiful thing, it is what made us what we are. Ingenious apes with capacity and drive to do things. But, it’s also what got us kicked out of the Garden. It’s what made us split the atom, and it might be what ends us all. And it’ll end us Ugly.

So why look and why wonder? I don’t know. I understand the allure of not knowing almost fully. Not wondering about one’s place in the world, not struggling to find something certain seems like the better option. But, I can’t not wonder. And I can’t lie. At least not to myself. I can lie to other folks just fine, but I’m suspicious of everything I say.

In an era of weaponized religion and faulty gods, of screaming liars and sanctified bastards, I find it hard to love or believe in anything. When I think about the fact that every era has been an era of weaponized religion and sanctified bastards… it makes it even worse.

I don’t necessarily dispair at it. I… resign to it. I even like it in some masochistic way. It feels a little like being behind the curtain. Which can be great… but… you do miss the play.

Religion, Politics, Art. Sports, War, Movies. Rules, Laws, Social Contracts. Politeness, Honesty, Appropriate Behavior. Love, Nonsense, a Human Connection. All can be dissected. All are kind of lies. Natural tendencies that can be exploited, knowingly or not, by these curious monkeys. All are a little bit gross.

I wrestle with what’s good and what matters. And I’m pretty sure it’s Nothing. If you zoom in or zoom out far enough… nothing. And nothing is not reassuring.

A logical argument to this stance is that if nothing is good or true, why not pursue things that make you feel good.

But with nothing true to strive for, nothing makes me feel “good.”

Things I like I know aren’t perfect. I just like them. Things I see as “true” are only true from my perspective, And my perspective is formed and shaped by a million contributing factors, and if those factors were different, my opinion probably would be as well. I don’t know if I’d love the Counting Crows if the summer of ’96 had been colder, or if my High School Girlfriend had had smaller boobs. Probably… but maybe not. If I had fallen in love to something more popular, it’s very possible I wouldn’t hold such contempt for garbage music, or assume that an artist can’t sing the same line 40 times and call it art. (Fuck you John Mayer)

I don’t know if I’d vote democrat if Coal Companies hadn’t fucked my grandfather to death, or if G.I. Joe had had a character who wrote a poem. Probaby, but maybe not. If Frank Miller hadn’t made Ronald Reagan a badguy, or if Nancy Reagan didn’t put all those people in jail… maybe I’d be more passionate about a smaller government (which is an idea I like) and less passionate about gay marriage (which honestly affects me not at all… but I pretend to care so very much about.)

I just



My feelings are big long math equations that I can’t understand.

And I do understand math. At least a little. At least better than average. At least enough to know I really don’t.

At it’s heart… it’s simple. And I’m dumb… or at least… predictable.

And if we’re predictable… why watch?

We’re just a machine winding down to a halt. And that’s scary. But… maybe if you look long enough at scary, at ugly… you can see beauty in that too. The reverse of what I started with.

You’ve got to stare right at the ugliness first. And… that’s hard to forget. And really hard to get through. But it helps.

So… when I’m at my worst, with nothing transcends the oceans of grey that too much knowledge can bring about… I think about bugs.

Little. Stupid. Bugs.

Gross. Ugly. Bugs.

They live lives like heartbeats. And they never go anywhere. Those that do don’t even have eyes or memories to know they’re doing it. They live in shit and eat garbage. They ruin stuff that’s good. They buzz in your ear. They bite you on your legs and drive you crazy. They toil, and they die.

And they make me very happy. Because they don’t even know it.

Lightning bugs are my favorite. They’re something I like. And something I believe in. They’re the closest things I know to magic.

I know it’s just science. It’s just checmicals in their asses that light up all funny. I know they’re doing it mostly to get laid. And they might not even enjoy it. I even know some have learned how to trick other ones into landing, and then eat them up. (They mimic other lightning bugs “come get some” flashes, then, when they land, they eat their heads. Beautiful.)

I understand what they are. They are nothing. And they are awesome. There is no reason for such beauty. They do not know me. I do not know them.

So I don’t believe in much. But I believe in Lightning bugs. And that’ll do.

When my friends or loved ones hold on to religion or politics that conflict with my sensibilities, I do my best not to fight any more. I don’t know anything. And… if it really doesn’t matter… why fight. I know my friends and family aren’t dumb. Not by a long shot. They just… maybe… have a little more hope than I do… or… are more willing to submit to things that they don’t know. At least not fully. That’s belief right? Embracing something you can’t prove.

Every intelligent man, woman, or child is an agnostic. Openly or not. I realize this is an unfair position I’m taking. The same way the church co-opts moral folks from other sects to allow for a just god. They didn’t know the love of Jesus, so they’ll get purgatory or something, not hell. Only the zealots and the ones in charge like flexing their damnation muscles when confronted with the paradox of moral non-believers.

If one Knows Jesus, I’m envious. The same is true of Allah or Buddha or the Virgin Sophia. It brings peace and guidance.

But if someone Knows their moral code is right. Knows it as a fact. They’re most likely an asshole. They’re ascribing their wants as the will of a something easier to believe in than themselves. As a root for their own desires, and as a means to justify them.

The sad fact is, I’m envious of them too. Just frightened. It must be sweet to know you’re always right, because you’re on the right side. It’s terrifying to think what one can accomplish when one Knows he or she is justified.

If you take the moral highground. You’re just consenting that your argument would lose on equal footing.

I want to know my positions are right… not just advantaged.

But that sure is hard.

It’s easier to be entertained than to understand. It’s easier to be reassured than to be challenged. But I still find myself wanting to be on the other side of the curtain, to know I’m right.

So no, I can’t trust things that are bigger than I am. I can’t, or I won’t. They scare me because their beauty is terrifyingly awesome. Maybe I’m too dumb. Or too stubborn. Or too little to matter. But I won’t hate them anymore. And I won’t let them break me or my belief that nothing’s true, And that that’s okay. I won’t try to exchange their something for nothing. That is a terrible exchange. I will hold them. I will love them. And I’ll think about bugs.

  1. Gretchen P says:

    “I can lie to other folks just fine, but I’m suspicious of everything I say.” What a cleverly simple phrase. Your writing fascinates me. Always has. Thanks for making it public so I have something simultaneously entertaining and thoughtful to read. Always a pleasure, my friend.

    • DJ Dangler says:

      Thanks Lady! I’m trying to write more, and knowing folks read it, especially folks who I respect, makes it a lot easier. Honestly. Thank you. It means so much.

  2. Steven Garner says:

    Great read, DJ. Very ‘stream of consciousness’ ish….

    As for knowing the Truth (if such a thing exists), I think it can best be found in the present moment. That is, free your mind of all concepts and mental constructs… then just listen. Your eyes and ears and other senses will dial into to world as it truly exists: in the here and now.

    At least as well as we can possibly comprehend it at our scale. Its doubtful you would observe quantum phenomena or relativistic physics in action with your eyes and ears.

    Good stuff.. nice read. Sort of balanced my mind, if that makes sense.

    Hope you’re well, old buddy. Miss you.

    • DJ Dangler says:

      I am well, or, at least working on it. I’m telling jokes a lot… and that’s about it. The writing helps a lot too. It makes me feel a bit less like a monkey.

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