Warning: This is an idiosyncratic rant. You may encounter paradox(es), contradictions, blinkered opinions and downright perversity (for its own sake). In my own defence I will say….. Hurrrrrrummmmmph!! I’m jus’ being ornery…
“Think for yourself and question authority”; the first time I heard these words was curtesy of a tape made for me by son. For the record they turned up on the opening of ‘Third Eye’ by the US band ‘Tool’. They were unfamiliar to me, but apparently they were uttered by Timothy Leary (y’know 1960’s LSD, Flower Power etc etc). No wonder they weren’t familiar to me; big guru switch off.
(forewarning ‘we’ is sometimes used in its ironic way-up to you to decide). Now we all sort of subscribe to the conventional unconventional. We mostly at some time reckon we know that our politicians are corrupt, incompetent and untrustworthy; groups of us will subscribe to the notion that education and religion are forms of conditioning, and a bunch of us will feel super-cool and very astute if we wrap ourselves in an armour of what we called cynicism and opt out of any constructive opinions.
Thing is, folk that if you are not careful that can be so very ultra-conventional and an excuse for lazy-thinking; if any thinking at all. Sure by all means liken some of the antics in our governmental structures as akin to The Minions; but don’t forget there are other forms of authority you should be questioning too.
Now as writers we all know how important the message is and the method of the medium we use. So pause and think about that. THE MESSAGE/THE MEDIUM. Consider where we contact these every day? This would be THE MEDIA? Correct? I would suggest The Media is a constant source of messaging; and messaging be a form of influencing; so those who would be seeking to influence would see themselves in a position of an authority.
Thus Ladies and Gentlemen, take the opening statement one step further. Just because someone in a position of an influence says and writes it does it mean it’s to be acceptable at face value? Do we knee-jerk agree with them because they dress in a veneer of unconventional or outspoken? Should we let them be our guides?
Let’s take a look at a few levels:
The TV Recognisable Individual. I suppose it is the same around a lot of the world. In the UK we have these programmes where folk who have a notion, a talent or a skill have put themselves forward to be scrutinised by a clutch of people who TV companies have decided are gifted. If the programme goes really according to plan the poor volunteers knock themselves out for the privilege of being sneered at, denigrated, or severely criticised by the lofty folk. Lo, if the ratings speaketh well, then the whole circus bounces on year after year. Some of the Lofty Folk become well-known then their stern disapproving features peer out of magazines, TV papers and their own self-serving books the inference being we should pay attention to them. Why? Are they free of foibles? Have them demonstrated an intellectual capacity which would hold the great philosophers of bygone again in awe? Quite frankly their rise is no different than one of those politicians we espouse to despise. They worked a system, they imposed their views. They are transitory folk. You may agree or empathise with them, but is their every word to be held onto? Will the ages remember them? Are they truly worth your time and money? Think on that.
The Pundit. A renowned person in their field, we know that because they are on the media circuit and the media have told us. Even better they are controversial and are not afraid of making statements which are offensive to minorities or folk of a conventional outlook. Ohh they must be right? Right? If they are upsetting folk, then there must be something about them? Really? Why? By acts of self-publicity and an astute network, there they are, writing their stuff and speaking their words, and if they can lull you into not having to think for yourselves…wellllll…WOW!! Mission accomplished. Just because they are putting out something which may agree with something you feel might be so, does not make them the True and Only Way. Pause; think outside of the box they are created for you. Think beyond their view. Are you buying into all of this? Or are you being conditioned to think just one narrow view. Think about it. Question it.
The Nationwide Renowned Critic (professional): In the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide universe there is a race known as the Golgafrinchans who they tricked the most useless third (the middlemen) of their population to get on a spaceship and leave the planet….Now everyone is a critic and everyone has views on films, books & tv shows (Art & theater are left out because they are relatively specialised); this is fair enough. The objection I make is by what flawed process of humanity’s cultural evolution were these folk elevated into positions where they could damage an effort because it does not fit their narrow herd-view, and why in the name of Happy Hopping Harry do folk listen to them? It was this breed which trashed such classics are Bringing Up Baby. And woebetide you if you should dare to say you do not like anything which The Renowned Critic hath deemed wonderful; you will incur the wrath of their accolytes. (I know, out of sheer mischief I tried this last year….one poor guy was reduced in insensibility in his anger at me, was babbling on about ‘Well an asteroid might hit us next year!’…..err yeh). Basically do think for yourself. If the professionals don’t like it, check up out what is being written by those who saw it about the same time as the critic. Think for yourself ( (Heck you can probably see enough purloined excerpts for yourself on ‘The Net’ to make a judgement).
The Professional Maverick: Writers, pundits (again), actors, musicians, and so forth. When analysed, there can often be discerned a certain degree of conformity in their words. They don’t vote. They don’t believe. They don’t think much of folk who don’t agree with them. And they certainly look down their noses at you and me tootling along in our apparent conformity. You have a sincere belief? It’s up for mockery. You belong to a social organisation?- hey good material for savaging! You like, vote????? Thing is you will notice they seem to have cars, and houses. They don’t appear to go through the hoops the folk of the WordPress community have to get their stuff out there. Well, it’s nice work if you can get it pushing all the buttons of those on the opposite side of a cultural war, which raises your profile, and convince folk that Yours is the True and Only Way. Ask yourself this. Are you their cash-fodder? Think about it.
In short don’t limit your rebellion or your questioning. And for goodness sake stop quoting these folk- think for yourself!!
I shall stop now, because it occurs to me, at this stage that I have constructed a solid reason for no one bothering to take on board one word of this post. Thus I do vanish into my own private dimension.