Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Failing My Self Improvement Class

My assignment was to write down three people I'd like to invite to my house for cocktails.

I think you all pretty much know my attitude, so it should surprise no one that it took me quite some deliberation to even think of three people (living or dead) I'd like to have cocktails with.  My answer would depend on my (usually black) mood --- from everyone I've ever known, loved or despised to absolutely not a single person on the planet.  Me and my good buddy Johnny Walker, so to speak.

Anyhow.  These three eventually came to mind.  They're all dead.  But this is an assignment not a reality show (thank Freakin' God).

1.  John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck so totally understood the depth and breadth of the human condition, he could translate it to a written word, and make YOU, the reader, not just understand the depth and breadth of it but experience the pain and the joy of it.  That's a writer.  On a more personal level, John Steinbeck novels leave you with the very fortunate condition of never feeling comfortable making a judgment about another human being for the rest of your born days.

2.  Vincent Van Gogh. 

Vincent Van Gogh liked to drink wine and I like to drink wine.  And whiskey.  An occasional margarita or vodka martini.  Definitely hurricanes.  Rum.  Absinthe.  I digress.  Vincent Van Gogh taught me that genius is almost never going to be found in convention, and rarely going to be recognized in its possessor's lifetime.  In fact, genius is going to be mostly derided and dismissed, due to the overwhelming insecurity of very smart and fabulously educated non-geniuses. 

3.  Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut taught me the importance of having an alter-ego (hence this blog).  Having an alter-ego will maintain your sanity.  Having a place to express all the things you'd like to say and do, but can't say and do for fear of recrimination, excommunication, or the dreaded black ball of disinterest denial and dismissal.

Kurt Vonnegut's alter ego was a science fiction writer named Kilgore Trout.  (Who lived and died a life not unlike Vincent Van Gogh's.)   One of Kilgore Trout's stories, (one that was derided and dismissed) had to do with an alien space craft landing in a farmer's field.  The farmer's barn started on fire, so the aliens rushed to the farm house to tell the farmer that his barn was on fire.  The aliens only means of communication, however, was farting and tap dancing.  As the aliens tried to communicate to the farmer that his barn was on fire by farting and tap dancing, the barn, alas, burned to the ground.

We're all farting and tap dancing here folks.  Nobody knows what we're saying.  Especially this bitch on a bus.

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