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February 16, 2013

Philosophy: A ticket to the freak show - text + my notes
Sections
Introduction   
1. A ticket to the freak show - text
2. A ticket to the freak show - notes
About ME/CFS

Introduction:

In the beginning of this month I mentioned an interview with George Carlin (1937-2008), from late in his life have. Here's the text, with my notes, that are identified with "[M1]" etc.

1. A ticket to the freak show - text

George Carlin
From the interview. Clicking the image links to the interview

George Carlin: [M1] "I grew up in the 80ies on HBO and in 1992 is when I found my voice [M2] and I realized I was a writer who performed his own material, and I had things to say. There was a long piece in there that said 'The planet is fine. The people are fucked.' And it was a very good analysis of why it is not important to save the planet. [M3] It is more important to save your self. The planet is gonna be here. We'll go away. We'll go away, because we'll fix that up. We'll arrange that. We'll self-immolate. We'll be gone. Dinosaurs had their chance. There was an age of reptiles. Now it's the age of primates. And who knows, maybe it will be the insects next. It's not up to us. It's not divinely ordained. We're here on chance and we're gonna go away. [M4] And the planet will heal. The planet will heal because that's what it does. It heals itself. It's a self-healing organism. It changes and grows. It will incorporate all of our dead cities into itself and it will become something else but it will still be going around the sun for at least a few more billion years or whatever. So this whole thing of 'We've got to save the planet by not putting diapers in the landfill' that's too short sighted. It doesn't do anything. You've got to change your self [M5] - and we'll never do that, because it's the dollar now. Everybody wants a dollar and a toy. Everybody's got a cell phone that will make pancakes and rub their balls. So nobody wants to rock the boat. Nobody wants to change. No change in anything. [M6] And we're running a nice downward glide. I call it circling the drain. That's what I will call my next book: circling the drain. And the circles get smaller and smaller, and faster and faster. If you watch the drain, if you watch the sink empty... choo, choo, choo, whack. Ah! I will be gone. And that's fine. I'll welcome it. I wish I could live a thousand years to watch it happen. From a distance. So I could see it all.[M7]"

Interviewer: "Does if depress you?"

GC: "No. It lifts me up. It lifts me up, because I gave up on this stuff. I gave up on my species. And I gave up on my fellow Americans. [M8] I gave up on my countrymen, because I think we squandered great gifts. I think humans were given great, great gifts: walking upright, binocular vision, opposable thumb, large brains, making tools. Make tools, large brain, large brain make better tools. Talk. Have to like language. "You take this: put in here." We learn language. Brain got bigger. Language. We grew. We had great gifts, and we gave it all up for both money and god. [M9] God and Mammon, both! We gave it up to the high priests: it's your job. God's will. That's what they say. People say: it's gods will. That means god can do anything he wants, so why pray? They say you're praying for something. OK here is an answer to my prayers: it's god's will. Well, if it's god's will why did they even pray in the first place if he is going to do what he wants anyway? We gave it all up for superstition, primitive superstition, primitive shit, primitive shit. There's an invisible man in the sky looking down keeping track of what we do. Make sure we don't do the wrong thing for if we do he'll put us in hell and we'll burn forever. [M10] That kind of shit is very limiting! It's very limiting for this brain we have. So we keep ourselves limited - and then we want a toy, and a gizmo and gold and we want shiny things and we want something to plug in that will make big big big things for us - and all that shit is nothing. [M11] It is nothing, we gave it all up. And Americans, who also had great gifts - when you take the theory of democratic rule, self-government... okay, they started off wrong, they owned slaves, they didn't let women vote, they didn't let people who didn't own land vote. Fine, they got off on the wrong foot. But the ideas were good. We fucking blew that. We polluted it. We polluted it with this stuff, things, material goods, games, gizmos, toys, gadgets, having possessions ... "he's got a bigger truck, did you see his truck, it's bigger than mine, I'm getting a new truck, here's a big truck: O, I am getting that one. You got a video in it, DVD too, here I got a DVD too..." Huh please. Whatever happened? All that's what happened. And that's why I am divorced from it now. [M12] I see it from a distance. I've given myself a divorce. [M13] I said "George, emotionally you have no stake in this. You don't care one way or another. So watch it. Have fun." You know what? I say it this way: When you're born in this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. And when you're born in America, you're given a front row seat. And some of us get to sit there with notebooks. And I am a notebook..."Aha, ooo, o my god, did you see that?". And I watch the freak show and I got my notes and I make up stuff about it and I talk about the freaks. [M14] And the freaks are all human, and they're like me, and they're all the same, we're all the same. I am not better, I am not different, I am just apart now. I am separate, I am over here, because I put myself out of the mix. [M15] I don't have a stake in the outcome, I am not a cheerleader for a given outcome now. [M16] O, they say if you'll scratch a cynic you'll find a disappointed idealist, and I would admit that somewhere underneat all of this is there is a little flickre of a flame of idealism that would love to see it all ....woosht... change. [M17] But it can't. It can't happen that way. And incremental change: it just seems like the pile of shit is too deep. It seems there's too much to do. To do it all? To do everything you would need to clean up this act of a human... no: too much. [M18] And there are forces that don't want that. You have big companies, big pharmaceuticals, big oil, big petrochemical, big insurance, big real estate, big agrobusiness, all these people are feeding...[M19] they never give a shit about borders anymore. It's all international, it's multinational, there are no borders, this is obsolete. Some day, some day, if we all lasted long enough, some day there'll be no borders, it will be one language and one currency, that would happen. But, you know, Robert Anton Wilson said "Every border in Europe is an arbitrary line where two groups of bandits grew tired of fighting and decided to rest for a while." That's all we are about. "Look on over there. What have they got? They've got bigger strongs than the others. How about the people on the cliff. They've got trees. Let's go and get this shit. They've got women there." [M20] You know we always want what we don't have. And I am happy with what comes my way and getting to write these things I write. [M21]"

Interviewer: "Did you ever think about going into politics? [M22]"

George Carlin: "No. No, never, never. Because there are two - the compromise begins immediately. That system is so broken... First of all, there's money raising. You've got to raise a lot of money, you've got to make a lot of compromises, with your self, just to go to the meetings with those people, just to sit down and talk to them. [M23] You have to abase yourself in front of them..."I need fifty thousand dollars. If you could you write me a cheque for fify thousand dollars, then we could uhh..." And then you make those little tacit promises or direct promises, and the minute you're elected you have to start that process over again. [M24] And along the way it's all broken: the electoral college is broken, the primary system is broken, it's all ridiculous, there's gerrymandering, all the redistricting, whoever is in power does redistictring to keep in power... No, it's just broken, broken, broken, broken right down the line, and as soon as they are elected, like I say, they have to start "we'll have to be careful what we do. What did the polls say? OK. Polls say that. Re-election is coming three years and half from now. Oh my god." No."

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2. A ticket to the freak show - notes

[M1] I have done my best to give the text properly, and succeeded mostly, but at a few points have been rendering things diplomatically, as the phrase is. But there is very little of that, and as long the interview is available you can also compare my rendering with the original. And I did do it, because I think the text is fine, as is the delivery, and deserves preservation, while I also like to be able to give my own notes.

[M2] Note that is fairly late for finding one's voice: In 1992 Carlin got to be 55. Having meanwhile seen much of him that is on Youtube, I noticed that indeed he did get a lot sharper in the early nineties than he had been before. It is worthwile to point out that, apart from the fact that few people could see it as clearly and phrase it as well as Carlin could and did, only a small proportion of that proportion would have the courage to speak up as he did - which he also kept up till the end of his life.

[M3] I agree: The problem is far less with the evils that men do, then it is with the men who do it, and the men who allow those who do it to do it, and indeed may elect them to do it, or fight their fights for them.

[M4] I agree that the likelihood is that the outcome this century will be either a collapse of civilization or a collection of police-states, a bit like George Orwell foresaw in "Nineteen eighty-four", and that very many human beings will die, mostly because there are too many people, nations, and political and economical groups competing for too few resources to give the majority of those who live the kind of life they crave. Mankind may survive, if there is no atomic war or great natural disaster, but the chances are that the 21st century will be even more gruesome, lethal, dictatorial and mad than the 20th, that so far was the top in those respects, if you set off the totalitarian religious and political systems people practised, against the science that multiplied their numbers, their commodities, and their desires. And the sad fact is that at most 1 in a 100 of those alive are both capable and willing of understanding that science, while 99 of a 100 don't want to, can't do it if they wanted, but also are the faithful followers or servants of the very few who exercise real power.

I also note Carlin's position is like that of the originators of religions i.e. fundamentally religious.

[M5] Again the essence is the selves people have, are and want to be - for most in Europe and the US are dedicated consumers of little brain, whose excuse is their combination of invincible stupidity and ignorance.

[M6] Indeed people these days are much more docile, tame, and accepting than they were in the 1960ies, 1970ies and even the 1980ies, and indeed much more people alive now had a much worse education than those in their thirties and older in those decades, and also have seen more TV and more advertisements than those who lived earlier.

[M7] I don't welcome the collapse of civilization - whether by crisis or through police-states - that I believe is the most likely even in this century, but I agree that, as there is nothing I can realistically do about it, there is no good reason to be emotional or feel concerned, and that not because one has no reason to be, but because feeling emotional or concerned only will upset one's powers of rational judgment.

[M8] As I said, it does not lift me up, but I have given up on my species - the vast majority of them: there are a few I care about, but their chances are no better than mine - and in particular my countrymen.

[M9] And politics: The 20th Century saw the largest tyrannies there ever have been, and in the end these were surrected because of thoroughly deluded and abused human idealism.

[M10] I agree ordinary religions are a lot of bullshit, but the man is an ideological ape, that needs some system of metaphysics and some system of ethics to - more or less - believe in and practice, whatever it is, whether religious, political, or consumerism, as is the case now in Europe and the US, for the masses, and indeed also for most of the elites. (Only a proportion of the few real scientists - physicisists, mathematicians, bio-chemists - are interested beyond themselves, and moved by the truth rather than greed for commodities. Most others have no ideals other than keeping up or getting better than the Joneses.)

[M11] True: This is the age of consumerism, since the 1970ies or so, and it is empty of ideas and values, and it is good for nothing, because owning goods does not make people happy, also not if they believe it does: Greed for goods is infinite, and cannot be satisfied by anything.

[M12] I never bought into it, but then I come from a special family.

[M13] I had some illusions that it should be possible to save the Dutch universities and perhaps the Dutch schools from the collapse that started in the 1960ies and was completed by the late 1980ies, and completely failed, not because I was mistaken, and not because others could not see I was right, but because almost everyone only cared for his or her own career, status and power, and not for the chances or wellbeing of others, nor for ideals like science, truth, and civilization that comprise much more than themselves.

I gave up on my species, because I am convinced this is mostly innate, like intelligence, that most naked apes also have not enough of to be able to be meaningful contributors to human civilization, though all are eager to consume as many commodities as they possibly can, if indeed in the name of some very noble sounding moral pretext.

[M14] Same here, but it's true it is a position that has been forced on me, through the slowly dawning insight that the fast majority of those who live in my time are unable - not: unwilling - to see and reason like Carlin, or like me, or like the few I admire. As Hazlitt put it:

If mankind had wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, "to every good work reprobate."
[M15] I don't think all are equal or equally good or bad. A few are prodigiously or very gifted, almost all are not; a few are very just, most are egoistic in almost all respects. I am not going to put everybody on the same level as Aristotle, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Newton, and Euler, because that simply is neither true nor fair, and indeed also not the doing of these exceptional persons, nor of those who are not, and who could not understand them well however hard they tried. (If you judge human beings, you also should try to be fair or honest. And there have been extremely intelligent men and women, compared to most, as there have been extremely cruel or dishobesr men and women, and it is not fair to either of these, nor to the vast majority that is extreme in no respect, to judge all as if they are on a par because they are all human, apart from the individuals who they also are.)

[M16] That is quite the same for me, and I have even less of a stake than Carlin had: I have no children or grandchildren, and my family line is terminated with my generation.

[M17] I agree, with three additions. First, the Cynics as an ancient philosophical school are not how they have been painted (by Christian theologians, mostly), and had a lot more going for them than is commonly realized. Second, however much one is an idealist, there is no rational point trying to realize the impossible or impracticable. Third, it is important to try to keep the flame of individual thought alive, even if that means "inner emigration" (withdrawing into oneself, as many capable and honest people were forced to do under Soviet rule).

[M18] I agree: There are too many problems, too few competent leaders, too many greedy consumers, too many eager egoistic liars and deceivers, to redesign human civilization before it has either collapsed or been thoroughly shaken up.

[M19] Quite - the only two forces of evil that are missing in the list are the banks and public relations and marketing companies. (Carlin died just before the crisis broke through.)

[M20] Indeed, greed is a major human problem, and the motor behind much of capitalism. I fear that, like stupidity, this can only be undone by either genetical redesign or forced (non-)breeding

[M21] I am not happy with what has come my way, what with being ill without help in the dole for nearly 2/3ds of my life now, but being ill I can't change it, and indeed in almost all other countries my life would have been more difficult than it was, which was rather a lot more than that of nearly all of my contemporaries with the same nationality.

[M22] That is a good question, because Carlin would have been an excellent independent candidate for being governor or president. Then again, Carlin's reasons why this very probably would not have worked are cogent.

[M23] Having had rather a lot to do with politics in Amsterdam and in the University of Amsterdam (that was politicized and run like a Soviet from 1971-1995, and was then mostly in the hands of communist students and social democrat staff, both thoroughly and totally corrupt, and in it for the money, the power, and the status), I have also found that those who are into politics are a quite different kind of human beings than I am, and indeed of such a kind that I do not want to socialize with them, except if I have to for practical reasons.

[M24] Indeed. But everybody I have seen who made it in politics in Holland was a peculiar kind of egoistic, lying, deceiving, fundamentally uncivilized sort of person, willing to sacrifice everyone and everything for the glory or wellbeing of self. Also, there are proportionally very many more psychopaths among politicians than there are in the population at large, and they all select their own kind for promotion and support. If you have not proven yourself to be capable of betraying others, it will be very hard for you to become prominent in politics.

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Feb 18, 2013: Made the picture smaller.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)


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