Category: Society

Stop Killing Yourself

Back in June, my mother turned 70 and this post on Facebook was fucking hilarious:

Even she thought so.

Less than a month later, she had a seizure and entered the hospital for a brain tumor that doctors now suspect spread from her lungs or tonsils. She’s now had two surgeries and radiation treatment, and we learned yesterday that the tumor is growing too quickly to stop. Another surgery would severely compromise her motor functions, chemotherapy can’t breach the blood-brain barrier, and the tumor seems to actually enjoy the radiation.

She chose yesterday to ride it out with steroids and other palliative measures, and her doctors estimate she has about three months to fulfill her life’s dream of watching Donald Trump removed from office under the 25th amendment.

[Jesus, I can’t help it. My family faces awfulness two ways: getting angry or getting funny.]

What my mother would likely want from all of you instead of sadness is this:

Right now, you are doing something in your life that is killing you. Maybe you’re smoking or not taking your meds or not going to the doctor. Maybe you’re being viciously mean to yourself for the life you should be living according to someone else. Maybe you’re working a job you despise. Maybe you’re dwelling on some hurt that you caused or endured. Maybe you’re spending too much time on Twitter. Maybe you’re ignoring a symptom because you fear the cause.

You know what it is, and you know it’s killing you.

My mother would like you to knock it the fuck off. That’s all.

How to Talk to Your Children about Donald Trump

A lot of people are wondering what to tell their children about the Donald Trump victory in the election.

stun

While we’re all grateful that I have none, here’s what I’d tell mine:

Merricat, Roland, come here and sit with your old man a minute before we all go down to the bunker.

You’re too young to read most of my work yet, but I pretty much express its main theme in everything else I say and do, so you may have picked it up by now. That theme is this:

Decent people live outnumbered among legions of willfully oblivious idiots who rationalize their selfishness as “human nature.” Like saboteurs in enemy country, it is our duty to confound their ends with orchestrated humor and weirdness.

There’s a reason your mom and I named you after dangerously obsessive delusional psychopaths, and it’s because we want you to be the kind of terrifying oddballs who never give up their own visions of what’s right for what’s socially acceptable. If caving to social proof is a bug in our evolutionary software, I hope that you remain forever crazy enough to fight it.

Sometimes that means fighting alone or in a tiny group, and sometimes it means adding your voice to a crowd that accidentally happens to be right.

Your revolution may never extend further than the length of your arms, but there’s so much you can do there. Being nice is a revolutionary act. Sticking up for someone is a revolutionary act. Listening and observing for yourself are revolutionary acts.

So is speaking up. So is being quiet when it suits you.

The whole world wants you to be crazy like them, but my hope is that you’ll be crazy like you.

On My Silences

I miss the blissful pre-online ignorance of not knowing what so many people think and believe. It was easier to pretend there were better ones living somewhere else in the world that way.

When I was a kid, you pretty much had to walk into a bar or a Moose Lodge to seek out so many ill-informed opinions at once on everything from car repair to macroeconomics. Now the Internet brings the bar and the Moose Lodge to me.

I used to blog (often angrily) a lot more about politics and culture, but then I had the epiphany that I really had no idea what I was talking about. And even when/if I did, the others who didn’t weren’t listening anyway.

Marketers, pollsters, and social media have convinced us all of the supreme power of opinion, of every person weighing in on every issue, mostly so we know what side they’re on and if it’s our own. Do you properly hate Donald Trump? Are you sufficiently horrified by abortion? Can we trust you to think always about the children?

The answer I see too infrequently is, “How the fuck should I know?”

Sustained and deliberate ignorance is a terrible thing. But temporary ignorance – something we might even call open-mindedness – seems just as terrifying to so many people.

It’s a fire hydrant culture where everyone feels compelled to splash a little of their scent on every issue.

So I talk less about these things, not because I don’t think about them but because I don’t see how opinions should matter much. We’re not the crowd at a football game, and “making more noise” doesn’t help much in the real world.

The disappointing truth is that despite what the websites and polls tell us, what we believe to be true has very little influence on what is actually true.

So you may never know how I’m voting in November or what I think about white supremacists on fiction awards juries or whether I’ll stop using $20 bills because Harriet Tubman is on them —  unless I can write something funny about it.

Should you stop sharing your beliefs? I’d never want to silence you. But I’ll say this:

Talking is how they distract us from doing, and never mistake a Post or Submit button for someone’s genuine interest or actual action in the world.

Second Interview on Elucidate with Goliath Flores!

If you liked my first interview with Goliath Flores on his Elucidate podcast, you’ll love the second when we get into writing, teaching, Game of Thrones, and why the Internet sucks!

Interview on Elucidate with Goliath Flores

Before we go any further, let’s all acknowledge that GOLIATH FLORES is an awesome name. Giant flowers!

Goliath, who happens to be my neighbor, hosts a great podcast about the arts here in Jacksonville called Elucidate. I came onto the show the other day to chat about politics, creativity, politics, and mass societal delusion. You know, the usual.

 

Won’t Someone Think of the Children-Eaters?

We all know that children are annoying. Countless scientific studies have proven they don’t even have souls until they’re about fourteen or fifteen, and maybe not even then. They’re loud, they’re unpredictable, they’re narcissistic – they’re basically tiny drunks we can’t send to detox.

So when a heroic adult breaks free of our deliberate societal delusion about the saintliness of children, there’s cause to stand up and cheer.

This Minnesota woman – I hesitate to use her name because her next job search is going to be complicated enough without Google dragging her down – responded to months of systematic terrorism from her shrieking child neighbors just as you or I would.

This is the look of a woman thinking, "Screaming children left toys on my porch and I'M the one in a jail jumpsuit?"

This is the look of a woman thinking, “Screaming children left toys on my porch and I’M the one in a jail jumpsuit?”

By sending little anonymous notes about how she wanted to eat the children. Because you might as well put that degree in Psychology to use.

Threats to eat children have a long and noble tradition all the way from folk and fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel up to noted serial killer Albert Fish. They’re how we keep kids in line. I’m the man I am today because my father wasn’t above shaking a bottle of barbecue sauce in my direction when I got unruly.

Here, a brave witch faces down terrorists the only way she can: with a wicked recipe for shepherd's pie.

Here, a brave witch faces down terrorists the only way she can: with a wicked recipe for shepherd’s pie.

Not long ago, we used to believe it took a village to raise a child. And sometimes, when those children are yelling and running around and leaving toys in your yard, you need a village witch to step in with a few minor cackling threats and some subscriptions to magazines under the name “Your Tasty Children.”

What we don’t need is to put honest witches in jail under charges of misdemeanor terroristic threats.

The simplest way to avoid this would have been for those children to have been raised in a far-off Dickensian boarding school. The second simplest way would have been for this woman to have had a better plan than “1. Send threats. 2. Scare family. 3. Family finds it safer to abandon a house with twenty years left on the mortgage than to let children get eaten.”

Rest assured, this will have a chilling effect. Gone are the days when we could dig traps in the park or hose down trick-or-treaters with impunity.

And when the chaos ensues, when a generation grows up without fear of being eaten, we will reap what we have sown.

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