Greetings to all!!
Well, this seems a strange topic to begin the New Year with, but I have to catch these opportunities as they come, because my memory is not as good as . . . What was I saying?
Just this morning, my stepson happened to have left his tablet on the table open to faceBook, and someone had posted a link to a George Carlin clip on YouTube.
My stepson was quick to declare that he did not take these sorts of links seriously anymore, because he was getting a lot of conservative spam. I assured him that George Carlin was anything but, and he looked at me uncertainly, and I repeated my assurance, and went off and indulged in an orgy of George Carlin, which kept me chuckling for a whole hour!
Introducing a twenty-something young liberal to the late George Carlin might not be a kindness. I will elaborate presently.
Not everyone is familiar with George Carlin enough to be able to recognize all his moods, and the background to some of his comedic "pieces" -- for lack of a better word--and some might not know about him at all. If our species survives this generation, we could hope that Carlin recognition is built into the genes by Darwin, or whoever is in charge of evolution these days.
I have it in for Capitalism. I tolerate the Capitalism of the old Pre-Reagan days, but the most recent flavor of uncompromising Capitalism is evil and misguided. George Carlin explains why it is so.
I have it in for Nationalism. Nationalism made sense in the world when new nations were struggling against colonial powers. Today, emerging nations are still fighting against paternalistic restraints--c.f. Catalan politics--but to say that America is fighting against colonial powers is so funny that whoever says so should not be allowed to speak henceforth. Carlin explains this beautifully.
Carlin described fake news long before fake news was cool. If you learned to recognize it then, you would know how it has evolved to what it is today, and how fake those who habitually use the phrase today are.
Advertising is a pet peeve of George Carlin, as it is mine. It isn't very different from fake news; in fact, it is the friends and relatives of fake news mongers who craft and disseminate advertising copy. I would nuke Madison Avenue (or whatever is the address of contemporary hype), and if George Carlin were alive, he would probably nod approval.
He opposed stupidity. He opposed US militarism. (Oh, you should definitely check out his video clip on American military adventurism; one listens with amusement, and anger.) Golf courses. Religion. Materialism. The Real Estate business. (It isn't obvious, but it is there, hidden in his commentaries on modern US culture.) Racism. I'm not sure he was particularly close to blacks and people of color, but he could certainly spot racism at any distance. Economic inequality. Education. Parents. And finally: politicians. (But he lays the blame squarely where it belongs: on the electorate. That is, the US Public.
Unexpectedly, or rather, not unexpectedly, if you knew the reason: George Carlin is cynical about the environment. He laughs at Save the Planet rhetoric. The planet, he says, is going to be around long after we're gone. This is undeniable, but how are we to think about both our anxiety to preserve the environment, and George Carlin's shrugging it off?
Well, what exactly do we mean by preserving the environment? We mean to keep the planet the way it is, as much as possible. Why? So that future generations can enjoy it (or that we can enjoy it a little longer). But Carlin takes the view that the human species will not last forever.
One doesn't need to think too hard to conclude that this is absolutely true. While we may not embrace the rapid deterioration of human living conditions with great glee as Carlin does, we have to realize that, from an objective point of view, our ecological efforts are merely a desperate rearguard action against the inevitable. As modern Ecological agnostics must believe, saving species from extinction for a few more decades in the face of their vanishing habitat is an exercise in futility. Whether or not the GOP thinks that way, it makes it easier for them to balance the budget without raising taxes, and as we all know, what the GOP loves is money, far more than the beauty of nature! Gotta love 'em.
How did George Carlin get this way? If you watch enough of his videos on YouTube, he explains it. It is a psychological defense mechanism. The best way to avoid soul-eating disappointment is to give up all expectations. He says that he never voted; he just stayed home. Cynicism, in the end, is a crude form of self-preservation. This was not Carlin's invention; it is the main principle of Buddhism! More about that another time.