Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

August 29, 2006

Clichés are stolen souls

Filed under: navel gazing,Random Thoughts,writing — secretmojo @ 5:58 am

I like two Bad Things: rhetoric and clichés. Rhetoric because it is large, sweeping, and full of vision—until some pundit uses its power as an elixir to make his shortness taller. And clichés because they are such charmingly pithy phrases that everyone wants to go to bed with them.

Clichés get a bad rap. At birth, they are singularly powerful observations of truth: a blooming awareness in the mind. You can save nine stitches when you spend time on one. Hamlet was being cruel to be kind. And it’s true: the road less traveled is far more interesting. How? Let me count the ways…

But over time and over use, the pith of a once shiny phrase dulls, and we’re left only with the abstract idea, its words a train that delivers thought with no imagery. Overworked and exhausted, this memetic poetry becomes vernacular, hackneyed, “to be avoided.”

Ironically, the better the phrase, the more at risk it is for becoming overused. Sad that the most resonant utterings of mankind get filed under “bad writing” nowadays. It’s not their fault for being superlative! They were well-put at inception; what arrogance makes us believe that we can rewrite “water under the bridge” into something more poetic and sad? For such an “accomplished” playwright, I like to joke, Shakespeare sure did write a hell of a lot of clichés.

To let clichés play with my mind once more, I spent some time over at the Cliché Finder. I know there are better sites out there, but Cliché Finder retains the clunkiness of reader-submitted clichés, and sports a random feature that will throw them at you, ten per fistfull.

It’s instructive to read a cliché out of context, and honor its native essence. Most clichés are born smiling, and rekindling the life back into one is as simple as pressing your imagination into it.

For example. “Throw the baby out with the bath water.” This is terrifying.

“It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”: is this not as well?

On the other hand (he lifts his left hand for contrast), Cliché Finder hosts some duds (bombs too weak to detonate) as well. Some clichés are entered incorrectly—“Eat your cake and have it, too”?—while some phrases are not clichés at all, but hackneyed jargon, common language, a play on clichés, or famous quotes. “Hunky dory” may be a popular phrase, but it is as much a cliché as “A-OK.” Which is to say, not at all.

So what is a cliché? In its looser sense, cliché could mean anything trite, from horror movie plots to the ubiquitously poached “war.” But I think a proper cliché must a) be a common phrase, and b) still hold wealth inside it. It can delight unsullied, imaginative minds—like those of children—still today: “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.”

The creator of The Cliché Finder, Morgan, offers a small treatise on the subject. I’m not sure I’m happy with his definition: “a metaphor characterized by its overuse.” Is “on the other hand” a cliché, then? What makes this phrase any dirtier than “However”, “in contrast,” or “but”? It is a metaphor. It has been overused. But is it really a cliché? I’d like to say “no,” because it has imagery, yet no insight.
It’s a tricky puzzle, defining what a cliché is. But I shall stick with my earlier definition: A cliché is a phrase so charmingly pithy that everyone has gone to bed with it. It can be a quote, but only if people do not use it as such. There can be no attribution, hidden or overt, that remembers the author. “All’s well that ends well” is a cliché. But “making the beast with two backs” is not. A cliché is poetry that has settled amongst the people, powerful beyond its author. Timeless, universal, and offering bon mots, a cliché, when cleansed of its patina of repetition, is free revelation for the masses.

It’s a diamond in the rough. A precious jewel, and—if eaten properly—food. For thought.


July 29, 2006

Man, it’s all “boob this, boob that, boobie boob boob”

Filed under: navel gazing,News — secretmojo @ 6:15 pm

UPDATE: Take this, ya boob-frightened prudes.

Like we weren’t getting enough “measured debate” after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl malfunction—at an event, by the way, that also sported a (less sexy, more British) male streaker who got past security and danced on the 50-yard line until getting sacked by a linebacker. Now we must deal with Babytalk—the magazine, not the discourse—which published a picture of a baby eating:

Fast Food

I’m reticent to deconstruct the pose here. Because the premise is that a boob is always an object of desire—and let’s be honest, the lack of an Adam’s apple would also spark a little “willy shift” if women’s necks were always covered. Deconstructing why this photo may be offensive leads, nearly instantaneously, into Pervertland, where grown men wear diapers and 18-month-olds have sex drives. But deconstruct it I will, because I am fearless.

First, that’s a perfect boob. I realize stock photography is all about idealized worlds that don’t exist, and that a character-free approach to any subject is needed. But for those in the know (not me of course), porn and even fashion photography also depends on characterless, idealized situations taking place beneath fantastic lighting, complete with perfect boobs and two models locked in actorly eye contact to sell an otherwise insouciant or improbable act. So it was a photographical gaffe here, which serendipitously made use of the “vague sexual satisfaction” groove so often implemented elsewhere. “I wouldn’t mind being that baby right now,” thinks 80% of man-kind, despite themselves. Conclusion? The boob shouldn’t have been so good-looking. It should have looked like a mother’s breast, not a model’s.

Second, look at the way the kid’s going at it. It’s almost as if life depended on it. As if, without feeding, the poor feller may die. Hunger and sexual desire have been associated in the psyche for eons. Admittedly, sexual desire and babies have not—but this doesn’t stop anyone from projecting onto a little one, who can’t utter a sentence yet, the same eager bodily need, albeit from a different nexus, experienced by under-sexed sailors.

See, I told you: comprehending it leads us into Pervertland. Even Oedipus, who didn’t do it on purpose, gouged out his eyes after discovering his own defilement. But here’s this baby—obviously full aware who his/her mother is—nursing away with eyes wide open, presumably checking out his/her mother’s pleasure or displeasure on the matter. Gross!

What’s interesting is that a picture of a baby drinking from a bottle doesn’t receive the same kind of controversy. I think that’s just pure lack of imagination. We can picture ourselves (or our 13-year-old sons and daughters) in the act sexually when it’s a real breast, but are too imagination-challenged to see “baby bottle” and think “blow-up doll.”

Maybe it’s because there aren’t too many pictures of blow-up dolls on fashion magazine covers. Or maybe—just maybe—everyone’s forgotten what breasts are for. There are plenty of orifices—mouth, nostrils, ears—that have little sexual connotation. There are many protrusions—ankles, nose, knuckles, knees—that don’t either. This doesn’t mean, of course, that kissing the mouth or tickling the knee cannot be erotic. It just means that we aren’t fixated on it, because we’ve more often experienced the mouth and knee in their functional rather than sexual context.

So the real problem isn’t this picture, but all the pictures that came before it. The swimsuit issue, any picture on the cover of Vogue, Angelina’s hot spreads, and, well, damn anything on television from Good Morning America to Sex and the City. The sexual connotation behind everything is so pervasive that we hardly notice it during the beer commercials anymore. We just watch, unconsciously note that it’s all about the sex, and judge anything seen in the future upon that. Including baby pictures.

At the center of sexual connotation are of course, boobs. Guys are a rather explicit lot, and the subtleties of collarbone shape, eye contact, and timbre of voice get lost when the magic nodules sculpt the tank top. So it only makes sense that this picture grossed some people out, because it’s pedophilia on one end, and on the other, yet another woman whose boob is her most photogenic part. So of course it seems disgusting.

But solely because of our own minds, reinforced by the culture we live in. Which is probably the central, if not the most and only, disturbing thing about it.

July 25, 2006

Villainous Language

Filed under: blogging,Humor,navel gazing,News,Uncategorized,writing — secretmojo @ 2:16 am

Many times words don’t live up to the passion that serves them. So when things heat up in an argument, we pull out our Pocket Stalin™ and Insta-Hitler™ and do a wham-bam on our opponents. “Stalinist agitprop,” screeches the mighty Coulter. Then Billmon whips out the Third Reich card. And we all go home happy feeling either that the argument’s been won, or that our opponents are despotic psychopaths anyway, so whatever.

But do we truly take proper advantage of villainous language? Surely Procrustes would be appalled with “Gulag Guantanamo” metaphors when it was he who stretched prisoners to fit the size of their beds. (never mind Stalin, who might just laugh at the ineptitude). Why do we need to summon demons to our cause? Are we dubious that the true horror will go unnoticed by our cold, cold, audience, and pump up the volume?

Stalin’s scoring higher lately, I think, because of the introduction of Godwin’s Law into the netiverse. He fills the leftover need for “genocidal maniac” accusations because yelling Hitler (or even Eichmann) has fallen out of fashion, and frankly, makes a person look crazy. Poor guy, Josef. He could’a been a contender, but he’s reduced to picking up the ad hominem trash behind the master.

Part of the paucity of creative villainous language is simply education. Who the hell knows their Torquemada from their Tocqueville? And who wants to travel back further than the 20th century to get their Fightin’ Dictator Pen™? Genghis knows best what wrath is, but ancient history makes him legend, so should we even care? And all the different kinds of evil dudes—who do you bring up, and in what situation?

Now, we do say “Sadist,” and this is a very nice compliment to the guy who poked holes in people for pleasure, but don’t these truly wicked beings deserve more than the dilution of their names through ubiquitous use? Hell, I can be a sadist nowadays if I tease someone too much. Is this what the sensually debased Count had in mind?

And what of Machiavelli, who now has to answer for office politics? Or Vlad Tepes, the man who brought us the slow-baked impalement of thousands of mothers fathers and babies, who inspired Transylvania 6-5000? Or Goebbels, who’s the biggest fucking liar that ever lived: how does he like it getting compared to Karl Rove?

And poor Benedict Arnold. Now he must keep company with all the teenage girls who smiled at their friend’s boyfriend during lunch hour. Heck, his name is so pathetically comic that even the hardcore pundits just say “traitor” instead.

I suppose all these villains shouldn’t complain of their watered-down names. At least they don’t get meanings like “Platonic” — who the hell would want that one? Or “Einstein”, which is used sarcastically as stupid. And worst of all, “Crapper,” who isn’t responsible at all for the word crap, but picked up the residue anyway. Better to be “bacchanalian,” “sapphic,” or even a “sandwich,” I say.

Seems to me we’ve exaggerated so much over the years that even the nefarious originators of the most brutal atrocities in history can’t express our inner pain. Their names’ weakness shows how jaded we’ve become to the idea of gruesomeness. Or, proves how melancholia feels similar to the slaughter of millions.

We either need to be more sensitive, or we need new villains. Now, I’m not advocating another tyrant rise to power and start lopping off heads just so we can get more colorful language. However….

Nah. That’s a horrible idea. Horrible! Positively fiendish. How “Faustian,” ultimately “Pyrric,” yet in some way…“tantalizing.”

July 21, 2006

The burden of belief

Filed under: Literature,navel gazing,religion,television,writing — secretmojo @ 12:48 pm

Continuing in my rabid consumption of Bill Moyers’ Faith & Reason, I watched three interviews that were so packed with chocolately goodness that I could feel my own thoughts converging toward a realization that none of the three addressed explicitly, but which somehow arrived through the subtle nudging of the subtexts swimming underneath these three interviews. Is this not exactly what television should be doing for everyone?


July 10, 2006

The Huffington Post Gives Me a Hunch

Filed under: blogging,free speech,navel gazing — secretmojo @ 7:15 am

Hunches are delicate things; they emerge from your neural net via billions of connections, gathering data from ostensibly unrelated sources—that time when you smiled at someone else and got fired from your minimum wage job. The silent, blank-stare rumbling during rush hour on a packed El train. Once how, when you asked your girlfriend how she spent her time missing you, the minute creep of a sardonic smile twitched her cheeks. These experiences, along with thousands of others, pull your neurons closer to a concept (new, vague, and nonverbal), then wait in quietus. Wait for the moment when it’s time to recognize. Then it materializes, this hunch, but only as a whisper; hunch-making is not your main job, so these atrophied muscles scream at a faint whisper, as if dying of dehydration.

Hunches are important, because they’re gathered by a brain that’s smarter than you. If you tried to consciously calculate the source of a hunch, you would fail: you simply would not have enough mind to recount the flavor of a thousand different memories spread across time. For all practical purposes, hunches may as well come from nowhere. And as maverick outsiders intruding on the normally linear travel of your mind, they will be ostracized, if you’re not careful.

Because how many times have you been wrong about a person? A movie? A dark shadow? Hunches and prejudice feel much alike: both have little logic, and come from the land of As It Pleases Me. But hunches, unlike prejudice, reveal truth. Not precisely, and definitely with no facts to back it up, but nonetheless tip you off to Truth you daren’t consider before.

Telling the difference between hunch and prejudice is so difficult that hunches nearly always die in the logical fist of your rational mind: “that’s just silly,” you say to yourself. And indeed, it is. This does not make it untrue.

When I do have them, I have good hunches. This is bragging, I know. But if I tell you that my hunches are so-so, what need do they have to come around again? I will admit: the tough part is telling a real hunch from a “feels like” one. Especially when a hunch fits so nicely within my hopes and fears that I am skeptical at the outset, because the hunch comes so well represented it might just call itself “wishful thinking.”

But I am blessed with hunches that are nags. I don’t know why this is. I brush them away from my face, and within hours, they come buzzing by my ear again. Everybody knows the experience of learning a new word, and by that, hearing it ten times in one day. My brain discovers a new hunch, and I will hear it for literally weeks.

You should know that my mind is an alien landscape, a badlands where no hunch should survive. A fourth-dimensional map of a billion unrelated things, seasoned by delusions of grandeur, invented futures, embarrassing pasts, and musings on quarks, lucid dreaming, or telepathy. So to get any thought to return and bother me again is extremely difficult, unless I write it down. Or it’s something rather shameful in my past, which will always nag me.

So when I tell you that I get a hunch, this means that it has developed, marinated, and decided to stick around, despite the chaos up here, and won’t leave me the fuck alone.

Back in 2002, I had myself a hunch. It was about the impending Iraq war. Hunches grow obvious in the greenhouse of time. So my hunch sounds silly now. I don’t even want to mention it, but I will: I suspected the president was selling the war too much. Then, “selling the war” was not in my vocabulary. And all data came from the top down, so no facts and zero countrymen were on my side. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking that this war was not like Afghanistan, because Afghanistan didn’t require months of explanation.

I dismissed my hunch immediately on the basis that many years ago I protested against the first Gulf War. I did this enthusiastically, but I have to admit childishly, because I wanted to be a part of “fixing the world.” So I doubted my 2002 hunch instantly.

Furthermore, by the eve of Gulf War II, I was still not politically vocal by any of my current standards; I was a slouch potato, considered George Bush more “presidential looking” than Gore, and was a nice, gullible target for any politician boisterous and articulate enough to promise grand things.

My hunch had tall odds.

But it nagged and nagged, I eventually bought it, and it was proved right. Whatever you think of the war, surely no one can doubt how forcefully they tried to sell it.

But this is not the hunch that I address today. My Iraq hunch is wind through the trees now. The zeitgeist has changed; I no longer get accused of spitting on the troops for being appalled by the war. My hunch served me, but it’s time for new, smaller hunches I suppose.

No, the hunch I present to you today, totally baseless and without any facts, regards the moderation of Huffington Post comments. Yes it sounds silly; would it be a hunch if it didn’t?

I’ve been a comment junkie over there of late. Primarily because I believe the comment discussion has become dominated by thought-free herd think, and needs a little shaking up, but also because it seems I’m a better commentator than a poster—I think this is because I feel I have more stake in a post than in a comment, so I bind up, but let’s not get into that for now.

My rules for commenting are simple. If I do not have anything new, interesting, or funny (as I see it) to add, I do not comment. When I comment, however, I will try to be as honest with myself as I can. In other words, I give my real opinions, not opinions pre-chewed for public (nor “progressive”) consumption. I do not swear (god, that’s hard to curb), don’t call people names, yet make every attempt to leave a lasting impression. If I disagree with a “progressive,” I make sure that they know I disagree (I have occasionally been mistaken for a right-wing spammer because of this). All in all, between the “christonazi”, “defeatist traitor” and “you’re a crybaby” posts, I think mine stand out as voiced with thought and passion in them. Or so I hope.

Trouble is, I could not comment recently. More accurately: I could comment, but my comment would not appear. This has happened before.

The first time it happened, I felt (here was that hunch coming in) as if I’d said something too saucy. Maybe I put my words in the wrong order, and it was perceived as an attack on HuffPo itself, I thought. So I reread my comment with this perspective, and began noticing every other word as dangerous. Could she take that wrong? Certainly teasing Mr. Hitchens doesn’t qualify as ad hominem, does it? I concluded after this brief session that in fact I’d been entirely insensitive and mean to the blogger, and feared I’d get my IP banned.

The comment appeared later. Apparently the moderators were busy.

But: why the fear? If you read any HuffPo comments, there’s no shortage of disrespectful name-calling or seven-page off-topic spam retaliations, of which my comment was neither. Besides, the site is all about free speech, so it’d be in their interests to allow as many comments through as possible. So it was “silly” that I had this hunch in the first place, right?

Well, I had that hunch hit me again today. I submitted a relatively long comment about the the strategy the Democratic Party should take. No name calling, no swear words, no attack on the author. Just some criticism of talking points.

It didn’t go through. An hour later, I checked; it was as if I didn’t push the button.

So I started freaking again: is it because I had a rather spicy discussion about the Iraq war a day earlier with a Canadian? Is it because I used the verb “b***ch” (asterisks included) in a short comment elsewhere? Could it be because I comment too damn much, and there’s a limit attached to my account? What could it be?

All of it silly. Again, why the HuffPo would champion censorship is beyond me. But the hunch keeps nagging me. I don’t feel this way with any other blog on the planet: I know that if my post doesn’t go through, it’s because of technical difficulties, not because of censorship.

So why the suspicion with the Huffington Post?

I think I can explain. Though only partially; since hunches do million-node work, it’s hard to keep up.

The Huffington Post is a collection of artists, writers, poets, pundits, scientists and generally any smart and successful (and yes, progressive) guy/girl with street cred who’d like to have a blog. Now, in order to get people like David Mamet or Christopher Durang to submit to the idea of slinging their words against a wall to get them pissed on, you must promise civility, respect, and worthiness of the deed. This is where moderators come in. They try to guarantee a culture of dignity in the comments that obviously can’t be achieved by letting the system fly wide open, nor by allowing their sometimes very zealous readers to vote on which comments are decent and which are not. The Huffington Post has decided that humans—specifically, hired moderators—alone can make the decision requiring nuance, perception, and balance.

However, on the comment policy page, the rules to me feel draconian. Perhaps this is just my hunch rearing its head, but a) requiring an account, yet b) banning by IP address reveals an extra level of fear on the HuffPo side, as if they may lose the talent they worked so hard to woo.

Of course, I have no proof. And in fact, my hunch does not say whether or not political censorship is taking place, nor does it tell me that HuffPo deletes those with unfavorable (or in my case, ubiquitous) personalities. But it does whisper that HuffPo is struggling with a comment problem now—for some reason, they’ve removed the “best of” click, which previously allowed you to showcase the good comments by voting for them. My hunch also tells me that those moderating the comments, or those devising the system, have waning patience. Perhaps they truly do risk losing some choice talent because of the silliness of the comments—they certainly risk lowered impressions of the Post itself—, and are tempted to take action to stop this.

I have no doubt that it’s in HuffPo’s interests to screen more vigorously the comments that appear after David Mamet’s blog post than after a news item. My hunch tells me that the crazies seem to come out (or are allowed to come out) more on the external news stories anyway.

Again, I have nothing to back any of this up. But why do I feel like I have to watch what I say, how I phrase it, and who it may tick off at the HuffPo, but nowhere else? Why do I hope for some kind of “flag” in my account that tells me when I’m being abusive, or a page that shows up when I click “submit” that tells me I’ve been banned, so I can find if I’m doing anything wrong? I mean, I don’t know the culture over there; maybe I’m saying insulting things and don’t know it.

And why has this come back to nag me again and again?

So my hunch is, as I distill it: The Huffington Post is internally struggling with a way to tame the comment circus, and will occasionally overreact. They wish to shield their talent from harsh, hateful words, and perhaps some of the talent has voiced a disdain of reading comments to their posts. So moderators have gotten more aggressive, and scrutinize perhaps to the point of seeing something where there is nothing, and temporarily mark an IP for abuse that probably didn’t deserve it.

This atmosphere, through a couple more snafus and the help of stupid people, could change the HuffPo into what Barbelith has turned into, which is a closed community of people who must be invited to participate. I stuck around there for a while, but I would recognize during a discussion some omissions that should have been addressed, but was powerless to contribute without going through a screening processes. Therefore, I read each topic feeling it’d never be fleshed out to my liking; and eventually stopped reading altogether.

It’d be a shame for HuffPo to turn out that way, but it’d be their right. My hunch suspects they may go this way, at least partially, in the future.

Nothing to back this up. Just tellin’ the hunch like it is.

July 9, 2006

CleanFlicks, and the proud tradition of elective ignorance

Filed under: movies,navel gazing — secretmojo @ 10:26 am

Yesterday, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that CleanFlicks, a company specializing in censoring films and redelivering them to its customers, was breaking the law. This issue has been simmering (and boiling) for quite some time—since 1998!—and more thorough information is available at The Director’s Guild of America site, and some video is available at AMC.

Here’s the lowdown: CleanFlicks, a Utah company, started in 1998, providing a DVD modification service to more prudent customers that would silence curse words and skip past outré scenes in order to keep their southern sensibilities in tact, so to speak. This is conceptually no different than TNT overhauling Sex in the City for basic cable consumption.

But the trouble was, CleanFlicks sought no advice from the studios or directors producing these films; they simply made the executive decision to create modified versions for customers who bought DVD players capable of reading the “censor track” as it were. Note: as far as I can tell, customers renting these DVD’s knew what they were getting. I don’t think the censoring could work without the player bought by the customer.

Now, here’s the issue. Legally, this is a copyright violation, because CleanFlicks was, erm, “adding value” to a movie by changing it, and making a buck off of it, without telling the creator. The court ruled as much.

Morally, it’s clear that if a company wishes to sell dumbed-down versions of movies to willful customers, they can do it, as long as they don’t defraud their customers, and as long as the studio agrees to it.

Politically, however, is where this case shines. CleanFlicks didn’t just operate out of Utah; it sent its edited videos all over the country, including California, Michigan, and other states.

Furthermore, CleanFlicks was audacious enough to be the first to file suit against the directors. On what grounds? To determine if what CleanFlicks was doing was legal.

In other words, it was a publicity stunt. They could have continued on for years (and in fact they did, since 1998), negotiated some kind of editing scheme with the studios, but instead chose to make a political point about it (this had some effect upon Dubya, who signed the Family Movie Act which legalized their technology), and as reward saw their business come crashing down. Today they frame it as a “David and Goliath” story.

Except in this case, David goaded Goliath into a fight, then David lost. Also: no rocks were thrown, no flesh-eating threats were made, and David beheaded no one, because CleanFlicks “sanitized” all those icky parts out.

But all of this brings me, finally, to elective ignorance.

I myself engage in much elective ignorance; I will not watch television unless by mistake, or forced to, for example. I do not know any of the American Idol contestants’ names. I no longer read right-wing blogs, because vomiting every two minutes has taken a bit of a toll on my stomach.

But how much elective ignorance is too much? If I do not want to see someone’s head get chopped off in a movie, and go so far as to hire a company to remove the yuck for me, is this me “denying reality”, or “sheltering myself”? Do I have to watch the whole torture scene (including the fingernail stubbornly sticking to the guy’s cuticle) to keep my street cred? Do I really have to read The Drudge Report? (Please say no, Please say no…)

What if I elect to be ignorant of politics altogether? The chumps are out to get you anyway; why get red in the face about it? Why know the 3 branches of government, when as far as I can see it, they’re Screwy, Patooey, and Chimp?

Or what if I elect not to know what my friend is doing behind my back, because I am afraid of betrayal and shame?

Is there, in fact, a proper line? I can imagine remaining fully ignorant of everything on Earth, and touting this as “purity of mind.” I’d be a stupid knob, but if I tweaked it properly, could feel like an anti-genius genius. I know some people who attempt to keep themselves “purely American” this way. Ick.

Sufficed to say, if it makes you dysfunctional, then that must be where the line is. If you ignore your lover’s obvious affair to the point of helping him/her select lingerie to wear while you’re gone “just for kicks,” well that’s darn dysfunctional, and you needs some schoolin’. So perhaps the rule is: if you need the knowledge to be a better person, but chose to walk past it, then this is bad.

Non-elective ignorance is another story. What a person doesn’t tell me counts as non-elective ignorance. For example, I remained ignorant of the President’s cocaine use for quite some time, until one day through a particularly circuitous route, I stumbled upon a book review that mentioned it. But there’s a grey area, isn’t there? What if I do not read encyclopedias, or tend to browse only one section of the bookstore (or the web) any given day? Clearly, I am acting in such away that I increase my ignorance of the aisles I don’t go down, but it can’t quite be said that this is elective (besides, I’m gaining deeper knowledge down my well-treaded aisles, aren’t I?). Furthermore, there are only so many hours in a day; does this mean that if I spend it hanging at the beach instead of seeking out new things, that my ignorance quotient increases?

I don’t have an answer for that. I’m just sayin.

If someone calls you ignorant, this is an insult. But we are all ignorant of something. I had no idea that déjà vu had sub-categories until just a few days ago. Boy, was I ignorant back then.

It’s a matter of degree, and who you hang out with, I guess. In some circles (I won’t mention them: electively keeping you ignorant) I am the smart guy. In others, I’m a dumb fucking rock. I can tolerate the former, because it strokes my ego, yet also the latter, because I’m getting a free class. But it is frustrating on both sides, because I have ideas too big to impart on the one, and too juvenile to explain to the others.

Ideally, I’d rather not be ignorant of anything. Except historical dates. I hate those things. But like I said, there’s only 24 in a day. So I’m starting to (unintentionally) build myself a themed groove based on my interests. Particularly around politics, but also in — oh, hell. I wont tell you about that stuff til later. I should be shaking myself up a bit: reading a little “how to garden” or “seduction for dummies”, or merely driving off to a place I haven’t been before and introducing myself to a random person. But I can’t bring myself to it: my elective ignorance blanket is just too comfortable, too familiar. And I suppose I’m a little afraid of what I’d see on the other side of the wall.

Seems like that’s where the line should be drawn regarding elective ignorance. If you’re afraid of new topics, or feel bothered by the mental effort they require, then you are becoming an ignoramus.

Holy shit, I’m an ignoramus.

Man I was so ignorant two seconds ago.

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