Discover more from Michael Ian Black
Been taking a break from thinking the last several days. It wasn’t an active choice on my part, but my brain decided to basically tune out everything that wasn’t Scrabble or poker related. As it turns out, there actually isn’t very much that’s Scrabble or poker related, so I’ve had lots of time to be almost entirely empty-headed. It's not a bad place to be, but it doesn’t generate a lot of productive output. That would be ok if I wasn’t so goddamned American. But because I am, any disruption to content generation and value creation feels downright treasonous.
Which is why I have reported to this page.
In fairness to me, there’s not very much happening of import. The presidential race is just kind of beginning to chug-chug-chug out of the station. The UFO beat has settled down for the moment. Apparently, Timothee Chalomet is dating one of the Jenner gals. I know this because there was a picture of them at the US Open. (Also, apparently, the US Open is going on.) The war in Ukraine continues to be the war in Ukraine. And Nik Airball is on a massive downswing.
[There’s no reason for you to know this but “Nik Airball” is the nom de guerre of a young Los Angeles poker player who burst onto the high-stakes scene a couple years ago and has made a name for himself by being splashy and loud-mouthed. For a while, he was “sun running,” which means he just kept winning and winning. After losing a million-dollar heads-up challenge to a guy named Matt Berkey, Airball has been on a months-long losing stretch, which he estimates has cost him about eight million dollars in that time. Importantly, nobody knows where Nik Airball’s money comes from.]
So yeah, you can see where my head is at when I give European land war a sentence and Nik Airball a paragraph.
The American conscience has a difficult time accepting sloth. We are a striving people, a people of doing. Hanging out in the kitchen sipping a third cup of morning tea doesn’t actually do very much. Which can be kind of dangerous: get enough helium-headed lazybones like me and pretty soon the whole thing shuts down. But the longer I live the more convinced I become that doing little-to-nothing might actually be the better way to get through life. Or, let me reframe that: doing little of what you don’t want to do or have a higher reason to do. For example, I didn’t necessarily want to change my children’s dirty diapers, but I had a higher reason to do so (their butts smelled).
It's hard to tease out the necessary from the unnecessary in life. Each of us has things we must do, things we should do, things we want to do, and things we just do. Sometimes it’s hard to know which is which. What, actually, are our obligations? What is mere ritual? How much of our time is spent without thought, reflection, or care? What is “mindlessness” anyway?
To me, there’s two kinds of mindlessness, although I suspect they feel approximately the same. The first kind is true blankness, the mindlessness of the idiot. I don’t mean a clinical idiot (nor am I sure there is such a thing as a “clinical idiot”), but the person that deliberately does not wish to let the intellectual world intrude on the sensory world. This is somebody who flits, moth-like, to whichever flame is brightest at any given moment. Something over there seems attractive so that person goes to that thing over there. I suspect there’s lots of people like this. And, honestly, I don’t blame them. Life is, as Hobbes said, nasty, brutish, and short. Why not devote one’s self to enjoying it to the best of one’s abilities? If that’s the case, the mindless pursuit of sensory pleasure makes a lot of sense. I mean, the difference between capitalism and hedonism is very, very slight.
There’s also the kind of mindlessness which, I think, is the brain just kind of putting itself into receiver mode. Maybe this comes from exhaustion, depression, religious contemplation, maybe drugs. It’s when the Self takes a step to the side for a minute and goes, “I’m going to take a nap.” That’s what’s going on with me, I think. It’s pleasant in the sense that I feel like I’m kind of living in a mental shag fug. At the same time, it’s unsettling because it honestly feels like my brain isn’t working. Like a breaker got reset and it’s unclear who exactly is going to flip it back. I guess I’m just trusting that, eventually, somebody will.
So yeah, sloth. It’s what’s for dinner. My goal is to ride this out for as long as I can without panicking. The third cup of tea doesn’t taste so bad and the kitchen is a pretty good place to enjoy the morning sun. All in all, it seems like a decent way to enjoy the day, if only I could rinse this damned Calvinist guilt out of my mouth. Do something, you slug! And I will, I promise, right after lunch. Or maybe after my post-lunch nap. Or maybe we chalk up today as a lost cause and start again tomorrow. Surely, I’ll feel like doing something tomorrow. Or, perhaps, the day after that.
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