Friday, 27 March 2009

Critical Mass Gathers Speed

Think of how stupid the average person is,
and realize half of them are stupider than that.

~ George Carlin

When I think about the general stupidity of large elements the general population—the people you see when you go to the movies, or to a public concert, or to vote—I wonder, who are these people? And how the hell do they survive? And why are they breeding in such vast numbers?
But mostly I wonder: how can they live inside their tiny, tiny heads? How little can you know and still maintain an adult existence?
And then I ponder: does intelligence make life better? Does it even help? Is there a point at which it—like height—becomes ungainly, unwieldy, and an awkward imposition to life?

It certainly is prized, and celebrated. But only to a point, and that point is about 22 years of age. Intelligence is then rapidly overtaken by Success, and its minions Determination and Consistency. An intelligent man with no Success becomes, with age, a Fool. There are two buffoons in popular culture, and they are the Hapless Schlub and the Airy Intellectual. The schlub is the target of all modern culture's desire to break with a monocultural, monolithic past, and the intellectual is a parody of our own unwillingness to mix with the groundlings and measly mire of daily detritus.

Perhaps that is the foe of intellectual life: the sturm und drang of meaningless melodrama, and the grinding quotidientry of quislinghood. It is the desire to float free of such earthy bonds that turns the thinker into a clay pigeon for half-hour shows following Shortland Street.

But all this is to reduce the intellectual life into a feudal ivory tower, barricaded against the very farms which support it for fear that contact may prove muddying. It purports a seething mass of humanity, hoi polloi, which plots schemes as dense as clotted cheese. But this is the contradiction that saves: all are swaddled in their own coddling troubles. There is no sense of urgency to rise as one against a meek intelligensia. If anything, it would be pleasingly convenient to dismiss intellectual pursuits out of hand than to connive and contrive.

And now, somehow, I have arrived at this: the stupid wish me no immediate ill; or if they do, they would not enact it; or if they did, they would be too distracted to complete it.

This may be why there is no such term as 'underlord'.

It is a curious place, the inside of my head. My ideas are tightly coiled.

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