22 August 2011

The Devil Works in Entirely Predictable Ways: the Existential View of Excuses

Collectively, the majority of internet writing matured beyond one person's rants about his or her personal peeves around 2005. Evidently the same is not true for print as Neil Genzlinger just did that in the New York Times. I must say that I am not a big fan about the Times' recent switch to more opinion pieces (I think the rise of opinion news is proof of the decline of IQ; I digress) but the new Sunday Review has been a mostly engaging section. 

Genzlinger's article might have been amusing if attached to that section and roughly 1000 words shorter but it somehow found it's way to the New York (i.e. local) section of the paper and my feelings are a little hurt. Firstly, this thing is not news, it's definitely opinion. Secondly it's really poorly formed opinions. Nobody likes a terrible busker, but nobody really writes major publication articles about it either. 

Thirdly and mostly I was struck by the author's (how should I call this) immaturity, hubris, ignorance, animalistic denial of intellect? Probably all of those. 

Advocating for annoyances he wished were punishable by fines he wrote:

This woman took five minutes to order a glazed doughnut and rummage around in her purse for the money to buy it. Lines exist for a reason: They give us time to get ready for the transaction ahead. Ms. Clueless shirked her preparatory responsibilities and instead made me late for work[...]

You caught that right? This mystery woman caused our hero to be late for his job. She made him be late. I suppose he just omitted the part of the story where she forced him at gun point to stay in line and miss his train because of some fetish she has for control and high calorie foods, something like a reverse of the story Death by Doughnut.

Okay, I get that this thing is a farce but the attitude it represents is very real and tragic. Yes, tragic, as in really depressingly unfortunate and nearly unstoppable. There is this condition of deniability going around like a commutable virus in an elementary school though instead of sneezing we are saying "not my fault." It's an old existentialist thing going back (at least in my experience) to Sartre. You are entirely in control of yourself and that is all. An example: walking to work this morning you are killed when a tree struck by lightning falls on you. People would argue that was natural an unstoppable and so forth the truth is otherwise. You didn't have to walk to work that way, you know that lightning strikes trees during bad weather and that walking under one is dangerous. Of course we cannot set up our entire lives to avoid all possible iterations of mortality, we would go insane if we tried (paranoid schizophrenia, agoraphobia etc.) which is where the fact that all you can control is "you" comes in. You can accept that there is a slight risk of the tree falling and walk under it anyway and so on and so forth.

Now away from the theoretical stuff and back to reality. The Doughnut Lady did not make Neil late to work. Neil made Neil late to work. If one of my employees came in for a shift and blamed his tardiness on the person in line in front of him took to long to pay (or more often "the bus was late") I would say, "So?" and hand him his write-up. God may work in mysterious ways but everyone knows how the devil works: idle hands, sub-prime mortgages, Four Loko, all instances of people trying to spread responsibility or take none at all.

Before this irrevocably crosses that IHATEITWHEN-rant line we supposedly graduated from in the 0's I'll make the very strict point to be gleaned from this somewhat humorous article. You are in control of your life. Don't read that as just another "carpe diem" tattoo or shitty book turned Julia Roberts movie, realize it as the only truth there is. If you don't believe me, spend an entire day doing absolutely nothing and let me know what happens, write down your goals and then just stare at the list, open your bills and don't pay them; you get my drift.

No comments:

Post a Comment