Monday, April 03, 2006

Hanging on your thumbs...



Capitalist cultures such as ours have no shortage of attention grabbing items and diversions to fill our time. As consumers of this manufactured culture it is easy to feel like our role in it is to pass judgment on the stuff around us. We become thumb wielding Eberts and Roepers and dead serious authorities on the subject of our personal likes and our dislikes. We begin dividing the world into things that are good and bad based on our taste. We are attracted to others who seem to reflect our biases and resistances.

Within this realm there are two important types of reactions that serve as pronouncements of something's badness. They are radically different and best exemplified with an er, example... Let's say two people go to see the latest blockbuster movie from Hollywood which turns out not to be very good at all. Leaving the theater, one asks the other did you like it? "No, it was bad." comes the reply. "Did you like it?" "Yes, it was bad." comes the second reply. Simple enough, seems they both didn't like the movie. But actually the difference between a "No-bad" and a "Yes-bad" reaction is huge and has enormous ramifications on our worldview.

A "No-bad" implies a conscious rejection and a strong resistance to the entirety of the movie or sandwich or idea or whatever. As if to say, That's not going to make it into my well guarded sphere of goodness or "likes". A "Yes-bad" person on the other hand is accepting. They see the flaws and whatever else makes something bad, and they do not resist them. That person might even like the bad movie or sandwich or idea, having seen some good in it or at least having learned a lesson about what makes something less than great or good. Its badness doesn't trip any alarms and the idea of resisting or rejecting flat out seems way too strong to the "Yes-bad" person. They are not defending a sphere of goodness.

My opinion is that the "yes-bad" person has the advantage in our culture since they are less threatened by the world around them, and have less energy invested in "petty" resistances. Certainly this is not true in other places where there are totalitarian regimes of oppression and censorship. In these cultures the "No-bad" person has the advantage, for the act of resisting and rejecting is directly tied to survival and basic human rights and ultimately the betterment of circumstances.

And of course there are instances where resistance is just a plain old good idea, as this pit bull who met a porcupine might attest.

And while we're talking about dogs... A healthy dog tied to a moving cart has two choices: Trot or don't trot. No matter how much the dog may or may not not want to trot, there is no case in which not trotting is less painful than trotting. In other words, the universe is taking us somewhere and our free will gives us the power to resist that course. Usually our resistance is in vain, and it just leads to pain and suffering. But sometimes there is a type of visionary resistance, and this can lead to a snowballing succession of changes that make the resistance entirely worth the pain and suffering. At which point the universe laughs and says, good boy (or girl), and throws us a bone.









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2 Comments:

Blogger Babycakes said...

Ahh, but I see some blinders being put on here, a yearning for every experience to be worth a YES even if your heart says NO. It kind of adds up to a wishful or revisionist world-view if you ask me, not one of advantage. A no-bad person doesn't have to be "threatened" by what they consider an inferior thing, they simply may not like it. I may not like a tripe sandwich form the hospital cafeteria, but it doesn't mean I won't try a tripe sandwich served to me at some nice sidewalk cafe in Florence, Italy. I still may not like it and I probably wouldn't eat it if doing so was causing me to gag. And if I did like it, it wouldn't mean I'd go running back to the hospital cafeteria upon return to the U.S.A. to try that one again. I think you're confusing yes-bad and no-bad with "I want to like it" and "I don't have any reason to like it." I like Fassbinder because he's such a crazy fucker and habitually made movies like some people habitually drink coffee. I don't think his films are very good, but I will say I like them and I have no problem accepting that it's probably because I want to like them because I like the idea of him. He amuses me. As for the tripe sandwich in a hospital cafeteria, I don't think my imaginary resistance to that is "petty," I think it would probably stike me as genuinely bad and not worth my digestion. Sometimes movies feel this way to me as well. Especially if said films circle topics that I find inherently interesting. When presented to me written, acted, shot, cut and released in a manner that feels inferior than the subject matter (and if I have no reason to cut the director or actors some slack) I may just say forget it - I'll wait for the remake, thanks. I was open to watching it, but that about rounds out the experience. It was experienced and the answer was, "No."

1:38 PM  
Blogger salty said...

ouch! great pic of the poor pitbull. my devil dog has had a porcupine beard ten times now but never like that pit. check out my page under 'devil dog' post for pic of her latest porky encounter, most of the quills are inside her mouth as she actually tries to eat the things.

3:57 PM  

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