Here is the George Carlin interview with Salon.com I referenced in the last post, though here I am only excerpting the part about his willful dissociation from humanity. I recommend the entire interview because it adds more context and perspective. I find it interesting not just because I agree or can empathize with many of his points, but because of its candor, especially in today’s hyper-sensitive, appease-me-and-must-not-offend-anyone-nor-be-truthful culture. Here is his response after the interviewer asked him about his increasingly grumpy disposition over the years:
“….I don’t live angrily. I don’t live with hate. I don’t have any grudges in life. I’ve never held grudges. I’ve never had resentment. I see people who have that and I think, “What a waste of time.” I’ve really never been in a fight… And I don’t lose my temper. I mean, I can get irritated, I can get mad and angry about something, which is a good, healthy thing, I guess, but no. Anyone who’s been around me for five minutes or five years would have to say that I’m pretty even-tempered, and I’m pretty open with strangers and fans and stuff.
The closest I can get to that [anger] is to say that, at some point there leading into the ’90s, I divorced myself from any stake in the human adventure or the American adventure. That sounds kind of pompous so let me just break that down. What I decided was that I didn’t give a fuck about what happens on this planet to these people. I mean, I see the nice things in people, I see the good things, but I also see what a depraved, sick species we are, the only species that kills its own for personal gain.
I’ll go back to square one on this: We squandered a lot of gifts. Human beings were given a lot of great gifts. We were given the ability to reason, this extra-large brain, walking erect, having binocular vision and the opposable thumb, and all of these things, and we had such promise, but we squandered it on goods and superstition. We gave ourselves over to the high priests and the traders, and they are the ones we allow to control us. I think that’s a huge mistake and it’s disappointing to me. Now, the corollary is, America was given great gifts, this ideal form of government, this most improved form of self-government that has ever come along up until that time, and we squandered it. And once again, on the same two things: gizmos and toys and gadgets — goods, property, possessions — and also this country is far too religious for its own good.
So at some point, I drifted away from feeling any allegiance. Abraham Maslow the psychologist once said, “The fully realized man does not identify with the local group.” Boy, when I read that, I said, that’s me. I don’t identify with city, state, government, religion, association, county, organization or species, even. And what I realized was that this feeling of alienation from all that gave me a kind of emotional detachment that was very valuable artistically. To be able to look at things and not give a fuck. To not have a rooting interest in the outcome. I don’t really care what happens in this country. I’ll be honest with you. I don’t give a fuck what happens. I don’t give a fuck what happens to this earth, because it’s all temporal and it’s all bullshit.
…I don’t feel cynical — I feel more like a skeptic and a realist — but, if cynical I am, they have said that if you scratch a cynic you’ll find a disappointed idealist. And that’s a fact. I’m sure that flame flickers.”
I’d say that’s an unpopular set of opinions. If you said that to the average person, even in context, they’d likely think you’re mean-spirited or soulless. Never mind that when the interviewer surmises, “So you’re really just protecting yourself emotionally from caring about a country and a world that’s falling to pieces,” George freely admits, “That’s fine. I can’t help it! I’m human.”
Anyway, that’s all for Day of Cynicism. Hope you enjoyed it.