The Robot Gospel: Medicine Is The Best Medicine
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I’ll admit, I thought I was awfully fucking clever to make a link between Sisyphus and dung beetles. However, if I would have thought to take three seconds to Google those three words together, I would have realized that: No fucking Duh! Next you’re gonna tell me that chocolate and peanut butter tastes good together?
Okay. I cop to it. I wanted to make a joke and feel good about myself for making said joke. I was Jonesing for self satisfaction and feeling accomplished and talented. Everyone wants to feel good. Everyone wants to feel like they’ve succeeded at something. I wasn’t telling a lie or being dishonest, per se, I was just trying to coax out a little giggle or knowing smile from those of you reading these.
Hi! Welcome back...
There are different things we all do to try to try to fulfill the self-centered need of fending off the ennui that comes from the inevitability of oblivion. For the sake of being tidy, I myself, try to abide by three principles in living my life. These are the three things that I feel enrich my life and help to keep me on an uncorrupted path of humanity while also contributing to it: Comedy. Art. Truth.
Laughing is a physical reflex that we have as babies. Tickling babies is common and is often used to show physical affection and strengthen emotional bonds. Even a baby will know when they’ve had enough, and trust can be established if the adult can read the cues and stop. A social hierarchy is eventually established that the dominant person can tickle someone weaker.
Kids will try to tickle each other as attempts to gauge social standing among peers. If they are friends, it’s more accepted and not taboo like trying to tickle a stranger. Usually, the one that submits first and wants mutual tickling to stop is the one who is understood to be the lower status subordinate, then. Of course, among friends, there is no consequence for losing that particular struggle, and there may be other opportunities to try to prove one’s mettle once again.
Sort of like Counting Coup, if I wanted to get culturally appropriative about it...
Since everyone in this equation are equal peers, this is a safe exploration of vying for status, because ultimately, no matter the outcome, everyone should return to the same equal status afterwards.
The real show of power in these skirmishes, is to not react at all. To not be ticklish and withstand all finger probing attacks. To show your strength and prove you have no weakness. But that’s no fun! That’s not participating in the game. That’s breaking the premise that power moves — that status can be gained and lost. Sure, that may not be how it is out there in The Real World — you will occasionally come up against obstinate obstacles who will be completely insurmountable — but those people that base their entire being on having and maintaining a high status, and connive and cheat to cling to it, are always the worst people in the world.
I’m not particularly ticklish, but when my kid tries to tickle me, I’ll play along. I’ll even pretend like I am ticklish, but that I’m fighting it by pretending that I’m not ticklish, but she is too powerful and I eventually break. Sometimes, just getting into the mindset of being ticklish will flip a switch and all of a sudden, I start squirming for real. Being open to being in the moment and playing the game — any game — can sometimes turn off the parts of your mind that otherwise hold you back from genuine experiences.
The comedian Pete Holmes has this to say about people who are a “Hard Laugh”:
I don’t know what’s up with those people that will go to a comedy show, sit back, and fold their arms. Waiting to be made to laugh. One of the most common sentiments amongst comedians, is that when they tell someone what they do for a living, the inevitable response that they all dread is: “Oh, then tell me a joke.” Essentially: “Fucking prove it then! Make me laugh, funny man1!”
That’s not how it works…
There has to be a context for comedy. If you’re in a comedy club, you go there expecting to laugh. You go to a funny movie expecting to laugh. You go into these experiences having opened yourself up to allow humor in through your pores. Jokes come out the Joke Hole, and go into the Listening Flaps, and laughs come out the Giggle Cave. You’re receptive to comedy. You’re playing the game, and not scowling with a white-hot puckered anus.
When the surprise of comedy and jokes happen, it’s about setting and then breaking expectations. The reality of the world is established in the setup. Then, the punchline is revealed and there is a revelation — a secret that the listener is now privy to — the joke as a whole has now transformed the expectation of how you saw the world. You laugh, then look back and think: Of course! I should have seen that coming.
Jokes and humor and comedy are the black magick version of tickling, because that reaction is provoked without being touched. I’m not touching you, yet you still laugh. Intangible words permeate your brain and trigger that same infantile jolting reaction of an involuntary laugh. The breath inside of you has been pushed out by an invisible force.
Not everyone is affected, though. That’s the leap of faith one must take when telling a joke, or saying something you think is funny. Not everyone has the same sense of humor, and not all “jokes” are created equal.
Next time, I’m going to go into that a little bit more.
Here’s the song I’m ending with: “Big Hit Single” by Gen and the Degenerates. They’ve got singles, an EP, and videos out, but their debut album Anti-fun Propaganda comes out in February of next year, coinciding with a US tour supporting Flogging Molly. This song is great! And the tiny YouTube rabbit hole I fell down while looking for this video revealed that they have have more bangers, so do yourself a favor2 and check out some of their other stuff.
Or “Favour” if you reside somewhere in the GB, like they do.