Donald Trump and his presidency have unleashed a golden age of bullshit upon the land.
We know for a fact that if Donald Trump — or anyone supporting him — opens their mouth, what follows will almost certainly be a total lie. After 3+ years of living inside this nonstop maelstrom of nonsense and fuckery, you can feel our collective weariness just by walking outside your front door.
We felt it the night Trump “won”. We knew we’d crossed over from the reality we’d all lived in — and taken for granted — to a whole new space where not being able to discern bullshit from reality was the point of the exercise. Look at how long it’s taken the MSM — who spend their lives to digging for the truth (in theory) — to even realize that maybe the reason Trump is so chummy with Vladimir Putin is because Putin owns Trump.
Our MSM still hasn’t gone all the way to that realization — but they can see it from their houses. That’s a huge improvement.
We all endure and even tolerate staggering amounts of bullshit in our lives. Never mind other peoples’ bullshit — if we all looked squarely at our own and nothing but, we’d have plenty of work ahead of us — if we wanted to live bullshit free.
The 4 Levels Of Bullshit
Level 1: Incidental Bullshit
- Your 5 year old asks if there’s Santa Claus; you say yes.
- It’s 6 am. You have to get up. You don’t want to. “Five more minutes,” you tell yourself – you won’t be late. Bullshit – you know damned well you’ll be late. You do it anyway.
- “One more spoonful of ice cream won’t matter to my diet/diabetes.”
- “Why did you look at me funny when I took one more spoonful of ice cream?”
- “Have a nice day” (no matter who says it, no matter why).
Incidental Bullshit is water off a duck’s back. Life’s just too short to get too hung up on this kind of low grade truthiness. It’s petty mostly. Meaningless and forgettable. However: This is the ‘shit’ that ‘happens’. It just does. What are any of us going to do about it? Nothing. Moving on…
Level 2: Tolerable Bullshit
- Your 10 year old – who’s starting to figure things out – asks if there’s a Santa Claus; you say yes.
- Your bff always brings a bottle of red wine when she comes over – except you drink white wine. What kind of guest is that? You could say something, but you don’t; you’ll keep the peace instead.
- You both know damned well whose turn it is to clean the bathroom – but you do it better anyway, so…
- “I love you” said under duress.
Tolerable Bullshit will challenge you occasionally – is it actually tolerable? Small doses – no problem. More than that? It could easily start to feel just like bullshit.
Level 3: Red Flag Warning Bullshit
- Your 20 year old asks – for real – if there’s a Santa Claus.
- “I don’t have a drinking problem.”
- “My phone’s battery died. No, really – I swear it!”
You know it in your gut – it ain’t right. It doesn’t add up or it just plain smells. This is the bullshit that leaves a mark – or worse. Deal with it now – you’ll probably be okay. Ignore the warning and this bullshit will likely morph into –
Level 4: Utter Bullshit
- “I alone can fix it.”
- “No collusion.”
- “I don’t deserve to be here”
This is the stuff that kills. It changes lives forever. And it’s bullshit.
My worst example of utter bullshit was believing it was my fault that I was sexually molested when I was 14. I kept that secret for 45 years — denying it even as it ate at my insides every day. That secret — and even keeping it was bullshit — came within literal inches of killing me.
My bullshit became so convincing that I honestly thought no one would care if I died — that the insurance money would eventually assuage my family’s deep psychic would. Talk about utter bullshit.
We live in an atmosphere that’s equally toxic. We have grown adults refusing to acknowledge what more and more Americans understand is horrifyingly true — that Russia has taken over this country. Evidence of treason and obstruction of justice and election fraud and treason ffs mounts every day. It is bullshit on steroids to deny what mountains of evidence make damningly clear.
Who the hell wants to live like this?
Except a Trumpian, I mean…
Cut to the end of the chase: even the smartest people you know have a taste for bullshit – their own.
We all believe things that – if we actually had to back them up – we’d realize how silly we were for saying such things out loud (never mind actually believing them). We might even realize our problem’s much worse: bullshit has taken over most of our lives.
That ain’t bullshit.
I was watching the football club I follow – Tottenham Hotspur – play horribly again this morning. With ten minutes to go, they were down 3-0 to a team they should have thumped. Spurs lost earlier this week 7-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champion’s League. With ten minutes to go – and defeat a dead certainty (in a week we’d been outscored 10-2 FFS!), I still experienced a moment where I thought “Hey, we’re Spurs, we can still do this!”
No, we couldn’t – and we didn’t. We couldn’t get the ball past midfield. We’re in a mental freefall as a team. That’s the Truth. It’s bullshit to think Spurs can win anything right now.
But, for a moment, I tried to convince myself that they could. I tried to bullshit myself and I succeeded.
Bullshit is Hope’s evil twin. Just as Hope is aspirationally positive, Bullshit is aspirationally negative. It’s a lie easily thrown together, easily tossed off and easily forgotten – especially when new bullshit is created to replace the old. It’s the sausage factory from the seventh ring of hell.
And yet, damned if Bullshit Brand Sausage doesn’t sell.
For a lot of us, the addiction to bullshit starts early – with our “religious education”. That’s a non sequitur. You can learn about religion, but to be educated IN a religion is to be fed a diet of pure, unadulterated bullshit. Religion, mind you, is entirely different from spirituality.
Spirituality is the ineffable essence of the awe any human feels as they gaze up at the cosmos and tries to see how they fit with it. With the pure fact of “being”.
Religion is rules & regs. It’s crowd control. It’s the perverse corporatization of spirituality: an institution invents a “way” to spirituality – through them, through following their rules. Followers may flirt with spiritual experience but it’s always within the context of the religion’s rules. Any spiritual experience outside those rules? It’s heresy. You’re allowed the church’s definition of “spiritual” and not your own.
Funny irony? Jesus himself preached AGAINST having a church. He taught his followers to speak directly to god. No need for the Temple, its authorities or priests.
And no need to tithe any church either. Just “Do Unto Others”. It’s that simple.
How many American Christians “do unto others”? Not many (relatively speaking). Most are “church-goers”. They’re not followers of Jesus. They’re in it for the “exclusivity”, the clubiness. They like the mythology, too. They like the magic behind it because the magic says they’ll never die.
Magic is sparkly bullshit. It’s no more real just because it glitters a little.
The Truth is we’re all going to die. There’s no escaping it. There’s no proof of any afterlife. None. To insist that one might exist is simply magic forcing itself upon you.
It’s me thinking Spurs could come back from three-nothing with minutes left when all the evidence said they were already in the locker room, their heads hung low.
If ever one word captured the age we live in — it’s “bullshit”. And could a man embody & epitomize bullshit any better than Donald Trump?
Shameless plug first — I just finished (and I’m agent-shopping) a book: How To Live Bullshit Free (And Other Showbiz Tales). It’s a painfully funny, brutally honest, name-dropping Hollywood memoir. I’ve had an unusual career (you can IMDb me here) that’s given me the chance to work with some of the most talented people in The Business. It’s also a “why you shouldn’t kill yourself” book (I came within inches of committing suicide three days before Christmas 2016 — or, as I like to think of it, I came within literal inches of bullshitting myself to death.
As I began to healthy in the aftermath (thanks to a great therapist, a mood stabilizer to cage the depression — it all flowed from a sexual assault at 14 I had buried — and loads of THC to mitigate my hypomania), I saw the myriad ways bullshit was still kicking my ass on a daily basis.
The first thing you have to do — to get bullshit out of your life — is to acknowledge all your own bullshit first (you have to deal with yours before you can even think of dealing with anyone else’s). And the first thing you’ll find, when you begin to deal with your bullshit, is how completely bullshit has destroyed your perspective. Bullshit, like depression, reduces your view of the world to an extreme telephoto lens — dialed in on one thing (how much you hate yourself, say) to the exclusion of everything else. Both destroy perspective until all you can see is your bullshit — and your bullshit is lying to you.
So — what can one do to become the alpha dog in one’s relationship with one’s ownb bullshit? Understand — calling out the bullshit in your life is not a one-n-done project. Bullshit is like herpes. It never really goes away. You manage it at best. But you have to manage it. Every day – or it’ll metastasize from herpes into something a hell of a lot worse.
HOW TO LIVE BULLSHIT FREE: THE DAILY 7 STEP ‘TO DO’ LIST
1 Get Perspective
2 Be Clear on What Is and What Isn’t
3 Keep Perspective
4 Refuse to Engage With Bullshit (It’s Pointless)
5 Own Your Own Bullshit First (Own It All Every Day)
6 Maintain Perspective
7 Wake Up Tomorrow and Repeat
If you look at how the list is structured, one thing kind of leads to another. Nothing on it is intrinsically difficult – unless you try it in isolation. The daily hunting and pecking at bullshit is a grind. You see a lot of familiar faces: your bad habits for instance – they’re bullshit. Bad habits you know you can break (and should) are bullshit on steroids. Those are the ones that trip easily into Red Flag Warning territory. There’s a reason they’re habits despite the fact that they’re bad.
The getting, keeping and maintaining of perspective are all a matter of pulling ‘the camera’ back as far as you possibly can. Are you seeing the biggest picture? Sure you can’t pull it back just a little bit more? Remember – bullshit eats perspective.
If you can master that – seeing your circumstances in their fullest context – it may not make you happier, but you’ll know exactly what stands between you and happiness. You will always know where the bullshit is in your life – and which bullshit you can live with and which you can’t.
We all get obsessed with songs. That’s the whole point of writing a song, I guess. To get everyone who hears your song to be unable to get the song out of their heads. Sounds mighty powerful. I wouldn’t know; I’ve written lyrics to songs but the melody part — the actual point of the exercise — is way outside my skill set.
I’m throwing down here a couple of songs — one recent, one not old but not the artist’s most recent work, — that are always playing somewhere in my head. If I hear them out here in reality, I will stop whatever I’m doing to hear the song out. I’m that smitten.
Go on — take the plunge. Get infected…
First — I have been a Marina Diamandis fan from the moment I first heard/saw the video for her “I’m Not A Robot” (as part of her “band” Marina & The Diamonds). I turned my daughter onto Marina, too. Among the things I respect about this artist is the fact that she’s got a lot on her mind. Even the way she approaches relationships isn’t from the “you hurt me, now I’m angry” rack, it’s from the whole “Relationships are damned complex” store. “Forget” is a shining example — off her album Froot — filled with great songs.
Second — Vampire Weekend’s “This Life” off their just released Father Of The Bride. The whole album is brilliant. “Harmony Hall” is on the verge of becoming another permanent fixture in my head. “This Life” is a perfect combination of jaunty tune with deeply ironic lyrics: “Baby, our disease, is the same one as the trees, unaware that they’ve been living in a forest”. There’s a drumbeat under the line “Oh, Christ, am I good for nothing” that has the distinct feeling of one pounding one’s hands into one’s head in angst — all while unable to resist the urge to dance. That’s a great song.
Now, I don’t mean EVERYONE in the Main Stream Media. But ALMOST everyone. We shouldn’t be here — at the precipice of our Republic going down the toilet because of Republic-ans.
If we don’t pull this back from the brink and an honest history of our times never gets written, the story will never be told of how a foolish notion — that “both sides do it” — was the basis for the complete and utter failure of the American Press to uphold their Constitutionally mandated duty to be the final check on power. We need to know where this ludicrous need for false equivalence comes from. That’s what “both sides do it” is — it’s the Mother Of All False Equivalences.
It’s like saying Bernie Madoff is a thief — he’s a rich guy who stole from other rich guys. Jean Valjean (fictional though he is) stole bread because people were hungry and needed it. Poor guy. See? Both rich guys AND poor guys BOTH “steal”. Both sides do it.
Never mind proportion or perspective. Both sides do it.
This ludicrous idea has sailed past abstraction and now sits like a giant dodo bird atop American journalism — holding it down while death circles overhead like crows in a Boschian hellscape. Sight unseen it gives every piece of information (true or untrue) equal weight. A lie by Donald Trump has equal weight to the truth spoken by someone else. They’re both the same. The primo example of how this works and looks — any time there’s a conversation about climate change — and a denier is given either equal time or an equal screen.
Images have a vocabulary. Video has a vocabulary. Two images presented side-by-side in a 50-50 setting are understood to be absolute equals. It might not be what the broadcaster intends but that’s how our brains perceive it. And the name of the game isn’t what you meant, it’s how you were perceived. That’s why schmucks like Donald Trump can shrug off their horribleness as “just a joke!” Suddenly it’s on us for not getting it. For not perceiving what wasn’t a joke as a joke.
We desperately need our press — all of it, every last bit — to see the picture in front of them for what it is. We need them to stop giving the benefit of the doubt to thieves and criminals who are using that very benefit to undermine the press’s ability to ever report The Truth accurately again. We need the press to unbolt the normalcy bias blinders from its eyes and recognize how much THEY THEMSELVES have normalized both unacceptable and downright criminal behaviors. Because actual crime has been committed in their faces — in front of their cameras even — it can’t be a crime: that seems to be their take. They’re wrong about that. Completely and utterly wrong.
And they can’t see it.
As they say in French: “Voila le probleme!”
That won’t end well — for us or for them. Both sides don’t do it. If they did, they’re not doing it now — and that’s more important than anything. However American News Media acquires perspective, they need to get it Amazon Primed to them right bloody now.
We can’t afford for them to let us down.
It sucks that an atheist has to explain Christianity to Christians. But — the fact is — atheists have a perspective on Christianity that Christians intrinsically lack (and can never get). THIS atheist — having perspective — sees a distinct difference between Jesus (the supposed “inventor” of Christianity and “Christianity” (his supposed “invention”).
Oy. Where to begin…
Back in the 1985, Robert Funk (an American bible scholar) created The Jesus Seminar. Funk wanted to promote “biblical literacy” via a “historical-critical” approach that viewed Christian orthodoxy with extreme doubt. Funk wanted the Seminar (composed of about 50 critical-thinking biblical scholars and 100 lay people) to identify (if they could) and draw out a “historical Jesus” from the texts — a man apart from any mythos. While the Seminar was most active in the 1980’s and 1990’s, its work has continued up to today.
The Jesus Seminar concluded that (this is taken from Wikipedia’s page on the Seminar) —
- Jesus of Nazareth was born during the reign of Herod the Great.
- His mother’s name was Mary, and he had a human father whose name may not have been Joseph.
- Jesus was born in Nazareth, not in Bethlehem.
- Jesus was an itinerant sage who shared meals with social outcasts.
- Jesus practiced faith healing without the use of ancient medicine or magic, relieving afflictions we now consider psychosomatic.
- He did not walk on water, feed the multitude with loaves and fishes, change water into wine or raise Lazarus from the dead.
- Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem and crucified by the Romans.
- He was executed as a public nuisance, not for claiming to be the Son of God.
- The empty tomb is a fiction – Jesus was not raised bodily from the dead.
- Belief in the resurrection is based on the visionary experiences of Paul, Peter and Mary Magdalene.
The seminar also concluded that at best we can put a dozen to a dozen-and-a-half sayings into Jesus’ mouth — as things Jesus might have said (vs the self-referential things he almost certainly did not say because it would never have occurred to him).
That means that, effectively, most of what we think of as Christianity had nothing to do with Jesus — and everything to do with Paul who was the one person hard at work creating far-flung churches (among the goyim) made up of goyim. The overwhelming majority of the NT is Paul communicating with and building his church communities. And he’s mythologizing Jesus as he goes — converting “Historical Jesus” into Christian Church Jesus.
Real Jesus despised the “church” (in his world – the Temple authorities). Jesus’ whole message was “You don’t NEED a church to have a relationship with god”. Since that’s the case (according to the Jesus Seminar), then why on earth would Jesus advocate for the creation of a “church” to speak for him? It’s ludicrous on its surface.
Jesus preached a simple message — that’s why it’s endured. Simple & doable. Why, even a humble atheist can “do unto others” without contradicting themselves.
For “Christ’s sake” — following Jesus is incredibly simple (and rewarding). I bet following a church can’t hold a candle to it.