Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Lie

It's that time of the month again, what with leaving cert results hitting the curve, and places for university being handed out to the next generation of young Irish. There's the usual "this guy got 9 A's" stuff, the lamentation of the horrible economic system, and the obligatory "so you've been accepted into the University of such and such a place" stuff, going on in the news right now. This was also, most interestingly, the first year that Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn brought in the bonus points scheme for Higher Level Mathematics. Well, the effect has been ubiquitous. There is now a distortion of the points system. Not a particularly bright idea to begin with, (using a crane to crush a fly in my opinion) exacerbated by the erroneous idea that everyone has to go to university. Quinn wants 72 percent of the country to go. This is a ludicrous idea. But while silly,  and (that is for another post) what pissed me off is what I call The Lie. It's a well meaning Lie, but it is a damaging Lie all the same.

Let me talk about it. There's a kid I know, hitting the Leaving Cert curve in the next year or so. His parents, Boomer generation of course, have been telling him that he should do "whatever he wants", and that he should "enjoy what he is doing". Now, I can debate that concept when applied to life, and truth be told, if I had something to grab onto, say, a beautiful wife with children, I would be the first guy, filling in all those TPS reports, and wearing the most flamboyant t-shirt on Hawaiian T Shirt Day. If enduring real tedium is courage, then your family, your friends, is what spurs you on, what makes you go for it. But, when applied to getting a degree, this proves to be terrible, terrible advice. The kid wants to study English Literature. Fucking A. He likes reading, good for him. But the thing is, English Literature is not about learning how to read or write. It's indoctrination, plain and simple. He'll be fed bullshit, on why white heterosexual men are devils, the guff on being able to be good at writing reports, the critical theory, Lacan, deconstructionism, Foucault, finding meaning in things that aren't there, but all of that is ok, because he is LEARNING about the Frankfurt School, and he's not a women hating bastard, and he was told, ad nauseum that it will be a hell of a lot of fun for him!  Because, he should enjoy what he is doing, good god. I bring this up, and I'm shot down for being a hater. Guess I was being too crude? Four years later, this kid will find himself "enjoying" the life he has, in a job he didn't want, told to suck it up, told "everyone has to work", in a market that is absolutely hostile to young people. 40 percent unemployment? No availible credit from the banks? Going up against oligopalies that will gangbang your business dry? Being told by entitled overweight people to get on the computer and to man up? Fuck them. Fuck those shits. I hate this sheltering from the storm attitude that boomer parents have. Tell them the truth for fucks sake.

You're walking the tightrope here. You want to live in a cartoon world, yet apply the failed values of your generation onto us. How fucked up is that? Tell the TRUTH. Work is boring and banausic. You're surrounded by fucking idiots who are only there cause they're the niece/nephew/lover of the boss in question. You have to deal with cunts in HR, managers who are carbon copies of David Brent, monotonous chit chat, meetings about lifting chairs, and women with piles talking about last night's X Factor. Work sucks, but what else is there? You'll hate being unemployed as well, kid. You've seen the look I imagine. The one that you see on the street, late twenties skinny fat lad with a nike hoodie who is still living off his parents. The gaunt look on his face. Can't stand it. Perpetual, silence, the horror, the horror. We were meant to create, not to lie down. This kid won't listen, fucking idiot parents.

This fuzzy thinking, ignore all of it. Tell him straight up, and others like him that the degree is worthless, and that guidance counsellors don't know what they're talking about. Tell him that work is boring and more often than not, unfulfilling. Tell him that STEM trade, (but maths is HARRRRDD) or learning a new language is the way to go. Tell him, that hacking the system and leaving it altogether is advised. But perhaps, maybe a part of the reason this exists is because we have options now. Why should I try and do what is best for society, when I know everything isn't puppy dogs and flowers and rainbows and cushions. I will not work for a family that will be fucked over by divorce. I will not work for a fat wife with short hair. I will earn the bare minimum, enough for wine, woman and song. I will not save for retirement, I will be a failure, a screw up, and a loser for doing so. Anyone who screws over a boomer is a winner in my book.

Here's the thing about older people.Older people think that just because they've been on this fucking rock longer than you have, they deserve respect and their opinions are worth shit. They may mean well, but in actuality, they have no fucking idea what is going on on the ground floor. They don't realize that society has changed so quicky, in such a short duration, that their advice is not only wrong, but will lead to you being seriously screwed in every oriface. When they launch into a tirade on their sorry lives, about their butterfaced bitches and how happy they are, that operation that they got on their hip and how they did it, you ignore them of course, sit back, see how wrong they all are, how you don't want to be involved with them, goodbye and godspeed. Only the boomers could create a society where being physically fit is iconoclastic, an act of the most frugal rebellion. And you expect me to pay for them in the future? Smile!
To close off, here's Aristotle on old men: The character of the Elderly Men—men who are past their prime—may be said to be formed for the most part of elements that are the contrary of all these. They have lived many years; they have often been taken in, and often made mistakes; and life on the whole is a bad business. The result is that they are sure about nothing and under-do everything. They ‘think’, but they never ‘know’; and because of their hesitation they always add a ‘possibly’ or a ‘perhaps’, putting everything this way and nothing positively. They are cynical; that is, they tend to put the worse construction on everything. Further, their experience makes them distrustful and therefore suspicious of evil. Consequently they neither love warmly nor hate bitterly, but following the hint of Bias they love as though they will some day hate and hate as though they will some day love. They are small-minded, because they have been humbled by life: their desires are set upon nothing more exalted or unusual than what will help them to keep alive. They are not generous, because money is one of the things they must have, and at the same time their experience has taught them how hard it is to get and how easy to lose. They are cowardly, and are always anticipating danger; unlike that of the young, who are warm-blooded, their temperament is chilly; old age has paved the way for cowardice; fear is, in fact, a form of chill. They love life; and all the more when their last day has come, because the object of all desire is something we have not got, and also because we desire most strongly that which we need most urgently. They are too fond of themselves; this is one form that small-mindedness takes. Because of this, they guide their lives too much by considerations of what is useful and too little by what is noble—for the useful is what is good for oneself, and the noble what is good absolutely. They are not shy, but shameless rather; caring less for what is noble than for what is useful, they feel contempt for what people may think of them. They lack confidence in the future; partly through experience—for most things go wrong, or anyhow turn out worse than one expects; and partly because of their cowardice. They live by memory rather than by hope; for what is left to them of life is but little as compared with the long past; and hope is of the future, memory of the past. This, again, is the cause of their loquacity; they are continually talking of the past, because they enjoy remembering it. Their fits of anger are sudden but feeble. Their sensual passions have either altogether gone or have lost their vigor: consequently they do not feel their passions much, and their actions are inspired less by what they do feel than by the love of gain. Hence men at this time of life are often supposed to have a self-controlled character; the fact is that their passions have slackened, and they are slaves to the love of gain. They guide their lives by reasoning more than by moral feeling; reasoning being directed to utility and moral feeling to moral goodness. If they wrong others, they mean to injure them, not to insult them. Old men feel pity, as well as young men, but not for the same reason. Young men feel it out of kindness; old men out of weakness, imagining that anything that befalls anyone else might easily happen to them, which, as we saw, is a thought that excites pity. Hence they are querulous, and not disposed to jesting or laughter—the love of laughter being the very opposite of querulousness.
Confucius invents a time machine, ends up in 1967 and then kills himself.

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