FRANK DISCUSSION: Information is meant to be sifted. Anytime you open up a book, usually at least 60% is garbage. You have to keep throwing that out, shoveling it away, and learn how to spot what’s useful and discern what’s of value to you. A general principle I’ve used is: absorb what is useful, throw away what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.
People make all kinds of statements but I want to see how they live. I want to see how people make theory function in their own lives before I listen to a word of it. Otherwise it’s just lip service, an alternative Hallmark card.
People build up huge banks of tedious responses and information of no use, because it’s easier than having to make decisions and judgments. It’s much easier to be a walking ideology than to have to constantly be aware all the time. The scary question to ask is, “Do I have ideas, or do the ideas have me?” There are thousands of “-isms”: “I’m a hardcore ________ ist”—you fill in the blank! Hardcore amateur proctologist, whatever.
But gut-rage is more important than some concocted intellectual counterattack. Gut-rage because you’re pissed and sick of your job is worth more than the theories of a thousand intellectuals.
R/S: Although one theory can be more valuable to me than a thousand inarticulate fist-wavers.
FD: That’s true. But I mean: when you look around and see all these insipid social relationships; when you see that everyone has bought into all these pallid roles and situations that aren’t even any fun; when you’re surrounded all day by conversation that is totally bland and mediocre: then you can really feel a gut-level rage that makes you want to destroy.
The Situationists said that you can take any truth and turn it into an ideology, and when you turn it into an ideology you turn it into a lie. Just as laws don’t take into account circumstances, so truth is equally transitory; something may be true in one situation, but that situation may never occur again. There’s a Sufi tale where two people were talking about fate, watching a man being hung because he stabbed another. One asked, “Why is he being hung? Because someone gave him money to buy the knife? Because someone sold him the knife? Because he took the knife and stabbed someone with it? Or because he was caught afterwards?” To have one idea about karma or fate is so simplistic.
In most cultures, most people consider murder to be naughty, right? But what if someone had killed Adolf Hitler in 1928? That would have been murder, yet by killing Hitler that person would have saved the lives of six million Jews, plus who knows how many gypsies and various Slavic people!