“‘Bob’s’ Honest Truth” by Richard F. Yates

“The idea that America (or any country) values individuality as the highest ideal is a cheap myth. Everybody’s an individualist, but they don’t like individuals. Perhaps in simpler times it was true, but no modern industrial deathkulture can really afford a population of unpredictables” (p. 43, The Book of the SubGenius).

I’m guessing for every Emperor Norton (who successfully parlayed his weirdness into a living), there are an infinite number of Joan of Arcs (burned at the stake for hearing “voices”) or Ray Johnsons (driven to suicide by a society indifferent to his artistic work.) What “individuals” need is a way to protect each other without requiring each other to bow to the social pressure to conform—not just with society, but also with EACH OTHER. Unfortunately, iconoclasts can be notoriously difficult to get along with, (leaving them open to persecution by SOCIETY DRONES,) and yet separatist societies where artists and free thinkers band together AWAY from normal folks, never tend to last very long. Ginsberg’s artist colony quickly realized that they didn’t know what to do with all their GARBAGE and it ultimately failed (in less that a few years, if I’m remembering correctly…) Besides, artists SHOULD stay active in their parent culture (unless they are threatened with death), so that shit doesn’t get TOO homogenized and corporate controlled. Individuals PUSH the boundaries and open new worlds.

But there are obstacles—even DANGERS…

Hippie culture, punk, rave, skate culture, even goth—all these movements ended up at the mall, and what that says to me is that MOVEMENTS are doomed to fail, eventually. (Once is has a NAME and a UNIFORM, it might as well roll into the grave.) What we need are PEOPLE doing their own things—free to do their own things—supported while doing their own things. Society needs INDIVIDUALS—even though, as “Bob” says, society don’t like us. The unique voices of individuals DREAM for those who can’t, and at the same time, it is essential that INDIVIDUALS BE WILLING TO HELP OTHERS FIND THEIR OWN UNIQUE VOICES.

Society needs ditch diggers (see the Ginsberg argument above), but that doesn’t mean people need to be COMPLETELY DEFINED by their occupations. Was Bukowski a mail man or a writer? Was Einstein a patent clerk or a physicist? Is “Bob” a salesman or a prophet?

When the Buddha achieved enlightenment, he could have gone on to NIRVANA (or maybe Mudhoney or The Melvins…one of those Seattle bands, anyway), but he CHOSE to return to the PEOPLE and guide the OTHERS who hadn’t yet reached enlightenment. If you’re on your way, take someone else with you. If you don’t know what the f@%k I’m talking about, READ A DAMN BOOK…

It’s always darkest before you turn on the light!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)



About richardfyates

Compulsive creator of the bizarre and absurd. (Artist, writer, poet, provocateur...)
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