Friday, September 16, 2005

At Least They Got John Lennon

So I am hopping on my bike for my daily commute, and Joey is there at my side to see me off.

"Joe, do you think when you're grown up, and you have to go to work, you'll ride your bike to work."


"Why not?"

"I'm not going to work."

"Where are you going to go?"

"To the basement."

"What are you going to do in the basement?"

"I'll be in my laboratory making potions."

I am unique in having a son who aspires to be Grampa from the Munsters (without ever having seen the show). No doubt he'll be making potions for an oafishly large son-in-law.

And while we are on the subject of fathers and sons, I read in the paper today an excerpt from a book by John Lennon's first wife, where she describes him hitting her pretty hard on one occasion and walking away without a care in the world. It reminded me of a movie I once saw - it was a documentary on father/son relations made by a guy as he travelled the world with his father. At one point they got to iterview Julian Lennon, and he says quite frankly, and I am paraphrasing, that it was quite odd having a father so beloved by the world and considered to be such a lover of humanity, who was nevertheless a total ass as a father.

It also reminded me of a favorite Vegas Heavy-T story, when he was a freshman at Georgetown. A bunch of people in the dorm were sitting around in a classic bull session, ostentatiously displaying their moral seriousness and emotional correctness by expressing the right level of dismay over those lights of the world taken from us by the assassins gun - MLK, RFK, JFK, and any other person with K as a last initial. Heavy-T, after sitting quietly through the discussion, stands up and says, in reference to the assassins - "at least they got John Lennon," and walks away.

Of course it is no coincidence, in my mind, that a self-professed lover of humanity was a prick as a father. More times than not, those who see themselves as great humanists can't seem to grasp the possibility of loving an actual human; loving humanity in the abstract is comparatively rather easy. Because for these people love is a feeling, a sentiment; and as the poets of the world, they are naturally those with the most refined and admirable sentiments. The problem comes when one defines love as needing to be expressed as continual selfless action, rather than remote and fleeting sentiment. It is there that the John Lennon's of the world tend to fail miserably, because they love nothing over and above themselves.

Another famous intellectual in this genre is the recently deceased Arthur Miller, author of Death of a Salesman and the Crucible, where he exposed us anti-Communists as a bunch of Salem witch-hunters. He was, according to the NYT obituary, our foremost “Playwright of Conscience.” Evidence to this effect is provided in the following, which I copied long ago from the Arma Virumque blog:

I wonder how many of those who champion Miller ... noticed this letter by one J. Stephen Lang in the May 23 number of National Review. Citing Martin Gottfried's Arthur Miller: His Life and Work, Mr. Lang writes that

Though clearly sympathetic to its subject, Gottfried's biography speaks of a matter that the liberal press overlooked in its flood of Miller praise. By his third wife, Inge Morath, Miller fathered Daniel, a son born with Down's syndrome. Regarding Daniel, Miller told his agent on the phone, “He isn't right. I'm going to have to put the baby away.” Daniel was put in a home for people with Down's syndrome and lived out his life there. Inge visited him weekly, but Miller never did, even though the institution was near their home. Nor did Miller acknowledge this son in any public way, including in his autobiography. Thus the great moralist of the public eye--the sensitive, socially conscious soul the liberals so admire--seemed lacking in the most basic of human affections. Attention must be paid to compassionate liberals' lack of compassion.


Anonymous Jim O said...

How can a person be bothered with trifles like children and spouses when there are important social problems to be solved?

It's rabid family-oriented Republicans like you that make it difficult for the Dreamers to dream of a better world unfettered by relatives.

Remember, Humanity is wonderful - it's humans that suck.

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Hatcher seems to espouse the creed that anecdote is the singular form of data. A phrase like "More times than not, those who see themselves as great humanists can't seem to grasp the possibility of loving an actual human" argues that more than half of all humanist are really terrible un-loving narcissists.

The Hatcher's implicit maximum likelihood estimate of the proportion of humanists that are pricks would be spot on as long as he adds no more than two other humanist to the sample he uses to make this statement.

I think I'll reserve judgement until I get a little more data.


8:13 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

I would simply add that if we are playing the anecdote game, let's pay some attention to moral conservatives lack of morality such as the numerous Republicans who had affairs while prosecuting Clinton's White House behavior and the string of televangelists in the 1980s and 1990s who were adulters or embezzlers.

Not trying to defend the personal life of Lennon, Miller, or even Clinton for that matter, but hypocrisy is by no means the sole domain of left-wingers.

I might also add, with the greatest due respect to the esteemed Vegas Heavy-T, that most mainstream individuals would not espouse assassination as the appropriate punishment for being a poor father or a hypocritical jerk. Everyone knows that assassination should be reserved for democratically elected Latin American leaders who disdain American foreign policy.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Clupbert said...

Good times Hatch. These are good thoughts. Liberals don't live in reality and it's why I'm not one.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never understood why if a person has talent in the field of entertainment, they somehow become the voice of humanity. Just because John Lennon was part of the best musical writing duo of all time, doesn't mean he knows any more than anybody else concerning the human condition.

The problem is not that the Lennons and Millers of the world express all the politically correct opinions of the day in order to sell a few more records, tickets, books etc. while being total bastards at home; the problem is that we give their opinions any more weight than anyone else's.

On a related note, the one thing that sickened me in the Katrina aftermath was the video footage of celebrities touring the devestation. I just have this vision of agents calling clients telling them to get down to New Orleans to get exposure. I then can see a posh helecopter ride, a quick five minute tour with the cameramen in tow, and a perfect opportunity to talk about the latest project.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

Professor Vic is right--even if Lennon was a phony when it came to being a humanitarian, I can't say I would wish assassination on him, or that I'd make light of his killing. (Saddam or Osama, on the other hand...)

That last anonymous poster wrote, "Just because John Lennon was part of the best musical writing duo of all time, doesn't mean he knows any more than anybody else concerning the human condition...the problem is that we give their opinions any more weight than anyone else's."

IMHO, Lennon & company probably knew LESS about the human condition, since they were living lifestyles of the rich & famous, not eating at Taco Bell or shopping at Wal-Mart or dealing with the problems average folks do.

But WE don't give their opinions more weight than anyone else, THEY do so, by using their celebrity as a platform to mislead (largely unchallenged) or have a voice that your average Joe cannot have. Julia Roberts & Sally Field get to testify before Congress about whatever pet cause they choose, but could Dr. Hatch or Professor Vic? Of course not. Not because Gidget's smarter than Hatch, but because she's famous, for parroting lines from scripts.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fair point about celebrities, but let's not limit it to Hollywood. Limbaugh, Hannity, and Franken, for example, are nothing more than political entertainers. None are trained in political science or public affairs.

Some are good at acting; bizarrely , our culture then allows such individuals to espouse political viewpoints. Rush and Sean are good at talking on the radio
( Al's really not that good at it, although he's more amusing); bizarrely, some segments of our culture consider their political viewpoints to hold authority. And, in the end, they have far more effect on the nation's political discourse than does Sean Penn.


9:15 AM  
Blogger John Wolfram said...

Well I asked my son what he wanted to be when he grows up, and he said "Crime Fighter." So I said "you mean a police officer?" and he said "no, a superhero." Then I asked him if this was new and he said "yes..I used to want to be the head of a mystery crew." You know, like Fred on Scooby Doo.

I didn't have the heart to tell him that you have to be a teenaged meddling kid to be the head of a mystery crew - and that it's really really hard to find a dog that speaks English well enough to join your crew.

When I told him what Joe said, he agreed and said "I'd like to do potions like Joe too, because I think those scientific esperements are kinda cool"

9:54 AM  

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