Philosophy isn’t quite what it used to be; nowadays, we like it with that quick shot of natural heroin known as “laughter.” Mel Brooks more or less codified that approach in “The History of the World, Part I” when he described himself as a “Stand-up philosopher.” Today, we have many, many amazing stand-up philosophers — but Louis C.K. has to be near the top of the list.
The difference between philosophy and mere shilling for laughs is that philosophy has no expiration date; the material is topical, but the message is lasting…enough to seem prophetic a few years down the line. Case in point this five-year-old clip from the master of everyman observation.
[box type=”shadow”]”I think these things are toxic, especially for kids…they don’t look at people when they talk to them and they don’t build empathy. You know, kids are mean, and it’s ’cause they’re trying it out. They look at a kid and they go, ‘you’re fat,’ and then they see the kid’s face scrunch up and they go, ‘oh, that doesn’t feel good to make a person do that.’ But they got to start with doing the mean thing. But when they write ‘you’re fat,’ then they just go, ‘mmm, that was fun, I like that.”[/box]
Proving that he’s a closet Taoist, Loius goes on:
[box type=”shadow”]”You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That’s being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty—forever empty. That knowledge that it’s all for nothing and that you’re alone. It’s down there. And sometimes when things clear away, you’re not watching anything, you’re in your car, and you start going, ‘oh no, here it comes. That I’m alone.’ It’s starts to visit on you. Just this sadness. Life is tremendously sad, just by being in it…”
“That’s why we text and drive. I look around, pretty much 100 percent of the people driving are texting. And they’re killing, everybody’s murdering each other with their cars. But people are willing to risk taking a life and ruining their own because they don’t want to be alone for a second because it’s so hard.”[/box]
Louis then related an anecdote about hearing Bruce Springsteen’s anthemic “Jungleland” come on the radio while driving. As you’d expect of a philosopher, Louis heard something personal in The Boss’ distant howl:
[box type=”shadow”]”And I go, ‘oh, I’m getting sad, gotta get the phone and write “hi” to like 50 people’…then I said, ‘you know what, don’t. Just be sad. Just let the sadness, stand in the way of it, and let it hit you like a truck.'”And I let it come, and I just started to feel ‘oh my God,’and I pulled over and I just cried like a bitch. I cried so much. And it was beautiful. Sadness is poetic. You’re lucky to live sad moments.”
“And then I had happy feelings. Because when you let yourself feel sad, your body has antibodies, it has happiness that comes rushing in to meet the sadness. So I was grateful to feel sad, and then I met it with true, profound happiness. It was such a trip.”
“The thing is, because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away with a little phone or a jack-off or the food. You never feel completely sad or completely happy, you just feel kinda satisfied with your product, and then you die. So that’s why I don’t want to get a phone for my kids.”[/box]
Pretty heavy stuff for a funnyman. But, then again, it’s not exactly without precedent. As Lao Tzu said in Verse 11 of the Tao Te Ching:
[box type=”shadow”]”We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the center hole that makes the wagon move.”
“We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.”
“We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.”
“We work with being, but non-being is what we use.”[/box]
Ugh. Try filling 4 minutes and 51 seconds of the Conan O’Brien show with THAT kind of BS. Is there a “x10” fast-forward button on this thing?