A shout out to the West’s great minds

By Jeff Kubik

“I became aware, as early as my college days, that no opinion, however absurd and incredible can be imagined, that has not been held by one of the philosophers.”

–Rene “solipsist extraordinaire” Descartes

Tell me I’m not the only one.

Tell me I’m not the first to have finished reading Descartes’ Discourse on Method and reflexively gagged at the self-satisfied banality of a philosophy iterated thousands of times every day by angst-ridden teenage solipsists in black-wallpapered bedrooms across North America. Tell me I’m not the first to have learned about countless dead Greek, French and German thinkers and screamed, “These ideas don’t belong to these assholes damn it. They’re mine too!”

It’s been said we live in a society constructed as a footnote to the biggest, most obnoxious Greek of them all. A pompous, ponderous erudite whose social predictions fell flat within the lifetime of his most famous pupil whose prize student turned out to be one of the greatest butchers of human history. I want to know that I’m not the only one who extends a vigorous middle finger to Plato and every ivory tower proclamation he made and know that he’s no more responsible for my mind than the cut out pictures of Britney Spears on my sister’s bedroom walls.

In an era where referential laziness can be called post-modernism, where outright parroting can be called homage, I want to know that the ideas pounding through my skull are as much mine as any Elizabethan playwright’s.

Communications theorist Kenneth Burke imagined society as a drawn-out debate in a dank pub, with every human arriving mid-debate, listening and finally engaging without ever really knowing where it all began, leaving without having finished. While it may be true and the vocabulary of our intellect is deter-mined by the mutterings of long-dead pub patrons, I want to know that I owe no greater debt to the self-proclaimed intellectual elite than I do to the grammatical conventions that tie my sentences together and that, moreover, I can break wit’ ’em whenever I dang well please.

Certain ideas have resonance; there’s simply no denying it. Humanity will always be fascinated with the nature of nature, metaphysical conceits and, narcissists that we are, ourselves. We’ll write about star-crossed lovers and we’ll clamour for base, vulgar entertainment. For myself, I don’t want to owe any debt to a culture of philosophical elitism whose followers need to place my thoughts in the context of one great historical footnote. I’m living in a world so full of new information and innovative art that I’m struggling to keep up as it is.

I’m not the only one, am I?

A list of “screw you” shout-outs to famous historical minds:

Plato–May you be trapped in a room of shadows for all eternity.

Socrates–If I had a penny for every vacuous, would-be intellectual who opened with the phrase “The only thing I know is that I know nothing,” I’d be left with a heaping bag full of coins I would use to club you to death, hurting a hell of a lot more than hemlock did.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe–Faust. It took you 25 years to write a series of disconnected episodes with a pat, deus ex machina ending? I despise you.

John Milton–Epic simile is just a literary way of saying too much damned description. Kudos for your description of the Devil and his angels, a heartfelt obscenity for the subsequent 11 books.

Rene Descartes–The reason you could conceive of a Perfect Being is because of your Christian upbringing. It’s just that simple you Cartesian fop.

Henry David Thoreau–Walden was arrogant, poorly written, and you were within walking distance of a town you ivy league wanker.

Every single rationalist philosopher ex-pounding on their social transcendence–You can’t just apply scientific laws to society and hope to gleam objectivity. Shut up. Seriously, just shut the hell up.

What’s that? I can’t hear you through six feet of dirt.

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