Your events mean nothing to me
When one has nothing left make ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them – The Road
I’m skeptical – wait that word is not strong enough, read: see absolutely no point – in a lot of the official ceremonies and rituals that get foisted on people by institutions, (my main experience has been with schools and the government) and I guess by extension just question the value of a lot of the things people are always telling me I’m supposed to do. Note that this is mostly not the scientific skepticism of the intrepid truth-seeker, nor am I a devout challenger of authority – I love authority. In theory it keeps everything running smoothly and in order. I cross the street when the crosswalk tells me to and do what cops say because they are cops and jail is scary. This is primarily a disclaimer; whatever I’m saying here is not the inspired polemic of a voice for individualism and freedom, but instead the lazy and disconnected musings of someone who wants to wear sweatpants at parties because they are comfortable and skipped his junior and senior convocation to watch soccer.
One issue that holds a special place in my heart is that of a work dress code. Both of my first two jobs had a business casual thing going – wear decent shoes, pants, and a nice shirt. What was the point? The first, I was an internet fact checker. I didn’t interact with a single person besides my supervisor, and him I only talked to via email. My group (I hesitate to say team) was away from everyone. Why couldn’t we wear t-shirts? We were as far out of the way and unimportant as could be. Why do you give a shit? Everyone of us could have showed up naked and the only people it really would have affected would have been us so long as we had the decency to wear coats or something past the front desk lady.
Same way with my job sophomore summer, I was a phone bitch for a local copy-machine company, which is just as glamorous as it sounds, and spent all day calling/emailing clients asking them for information we then used to bill them. Considering that, imagine how excited these people were to talk to me! Boy was that job a fucking blast. On the first casual Friday, I showed up in a nicer pair of khaki shorts, and on walking in my coworker Nestor Grullon (anyone named after Homeric kings I try to hang out with as much as possible, and if you don’t get this you were not paying attention when you read Homer) broke out laughing, “what’re you doing with shorts kid?” “Nestor it’s casual Friday…” “Casual is jeans, you can’t wear shorts to work anywhere! What they teach you in that college, kid? Go home idiot.” “This is bullshit Nestor.” I drove home, raging against the man, who wouldn’t even let me wear a good pair of shorts, put on jeans and came back to work.
The following summer I was a file clerk at a very large and impressive law firm in Boston, where I was subject again to a business casual dress code, because I never interacted with any clients. On the one hand, that was awesome because I did not have to wear a suit. On the other hand, says the little part of my brain that likes to think about things, what the fuck do people wear suits for in the first place?
Ostensibly, from what I can see, it’s in the interest of appearing as professional as possible. You wear a good suit (the more obviously expensive the better), your potential clients think that you are professional and are more likely to hire you. Beyond that though? I’m not seeing it, besides the psychic value of knowing that wearing a suit makes you look good. I feel like the marginal impact on intelligence of every added piece of professional clothing is zero. Do you think if Bain or Mckinsey’s people showed up wearing sweatpants people wouldn’t hire them? No, you hire them because they are brilliant, and if everyone at those companies started wearing sweatpants it would probably start a trend. The only difference would be that when you prostrate yourself before them you don’t have to undo as many zippers before you can suck their dicks in hopes of them fixing your problems.
As a corollary to this, any asshole can put on a suit. Suit stores are everywhere. Suits are eminently accessible. I could have bought a suit at any of four stores on my way to work this morning. And in a world where any asshole can put on a suit, it would seem that whatever intrinsic value lay in a suit is totally debased. And given all these facts it would seem that the cult of the suit is mostly just perpetuated to drive business to suit stores and enable business execs to circle jerk each other over how great they look in their suits. It’s a whole lot to do about nothing and the sooner everyone realizes that the sooner they can stop wasting their money on suits and start spending more time focusing on making their product better and less on whether their clothes look nice.
Another example of these false necessities are a lot of the ceremonies we go through, generally serving as rites of passage, e.g. convocation, graduation, etc. I don’t like taking time out of my day to be told I have done something that I know I have done: it’s redundant. Did I need to sit in 95-degree heat last May for 5 hours in order to pick up my diploma? Nope. I did all the work, I know full well I was a graduate. The smart kids skipped and picked that shit up in the mail later. As I said earlier, I skipped the two convocations that actually applied to me (junior and senior year) to watch soccer. It’s their own fault, who expects me to skip a champions league final to wear a goofy gown and hear some guy I’ve never interacted with lie to me about what a great job we’re going to do when we get out there in the real world. What’s the point?
This feeling is mostly derived from a healthy spiritual questioning of what is important. Who are you to tell me that something is important? To extract me from my couch, see me clad in appropriate raiment and at your whim force me to stand attentively to your designs? I’d be more than happy to do whatever you want, I love being told what to do. It gives me a sense of purpose that i can’t give myself. Just give me something whose fundamental purpose holds water – until someone can give me something that I cannot reduce to inane bullshit in a few easy steps, I’d rather just keep laying down and watching storage wars.
I think it has something to do with the time period I live in, which may or may not have fostered my development as a heathen. Every spectacle I have ever witnessed, however noble or profound its origins, has long since become something hopelessly constructed and artificial. Are sports free of this? Hardly. The Olympics is a pale imitation of the Ancient Olympic games, where being an Olympian meant more than just potential endorsement deals and attempts at world records and entry to the quadrennial Olympic village orgy, though that more was naught but fame and a laurel wreath. Now? Massive corporations vie for plum advertising contracts, and anyone not associated with the games in some official capacity gets fucking crucified for putting Olympic rings on their shop windows. How about politics? Less fucking (or at least less good looking young people fucking), change the names of the money bags trying to run the show, and make everyone involved either a little smarter or a lot more cuntish and you’ve got a similar situation.
Religion? I went to a funeral and saw name brand coffins and mass-produced communion wafers, and I’m pretty confident whatever metallic instrument the priest was using to arbitrarily bless shit was built in Asian sweatshops. The priest used a bible I haven’t looked at in 15 years and an obit to extol the virtues of a man whose name he could not pronounce and whom he had never met, and to cap the spiritual farce I read a passage (chosen from 20 available passages) from the Old testament that meant nothing to me or anyone listening to my sermon. Whatever meaning there may have been seems lost, what remains being an empty ceremony clad in the shredded vestiges of the church’s sense of occasion.
Times were that animals and humans were slaughtered on altars to divine the future and appease vengeful and bloodthirsty Gods. Were they real? Probably not, but everyone sure fucking thought they were, and at least the rites had a seemingly profound impact on the lives and fates of the people celebrating them. I’m not sure if I’m advocating regression to the pre-plumbing era, because life was immensely shittier for the majority of those humans than it is for me, but I think there’s something to be said for simplistic profundity ahead of the sterile and commodified official functions I’m supposed to attend. Then again, maybe everyone looks at their circumstances with a skeptical eye. Maybe a young Roman child 2000 years ago watched his father bludgeon an ox to death with an indifferent eye, bored by the religious duties of their elders. Maybe, even longer ago, young Britons walked, eyes skeptically peeled at the so-called “sacred groves” that to them appeared naught but trees but to their religious superiors were unparalleled places of worship. Maybe those same children watched their spiritual leaders ritually drench themselves in the blood of their enemies with a blasé eye, the “are we killing this prisoner? honestly we killed a dude last week and the weather stayed the same, maybe we’re going about this the wrong way…” the “are we done yet” expression perfected by teenagers of every race and culture since the dawn of time. So what am I saying exactly? Maybe nothing. Maybe I have indeed (just like a lot of people, to be fair) indulgently created a past far superior in my head to reality, and everyone has always thought that everything is full of shit, and if so that just means that I’m nestled comfortably into the status quo. I almost hope so.
maybe I’m just looking for every excuse I can to ignore things and stay on my couch and everything is perfectly fine and I just suck.