Thursday, November 19, 2009

Aspire to be average

Mostly, we're constantly told to excel – at school, by parents, friends, at work, advertising, TV, films; what matters, if we want the car, the girl (or boy), the career, the cash – excellence is what is required. To be the best – you must be ruthless, career-driven – in short, you must be boring and selfish. But not everyone can be the best.

Better to be average. Aspire to be average. Average is wholesome, good, heck, average is 99.9% of us – though none of us would ever admit to it, because perhaps none of us are really. Well, either all of us are average or none of us are. Average people, on average, live longer and are happier. Extreme, non-average people, such as (say) artists and musicians, are depressed, miserable and burnt out. They fail at relationships. They go into rehab. They fail at life. They may even kill themselves. Or die young.

Every human endeavour, 'achievement' and action is detrimental to the planet. Every invention, object, shop – every item we buy is in someway damaging the earth. Better for the environment for humans to do as little as possible. Ants and bees are more vital to the planet than humans. The world is better off without us.

With population growth one of the many problems facing the planet's future, there's going to be a lot more average people (and only a few more best ones). A child's traditional ambition of 'I want to be an astronaut/fireman/nurse/on Big Brother' may become a thing of the past: 'I want to be nothing' may be the only way forward. They'll be no room to do anything else. In fact, forget average: aspire to be nothing: absolutely nothing, it's the only way to save the planet. I'm doing my bit.


Joseph A said...

I take your basic point here, but I think your conclusions are deranged and your generalizations are appalling. Yes it's true that not everyone can be the best, and that striving to be "the best" can often lead to being cut-throat and/or miserable. This is a cartoonish way of looking at the world, right up there with saying "All Maori people are violent because one beat me up in primary school."

I also take exception to you describing musicians and artists as "extreme" and "depressed, miserable and burnt out." It makes me wonder: do you actually know any musicians or artists, or are you just taking the word of tabloid gossip that they are "[e]xtreme, non-average people" who "fail at relationships... go into rehab... fail at life... may even kill themselves. Or die young"? This is hysterical and melodramatic.

Your final point is especially dismaying. It reminds me strongly of this:

No future = no future. I guess that's what you want, though.

I understand that blogs are a place for people to blow out their uninformed opinions. But you seem to be basically suggesting first of all that striving to be "the best" makes us "extreme" and we'll end up basket-cases, and then that the best option we have is to kill ourselves (the only way we can be "nothing" - food for the ants though, I guess). It's not exactly a constructive suggestion, man.

"Every invention, object, shop - every item we buy is in someway damaging the earth." What, you mean like those trees I planted? Those came from a shop.

You also urge children to not aspire to be firefighters or nurses. Yep 'cause letting those bush fires just rage away is the best way to save the planet! Being a nurse? Nothing worse than that - it helps people to stay alive and keep on damaging the planet!

I think you should stick to the Dawson's Creek and the Star Wars Lego. I was surprised at how intelligent your entry on Borowczyk was, to be honest.

Barnaby said...

Joseph K, I mean A, I'm sorry you didn't get the whole tongue-in-cheek thing going on with the post (it's meant to be funny! Like The Onion but not as witty) – but many thanks for your comments, you may be the only one to have actually read it.

I don't think 'being the best' (ie the nature of capitalism) is a cartoonish way of looking at the world – it's pretty much fact if you think that 20% of the population own 70% of the planet's wealth and resources and how many millions live under the poverty line. I guess I was trying to point out that whilst capitalism has a lot of winners, there are an awful lot more losers, and if people were less selfish there would be more equality (and more of a planet). I'm not sure how your Maori quote comes into things (no capitalist beat me up at primary school, if that's what you're getting at) – but funnily enough I am half NZ.

I must admit my uninformed blog is more a form of catharsis. I don't expect anyone to read it! I was trying (failing?) to cover various points in an extreme, generalised, satirical way.

Re: musicians and artists – obviously another generalisation – I was thinking of famous examples like Heath Ledger, Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, Jim Morrison, Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, yes okay Pete and Amy too – come on, it's no mystery that a lot of artists/musicians are fucked up! I realise it doesn't apply to every musician and artist who ever lived, and died.

I actually said (and I quote, or rather I copy and paste): "to be the best... you must be boring and selfish". I didn't suggest it makes everyone "extreme" – though it can, and not just artists/musicians (sorry for picking on them – easy target! I have known some and can safely say that the unknowns are as fucked up as the famous).

Don't tell me trees come from shops too?? All I meant was that every day items we take for granted – food, clothes, mobile phones, TVs, toys, newspapers – somehow, somewhere, something (usually the planet) and/or someone is being exploited by us buying them. I realise me buying Star Wars Lego isn't really helping matters. But neither is buying a Christmas tree from a shop.

I'm not "urging" any children not to aspire for worthwhile jobs! It actually came from a survey I read in a newspaper which concluded that young people's ambitions are now more likely to feature wanting to be famous instead of the more traditional, shall we say purposeful, roles.

To be very honest, I think I subconsciously pinched most of that Borowczyk stuff from a Sight & Sound magazine from the 70s. Don't tell anyone.

Caspar said...

In the six and a half years since you posted this, I have just become the second person to read it. And by and large, I endorse it. Of course it doesn't stand up to rigourous exegesis of the kind that would satisfy that other fella, but the general point is a good one, and deserves to be made.
Sorry, no witty bon mots this time around. I'll endeavour to do better next time, six years from now.