Plain Style


Plain-Style (part2)

He is able to do this not because of his superior intellect or his ability to reason and reach logical conclusions; he is able to do this because he has no use or respect for intellect at all. He knows, instinctively, that all of the big words of intellectuals are basically BS, and that at bottom everyone, including himself, is an asshole. Another 1960s icon, the cartoonist Robert Crumb, has a group of black kids confronting an uptight "Whiteman" by telling him, "You is a nigger like evva body else. No more, no less, Mutha." This is the beginning of equality.

When Martin Luther attacked the hierarchical assumptions of the Catholic Church and started the Protestant Reformation, he laid the cornerstones of these democratic ideals by insisting that we are not all saints but all sinners. he is quoted as having once said, "The world is an asshole, and I am ripe shit. We are due to be parted soon." No holier-than-thou saint he! Nathaniel Hawthorne used the term "brotherhood of sinners" for this idead that we are all created equal not because we are all potential gods but because we are all equally confused, equally selfish, equally prideful, equally the helpless victims of forces beyond our comprehension and control. An even older phrase for this was "original sin." The American Puritan Jonathan Edwards added an explanation of its significance:

"This doctrine [of original sin] teaches us to think no worse of others than of ourselves; it teaches us taht we are all, as we are by nature, companions in a miserable, helpless, condition; which un der a revelation of the divine mercy, tends to promote mutual compassion."

Thus, Harding is never "cured" of being gay. Instead, he stops believing in the combine's put-down of him as somehow inferior or sicker than the "average asshole" and in any more need of a cure than the rest. he learns to reject the put-downs that had convinced him to check into the hospital in the first place. He accepts what once he had viewed as "insanity" as simply another screwed-up way to be. Like Bart Simpson, he is an "underachiever and proud of it."

The line that runs the gamut - from the Puritan's belief in orig inal sin through Jefferson's proclamation that "all men are created equal" to McMurhy's "you're not any crazier than the average asshole out there on the street" to the Bart Simpsons of today's TV - is the democratic ideal that we are all the same under our masks, if not equally gods then equally idiots, but equal nonethe less. This premise may not seem particularly inspiring at first, but you can find here the first step to self-confidence, the realization that even though we may ourselves be less than perfect, no one else, not even the snooty Harvard grad, is any better. Our voices are just as good as theirs, if their voices are just as bad as ours. If all beliefs are equally irrational, contingent, and tied to self-interest, that holds for everyone. "The whole universe," crows Mr. Natural, "is completely insane!" So relax, kid. Even under all your lies and disguises, you are not any worse than the rest of them.

Thank you.

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