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Moment of Truth: The Human Millipede

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.

The following is a message from the Socialist Leisure Party.

I’m sick of people living their best lives. Can’t you just be average?

I understand the impulse to be extraordinary. I lived the first five decades of my life with that impulse. I thought I had something special, something requiring me to be given space to create. I was living the drama of the gifted child, all the way up to age 50.

I’ve tried being arrogant. I’ve tried being humble. Yes, arrogance gets you more pie, but, as Dwight Yoakam says, “the pie don’t taste so sweet.” Arrogant pie is downright bitter. Humble pie isn’t as bad as they make it out to be in the proverbial world, the world of proverbials.

Listeners to this segment of the show have heard me aver many times that the people you have to watch out for are those with great ambition and great expertise. It goes deeper than that. People with ambition and drive have a vast carbon footprint. And not just carbon. They have footprints of any number of elements and compounds, including, but not limited to, plastic, aluminum, depleted lithium, 99% perspiration, chicken parts, mercury, latex, arsenic, methane, phosphates, acetic acid, essential oils, sputum, xanthan gum, and BHT to preserve color. A plethora of footprints. So many footprints. They’re the human millipedes.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the miraculous product of surgical enhancement, The Human Centipede. On this very show I compared politics to a human centipede. These, though, are the human millipedes. A human millipede is, like the Human Centipede, a collective entity, but made up of more people. It begins with a large head, and thereafter establishes its body, what you might call its “corpus,” or “torso,” or “thorax,” or “fuselage,” and attracts others to it, first with investment opportunities, then luring lesser human appurtenances with wages and, possibly, benefits. And so the human millipede forms: a big head, thorax, and myriad feet.

Of course, the head has the big idea. Sometimes it’s actually a good, helpful idea. Sometimes it is an incredibly horrible, destructive, murderous idea. But most often it’s merely an idea to take advantage of an absence in a market. Not an absence of something necessary, but of something that can be made to seem desirable that no one yet in the market is providing. The desire must therefore be created. Often the desire and that which can fulfill it arise at almost the same moment.

Then the trouble begins. Then materials are procured and processed, resources are depleted, fumes and fluids are expelled, heat is released, packages are ripped open and discarded, other packages are created to enclose goods, and a feverish disturbance is initiated. Nothing can stop the head from pursuing its goal, no thought of waste, unless it is financial, can be considered. To consider a change of course is not out of the question, but that a course will continue to be traveled, relentlessly, is certain. To waiver from onward motion is to succumb to weakness, to indulge weakness is to entertain failure, and failure is not an option. The feet must be made to march, ideally without pause for food, water, or sleep, but of course that ideal is never achieved. Nevertheless, it is the ever-unattainable goal, and must remain the goal. The impossible is always the goal, for it is only by aiming for the impossible, and thereby achieving the improbable, that the extraordinary is attached to the name, and one can advertise that the best life is lived.

We are rapidly approaching the end of the time of the Human Millipede. The environment just can’t take it anymore. We’re working the real world to exhaustion, squeezing every last drop from it, creating and fulfilling our invented desires. If there were a way for the millipede to march its course without trampling the future and the present under its many feet, then things could go on the way they have since human greatness began, since slaves were forced to build the first Wonders of the Prehistoric World, those monuments to Gods and Kings. The trouble is, we’re habituated to greatness now. We’ve become so accommodating to its excesses that we barely register them as excessive.

Our marvelous creativity as a species is the most destructive thing about us. We imagine the new or merely novel, and make it reality, inventing a world in which the unnecessary is needed. We can’t live in that world anymore. All our busy-ness creating the unnecessary, in turn, creates further needs that wouldn’t otherwise exist. Who needs washed and packaged salad greens? Only those with a shortage of time. A shortage of time must be created by someone else’s imposition. And needs for hurrying and rushing are, for most part, the result of someone else’s misapprehension of urgency. I’ve rarely met urgency, outside of a life-threatening situation of course, that wasn’t the product of someone’s over-reactive imagination. Yes, we are the creative species, but most of what we create is pressure on ourselves and others.

Do the letters “ASAP” mean anything to you? Do they mean anything at all? Is there any request or command whose meaning suddenly changes when the acronym ASAP is appended to it? No! No! A thousand redundant times No! ASAP is just so much mouth wind. ASAP is a sibilant hiss-and-pop people make with their mouths when they mistakenly believe the fulfillment of their needs is urgent. The appropriate response, delivered under the breath, of course, is “blow me.”

The kindest thing you can do for a boss is to train them to accept disappointment.

One more time, because it’s such an important rule for living. Living one’s humblest, most leisurely social, life:

The kindest thing you can do for a boss is to train them to accept disappointment.

I know that sounds cruel, and could therefore be considered a “joke,” but it’s offered in all sincerity. The necessity for expedited completion of a task is almost always the product of delusion. The necessity of anything is a delusion, and that’s a fact. David Hume proved it, to the extent that anything can actually be proven, which, of course, it can’t. As David Hume proved.

By exposing the delusion, you could save a life! Sadly, that life might be your boss’s. But sometimes your boss is your friend. It happens to those of us with enterprising friends. Don’t you want to save your friends’ lives, prevent them from working themselves to death? Or from working others to death? Because that does happen. People work so feverishly they make themselves sick. Football players do it all the time, but anyone who believes they can live on a few quick hours’ sleep is a likely candidate. A few can actually survive quite well, but some simply believe they can, because – hey! – they’re extraordinary! To what brink wouldn’t you push yourself to live your best life?

In this world we’ve created, on top of the actual world, pressing down on the real world, this created world of manic pressure, you have to steal back your time. We’re working more hours per week than any humans in history. And it’s all because we’ve let our dreams take control of us, our dreams of convenience, of space travel, of huge buildings, of thrilling entertainment, thrilling experiences, constant access to beauty, and, most ridiculous of all, our dreams of the easy life. We’ve created a monstrous machine we must continuously feed with our attention and effort, under the delusion that we can one day take a delightful vacation. We must take back our leisure.

Do you hear those horns and sirens, the engines, the whirring of fans and flywheels, the pumping of pistons, the beep of the garbage truck’s reverse signal? The gunshots, the screams, the laughter, the cacophony of chattering voices, the jackhammering of the jackhammer, the tapping of keys on keyboards? That’s the human millipedes, tap-dancing furiously on their billion feet.

While they’re dancing away like mad, pick their pockets and steal your time back. I know it’s hard. It can threaten your livelihood. But try your best to find a way around the dancing feet. You’re human, you’re creative. You’ll think of something.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!

Moment of Truth


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