I’m dealing with a lot of Bullshit right now. It’s coming at me from every angle like some kind of horrific splatter scene in a Coprophagiac’s porn flick.
It’s interesting actually, how many levels Bullshit can exist on.
Two of the situations in question deal with large-scale spiritual frauds, two are about the untrustworthiness of intimates. (There was another one in the latter category recently as well, but it pales in significance and so I won’t include it here. Amateur night, you know.)
All are about Bullshit.
Without getting into the devilish details, i.e. the specifics of each movement of the Bullshit Symphony I am currently trying to get out of the auditorium before the feces-flinging finale of, let’s just delve straight into the bog which begs the question: why do people misrepresent themselves?
Looking at these four very different instances from the sort of safe distance that allows pattern and design to emerge from the crap-sprayed mess, I find that it is helpful to assume the detached and objective stance of a forensics professional analyzing a crime scene.
The M.O. may be different, the repercussions varied, but people who present themselves and their lives with a high degree of “spin” are basically all operating from the same dead battery.
The user is ashamed of his need to exploit others; of the fact that s/he is so incapable of honest ascent. The poseur is ashamed of his/her inherent lack of cool, of the creeping certainty of mediocrity that gives rise to the uncontrollable urge to self-aggrandize. The hustler is ashamed of the truth, of the honesty that would make her/his scams less palatable to the gullible. The plastic shaman is ashamed – scornful actually – of humanity itself, and ashamed at being a piece of it; getting over on the fellow-fools is a way of soothing the shame.
Although it is not grammatically correct to use “they” in place of “he” or “she” if wishing to make a comment about a person without indicating “their” gender, I have done so anyway below because the English language is bastard stupid on this point, plus his/her s/he become clumsier with each repetition, and most crucially I am trying to protect myself from the guilty by being vague:
One of the four makes promises they cannot keep; cuts sweet deals that always turn sour.
One tells lies to hide how much they take from others; creates squabbles amongst their critics that they may divert attention.
One falsifies history in order to give themselves unique access to “ancient wisdom” which snake oil they then sell to the anxious seekers.
One uses psychotropic drugs to mesmerize the overly-earnest and then claims this ownerless force as their own (for which of course they charge a pretty penny).
Doesn’t it just suck?
Everywhere you look there are people making false claims, bigging themselves up, donning tin tiaras and getting drunk (and rich) on the illusion of being special.
I’m sicker of it even than I’m sick of the trouble I perpetually land in when my finicky nostrils detect the concealed pile of shit and, goddamn it Diana, go and communicate the sensitive information to my mouth which of course then vomits out the obvious question: what the fuck you trying to pull?
If you think I make a lot of friends this way, you’d be dead wrong. It’s not the kind of thing people generally thank you for, even the people you have just dragged half conscious from the pile of Bullshit, upon which they were about to choke.
And that is what I find even weirder: the desire to swallow Bullshit: whole.
Logically, it would progress therefore, that both the purveyor and consumer of Bullshit are getting off on the exchange somehow.
Here’s a little example, not one of the Big 4 Bullshit Artists teasingly referred to above, but of some silly twat I’ll never see again, and who will most likely never see this.
I think I’ll even give her real name here, which if I remember correctly, was Venus (depends what you mean by “real” I guess) which makes it just that bit more amusing.
At a recent gig of “healing sounds” in Camden Town, in which I’m proud to say I was the only performer whose spiritual lyrics included the word FUCK, I met Venus out on the patio by the canal after I’d sung.
Gushy and wuvvy at first, she somehow managed to steer the conversation towards “living saint” Amma, (you know, the one that hugs) with whom she had clearly become recently infatuated.
I always bite my tongue at least one and a half times before saying what I really think, when someone is spewing Bullshit, in order to give them a chance to voluntarily emerge from the mental sewer and start either talking sense or about the weather. And so I did.
Unfortunately for Venus, she didn’t take the hint and kept talking about Amma. Finally, she shoved her watch in my face, which had Amma’s face on its face. This was too weird; a timeless divine being telling the time. Priceless. As I’m sure Venus would agree.
Pitying the lacerated sides of my tongue I ventured forth with the mild remark, “uh…I’m not really into gurus you see…” To which Venus, glowing from within, replied knowingly “…ah yes, that’s just how I used to feel! But then I met Amma and felt such divine love ..”
I couldn’t hear the rest because a humongous volcano of Bullshit erupted at that very moment, coating us all in a fine layer of putrid filth.
Politely ignoring the stench and inhaling deeply on my fag (part of the reason I smoke is for sensory survival in situations such as these) I decided to risk continuing. Maybe Venus was ready to hear the truth after all.
In my mind I flashed upon an exposé I had read of the whole Amma cult in which it was pretty well inarguably demonstrated that her image, hugging shtick, and Western presence had been skillfully stage-managed by PR professionals. Having been to India and seen the enormous commerce in gurus that thrives there, this made sense to me. I also recalled a personal account of a horrific visit to her ashram in India by a well-trusted friend whose observations are on the level.
Maybe I should break it to Venus gently?
Best just spill it.
“..actually…” I countered, “..I believe that Amma’s mission is a carefully constructed example of the corporatization of Indian spiritual culture…”
I would have said more but to my surprise, 10,000 volts of electricity suddenly coursed through Venus’s slender frame, jettisoning her from a cross-legged position next to me to a warrior stance about 12 feet NE of her former situation.
“I’m NOT having this conversation!” she said with a holy defiance that owed a lot to popular representations of Jean D’arc.
Thanks to my terrible addiction to tobacco, I was still extremely calm, extremely cross-legged still, and still by the canal. I spoke quietly.
“It’s OK. You can close your mind any time you want.” (puff)
Venus/Joan, gripped her invisible sword in its scabbard and spoke with the conviction of a thousand martyrs.
“But my HEART is open!”
“..well, it’s not really an either/or you know. You could always go for both.”
I wish I could remember Venus’s exact words that follow but my chief recollection is of spontaneously diving into the canal, to wash off the thickly caked layers of Bullshit that were starting to congeal on my favorite pashmina, and all I could hear from beneath the water was this WHOMP WHOMP oscillating thrumming as her distorted face collapsed and kaleidoscoped, shape-shifting through the entire pantheon of Durgas.
The general gist though was that the mind couldn’t be trusted whereas the heart could.
I do not concur.
“…I think you’ll find,” I continued in what I hoped was a reasonable tone of voice, “..that actually the mind is a terribly useful tool, particularly when the heart gets confounded. Abandoning the intellect in order to have a ‘spiritual experience’ doesn’t seem like a smart move to me.”
Venus was still trembling with incandescent self-righteousness; she was the defender of the grail, the keeper of the key, she was the Cathars at Montségur, she was Sally Field in Not Without My Daughter!
I could only really see her out of the peripheral vision of my right eye at this point. Once the chapatti flour of her half-baked convictions had mingled with the peroxide of my skepticism and the resulting explosion had blasted her across the deck, I saw no reason to twist from the direction I’d originally been facing, with the result that she was holding court with my right shoulder, whilst I studiously addressed the barge hitching-post in the centre of my field of vision.
Remembering that she was a New Age Mamma Bearing Unconditional Love, I believe she then said something along the lines of: “Peace sister, we don’t have to agree.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more,” I affirmed to the hitching-post.
We smilingly avoided one another for the rest of the evening. (That is, Venus and I – the hitching-post cleverly stayed put.)
What have we learned from this object lesson?
Well, to me it’s simple: bullshitters peddle bullshit for various reasons, most to do with money, fame, prestige, sex, and the other popular void-stuffers that mask the gaping, aching, hole within.
Bullshittees swallow bullshit because they (think they) need to be fed things to believe in that not only don’t require proof, but which reject the very idea of proof at all. Why else would Islam be the fastest-growing religion in the world despite its obvious flaws? Why? – because it’s the mack daddy of all responsibility-abdicating faiths with its unshakeable tenets that govern practically every situation of life. If you wanna come on this ride folks, please leave that pesky brain at the door.
Maybe that’s what’s always bugged me about the word “believe” – it’s almost like an admission that you are putting your trust in something that’s as likely to be cubic zirconium as diamonds. You’re saying you don’t care; that the buzz you get from thinking you’re wearing real diamonds is worth being duped.
So, then maybe it’s not even worth bothering to enlighten the willing victims of a confidence trick, maybe there’s no point in busting people whose endless tangled lies and manipulations waste countless precious hours and generate fathomless tears.
But what else you gonna do?
Sit there covered in Bullshit? Lapping it up happily like pigs in…uh… shit?
I can’t tell you what to do, but in the immortal words of Hall and Oates I can definitively state that: I won’t go for that/no-wo-wo-oh/no can do.
The bummer, of course, is that when you reject Bullshit, you can for sure expect one thing: for your trouble, you are going to get a lot of shit.
As I once said, un-ironically, to myself, upon having a heavy bowel movement whilst high on ayahuasca and realizing that there was no toilet paper in the cubicle: