Optimization, or should I say progress. At any rate, not improvement.

Wednesday, 21 August, Year 5 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

I don't drive. Consequently, I'm driven all over town all the time, which is much nicer than driving because you have someone you can talk to. It's a thing, this, people working for you, doing things they know how to do, discussing the world while doing it. Antiquated, perhaps, but it's a thing. It creates a sort of complicity let's say, for lack of any knowledge as to what society means.

In the most recent installment of this, I was sitting in the car and together with the driver watching a little bit of daily ridiculous : some adult exhibiting what'd classicly be the behaviour characteristic of and reserved for three year olds. Some truck was going some way and something else resulting in our subject being trapped in place for all of three seconds. He got really flustered with impatience and started hopping up and down behind his little wheel. Just... three seconds is way too long, you know ?

So I observed to the driver that it's ridiculous this, grown men exhibiting the very traits which constitute the inferiority of children, the very behaviours which are ridiculed with a view of correcting them in children, the very essence of fail. It's ridiculous, this, to see a grown man lose his composure over the triflest of trifles. All places and all cultures value - or perhaps I should say used to value - calm and patience as fundamentally the virtues of supremacy, yet the "civilised" West is anything but calm and definitely not patient these days.

And then I went on to notice that all my life I've been impatient, much to the chagrin of my elders as I was growing up. I never managed to shake the problem - because it is a problem of mine - becoming a very impatient adolescent and eventually blossoming into a very impatient man. Which I still am, you know, just about as impatient today as when I was three. Nevertheless, the thing is... everyone else dumbed down to suit, meanwhile, and now I pass for an icon of calm and patience. Me, calm! Me, patient ?! It beggars belief.

It does, it beggars belief, nevertheless it's a fact. I've not matured through acquiring as much as an ounce of patience myself, it's just that somehow magically everyone else squandered theirs within a generation, and so I'm left above water, somehow. Progress, I guess, or anyway optimisation. Certainly no improvement whatsoever, and that's not the only place either.

Years ago I used to visit my friends employed at the various liberal professions (which, together with my friends involved in the criminal underworld - technically speaking also very liberal professions - and some odd religious figures constituted pretty much the entirety of my circle). This visiting consisted of me dropping by their place of business. It wasn't particularly hard to do, occasionally the secretary'd tell me they had to leave town or were unexpectedly needed in court or at the operating table and so on. Rarely they'd be mysteriously gone and I'd hear later all about this thin ankled adolescent gazelle or that bubbly married woman with oxen eyes.i Most usually they'd be there, which miracle wasn't particularly hard to accomplish because I had their numberii on one hand and because their profession, job and manner of being in this world required a lot of time thinking.

It's that latter point I want to draw attention to. There's this old Romanian joke wherein someone asks a shepherd if he's sittin' an' thinkin', to which the shepherd sagaciously retorts that no, he's jus' sittin'. The difference is important, and that'd be exactly why herding sheep is not a liberal profession, irrespective of the exact nature of the sheep involved : it doesn't call for any thinking, merely sitting. At least in the olden days being a lawyer or a doctor or a number of other things (such as a professor, or a computer programmer, or a research scientist even) required a lot of time being used in this quiet, scary process so few people know anything about.

Speaking of which, the EU bureaucracy is wrong to imagine liberal professions are "those practised on the basis of relevant professional qualifications in a personal, responsible and professionally independent capacity by those providing intellectual and conceptual services in the interest of the client and the public". None of that is relevant : there's no such thing as qualifications - these only exist to keep the sheep out of the job but otherwise don't in any way help people do any better at it. There's also no clients involved, not really. There's just the problem, complex, vast, mesmerizing, resisting definition, almost embodied. A thing, a presence almost. Sometimes, perhaps, if you're lucky, there's also the ? a ? solution. No public, because unlike bureaucracy actual professions aren't theatre, and for the same reason no "qualifications".

This is incidentally both why I had a lot of adult friends at an age most people struggle with acquiring the fleeting favours of collegiate tail and why I was always welcome in people's offices : I never bothered acquiring formal qualifications in any of these fields, but nevertheless I was winning my first lawsuit appearing pro se, aged 17. An ability to think trumps absolutely any qualification now extant or in the future devised, not at all because it's so rare but simply because it is absolutely the only thing that matters. And since we're on it, this'd be the one thing dividing people into classes, indelibly and unescapably. It may not matter what color your skin is, it may not matter what gods you pray to, but whether you can think while sitting or not controls. Your future, your prospects, your fortunes, your life, everything. Quality is not much of a concern at all, if present thinking can always be refined and improved. It's just that in most cases it is wholly and completely absent, and contrary to what bureaucrats like to claim the braindead are never recoverable.

So then, I'd visit, we'd have a cup of coffee or tea or tuica or antifreeze or dishwasher soap or whatever was handy because nobody paid any attentioniii and the guy'd start telling me about this nonsense. I guess the whole thing sounds a little musty, but it does create a sort of complicity let's say, for lack of any knowledge as to what society means.

Needless to say all this is gone. Everyone's a bureaucrat today, which is to say not a man and most certainly not liberal. And I'm left here waiting for the lot to die, because this agglomeration of three year old men meeting over "social media" to spend half a second a piece looking at pictures they've snapped with their mobile phones at the rate of two to the second just can't possibly survive. The funny part is, they'd figure it out, too, if only they found the time to sit and think about it. Or if not the time at the very least the head that could do it.

I wonder what the life expectancy of three year old men is.

———
  1. It's a compliment, review your classics. []
  2. No, I don't mean phone number. []
  3. This is a true story, incidentally, one guy mechanically poured soap out of a bottle intended to go with his little office sink thinking it's some other bottle. For both of us. A little bubblet sprang happily into the air, which he ignored. I said nothing, but merely waited, he went to sip but didn't and instead yelled "Mara, why the fuck does my drink smell like soap!!!". Poor girl ran into the office, looked aghast at our little arrangement, said "Well because it's soap" and just gazed in terror at the both of us. []
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4 Responses

  1. I wonder what the life expectancy of three year old men is.

    Dunno, three?

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    2
    Mircea Popescu 
    Thursday, 22 August 2013

    Now that'd be really sad.

  3. Winston, the party is for ever.

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