Tuesday, August 26, 2008

British Invasion

This one was originally entitled "Moi?" Please, enjoy.

“I hate pretentiousness, Joshua.”
“So does everyone and their grandmother.”
“No, actually my grandmother enjoys it.”
“I was generalizing.”
“That is itself pretentious.”
“So, in order to answer a pompous ass one has to assume its characteristics.”
“That was a very neat phrase.”
“Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.”
“Getting back to your original comment though, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.”
“That’s encouraging.”
“Every writer, no matter how down to earth, is pretentious. Heck, Monty Python was pretentious.”
“No, not Monty Python!”
“What, you married to them or something?”
“You don’t have to be sarcastic as well.”
“I’ll keep it in mind.”
“So what do you mean when you say that Cleese and company are pretentious? I mean they exemplify anti-establishment.”
“No, they are the establishment. Perhaps when they first started they thumbed their collective noses at the corporation, but look who was paying them.”
“That’s just the nature of the beast. You have to work from inside to bring it down.”
“Yes. But when you do that it falls down on top of you. Not so much a Trojan Horse as a Samson.”
“That’s all very nice metaphysically, but the fact is that Monty was the counterculture.”
“Just because people are fighting something doesn’t mean that they’re not conforming to another.”
“You know, people have been having this conversation since the dawn of civilization.”
“Which means that this conversation is just as pretentious as a newly-minted OBE.”
“So then let’s stop having it.”
“That’s one option. Another is to acknowledge the essential pretensions of life and deal with them.”
“Who wants to deal?”
“A dealer.”
“Oh, don’t be cute.”
“You know what you are? A modern-day J.D. Salinger.”
“Is that meant to be a compliment or what?”
“Sure. All I’m saying is that you both question life in incredibly annoying ways.”
“Like how?”
“You ever read ‘Franny and Zooey’ or ‘Catcher in the Rye’?”
“Sure.”
“Both of them are about this whole rebellion against conformity, which is in itself a rebellion against pretentiousness.”
“So you’re saying that it’s impossible to not conform in some way.”
“Exactly. Even unique people aren’t unique.”
“How so?”
“Well, they are merely marching to a different drum beat. But it’s still some society’s drum beat, even if it’s not the one all around them are used to.”
“Can you stop talking in cliches?”
“I can try. Life is just so much easier when you can speak in the same way that everyone else has.”
“You know, I think that you’re being a cultural snob, dropping Python and Salinger.”
“The difference between me and you is that I have no pretensions to non-snobbery and no desire to effect originality.”
“So you’re just a well-adjusted middle-class American with two point four children?”
“In fact, I have no children, but otherwise, yes.”
“And you’re satisfied?”
“Yes, I am actually.”
“I suddenly have this massive urge to shoot you.”
“Oh, that’s perfectly natural. I’m being a smug cad, and you, as the disaffected young radical, have the desire to do something to rectify the situation.”
“Come again?”
“You speak in cliches too.”
“So?”
“Just pointing it out. There’s nothing like man’s essential hypocrisy.”
“I thought we were discussing my urge to kill you?”
“It’s all one and the same. You want to kill me because I have what you don’t.”
“That’s a terrible reason to want to kill someone!”
“Tell that Cain.”
“Well, he succeeded, didn’t he?”
“If you consider being cursed and then being killed by your great-great-great-grandon success then yes, he was definitely one of the few people in this world to ever have the satisfaction of a life well lived.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Then what is it?”
“He acted on his instincts, got what he needed, and then suffered the consequences.”
“And that’s a good thing?”
“It’s better then not suffering the consequences of your actions.”
“Rubbish! Who wants to suffer?”
“No one, obviously, but suffering is an experience that we can learn from.”
“So you’re saying that an eighty-year old should suffer for their actions.”
“Of course.”
“Why?”
“They have to learn that every deed has its reward.”
“Aren’t they a little old for that?”
“Nonsense. I’ve taught myself new tricks.”
“But your hardly a representative of the Geritol generation.”
“So? The point is the same.”
“How about an eight-month old person?”
“What about them?”
“Should they suffer the consequences for their actions?”
“No.”
“Why not? It’ll be a learning experience.”
“You’ll end up traumatizing them.”
“Isn’t that the point? To traumatize the criminal so that they don’t commit their crimes again?”
“I prefer to use the word teach.”
“The concepts the same though.”
“You have a point there.”
“Furthermore, you are saying that babies, the most impressionable of creatures, should not be punished, while the elderly, who are set in their ways, should be.”
“All right, punish the kids.”
“That’s what the British did for a thousand years. And all they got for their efforts were Kingsley Amis, Monty Python, and the Spice Girls.”
“All valuable contributions to humanity.”
“That’s a point that could be easily debated, but I hope that my point is clear.”
“What exactly is that point?”
“That punishment does not work.”
“That sounds very seventyish.”
“Does that tell you anything?”
“You’re a hippy?”
“Guess again.”
“Um, not punishing also doesn’t work?”
“That’s very true too. The fact is, no one has any idea what in the world is happening.”
“So how did we get to this point? I mean, look at the world around you; so full of good and kindness and Coca-Cola.”
“The very symbol of goodness I assume.”
“Quite.”
“What I’m trying to say here is that this world is more messed up than it has a right to be.”
“My teacher always told me that I have no rights, only privileges.”
“Who was that, your biology professor?”
“No, actually is what the man who taught me constitutional law.”
“Did you miss the second part of the course?”
“No, why?”
“Well both of you seem to have forgotten that one inalienable part of the constitution.”
“And what’s that?”
“The bill of rights.”
“Oh, yeah, those. Actually, I think my professor was talking about the university and how most of the kids thought they had a right to a degree.”
“If you pay thirty-thousand dollars for four years with the intention of getting a piece of paper shouldn’t you get it?”
“You can have as much paper as you want, just not with the word diploma on it.”
“So let’s say you don’t get a diploma, is that just a waste of money?”
“No, you learned a valuable life-lesson.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“What do you mean?”
“Think about it. All it’s going to teach you is to not spend your money.”
“Which is a valuable life-lesson.”
“That’s true.”
“So wrapping up everything that we’ve said, it’s impossible to not be pretentious, impossible to discipline, but possible to teach about money.”
“Very well said. However, I hate when people sum up stories like this.”
“Like what?”
“Well, I hate when stories are moralistic.”
“So you’re saying that you hate when stories are pretentious about the lessons they pretend to teach.”
“Exactly.”
“Even though we just said that it’s impossible to not be pretentious about something like that, or for that matter anything.”
“Got me there.”
“So how do you say we should end this story?”
“Let’s give the reader something to think about.”
“Like what, Joshua?”
“Maybe we should let them meditate on the ineffable mystery of the word of the great being named Bob?”
“They can do that, sure.”

7 comments:

e said...

This was darn good. I bet if I was fully awake, I could have learned something about life from that conversation. Did you write this just now? And where have these Joshua stories been sitting the whole time?

The Real Shliach said...

Glad you liked it. Amazingly enough, it was written on July 5, 2004, which is a while ago. The stories have been sitting on my computer until now.

e said...

On your computer? Oh. You're at home now. Nice. Enjoy yourself. Soon you'll be in semicha land. I feel bad for you. I feel bad for myself.

The Real Shliach said...

BH, I am enjoying myself at home. And I'm sure that I'll enjoy myself in Semicha too. If I didn't want to go, then I wouldn't. So don't feel bad. The question becomes, of course, why do you feel bad for yourself?

e said...

Semicha is a major pain.

The Real Shliach said...

Nu Nu.

you know who said...

pretentious moi???