Monday, July 14, 2008

Why? (Part MLX)

I know, I’ve asked this question before…several times, but why are there so many things in life that I simply cannot understand? It’s not as though I don’t try. I really, really do. But when I heard the news…and the very fact that it was “news” utterly dumbfounded me…that Brad and Angelina (no last names needed, we ALL know who Brad and Angelina are. We worship them. Their every move is followed with gape-jawed awe) had had twins, and that the first photos of the babies are expected to fetch $11 million, my tenuous attachment to reality was tested yet again.

Please, please, someone, explain to me why I…why anyone not a personal friend or family member of these people… should care? Please tell me how, in a world with 6-plus billion people, the arrival of two more should send so many people into paroxysms of awe, wonder, joy, delight, and enthusiasm. Mary Jackson, of Tupelo, Mississippi, gave birth to twins at exactly the same time as Angelina. If pictures of Angelina’s kids are worth $11 million, shouldn’t Mary be able to expect, say, $6 million for hers? Where are the Second Coming, stop-the-presses headlines on little Oscar and Suzanne Jackson, or any of the other 600,000 children born within 25 minutes of Brad and Angelina’s latest ode to heterosexuality?

I like Brad. I do. I think he is extremely sexy. So is Matt Damon. And Ben Afflek. And several dozen other male movie stars. But then, so are about 200 guys I pass on the street every day, and I haven’t a clue as to who they are.

I find it truly sad that our culture is so absorbed in the trivial, the superficial, and the meaninglessness, and the inordinate amount of time we spend in things which have no real impact on our lives. Are our own lives so utterly devoid of purpose, meaning, and pleasure that we must spend millions of dollars stripping the newsstands of “Celebrity” publications (printed, I suspect, on recycled toilet paper) to try to squeeze a drop of vicarious…whatever…from the belches, \burps and insipid romances of people we have never met and will never meet? It is, truly, to weep.

Somehow, I place the fact that Mario Lopez (hot as he is) has broken up with his latest girlfriend somewhat below the fact that wars rage across the globe; disease and starvation are rampant, and natural disasters claim millions of lives each year. Call me silly, but it’s just the way I am.

I constantly talk about my refusal to face reality. That doesn’t mean I don’t know it’s there. But I substitute my ego for reality. I turn everything toward myself and my personal existence in an effort to improve myself. There are so very many things to do, so many serious real personal issues to consider, and so very little time in which to do it, that if something does not directly involve my day-to-day existence, my health, my income, my own friends and family, or my future, I simply don’t have the time to bother with it.

Living vicariously through total strangers who are prettier or richer or more successful than we—have you noticed that superior intelligence so seldom enters into these pantings-after?—as so frighteningly many people appear to do, does keep them from facing reality, but to what positive end? Do they channel their incomprehensible and totally pointless envy and adulation into making their own lives, or those of people around them, better? Need I even have asked the question?

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