Thursday, June 09, 2016


Suppose you are an idiot, and then let's give you the benefit of the doubt and suppose you aren't a drooling in the corner of the mental ward throwing feces at the attendant type of idiot, or the knuckle dragging, mouth breathing type of idiot. Let's also suppose that you aren't the idiot savant type either, with some insane type of skill that allows you to count all the jellybeans in a jar with just a moments glance. No, you are the average, run of the mill type of idiot. The type of idiot you complain about when one of them cuts you off in traffic, or the type that makes you wonder how they got themselves dressed, out the door, and to work in the morning without the aid of some gentle, loving, caregiver.  You are just an average idiot, with an average idiot's problems. Problems that may entail all or parts of things like rent, work, school, kids, accidentally sexting your boss at 3 a.m., donuts, elephants, your fear of flying, your fear of elephants flying, all sorts of problems that beset the average idiot on a day to day basis. Some of them are real, some are them are part of the idiot's overactive imagination, and quite a few are caused by the idiot themselves.

The word itself doesn't really do any damage, after all it's just a word. Derived from some long, hard to pronounce Greek word (like a lot of words are) meaning person lacking professional skill, private, or one's own. Different meanings all from the same little innocent word. None of those meanings are quite like the meaning we attach to the word today, and none are particularly mean spirited. "Lacking professional skill" could be a bit mean, but it could also just mean that no one has properly trained you (yet) in your job as horse masturbater. The saying "practice makes perfect" could very well move you out of the idiot category into someone who can get a horse off  with a steamy glance, and a naughty word whispered in his ear.  Private or one's own might have to do with somethings that are best not spoken aloud at all those fancy parties your wife makes you go to "because that's what people do, not just sit at home and plot the death of all of their co-workers in a large, but accidental fire." It was Latin, and I assume those tricky bastards, the Romans, that changed the definition to mean "an uneducated or ignorant" person. Again, not necessarily a mean spirited word, I am uneducated as to speaking Swedish, it's not that I am stupid (which is actually probably true) it is just that I've never been exposed to the language enough to fill that gap in my education. I do know the word for awful, and I know how to say I love you in Swedish. Which, in theory, may be the same thing, but that's not the reason we are here today.

It wasn't until the 19th century that the word idiot started to take on the negative meaning that we apply to it today. Shockingly enough we owe that to doctors, one of the many crimes for which all doctors, except maybe Dr. Who, will have to answer for when the end of the world comes, and makes all men even, and not the gods that doctors think they are.  Idiot became to mean someone with a mental age of less than three years old. A rather low bar for people to get over, but I suppose there is a group of people to which the act of just putting on pants remains a bridge too far, and not as an act of civil disobedience against the tyranny of pants. After the doctors decided to put a negative spin on the word, lawyers, not to be outdone in the asshole Olympics, decided to add the word to the penal code. However, being the kinder, gentler type, lawyers cut the idiots of the world a break, and classified them as one of six types of people that were unable to commit crimes. We (lawyers) also decided that a further crime idiots couldn't commit was to vote, and we took away that right as well. Which, given the current choice of candidates for the highest office in the land, is probably quite a favour. Idiots shouldn't be allowed to help elect idiots, that would queer the whole system.

The author to which is blog is dedicated, wrote an entire, lengthy book called "The Idiot" in which his main character's idiocy is not his mental age of less than three, or an IQ of under 30, but based upon his honesty, kindness, and humility. Perhaps that was a gentler use of the word, but if an idiot is defined by those words, then the world needs a whole lot more idiots, and a whole lot fewer doctors, and lawyers.  Nietzsche went so far as to describe Jesus as an idiot because of his aversion to the material world, Wonder how that conversation worked out if the Christian view of the after life is correct, but that is Nietzsche's problem.

Let's step away from the evolution of the word, and get back to our average idiot, and their problem(s). Let's also narrow the field down a bit, and put before this particular idiot, a particular problem that doesn't involved Dumbo throwing exploding donuts at him at 3 in morning. No, our idiot's problem is much more mundane, and much more complicated. How it is possible to be more complicated than exploding donut throwing elephants is an accomplishment, but nevertheless it is. Our idiot's problem is not one of kindness, honesty, or humility. Very rarely are any of those words applied, in seriousness, to our idiot. Like most idiots, our idiot has his own unique way of looking at the world. Or at least he likes to think so, originality is a very hard thing to accomplish, and creativity is sometimes merely a matter of being able to successfully hide your sources.

 Our idiot knows this, he has an IQ over 30 and a mental age slightly over 3, therefore is not the medical definition of the word, he is also quite capable of committing, and has in fact, planned several crimes for which he would serve a whole heap of jail time, therefore he is not the legal definition of the word either.  He knows that his problems in general, and this problem in particular is not original to him. He is fairly convinced that somewhere in an alternate universe, where the Vikings are four time Super Bowl champions, a nearly exact copy of him is sitting at their keyboard typing a very different, and probably more successful story. At least he hopes it is a nearly exact copy, he hopes for the sake of the other him, that he (the other him) has navigated the minefield of their duplicate existence better than he has. It is probably a forlorn hope, but it is a hope nonetheless.

That bit of hope coupled with just a modicum of self-awareness, is the one thing that may just take our idiot to the upper echelon on the scale of idiots. He's not out of the idiot forest yet, but he can at least see the edge. Not that it does him a whole lot of good. That hope is being slowly dismantled like a warehouse in what has become some newly developed posh district of town. It has outlived its usefulness, and needs to make way for the realities of the more modern world. The self-awareness foundation remains, and therein lies the rub, our idiot is just smart (using the term very loosely) enough to understand he is an idiot, and moreover, not equipped to solve his problem(s). The paradox of this sad tale of woe and misunderstanding is that the idiot knows this, he knows he can't solve the problem, partly because he is a large part of the problem, partly because he's an idiot, and partly because other, outside forces beyond his limited control are the other part of the problem.

However, the tragedy of the idiot is that he is the only person on this rock, in this version of his universe(s) that could, with the help of a miracle or three, solve the problem. It must needs doing, and he realizes this, he pounds himself with that thought daily. But, he is an idiot, and sending an idiot to fix the problem that the idiot was a large part in creating seems to be an exercise in futility that would make Sisyphus proud. However, the band aid that is the idiot has to be applied to the gunshot wound(s) that are his problem(s) in the, probably vain, attempt to staunch the bleeding. Otherwise, the rock (from the myth of Sisyphus) wins, and that is a universe/fate/future that our idiot isn't sure that he can bear. 

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