November 22, 2005

 

THE HAPPY CYNIC by Ian Cutler

true cynics are often the kindest people, for they see the hollowness of life, and from the realization of that hollowness is generated a kind of cosmic pity

Raymond Federman, The Twofold Vibration

There can be no conclusion to this book. Conclusion, that is, in the sense of a summary thesis on cynicism. Neither do I present the reader with a neat, climatic ending or lessons for the future. The use of such devices would be to betray everything that cynicism stands for. What has been written on these pages amounts to no more than one introduction to a little known philosophy, prompted by the imaginings of one life out of millions of others. As Nietzsche said, "It is only my truth." The real conclusion of this book will never be known, it is to be found in the exchange between the words on these pages and the thoughts of the individual reader. The most important part of this book for me was the process of writing it and digesting the thoughts of others who had written before me. My greatest wish is that someone else will pick up the torch of cynicism that I have tried to re-kindle and write another book, inspired in part by the pages contained here.

That at least was my intention. Then, just as I was completing the final chapter of this book I made a remarkable discovery---I stumbled across a real cynic. I had been searching for a living cynic, a real Diogenean cynic, ever since I had started writing the book. But either they were too political or they did not laugh or they were too scholarly or like me they could only tell the reader about cynicism. What I was searching for was someone like Diogenes, one of those rare beings who live their philosophy, someone who could show us what cynicism is rather than simply describe it. I am grateful to Raymond Federman for doing just that.

If Diogenes had sought out his tub as a symbolic gesture for his cynicism, Raymond Federman¹s cynicism was born from a tub. Or to be more precise, the small upstairs closet in a Paris apartment into which he had been hastily thrust by his mother just before she, his father and his two sisters were rounded up in the Rafle du Vel d'Hiv' and taken to Auschwitz to be killed. The thirteen year old boy who hid in the closet started his new life with no more than a small package of his own warm shit wrapped in newspaper (The Voice in the Closet). Federman describes being REborn voiceless at a hole's edge on this day 16th July 1942. But he did not remain voiceless, in his 40 year career as a writer he has never stopped talking.

Deliberately avoiding the celebrity status of other contemporary French philosophers, not for reasons of modesty but rather stubborn commitment to his art (he delights in producing fiction that mirrors the chaotic reality of life, refusing for example in Take It Or Leave It, the longest cynical rant in history, to allow the publisher to include any page numbers), no single writer of our age has captured the true spirit of Diogenes more than Raymond Federman. No, not even (sorry Moinous) his old friend Sam Beckett whom he idolizes and quotes at every opportunity. Federman integrates all of the essential modes of cynical discourse: action, laughter and silence into his prolific writing. The victim who refuses to see himself as a victim, was given in that small closet not only the gift of life, but the gift to make others laugh---laugh at a world that he knows to be truly absurd, laugh at himself, laugh at The Laugh That Laughs At The Laugh. But as well as laugh, one will also be silenced in deep contemplation and weep tears, and all on the same page.

And yet, typical of all great cynics, Federman is before his time. He may not reach the legendary status he deserves until after, as he puts it, he changes tense. Published in twenty languages, he remains unknown in Britain and sadly overlooked in his host country. But here is a living example of Burkhardt's all-sided-man. Emerging from Federman's fiction are some remarkable facts and near misses: his exploits as a down-and-out in New York City (and several other cities); as a gambler; as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division; failing to qualify for the 1948 Olympic swimming team by a tenth of a second; and, most incredibly for me, blowing saxophone with Charlie Parker. Now living---not so quietly---on his emeritus distinguished professor's pension and his writing, he is yet sidelined by the literary establishment because he dares to revive the chaos and orgy of Dionysus that once made writing explode the senses.

And so, the reader, who has made it to the final pages of this book, will after all be subjected to a climatic conclusion. For in Federman's writing can be found first hand (as opposed to my own second hand accounts) a parallel reference to every theme that I have already discussed in the preceding pages. Regrettably only fragments of Federman's diatribes can be reproduced here. His aphorisms speak for themselves, but to fully appreciate the rage and humor of his diatribes, and his absolute commitment against the object of his anger and obsession, total immersion is recommended.


Classical Cynicism

he thinks this is the defining act
the actualization of a central image
that of a man standing
on the edge of an abyss
pissing into a hard wind
not a mistake not an idle gesture
but the assertion of presence

Here & Elsewhere


Renaissance cynicism

in Politics TRUE POLITICS there is no room for sentimentality . . . its all played beyond good and evil and if you are one of the losers then Bang! it's you who takes it on the head but if you're on the side of the guys who are winning then it's you who gives it to the other guy it's just a matter of being on the right side at the right time and then you're one of those who those who those who those who those who those who fuck the rest of humanity who beat the shits out of the other guy with contusive clubs with hammers and nails and electric shocks and fingers in the ass and needles in the arm and kicks in the belly and cigarette burns while the rest of humanity continues to vomit its guts while shouting stupid slogans!

Therefore you don't think I'm going to take you seriously because of a little question like that? Politics my friend (yes you with the mustach) you can shove it up your ass in little capsules (Psitt!) in square round or oval pills (Psitt!) it's delicious for constipation believe me!

Take It Or Leave It

Nietzsche

in the dark I sneaked out
of the window and climbed
behind a cloud to look for god
but all I found were my own footprints

Here & Elsewhere

Fuck MODESTY! Scorn and contempt and hatred that¹s what one learns from ZSCHE damn right scorn and not modesty or humility or resignation or submission or fear! One must shit and piss on all human weakness, well, gentlemen, I assure you he shitted and pissed all over it, and this is why he could call himself without any modesty the FIRST if not the ONLY ONE to have totally squarely integrally radically and definitely shoved aside religion morality responsibility and of course the LITTLE JESUS and his OLD MAN heaven and hell and all the rest

Take It Or Leave It

The postmodern cynic

when we fall into the great void
we recede backwards
at the speed of light
towards our origin
so that we can
be launched
again
into the spiral
of our unfinished destiny

Here & Elsewhere


I was sad to see postmodernism disappear before we could explain it, I kind of liked postmodernism, I was happy in the postmodern condition, as happy if not happier than the previous condition. I don't remember what that was called but I was glad to get out of it

Aunt Rachel's Fur

The cynical artist

What determines the degree of completion of a work is not all the exigencies of art or of truth, it is fatigue, and, even more so, disgust. . . . There is no true art without a strong dosage of banality. The one who uses the unusual in a consistent manner quickly bores his audience, for nothing is more unbearable than the uniformity of the exceptional.

Take It Or Leave It


Action

gentlemen between you and I and without blushing America is hard to take to swallow hard to conquer because do I dare suggest it America it's a big fat broad that one must seize with one's arms squeeze passionately a big sexy bitch with enormous teats a splendid ass and a lovely furry cunt and if you want to possess to explore to search that magnificent bit of geography you have to go a long way and have the desire and the courage not only to speak about it but do something about it and the problem with most Americans is that they don't have the guts nor the initiative to fuck the hell out of their mother land and so instead of really trying to shove their dicks into it they justify their cowardice by simply dropping their pants in front of it and jerk off like a bunch of kids where in fact me gentlemen I wanted to penetrate that mother land yes I wanted to explode to burst inside her ass and inside her cunt I wanted my sperm to flow between her gorgeous cheeks one good time and that's why I decided to love it to love it without shame

Take It Or Leave It


Laughter

Ah the laughing act: doesn't work for you guys because you guys laugh Japanese style delicately with your hands in front of your mouth as if you were coughing! What the hell you guys think that laughter is some kind of sickness? Laugh: ah ah ah! oh oh oh oh ! ah ah ah! Laugh: yes because when some guy weeps somewhere in the world there is always some other guy who laughs somewhere else: happy balance! Never fails its normal equilibrium: laugh or cry it all comes out the same in the end!

Take It Or Leave It


Silence

It was not going very well already in the kingdom of literature since le nouveau roman that great triumph of sing-my-ass we were going quite copiously robbe-grilladized semiotized in full from salsify to chinese lanterns but now we are truly moving tumbling into shit here we are fallen crestfallen to the underlevel of undersollersism into the invertebrate desensibilized by barthist analism zerofied offhandedly materialized getting closer to objects and facts than causes emasculated scientifically by shameless daily gossiping superjerking scenarios moving now towards the immense the endless organic debacle towards the great deluge of low-down tricks the crashup of confusionism masturbatory telquelism drifting on the lacanian raft derridian barge shipwrecked in other words on the sea of fucked up literature where civilisation can be measured assessed rather by the distance man places between himself and his excrement

Take It Or Leave It


That's the problem with talking too much. Eventually you reveal yourself. But when you don't talk you become a suspiciously suspicious character.

Double or Nothing


Therapy culture

This fucking world is saturated with false hopes . . . we are drowning in a cesspool of theosophical emanations, cosmic influences, occult powers, spiritual visitations, stellar vibrations and divine farts, and yes yes it's all shit, de la merde molle et fumante, do you hear me, de la saloperie, de la crasse

The Twofold Vibration


and finally

We all live like cockroaches in the crevices of our twisted imagination

Smiles on Washington Square


One suffers and one suffers from not suffering enough

The Twofold Vibration


between life and fiction there is no difference, when life is at the centre, fiction is at the circumference, and vice versa.

Aunt Rachel's Fur

Reality is a form of disenchantment. The only reason it interests us is because behind it always lurks a catastrophe, or a bad joke.

To Whom It May Concern

Seriousness is a quality for those who have no other qualities.

Smiles on Washington Square

I am caught between the desire for fame and the need for oblivion.

To Whom It May Concern

having oscillated all my life
between the torments
of superficial idleness
and the horror
of disinterested action
I find myself at last
in a situation
where to do nothing
exclusively
becomes an act of
the highest value

Here & Elsewhere

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Many people know the importance of self confidence and try to boost their own by using many different personal development models. Self confidence to most people is the ability to feel at ease in most situations but low self confidence in many areas may be due to a lack of self esteem. Low self esteem takes a more subtle form that low self confidence. So if you are tired of feeling not good enough, afraid of moving towards your desires and goals, feel that no matter what you do it is just never good enough, then your self esteem could do with a boost.

Every day we make decisions based on our level of self-esteem. We also exhibit that level of self esteem to those around us through our behaviour. 90% of all communication is non-verbal - it is not what you say but ho you say it that matters! Your body language, tonality and facial gestures can all tell a completely different story to your words. It is our behaviour which influences others and people react to us by reading our non-verbal communications. Have you ever met someone you just didn't like although on the surface they seemed polite and courteous, or you met someone who seemed to speak confidently yet you knew they were really frightened underneath and just displaying bravado?

Parental and peer influences play a major part in moulding our level of self-esteem when we are children and in our early years of adolescence. The opinions of the people closest to us and how they reacted to us as individuals or part of the group was a dominant factor in the processes involved in forming our self esteem.

As adults we tend to perpetuate these beliefs about ourselves and in the vast majority of cases they are ridiculously erroneous. It is time to re-evaluate our opinion of ourselves and come to some new conclusions about these old belief patterns.

Ask yourself some serious question:
Is your long-held view about yourself accurate? Do we respect the sources from which we derived these beliefs? Most of the negative feedback we bought into as we were growing up actually came from people we have little or no respect for and as adults we would probably laugh their comments away! Yet the damage to your self esteem was done when you were very young and you still carry it with you to this day.

Is it possible that even those people you respected, who influenced your self-worth, were wrong? Perhaps they had low self esteem also.

As adults we have the opportunity to reshape our self-esteem. Try to judge accurately the feedback you receive from people you respect. This process will allow you to deepen your understanding of yourself and expand your self-image. It will also show you were you actually need to change things about yourself and were you don't. Many people are striving to better themselves in areas where they are just fine or actually excelling and it is only because they have an inaccurate picture of themselves in their minds due to low self esteem!

Setting small goals and achieving them will greatly boost your self-esteem. Identify your real weakness and strengths and begin a training program to better your inter-personal or professional skills. This will support you in your future big life goals and boost your self-esteem and self confidence to high levels you didn't existed!

Learn to recognise what makes you feel good about yourself and do more of it. Everyone has certain things that they do which makes them feel worthwhile but people with low self esteem tend to belittle these feelings or ignore them.

Take inventory of all the things that you have already accomplished in your life no matter how small they may seem. Recognise that you have made achievements in your life and remember all the positive things that you have done for yourself and others. Take a note of your failures and don't make excuses like "I'm just not good enough" or "I just knew that would happen to me", analyse the situation and prepare yourself better for the next time. If someone else created success, regardless of the obstacles, then you are capable of doing the same! Remember everyone has different strengths and weakness so do not judge your own performance against that of another just use them as inspiration and know that what one human being has achieved so can another!

Surround yourself with people who respect you and want what is best for you - people who are honest about your strengths and will help you work through your weakness. Give the same level of support to them!

Avoid people who continually undermine you or make you feel small. These people are just displaying very low self esteem. As your own self esteem grows you will find that you are no longer intimidated by another's self confidence or success and you can actually be joyful for them! Do things you love to do and that make you happy. A truly happy person never has low self esteem they are too busy enjoying life! By getting busy living your life with passion and joy you will not be able to be self-consciousness.

If you find yourself feeling self-conscious in any situation focus on the fact that others can tell and many of them will be feeling the same. Be honest. People respond to someone better if they openly say "To tell you the truth I'm a bit nervous" rather than displaying bravo or fake confidence that they can see right through. Their reactions to you, will show your mind at a deep level, that there was actually nothing to be frightened of and everything is great. If someone reacts to this negatively they are just displaying low self esteem and very quickly you will find others noticing this! Really listen to people when they talk to you instead of running through all the negative things that could happen in your head or focusing on your lack of confidence. People respond to someone who is truly with them in the moment..

Breath deeply and slow down. Don't rush to do things.

Stop the negative talk! 'I'm no good at that' or "I couldn't possibly do that" are affirmations that support your lack of self esteem. Instead say "I have never done that before but I am willing to try" or "how best can I do that?". Which leads us to the last point - the quality of the questions you ask yourself s very important.
When you ask a question it almost always has a preposition in it. For example, "How did I mess that up?" presumes that something was messed up, a better way of phrasing the question would be "what way can I fix this quickly?", as this presumes you can and will fix it. Or "How am I ever going to reach my goal?" could be rephrased as "what way will lead me to my goal quicker" presumes that you are going to reach your goal! Get the picture? Change the quality of your questions and your results will change!

Practise these techniques and watch your self esteem rise day by day. personal-development.info
 
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