Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Saturday, 10 September 2016
Is suicide selfish? Discuss.
Everyone's an expert. Just show any sign at all that you are struggling to understand something, and twenty people wade in to put you clear on the issue.
'The more I find out, the less I know.' This has nothing whatsoever to do with understanding, unless you count 'knowing your limitations' as understanding.
If I obliquely ask for your advice, I expect your opinions. If I directly ask for your opinions, I stand a greater chance of gathering useful advice.
'The older I get, the more fixed my opinions become.' This is another lie which only applies to blockheads, and there are plenty of those around. I need not bother to ask their advice, because I know what it will be.
When I was a youth, I used to test-run opinions by trying them out on adults.
So to my property-developer uncle, I would casually say something like, "All property is theft", then sit back and watch him become apoplectic with rage and indignation as he spluttered that he fought a war for me, fought against communism all his life for the sake of my future, and this is the gratitude I show him. I didn't learn much from this, but it livened up the duller parts of post-prandial Christmas.
Then when I reached a terrible age and realised that I really had no opinions of my own, I clammed-up completely.
In the early years of my sculpture course, a teacher would ask me what I thought about something and I would remain silent. By silent, I mean that I said not one word. I was quite happy to go off to the pub with my fellow students and discuss nothing at great length, but an adult who was supposed to be teaching me about it would be met with complete silence.
After a few months of this, they became worried for my sanity, and the Head of Department asked me to go for a walk in the countryside with him for a little chat.
The walk was excrutiating, because - having given up any hope of response to his questions - the Head began to fish around for words to put into my mouth, none of which came back out again.
In the end, he just lost his rag completely and began shouting at me. It was as if he had just wasted an hour talking to himself, and he told me so before storming off in a red rage. I wanted to explain, but just couldn't.
During the last days of art school, I temporarily destroyed my ego by taking a lot of LSD, and it took any opinions I had half-formed with it.
I really thought I would never get it back, and I really think now that I almost didn't. A line had been drawn on the road which, if crossed, would never allow a return.
Over about a year, I slowly came back to society and gradually wove a threadbare blanket of cosy opinions around myself, most of which were perfectly acceptable to my fellow humans, who - on the whole - accepted me back into their branch of humanity. The biggest thing I learned from this ghastly episode was that you must never, EVER, lose your sense of humour.
Then, as my confidence returned, I began testing out opinions again...