Bigsley the Oaf

judge judy

Posted in Uncategorized by bigsleytheoaf on July 23, 2012

In California I often encounter the belief that every experience is sacred. The idea that years of watching reruns of Judge Judy and eating microwave pizza is somehow spiritually equivalent to years spent climbing mountains, meditating, searching for the old wisdom. They’re both “experiences.”

I want to untie the semantic knots here very carefully, because I think there are a lot of subtle things going on in this discourse.

I mean, I feel the intuition behind the Californian position. I spent years playing a Luxembourgish online role playing game called Prophecy ( It was perhaps a strange modern form of meditation. No? I play countless games of go, learning nothing. Am I really not perhaps, in manipulating symbols mindlessly, searching through the content of my life? Would I have been better off, experientially, reading? I would be better connected to the Zeitgeist, sure, but I don’t think that’s a good definition for spiritual progress.

Do we know what’s going on when someone watches judge judy and eats microwave pizza? What’s “really happening” there?

Part of the friction I feel when I hear a statement about the equivalence of experience stems from the fact that this assertion is (perhaps for reasons of ambiguous semantics) a simultaneously relativizing and universalizing one. It’s one thing to say that two things are equivalent because they have no value – it’s another to say that two things are equivalent because they have the same value.

I suppose it’s still unclear to me what the Californian means. She wants to believe that her own experiences (and she has lots of them – and they’re carefully stored in a well-manicured list on her online virtual representation of self) have value, are part of a progress, a “life work.” But she wants to believe that Mr. Judge Judy watching motherfucker is somehow equivalent to her. She can’t say “oh no, that’s person’s wasting their time, that person is a waste.” To be consistent she must claim that his experiences are somehow equivalent to hers. But this either debases or devalues her struggles. She’s not a nihilist. She doesn’t believe that nothing has value. And she clearly thinks that some things have more value for her. Why does she even feel comfortable relating her experiences to those of other people?

Let me try a different tact. To every experiential point, there is a counter point.

I should do X to stay healthy. But I’m going to die, anyway.

I should do X to find myself. But identity is an illusion.

I should find some good friends. But their consolation is temporary.

Now I’m not trying to get all negative nancy, here, but what I’m saying is that there actually is a degree of arbitrariness when trying to investigate the values of different actions as such. It’s a snake pit that’s easy to fall into. Little Wayne said:

“Fuck you, that’s my cup”

meaning that you can’t ask him about what’s in his fucking cup. Don’t ask him what he’s doing. Don’t ask him why. Don’t ask him if he thinks it’s valuable.

Don’t ask the tree why it grows a certain way. Trees can’t talk.

I feel like I’m coming out of a cocoon.

It is awkward and painful.

I’m sorry.

3 Responses

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  1. Graham said, on July 23, 2012 at 5:22 am

    I’m going to go out on an anti-limb here and say that the vast, vast majority of the time, Mr. Judge Judy is wasting his life away doing nothing. That he would be better off dead because the resources he is using up are not worth the value he’s putting back out. What’s more, at least in Missoula, the Californian position would be seen as crazy, illogical, the talk of individuality gone haywire. Also, you don’t have to read recent books, and furthermore, the growth of a tree is a deep reflection of the spatial and temporal environment that it lives in.

    • bigsleytheoaf said, on July 23, 2012 at 5:40 am

      Blah resources blah. Universe will be helium atoms vibrating some day. 99% of everything is shit. Maybe we need the freedom to be shit in order to have the freedom to be glory. Maybe he’s acting as counterpoint to some olympic sprinter somewhere. Maybe it’s like spirit animals or spirit trees. Judge Judy fan dies, Usain Bolt dies. But not exactly like that.

      I do agree that this sort of equanimity is probably due to individuality run amuck. I don’t know how to deal with it. Maybe I should just leave.

      But there’s a problem – as an individual I am repelled by the idea of being sucked into a community because then I will have a role, I will be determined, reduced. I will be myself but reflected and amplified in certain dimensions while dulled and diminished in others.

      What’s the right way to live, anyway?

  2. Graham said, on July 24, 2012 at 7:04 am

    But don’t you already live in a community? Even this conversation is by its very nature reflecting and amplifying part of you, and dulling and diminishing other parts of you. Of *course* an individual is herself repelled by community. That’s the nature of the grasping mind. I think deep down that struggling with individuality is analogous to struggling with the knowledge of one’s own mortality. But a community can outlive its adherents. Which isn’t to say that I’m all high and mighty and above obsessing over my own importance, or even that it’s right for any form, individual or no, to live long, prosper, reproduce, give back, or do “good work”. But life without form, for me, is a very difficult life to justify. Where there are no traditions or old ways I want to create tradition, adhere to it, pass it on, MAKE it meaningful through will. I suppose my disgust of Mr. Judge Judy comes from his lack of awareness of tradition. He is taking part in a tradition that is beholden to something which is diametrically opposed to well-being and love. And semantics or no, I think you do understand me when I use words like “well-being” and “love”. These concepts mean something similar enough in our collective discourse that true meaning can be conveyed.

    The other point here is that pure individuality leads to depression and death of the spirit. You can’t make it on your own.

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