I admit that I am somewhat fixated on George Carlin at the moment. I was a huge fan, and I feel a deep and genuine sense of loss over his death.
George taught people to think outside the box and not take things at face value; to wonder and question and think for ourselves. He challenged us and taught us how to challenge ourselves. And he did all this while also teaching us not to take ourselves, or even him, too fucking seriously.
In light of George Carlin’s recent death, his name is popping up all over the internet. This is to be expected. One thing that is being wrongly attributed to him, however, is a piece entitled The Paradox of Our Time. Since George did not want to be associated with this and, in fact, called it “a sappy load of shit”, it is in his honor that I write this post.
More inside the crack:
George Carlin did not write The Paradox of Our Time!
Variations: Numerous versions are prefaced with this:
What a difference a sad event in someone’s life makes.
GEORGE CARLIN (His wife recently died…)
Isn’t it amazing that George Carlin – comedian of the 70’s and 80’s – could write something so very eloquent… and so very appropriate.
Origins: In May 1998, Jeff Dickson posted the ‘Paradox of Our Time’ essay to his Hacks-R-Us online forum, loosing it upon the Internet. The essay has since been attributed to comedian George Carlin, an unnamed Columbine High School student, and that most prolific of scribes, Anonymous.
George Carlin very emphatically denied he had had anything to do with “Paradox,” a piece he referred to as “a sappy load of shit,” and posted his comments about being associated with this essay on his own web site. With reference to the “His wife recently died” line found in many of the forwards, Brenda Carlin, the comedian’s wife, died on 11 May 1997 of liver cancer.
The true author of the piece is neither George Carlin nor Jeff Dickson, nor is he anonymous. Credit belongs with Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Seattle’s Overlake Christian Church. (He retired in 1998 after 29 years in that post). The essay appeared under the title “The Paradox of Our Age” in Words Aptly Spoken, Dr. Moorehead’s 1995 collection of prayers, homilies, and monologues used in his sermons and radio broadcasts:
Here is what George had to say about it:
One of the more embarrassing items making the internet/e-mail rounds is a sappy load of shit called “The Paradox of Our Time.” The main problem I have with it is that as true as some of the expressed sentiments may be, who really gives a shit? Certainly not me.
I figured out years ago that the human species is totally fucked and has been for a long time. I also know that the sick, media-consumer culture in America continues to make this so-called problem worse. But the trick, folks, is not to give a fuck. Like me. I really don’t care. I stopped worrying about all this temporal bullshit a long time ago. It’s meaningless. (See the preface of “Braindroppings.”)
Another problem I have with “Paradox” is that the ideas are all expressed in a sort of pseudo-spiritual, New-Age-y, “Gee-whiz-can’t-we-do-better-than-this” tone of voice. It’s not only bad prose and poetry, it’s weak philosophy. I hope I never sound like that.
So, please don’t think you’re honoring George Carlin by posting this sappy load of shit and attributing it to him. If you don’t recognize it as clearly not his style, you weren’t paying attention to the man.