Who Am I?  I Don’t Really Know!

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“To be or not to be?  That is the question”, said Hamlet.  But what is the answer?   Do you remember when you were in high school and everyone asked you “What do you want to be, when you grow up?”  Being that I did not have a clue, I simply ignored the question.  I suspect that millions of high school kids every year at graduation time get deluged with this question.  Personally, knowing how I felt about it, I make it a point “never” to ask any kids “What do they want to be when they grow up?”  Of course, some kids are smarter than I was, and they have a ready-made answer: “I want to be President of the United States.”  “I want to be an Oscar winning movie star.”  I want to be a quarterback in the NFL.”  “I want to be a Nobel Prize winning scientist.”  I was never any good with a comeback, so unfortunately, I never thought of any of these impressive responses.  Years have gone by and I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up.

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A few years ago, I was tempted to start a group for people over sixty who like me did not know what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Misery loves company as they say.  Sadly, too many of the people who I thought would qualify for my group had either died or retired.  The rest wanted to keep working and were not interested in finding their true selves.  I suspect that if they did quit their work, they would no longer know who they were.

images (1)As years have gone by, I have learned from the sages (who profess to know these things) that “being” is more important than “doing” in terms of defining who we really are.  In other words, just because I work as a management consultant or educator, that job title does not describe the real me.  The real me exists apart from what I do to make a living or to earn a paycheck.  I discovered that It would take an epic journey of soul searching to find my real being, the real me.  Ever since I learned that I needed such a quest to know my true inner self, I have been struggling to find out who I really am.  I am now 73 years old and I am still wrestling with this question.

When you meet people socially for the first time or you go to any party or get together, what is the first question that you get after you are introduced to a stranger?  It is of course: “What do you do?”  I now puff up my chest and reply: “I am busy being and not worrying about doing.”  No, that is a lie.  I wish I could say that, but usually I say the standard “Blah, Blah, Blah.”  Depending on my mood, I am either a management consultant, an educator, or an unpaid blogger.  The last job title usually sees my interrogator sidle slyly away with the excuse that they want to get another drink.  Seems bloggers are pretty low on anyone’s list of people “I must meet.”

220px-Σωκράτης,_Ακαδημία_Αθηνών_6616Socrates said that “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  These words were reportedly spoken at his trial for corrupting the youth of Athens.  Socrates believed that living a life where you unthinkingly obey the rules of society and never stop to examine what you actually want out of life is not worth living.  I believe that Socrates was thinking too much.  It is relatively easy to know what one wants out of life.  I want happiness, money, good health, good love, good sex, good food, interesting friends, a challenging and meaningful job and a perhaps a few exceptional children or two to round things out.  I am not sure what else I would want if I delved into the issue any deeper.

I think that the problem with even a cursory examination of one’s life is never about knowing what we want.  That is easy.  The difficult part is getting it.  How do I get money?  How do I get good love?  How do I get a meaningful and challenging job?  How do I get obedient disciplined exemplary children?  Each of these is a million-dollar question that involves a more elusive quest than finding than the Holy Grail.  It would be easier to find Genghis Khan’s buried treasure than to find happiness that does not often dissipate with the morning dew.

Socrates also said, “Know thyself.”  However, Socrates was not the first to make this claim.  The phrase “Know thyself” was a motto inscribed on the frontispiece of the Temple of Delphi.  On the bottom of the temple was a second motto that proclaimed: “All things in moderation.”  I am particularly good at the moderation edict, but I am still working on the “Know thyself” part.

Through assiduous reading from many self-help psychology books, philosophers, and spiritual prophets, I assumed that I had to separate being from doing before I could eventually find my true self.  I needed to unwrap myself from what I do and focus on “being.”  That is when I discovered another barrier to my quest.  I call it the paradox of the Mobius Strip versus the Two-Sided Coin.  A different way of thinking about this issue, might be in terms of East versus West world views.

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Allow me to explain this more.  If being and doing are thought of as two sides of the same coin (More of a Western conception) then we must balance each one separately.  Each one could be thought of as discrete parts of our lives.  Sometimes, I be and sometimes I do.  I be when I do not do, and I do not do when I be or something like that.  Could I keep them separate?  That was the puzzle that occupied my efforts for many years.  I could never solve it.

download (1)On the other hand, what if we are not faced with a coin here but with a Mobius Strip.  So there are not two sides but only one side.  Unlike a two-sided coin, there is no division in a Mobius Strip.  This is more of an Eastern perspective on life.  Thus, being rolls into doing without any breaks and doing rolls back into being.  Life is simply be-do-be-do-be-do.  If this is what life is really about, then trying to separate the two ideas is simply impossible.  When I do, I am being and when I am being, I am doing.

Can I be kind, without doing kind?  Can I be a good person, without doing good deeds?  Can I be a management consultant without doing any consulting.  Can I be a writer without doing any writing?  Can I be a lover without making love?  Can I ever separate being from doing?

To paraphrase Ecclesiastes: “Confusion of confusion.  All is confusion.”  I do not know who I am or what I be or if I should be instead of do or if I should do instead of be.

If only, I were a rich man!

“The most important men in town would come to fawn on me!  They would ask me to advise them.  Like Socrates the smart one or Solomon the wise one.  ‘If you please, Dr. Persico.  Pardon me, Dr. Persico.  What is the difference between being and doing Dr. Persico?  Should I BE first Dr. Persico and then DO or should I DO first and then BE, Dr. Persico?’  Solving problems that would perplex a genius or a wise man.  And it won’t make a damn bit of difference if I am right or wrong, cause when you are rich, they really think you know!”  — (Paraphrased from The Fiddler on the Roof)

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So now I return to where I first started.  I will conclude this short excursion into exploring who or what I am with the continuation of Hamlet’s soliloquy that I started this missive with.  Indeed it seems a very fitting and perhaps cautionary way to end this short excursion into the meaning of my life.

Says Hamlet:

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep, to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That Flesh is heir to?”

 

 

My Heroes Have Always Been Evil Geniuses!

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I know it is strange.  Most young men when I was growing up had cowboys as heroes, particularly the ones who wore white hats.  Men like Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger were the heroes to an entire generation of young baby boomers.

My heroes have always been cowboys
And they still are, it seems
Sadly, in search of, and one step in back of
Themselves and their slow movin’ dreams — Willie Nelson

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I guess I was always different because I liked the guys with the black hats.  They seemed to have more fun and less inhibitions.  You never saw the good guys kiss the girls, but the bad guys thought nothing about kissing them.  Bad guys were also early into bondage (think of all the women tied up on railroad tracks) which was taboo for good people back in the forties and fifties.  In fact, until 50 Shades of Grey, bondage still had a sort of naughty ring to it.

ming-the-merciless-tom-carltonMy first real hero was Ming the Merciless.  He had all the primary characteristics of an evil genius.  He was a megalomaniac who wanted to rule the world.  He was always smarter than Flash Gordon.  He had dozens of minions who followed his every order.  He obeyed no rules except his own.  And finally, he lusted after Dale Arden who was a pretty hot babe for the time.  Dale had wonderful blond curls, a great figure and was into bare midriff before it became popular in the 90’s.  Flash was a wimp when it came to Dale but Ming the Merciless knew what he wanted and really went after it.  I suppose tying women up today would not be proper but if you are an evil genius it is simply part of the expectations.

Ming the Merciless: “Flash, you stand in my way of my ruling the universe.  Not only that, but I want Dale for my bride and queen.  If you will give her to me, I will make you ruler of a galaxy of your own.  You can have more riches and power than you have ever dreamed possible.  If you don’t give her to me, I will destroy you, your mom and dad and all your sisters and brothers.  I will hypnotize Dale into loving me anyway and I will take over the earth and turn the earthlings into cockroaches and then step on them all.”

fu-manchuMy second Hero was Dr. Fu Manchu.  A character created by the writer Sax Rohmer.  Fu was as evil as they came.  He was a brilliant megalomaniac.  He obeyed no rules or laws except his own.  He was alleged to hold doctorates from four Western universities.  Unlike the wimpy college professors who one associates with a Ph.D. degree, there was nothing wimpy about Dr. Fu Manchu.  He would not hesitate to murder anyone who got in his way.  In the 1932 film, The Mask of Fu Manchu, Fu tells an assembled group of his minions that they must “kill the white men and take their women.”  Evil geniuses have a knack for thinking big and ignoring the normal bonds of propriety and civility.

Dr. Fu Manchu: “I hate Western imperialists.  I will drive them all from the face of the earth.  Together with my supporters, I will take over all of Europe and the United States.  I will have my pick of White blond women who I will make part of my harem.  I will destroy the capitalists and take over all the gold in Fort Knox and all the diamonds in the DeBeers Diamond mines.  If you Sir Denis Nayland Smith try to stand in my way, I will boil your friend Dr. Petri in oil very slowly and feed him to my pet crocodiles.  I will take your sister and put her in my harem.  I will spit on your mother’s grave.”  If you join me, I will give you your own harem.”

A few years after I ran out of Fu Manchu stories, I discovered my third hero.  He was none other than another brilliant Ph.D. named Professor Moriarty.  He was the arch nemesis of the world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes.  Dr. Moriaty was a genius with pretentions for ruling a large swath of the world.  Moriarty wanted to be the head of a vast criminal enterprise that would control all illegal underworld activities.

professor_moriarty_by_borbel-d2rstoyAs is usual with evil geniuses, Moriarty was always one step ahead of Sherlock.  Perhaps because it was still the Victorian age, Moriarty did not have much to do with lusting after women.  There was no kidnapping, tying women up or forced kissing in any of the Moriarty tales.  However, Sherlock was not much better in the womanizing category and seemed to be a confirmed bachelor.  His main relationship with a woman was with his housekeeper Mrs. Hudson which always stayed platonic.

Professor Moriarty: “Sherlock, you are one big pain in the ass.  You can’t outsmart me because your brain is too addled with cocaine.  I have hundreds of willing crooks who will help me to defeat you every time.  Why don’t you just take your friend Dr. Watson and spend more time playing your violin.  All, I want is to control the entire British underworld and you keep interfering with my plans.  I am warning you for the last time Sherlock, keep out of my affairs or I will eliminate your housekeeper Mrs. Hudson so that you and Watson will have to do your own cleaning and cooking.”

My next hero was from the Marvel Comic book universe and his name was Dr. Victor victor von doomVon Doom.  You must love someone with a name like that.  Dr. Doom was evil and ruthless and a certified genius.  He had many gadgets and inventions that enabled him to defeat an entire pantheon of superheroes.  When it came to bad, he took a back seat to no one.  Imagine, someone who would let his childhood sweetheart be savagely sacrificed so that he could gain the power to rule the world.  Yes, like most other evil geniuses, Dr. Doom was also a megalomaniac who wanted to rule the world.

Dr. Victor Von Doom: “Dr. Strange, you have thwarted me for the last time.  I am banishing you into the netherworld of demons and monsters from which you will never return.  Before I do, I want you to watch as I destroy all the other superheroes in the Marvel universe.  I will be ruler of the entire planet and there will be no one left to stop me.  I will make all the gypsies in Rumania into the leaders of all the countries on earth and everyone will have to learn how to play the violin and the accordion.”

a villains coloring bookI have not had time to describe all the evil geniuses whom I have loved and admired.  I have given you only a few of the ones who have punctuated my life.  I do not have the space to do justice (sic) to some of my other heroes such as Lex Luther, the Kingpin, The Joker, Green Goblin and of course Sauron.  By the way, recently we had a female megalomaniac out to destroy the world.  It was quite refreshing to see how Hela kicked Thor’s butt from one end of Asgard to the other.  But to bring you up to the present, I have now found perhaps the most evil genius in history.  He has all the truly great characteristics of evilness.  He is also a genius.

How do I know he is evil?  He grabs women by the pussies.  He incites violence.  He belittles disabled people.  He lies continuously.  He cheats on his taxes and cheats on just about anything he purchases.  He treats his minions with scorn and he has scores of servants willing to do his bidding.  His followers are willing to lie and cover up anything he does wrong.

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How do I know he is a genius?  That is easy.  The simple answer is because he says so.  But the real proof is in the mountains of money he has made.  He has property all over the world.  He owns humongous golf courses and houses.  He has plans to build a big wall to keep out all the immigrants who want to come to the United States to start a better life.  He is also smart enough to get congress to do whatever he wants.

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Finally, we know that a chief characteristic of an evil genius is that they must also be a megalomaniac.  Webster’s defines a megalomania as:

1: a mania for great or grandiose performance

  • an outburst of wildly extravagant commercial megalomania

2: a delusional mental illness that is marked by feelings of     personal omnipotence and grandeur

I think you can easily see that Donald Trump is also a megalomaniac.  His rallies are key examples of the need for grandiose performances.  There is little question that he feels that he is omnipotent and can do anything he wants to do.  For example, he said:

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

He has also commented that he can get anything he wanted from a woman because he was a star:

“I just start kissing them.  It’s like a magnet.  Just kiss.  I don’t even wait.  And when you’re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.  Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Evil geniuses are real studs when it comes to women.  I never had that kind of success with women when I was growing up but then I was never terribly evil, megalomaniacal or even a genius.

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I guess I will just have to continue living vicariously through my heroes or at least until I get bitten by a spider or hit with some type of gamma ray and acquire super powers.  You better watch out if I do.  I will grab your mother, sister and wife by the pussy, maybe even your grandmother, after I take over the universe of course.

Time for Questions:

Who is your favorite evil genius?  What do you admire about them?  How come we have so few women evil geniuses?  Did Hillary qualify for one?  Who can you think of that you admire?  Why?  What is it about evil geniuses that seems to attract people?  Why do they always get the best parts in the movies?

Life is just beginning.

With the proper training, I could’ve been an evil genius.”  —  George Carlin

 

 

 

 

 

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