Grammaticus addresses the origins
hopes for the future,
his amazing powers, and Bugs Bunny.
say that this photo is Instagram and rush down
the comments to call me a hipster and tell me to kill myself
all-caps, be aware that this essay is from 2006
I just did that with normal Photoshop.
do you think
people will say about this site?
they always say about smart
people in this culture: that I “think I’m better
than everyone,” that I may
have a high IQ but I have no “common sense,” no
“heart,” no “street smarts,” or
whatever-the-fuck phrase they want to use to try and pretend that
else is “realer” than intelligence.
if I read all this stuff in a book rather than
thinking of it myself. And
even if I had
read it all in a
book, that wouldn’t be the point.
something is true, then it’s true,
regardless of whether someone only knows it because they had a
education” or whatever.
kind of seem
course I am. I’m
really good at something. And
conceit in people
good at something, as long as that thing is not
being smart. An
athlete or a pop star
can say over and over again that he’s the greatest guy who
ever lived and
people eat it up. People
love it because
it allows them to pretend that those things are important. But
someone’s good at something that
important, people are
disgusted. We use
words like “philosophy”
and “poetry” to praise things that aren’t
actually philosophy or poetry — stuff
that’s pretty good for a regular guy — to elevate its
status. But when
something actually is
poetry, people hate it
and they get
it’s weird that we use those
words as compliments. It’s
trying to replace the actual things with lesser versions of them so we
everyone to feel better the Left’s project?
yet you identify yourself more closely as a
Liberal than as a Conservative.
question. Yeah, the
all this, you know,
don’t have to listen
to anyone… you’re great the way you
are… spend your whole life finding
yourself… you are the center of the whole fucking universe
and don’t let anyone
tell you different” stuff for forty years, and it totally
backfired. It would
have been a great idea if it had
turned out that human nature was basically good; that we’re
all really nice as
long as we steer clear of nasty outside influences.
it turns out that in the State of Nature
or whatever — in the State of Nature
man is a flaming asshole. It’s
stuff that comes from outside. When
little kid gets mad, their natural instinct is to hit someone, and they
be taught not to hit. But
mean that teaching kids not to hit is “fake” or
something. I mean,
everyone hits everyone
else all day long?
seem to think
you’re really special. Even
this interview, you are standing on the table shirtless, surrounded by
with Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” playing on
a loop and a wind machine aimed at
your luxurious, flowing hair.
well, yes. But
whole thing. I
totally acceptable to
think you’re special if you really are — I mean, why
wouldn’t you? The
problem is that everyone else thinks
they’re just as special as I am, when they really suck.
have been told for
forty years that,
you know, if you don’t believe that black holes or something
work the way
Einstein said, then you just go right ahead and believe that, because
just as good as Einstein. I
scientists have proven Einstein wrong about a few things — I
think Hawking did
with regard to black holes, and someone else may have proven Hawking
that’s different. I’m
talking about the whole “I don’t have to
believe you, because I can do whatever I want” type of thing. But you’re
not — the general
mean — you’re not
as good as Einstein.
good at physics,
the thing. We’ve
in a “true or
false” sense with right
in a moral sense… confused being
good at something with being,
you know, a good person
in your heart or whatever. And
that’s a huge problem. It
allows people to say, “Well, I’m a good
person, and therefore what I
anything is just as
valid as what someone else believes, even if that other person is an
I’m not.” Plus,
the ironic thing is that
people who think that way aren’t even usually actually good
people — they’re
and it occurred to me: doesn’t being smart always imply some
mean, it’s not like
there are just “smart” people who can do everything,
point, and yes,
that’s true. If
you compare, say, Einstein, Shakespeare,
and Mozart, it makes no sense to talk about who was
“smarter” than whom,
because each one could do something that the other two
couldn’t do — although it
can safely be assumed that each one was “smarter”
in the general sense than an
average person. But
now let’s throw in
Freud. What he was
good at — figuring out
what “made people tick,” so to speak — is
just as specialized, but more
far-reaching from the point of view of a human being living in a
could talk about what made Einstein
Einstein, but Einstein couldn’t talk about what made Freud
Freud. I mean, he
could talk about what would happen
to Freud’s body if it fell into a black hole, but when we
refer to a
person, we mean the
processes by which
their mind operates, not the molecules that make up their physical body. Even
didn’t possess their
respective talents, the questions of, you know, why did Einstein become
person instead of a bad person who sold his potential weapon-designing
to the highest bidder, or why did Shakespeare write plays instead of
rich by becoming history’s most eloquent con man, those are
questions for Freud
more than for Einstein or Shakespeare themselves.
even though Freud’s talent was
just as specialized, it ends up looking
like everything because it has
everything — I mean, what
person or deed is beyond the bounds of the questions of what makes
they are and what makes them do the things they do?
that also what
Shakespeare addressed, in a different way?
brings us to the fact that talent is
may very well
have been better than Freud at what Freud could do, brainwise anyway,
lived before psychology was invented, so he wrote plays. Plus,
he was born an
English speaker at a
time when the English language was ripe for what he did to it. What
if he had been born
with the same brain,
but into a culture that spoke a less interesting language? I
think that, all things
Shakespeare was the greatest genius who ever lived, but what the fuck
things considered” even mean in this context?
you sound like
the people you were bashing at the beginning of the
interview — the people who
say there’s no such thing as genius.
I don’t. Saying
that the ability of
genius to reveal itself
is dependent on
external factors isn’t the same thing as saying that it
doesn’t exist. Just
because you can explain something
doesn’t mean it’s not real. I
can explain why Hitler was evil by saying that he was beaten as a
that doesn’t mean you’re saying he wasn’t
really evil, or that there’s no such
thing as evil. Everything
I just said
was no different from saying “What if Michael Jordan had been
basketball was invented?”, and people have no trouble
understanding what that
question does or doesn’t imply. The
bottom line is, what the people I was bashing at the beginning are
with is coming up with rationalizations
for why regular people shouldn’t
listen to smart people, and
nothing I just said supports that
conclusion. The Academic Left's version of the same thing is
to talk about how everything is social — but just because
to be put before a genius in order for the genius to act on it, that
doesn't mean that it's the thing acting instead of the genius.
true. There seems
to be some kind of eternal quest
among dumb people to come up with reasons why smart stuff
isn’t actually smart.
when they can’t do that, they try the
next-best thing, which is
coming up with reasons why no-one would want to be
a smart person, even
the stuff they believe is true. Usually,
they do this by making up associations between smartness and various
qualities that balance things out in the dumb person’s favor. You
look at chat rooms and
blogs, and the jokes are about how smart people smell bad or something.
I’ve seen stuff
like that. I
don’t get it.
do I. I
guess it might be an
outgrowth of the
“smart people are socially
awkward and can’t get dates” thing, or an
association of college with
environment stuff and hippies or whatever.
just make up some shit and repeat it until all
their friends believe
it — or not even really believe it, but all agree to act like
it’s true — and then
they feel better, or they think they do.
think they feel
fact is, everyone
wants to be smart and
it’s impossible to say
someone who’s really good
at hockey or something gives me shit, I can honestly say that not being
hockey doesn’t bother me. I
it’s bad for the other guy to practice it and enjoy it, but
I’m just not
interested in it myself. But
wishes they were
they are. Everyone
wishes they were
smarter, better-looking, and had more money.
anyone who says they don’t is lying.
an idea that
smart people are less happy; the sort of Woody Allen,
little bit valid at
least. Smart people
better, so when there’s something troubling to think about,
we’re more likely
to think about it. But
same as being unhappy. That’s
rationalization — dumb people think they have power
over smart people because they
have the power to bother
giving a shit about anything
is the superior
about stuff with
always talk about how
“freak out” over this and “freak
out” over that, like it’s funny. Their
reaction to, say, pollution is like “it makes smart people
mad; ha ha, look, I
have the ability to make smart people mad!”
like ruining the world is their
revenge for feeling bad about being
dumb in school when they were kids — as if they won’t
die too when the world gets
fucked up beyond repair. Well,
think it’s funny
that you’re too dumb
to understand why we “freak out” over it, so there.
though. I mean, it
bother smart people
when dumb people
ruin something for
everyone else, right?
SG: (sigh…) Yeah,
what sucks about the whole thing.
catch is that smart people do
in fact need other people to listen
to them in order for their powers to work.
return to the Michael Jordan analogy,
it’s like “What if everyone
else in the world just refused
basketball, just to spite
Michael Jordan?” Then
be Michael Jordan
anymore, because in order to be better
than everyone at something, you need other people to agree to play
why people keep returning to
physicality — to strength and sexiness — as the
you can beat someone up, then you don’t
need them to agree
to get beaten up
in order for your power to be evident — you can just beat them
up against their
you’re sexy, then people don’t
have to agree
to have the desire to
sleep with you — they just have
desire, whether they want to or not.
intelligence, by comparison, ends up seeming like an artificial game
people can choose either to play or not play, like basketball. Or
even a game they can
control. Like Bugs
Bunny with the matches.
Bunny with the
the best analogy. There’s
this one cartoon where Bugs Bunny is giving the business to Yosemite
Sam on Yosemite Sam’s ship — you know, fucking with
various ways — and
eventually Bugs lights a
match and throws it down into the munitions hold where all the
shit is. Sam,
out” and runs down to grab it before the ship blows up.
he comes back up,
huffing and puffing
but relieved, and Bugs does it again.
runs down after the match again, and comes back
up again, and then
Bugs throws another one down. At
point, Sam realizes that Bugs can just keep doing this to him
indefinitely — after all, it’s nothing to Bugs,
because it’s not his ship — so he
says something like “If you do that one more time, Rabbit, I
after it.” Of
course, Bugs calls his
bluff, lights another match, and throws it down.
Sam tries to play it cool, whistling and
playing jacks and shit, and then realizes that he has
no choice but to run down after
the match — but
it’s too late,
and the ship blows up. This
is the one
advantage dumb people have over smart people.
see culture — and, to a certain extent,
the world itself — as something
that belongs to smart people rather than to them.
they try to get back at smart people by
fucking it up. And
smart people can
never say, “Well, fuck you, dumb people — this time
we’re just going to let you
fuck it up.” As
many times as they try,
we have no
choice but to expend all
this energy trying to stop them. And
don’t give a
shit — it’s not their
difference is, Yosemite Sam deserved
to get fucked with, because he
was a pirate or a Hessian or whatever the fuck he was in that
cartoon. We don’t
deserve to get fucked
with, because we’re not just protecting ourselves
from the dumb
people, we’re protecting
themselves as well.
It's fun to feel like Bugs
Bunny, to be able to fuck with people — but Bugs Bunny only
people who deserved it, and that's an important difference.
exceptions to that sort of behavior?
thank goodness. If
someone is sick, they
want a smart doctor
who knows what they’re doing to operate on them.
is going to go
“I think I’ll go to a
stupid doctor just to spite the smart one.”
even strength and sexiness are subservient to
intelligence in some
ways. I mean, it
would have been a smart
bow-and-arrow, thereby negating the physical strength of the others. And
sexiness has a lot to
do with figuring
out what people want to see and how to play around inside their heads,
you have to be smart to do, especially at the legendary
level — Marilyn Monroe
and Jayne Mansfield both had very high IQs.
then, of course, there’s Madonna, who turned her career into this
brilliant , massively influential art project that seemed to regular
people like it was just “being sexy.” Figuring out new ways to be sexy is probably the most culturally important thing someone can do.
these aspects of
intelligence get converted into unstoppable forces, people then stop
of them as aspects of intelligence, because a characteristic hallmark
intelligence according to how most people think of it is that
it’s supposed to be
something that dumb people can ignore or even fuck with.
the Bugs Bunny
SG: It’s meta-bullying. They
aren’t physically around smart people to
push them up against the lockers anymore — and besides, if you
beat someone up as
an adult then you get arrested — so instead they push the world
up against the
lockers. There are
all these people who
got out all this jealousy when they were kids by picking on smart
making fun of them, and then they graduate and they can’t do
it anymore, but
they’re used to being able to do it, so all that anger has to
somewhere. So it
goes into being wrong
on purpose, because that’s the only way they have left to
hurt smart people.
you get picked on
as a kid?
and no. I
mean, in elementary
school yeah, but then I grew
early, and started
working out a lot.
in like 5th
grade. And then
no-one could take me, at least until
I got into junior high and high school where there were kids who were
older. But they
didn’t come after me so
much as I would always jump in when I saw someone else getting picked
on. I would get in
the middle and draw the
bully’s attention away.
of like you’re
guess. I could have
tried to stay under the radar if
I’d wanted to, I
suppose. Or maybe
not. Maybe trying
to be on everyone’s radar is
just as much a part of who I am as being smart is, so I
couldn’t have done
anything about it even if I’d wanted to.
being bullied was
your choice, not theirs?
it was… It was
allegedly the reason people would fuck with me, I’d fix it. It
started off as,
“you may be smart, but
you’re a pussy,” so I started lifting weights.
big, but you don’t know how to fight,
and you suck at sports,” so I learned how to fight, and won a
high-school fights hands-down, and practiced the one sport I was okay
I got good. So then
people were like, “no-one
gives a shit, because you’re still weird and can’t
get girls,” so I put some
energy into that, and ended up having more sex than the cool kids. But
then people started
spreading rumors that
I was fucking teachers and people’s moms and shit.
I was just
like, “fuck it, these people
are going to hate me no matter what I do.”
was like fixing the shit they said was wrong with
me just made it
worse. Once you
realize that your enemy
is unappeasable, you take a different tack.
make right action
sound like just another type of vanity.
maybe it is. But if
it has good
results, what’s the
problem? I mean you
could say that any
good person just
wanted attention or
whatever, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t
actually good people. That’s
just another tactic dumb people
use — saying, “well, you’re right, but your
motivation for being right is
questionable, so therefore you’re not actually
kind of the downside to Freud’s
legacy. People are
afraid to do
anything, because of the possibility that whatever they try to do will
some embarrassing thing about themselves that they themselves
everyone just sits
around, except for the people who are too evil to give a shit. That’s
one of those things that
people think is conservative but really isn’t.
someone sees that
you’ve started some
kind of movement with a bunch
of strongly-worded articles about what you do or don’t
believe, right away they
assume it’s going to be conservative, because whoever heard
of a Liberal with
the confidence to do something like that?
do you know
1585 will have good results?
I hope it will. But
what am I supposed
do, nothing? There
are all these people trying to do shit
that we know
results, so the argument
“if you try to stop them, it might not
work, so don’t try” doesn’t really mean
much to me. That’s
another problem: everyone’s more
motivated by the possibility that everyone will laugh at them if they
try to do
something and fail than they are by anything good that could come of
how would you
answer someone who says that what you’re attempting to do is
of whether it’s a good idea? I
most people would probably be inclined to say that religion will simply
exist no matter what anyone does.
that because religion always
has existed, and has been a central facet of all heretofore existing
cultures. But this
actually means very
little. A couple of
hundred years ago, it
would have sounded just as unlikely if someone had said that one day
would cease to exist, and for exactly the same reasons — it had
lots of cultures had developed it independently of one another, it had
essential part of the most successful cultures, etc.
then people realized that it was wrong,
and once that happened, it did in fact go away — and it went
away rather quickly
too, compared with how long it had been around.
can change very quickly provided that the
right chain reaction
what if it
doesn’t ever get moving?
already is. Religion
in the process of
dying out for quite a while. If
back over the last several centuries, the world has been less religious
end of every century than it was at the beginning.
this trend continues, then religion has
to eventually cease to exist. If
the burden of
proof is on them to explain why this wouldn’t
happen, rather than on me to say why it would.
always be mysteries in life, unexplainable things, etc.?
that doesn’t necessarily mean that
people will always turn to
religion to explain them. For
do you believe that there will eventually be a cure for cancer?
guess I do.
you believe this is because scientists will
eventually discover it,
there you go. Right
now, the cure for
cancer is a
mystery. But you
didn’t say that the
only way it would ever be explained is if God reveals it to us through
miracle. You just
said that eventually
scientists would figure it out, even though they haven’t done
so yet. People only
look to some idea of God for
answers if that’s what they’ve been told
they’re supposed to do. Once
they aren’t told that anymore, they
won’t do it.
people will still
have heard of
of God. I mean, if
the absence of religion would
require there to be no record of there ever having been such a thing as
of course it
wouldn’t require that. Yes,
people will still have heard of God, but
so what? Contemporary
people have heard
of vampires and
witches, but they
don’t believe that they really exist, even though they know
that people in the
past believed in them and used them to explain things.
person in the future won’t be any more
inclined to say that an unexplainable good thing was caused by God than
contemporary person would be to say that an unexplainable bad thing was
by a witch, no matter how unexplainable it is.
someone knows that there’s no such
thing as witches, then you can
throw all the unexplainable things in the world at them, and
never going to suddenly go, “Okay, I give up, it must be
then, I’ll ask
you the opposite question. If
you hope to achieve are already inevitably happening, then why bother
site? Are you just
trying to jump on the
bandwagon of the right side of history?
SG: No, I am
the bandwagon of the right side of history.
a small part of it, at least. Your
that history is a thing
that’s going on outside of
us, and that we can either make the decision to
“join” it or not. But
history isn’t going on outside
of anyone — everyone
part of it, including
us. When you asked
“Why do we need people like you, if it’s already
happening,” that ignored the
fact that “people like me” are
reason that it’s already happening.
have been people like me in the past, who said
the past precursors
of the things I say. So I’m not
“joining” the process in a way that’s
superfluous — I’m just occupying my
natural role in the process, which is the way the process works.
happens. How can
something be “heavy” if it’s the only
thing that could possibly happen?
mean, what would be non-heavy?
let me ask
you: How do you justify the fact that this interview was just you
yourself, rather than being interviewed by an actual other person?
McCartney did the
same thing in the
liner notes from his first solo album.
that the one with
“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey?”
that’s on Ram.