you know how to learn? Life is always trying to teach you a lesson.
It may not be what you want to hear. But you are well advised to
game is never fair. The rules are always changing. The lessons are
always there for you to learn, if you choose to heed them.
how to learn
before En Vogue borrowed and somewhat watered it down*, George
Clinton’s Funkadelic had a message for the world: Free Your Mind…
And Your Ass Will Follow.
a delightful interview shot in Atlanta, Georgia rapper Killer Mike’s
barber shop SWAG (standing for Shave,Wash and Groom) Clinton explains that
his philosophy of liberation of mind followed by posterior is all
Mike: Is your music political? How did you sneak messages in there?
Clinton: I try not to be preachy. I try to make it funny. I ain’t
trying to be no role model. Don’t follow me. I don’t want to lead
nobody down no road that I ain’t ready to go down myself.
Mike: When you say ‘Free Your Mind… And Your Ass Will Follow’…
Clinton: You figure out what to do with that. You figure that one out
for yourself. I ain’t trying to preach. I don’t know no answers.
I just know that learning how to learn is really important.
Mike: So really, getting people to question is the ultimate answer?
love this view on learning and on life. Learning how to learn is the
most important learning. Getting people to question is the ultimate
Doesn’t it teach you?
comes in many forms. Some of the most valuable lessons that life
wants to teach you are to be found in the harshest times. They might
come from points of view with which you fundamentally disagree. From
voices you don’t want to hear.
on a recent episode of the Bret Easton Ellis podcast, country musician Sam Outlaw says that no matter how closeted or
cosseted your upbringing, the real world will intervene and try to
teach and “correct” you sooner or later:
grow up, right? Don’t you grow up? Doesn’t life beat the shit out
of you and teach you the way it really is? Don’t you hit the real
world and at some point doesn’t it teach you and correct that way
of thinking and teach you that no, you’re not special? Or if you
are, you have to prove it. It’s not just built in.”
bubble forced to look at itself
most deliberately provocative – yet also the most thought-provoking –
thing I’ve come across this week is Ellis’ half-hour long
essay/lecture at the start of the Sam Outlaw episode of his podcast.
can’t say that I agree with everything that Ellis has to say, but
it is a harshly fascinating listen, wittily argued.
takes a critical look at the ongoing shock felt by the American left
at the election of Donald Trump (and also finds parallels in “the
post-Brexit chill” he sees in 2017 London).
argues that Hillary Clinton’s supporters (at least, the affluent
ones in his immediate LA and NY social circles) were and are so
preoccupied with their own echo chamber that they missed the
inevitability of Trump’s rise and win.** Ellis describes Trump, his
cohorts and other populist right-wing movements around the world as
“the disruptors.” These disruptors are an anarchic force taking a
leaf out of Silicon Valley’s book and ignoring the existing rules
of the game.
left has been left floundering, says Ellis. He describes the
emotional tone of a Beverly Hills Oscars party he attended earlier
the no-one talks-about-it category, Beverly Hills voted for Trump,
the only red outpost in the sea of blue out here in La La Land. The
outrage, the indignation, the horror at the Trump apocalypse, the
bubble forced to look at itself and wonder where it all went wrong.
Yes, the self-victimising was still going strong, though waning.”
bubble forced to look at itself. There are lessons to be learned,
Ellis believes. But he worries that they may not be heeded. Ellis
fears a tendency towards censorship on the rise in the left, a drive
to shut down and shut out contrary viewpoints. Ellis says:
Jones, a CNN commentator and prominent Democrat, who had a breakdown
on live TV the night of the election, and was heavily criticised for
saying a few nice things about one speech which Donald Trump gave,
and was banned from the party for doing so, told students at the
University of Chicago that they have got to get over shutting people
down if they have a different opinion, a different viewpoint from
your own. Quote: ‘I don’t want you to be safe idelogically. I don’t
want you to be safe emotionally. I want you to be strong. That’s
different. I’m not going to pave the jungle for you. Put on some
boots and learn how to deal with adversity.’"
is so much life and learning going on outside of your bubble, your
comfort zone. Life has forced me out of my comfort zone numerous
times over the past few weeks. As distressing as the prospect of each
of these challenges was to me, none was as bad as I expected once I’d
faced them. I am proud and pleased to have faced what I didn’t want
to face. But I know my recent experiences are but baby steps compared
to what so many other people do and face every day.***
I am wise enough to learn anything from the lessons the past few
weeks have tried to teach me is another matter entirely.
other day, my friend Simon Heath**** wrote something wonderful and wise
is only learning if we heed the lessons.”
* My words are in no way intended as a criticism of En Vogue, who are one of the all-time great bands in my view. I love that they made a massive hit song based on the significantly less commercial work of Funkadelic. Here’s En Vogue…
And here’s Funkadelic for you…
** Ellis is at pains to point out that he should not be confused with a Trump supporter or apologist. He points out in this podcast that there is a clear reason why Donald Trump is referenced 40 times in his uber-controversial novel American Psycho, and why Trump is the ultimate hero for its inhuman, despicable narrator Patrick Bateman.
friend Charlie Eastabrook spends a great deal of her life outside of
her comfort zone, pushing the limits what she can do and endure.
Charlie seeks to do everything better, for the good of everyone.
Charlie’s next challenge is a London to Paris bike ride on 9 June 2017. Gentle reader, I would be delighted if you would please
consider sponsoring Charlie in this challenge.
**** My thanks to Simon for creating the mind-freeing image above his words, and for his kind permission for me to use it here.