The shallow manifesto

Seriously glib and lovin’ it.

Words & images © Paul Ransom

Note: This piece was originally composed in 2009, and later revised in 2014. It is both tongue-in-cheek and a little serious. Though it encapsulates a genuine mid-life crisis moment it also points at something beyond the usual dramas of self.

When I was younger – so much younger than today – my mother used to say: don’t go out of your depth. She said a whole bunch of other crap too but she was right about the drowning.

I did the ‘depth’ thing. We’re divorced now. I returned the ring. All that substance just got me down. Such heavy, heavy shit. Y’know the drill – I believe everything happens for a reason … Oh really, what reason would that be? Don’t tell me – life has an overarching narrative, right? It’s a journey. To where exactly? The mall? The grave?

Okay sure, maybe everything is ultimately meaningful – part of some beautiful purpose that only a loving God could divine. So what if it is! I still don’t wanna be deep.

Point schmoint.

Spare me the incessant introspective babble of the macrobiotic middle classes. Kill that righteous psalm of spiritual awareness. Burn that self-help manual. Standard meaning tropes are pass/fail, objective focused, linear reductions. We internalise them as a self-punishing anthology of should.    

Give me the meaningless void. Fetch me the teaspoon. I just wanna be happy.

When people say, “hey man, none of this is real” I say, “well, what the hell is it then?” And anyway – who’s to say what’s real? And who cares?

Happy is fun. Meaningful is a drag.   

So in order not to drown in the dull dichotomies of ‘deep’ I’m heading for the libertine shallows, where the kids have wings to help them float. Does it really matter if my buoyancy is apparently artificial? Not drowning is not drowning, right?

Therefore, rather than bore you to tears with a well developed, gymnastically argued scree about the fundamental contradictions enshrined within the very fabric of existence – yawn – here’s a few cheap one liners.

  • Pointless is the new profound
  • Wisdom is meaningless
  • Immediacy is everything
  • The truth is neither here nor there
  • If it matches my outfit, I’ll put it on credit

Any hint of existential humour or cleverly disguised philosophical content is purely coincidental. This is exactly what it is – a glib encapsulation of modern vacuity, a flippant tweet to the see-through.

Rise up against your higher self. It’s okay to believe nothing. And OMG, it’s like, sooo much easier.

Which is where I come in. You see, I didn’t get here by accident. I got here with a broken heart. Too much pain by half. (Oh the drama.) What a pathetic cliché.

I thought, what’s the point of all this cleverness if I still feel like shit – if it makes the ache even worse? So I dropped it. Just let it all go, like so much out of fashion furniture. Kinda like de-cluttering the soul. Minimalism for the mind.

You see, I’m not really a hard surface. I just wanna be.

Okay – that’s it. No more seriousness. From now on it’s strictly ankle deep. Well, maybe groin deep, ‘cos that might be a bit more fun. And really, that’s all I ever wanted. What about you? 

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