October 3, 2011

Marc Maron's Mid-Life Crisis

Ferrari-599-GTB.jpg
but the point is to go slower, not faster

Comic Joe Rogan's podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, this week mentioned a speech by comic Marc Maron.

Marc Maron is a great comic I've referenced before.  It's probably not overstepping for me to say he suffers from narcissism, i.e. not that he is a narcissist, but that he suffers its consequences.

Rogan said that when he was first starting out in comedy, Maron (who was already well established) was nice to him and gave him good advice.  "I've always tried to be nice back to him because of what he did for me in the early days," said Rogan. 

But over the years, as Rogan got more popular and then became the host of Fear Factor, Maron apparently resented him.  Maron insulted him whenever he came up; he said Rogan was worse for comedy than Carlos Mencia (the two had a public battle over stolen material), and one night Maron had to introduce Rogan to the stage, and did so with a dispraging diatribe.

Rogan is a savvy student of human nature and a well practiced judge of character; and I'd trust his insight way before any psychologist, let alone the armchair variety they use to stabilize the chairs at The Atlantic.  Rogan's point, therefore, wasn't that Maron was a jerk; Rogan still believed Maron was a great comic and a nice guy.  The point for Rogan was how some people get caught in a self-hating, self-defeating loop of narcissistic resentment.   Forget about being happy for Rogan's success; or accepting it, or even being jealous of it.  Maron took it personally.

For example, from Maron's speech:

I have been doing standup for 25 years. I've put more than half my life into building my clown. That's how I see it. Comics keep getting up on stage and in time the part of them that lives and thrives up there is their clown. My clown was fueled by jealousy and spite for most of my career. I'm the clown who recently read The War for Late Night and thought it was basically about me not being in show business. I'm the clown who thought most of Jon Stewart's success was based on his commitment to a haircut. I'm the clown that thought Louis CK's show Louie should be called Fuck You Marc Maron.

Whether Maron is or is not a narcissist is not the point; this thinking is narcissistic.  Anything that happens he relates back to himself, even if it reveals him to be a loser.  (Hence the statement: the belief that narcissism is synonymous with grandiosity is itself a narcissistic defense.)  So other people's successes don't exist independently, they necessarily provide a commentary, a value, about oneself.  His success reflexively implies you're less of a success; his failure reflexively means you're more of a success.

The end result of this thinking is this:

Three years ago my clown was broke, on many levels, and according to my manager at the time un-bookable and without options....I was thinking, "It's over. It's fucking over." Then I thought: "You have no kids, no wife, no career, certainly no plan B. Why not kill yourself?"
By "the result" I don't mean the suicidality, though of course that option is never flatly rejected, it is a last chance at immortality.  The result of this loop is the first sentence, the "without options."  There are no options not because there are actually no independent options, but because there are no options which change the balance of worth between you and the other person.  Because your value is measured relative to the other person, and you've now discovered that you have no control over that other person, you are indeed left "without options."  No obvious way to become more successful, OR no obvious way to make Joe Rogan less successful.


II.

I can't tell you how to be successful, but I can tell you how to successfully get through this kind of misery.  Note that this advice is not for people in their 20s, it will not work for you, it will only work if you're over 40. (1)

The trick to solving physics problems is to recognize the form of the equation; the trick to solving your life is to know the form of the conflict.

Maron was having a mid-life crisis, which is always of the form:  "will I do anything useful with the rest of my life?"  Note the emphasized "always."  There is no alternative question.

Typically, people misinterpret the mid-life crisis as, "I'm 45 years old and I've never done X" where X equals: blondes; car collecting; skydiving, a book, loved, learned Italian.  And while these things are enjoyable, and will bring the person happiness of varying amounts, they don't solve the crisis because the crisis isn't about doing things but about running out of time.  "That was fun," you say as she drives back to Wellesley, but then you glance at the calendar and it says you're still 45.  There are only two things that will make that 45 less painful, and one of them is alcohol.

All the maneuvers indicative of a mid-life crisis-- younger women, sportscars, new hobbies, new careers, new looks-- are easily interpreted as new beginnings to help you trick yourself that the clock has been rolled back.  (That these things do, in fact, make you slightly younger is not here the point.)

So other than alcohol, what answers the question, "Will I do anything useful with the rest of my life?"  The key to navigating this stage is to understand that the word "useful" has a very specific definition and can only be fulfilled through limited ways:  it has to serve the next generation.

I can see you rolling your eyes. (2) This isn't touchy-feely nonsense; this is how humans were built, no different than they were built to see Roy through Biv or to find the absence of eyeballs uncanny.  It explains why happy people still go through this; why making millions of dollars doesn't solve this; why having kids, being celebrated or even famous all fail, not because these are intrinsically "bad" but because they do not specifically fulfill the human necessity to believe it is useful to the next generation.

Most people get through this by raising kids (not just having them), teaching them things, "getting them into college," passing on the culture. The more you feel responsible to this process the easier mid-life will be.  Nor does it require active or even good parenting; it is an internal conceptualization of your life, rather than any external activity.  Not changing what you do, but how you thinks about it.  Though it sounds like a cognitive trick, it is as simple as not saying, "I want to get rich" and instead saying, "I want to get rich so my family has a good life."  To emphasize, this is not about the comparative morality of wealth vs. poverty, but the inclusion of the clause "so that" by which the narcissism is dissolved.  (Yes, this means one could fool themselves into thinking they are "useful," thus passing through the crisis with not having accomplished anything.)

Maron, however, doesn't have kids.  Other options:

1. Become someone's "mentor."  You can unload a lot of that rage if you feel valuable, and giving of your wisdom and experience serves the dual function of confirming your identity (I am the guy who..) and connecting with someone else in some meaningful way.  (E.g. the ex-player who goes into coaching.)  (3)
 

2. Become everyone's "mentor."  This is the route that saved Maron's life.

Broke, defeated and career-less, I started doing a podcast in that very garage where I was planning my own demise... I started to feel better about life, comedy, creativity, community. I started to understand who I was by talking to other comics and sharing it with you. I started to laugh at things again. I was excited to be alive. Doing the podcast and listening to comics was saving my life.

The mistake is to think it is the fame that saved his life.  Maron might not be sure what, exactly, he is giving 20 million downloads that is of value, but he knows it must be something, which is why being more famous isn't helping, say, any of the Real Housewives from suicide by collagen injection, but an aging ex-football hero can get a patent extension as a sports commentator.  Maybe it's the comedy, or the insight, or the perspective-- what specifically it is doesn't matter, just that he feels as though it is something he is giving others.  If Maron had simply been given a check for $20 million dollars to perform one last show and then obligated to disappear, he would have happily taken the money and eventually killed himself,  if not with a gun, then with

with internet porn, booze, pills, weed, blow, hookers, hangers on, sad angry girls we can't get out of our room, twitter trolls and broken relationships.

III.

Unrelated, but a great:  Louis CK, on the Opie and Anthony show, relates this story:

I'm at the Comedy Cellar, and I make this 9/11 joke.  Basically, I was talking about how when you're in a marriage, you always feel like you're doing something wrong, in trouble for something.  So the joke is I'm in a hotel, and my wife calls, crying, and I'm thinking, what the fuck did I do now?  Did she find a sex phone bill?  So I say, "what's wrong?" and she just cries, and finally she says, "turn on the TV" and I see the planes crashing into the towers.  And my first thought is, "Yay!  Phew!  I'm not in trouble, it was just thousands of people getting killed."

So I tell this joke in the Cellar, and some guy just stands up and says, "that, that is not funny," and he stomps out.

Later on I'm upstairs talking to Marc Maron, and I tell him this story, and I'm telling him how much I hate it when people choose their one thing to be offended.  All night I'm doing rape jokes and racial jokes and he has no problem, but this is the one thing he decides goes to far.  How narcissistic this guy must be to think that he's allowed to decide that what offends him is what should be off limits.

So Marc looks at me and says, "dude, are you insane?  He's the narcissist?  You just told the most narcissistic joke in history, about how relieved you were that thousands of people died just because it got you off the hook with your wife..."

--------


1. When a 20 year old says, "why is he famous?!  For what?  I hate that guy?" It's normal.  As you get older, you learn accept the unrelatedness of people's successes to your own.  "I still hate him, but it's got nothing to do with me."  It is a mental disease when a middle aged man reacts with rage to the success of Kim Kardashian, however underserving she may actually be.


2.  "I hate these 'solutions' because they aren't really solutions," you say.  "It's noble and all, but I need specific advice that can help me."  That's the narcissism. You don't want the solution to be "it's about the next generation" because what you want the answer to be is about you-- your own fulfillment, your own happiness, your own safety, your own sanity.  All of these are defenses, and none of them will work, viz Marc Maron.

To use an example from The Matrix: The Oracle "lied" to Neo when she said he wasn't the One, but she had to lie in order for Neo to believe that Morpheus was more important than he and to risk his life to save him; only by making this sacrifice, by being willing to exist for someone else, could he actually become the One.  Had he "known" he was the One, and then let Morpheus die so that he, the One, could live, then by the atemporal nature of existential  logic, he wouldn't have been the One after all.  

3.  This is how you could help someone else with this kind of "mid-life depression:" making them feel valuable in a consistent way.  If this is where, say, your father finds himself-- empty nest or career gone flat-- regularly soliciting his opinion on things he considers himself an expert in can help remind him of his value.  The point is not that he needs to accomplish something, the point is that he needs to feel he is valuable to you accomplishing something.







Comments

This might be your best yet... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 5:31 PM | Posted by Craig: | Reply

This might be your best yet!

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"Note that this advice is n... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 5:32 PM | Posted by TheCoconutChef: | Reply

"Note that this advice is not for people in their 20s, it will not work for you, it will only work if you're over 40."

In the sense that it's a phase and will go away on its own or in the sense that the solution is actually different?

If different, the way to fix it can't be something other than "the greater thing", thought it won't be through children or mentoring.

Can I dare say ideals or what? "I expect a little Nietzche in my 20 year old" (paraphrasing something you wrote, don't remember which post).

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That was helpful and not de... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 5:54 PM | Posted by Lise: | Reply

That was helpful and not depressing! Thank you.

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Serious question TLP, isn't... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 6:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Serious question TLP, isn't referring everything back to yourself in the way you're describing in this post in and of itself grandiose? I get it that often people understand "grandiose" as meaning "thinks they're better than everyone/superman/is an egotistical dick" but it seems to me that what you're describing is also grandiose in the sense that it's making oneself overly important (everyone else is still a bit player in the central character in your post's movie, his movie is just slightly different...the star may be a special miserable prick but is still "special" and the hero of the narrative who has been prevented from being as recognized as a hero...also, "miserable prick" is kind of an accepted and almost idealized anti-hero character in standup comedy). So, do you think grandiosity can also be used to describe someone who believes themselves to be a very special or exceptional victim or loser or is it only reserved for people who think they're very special in a positive way.

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Great insight into the desp... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 6:16 PM | Posted by Empire of Jeff: | Reply

Great insight into the despair that purposelessness brings. Punch it up with some titties and a couple of dick jokes and I thinl you've got something.

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Where can I hear Joe Rogan'... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 6:25 PM | Posted by PG: | Reply

Where can I hear Joe Rogan's take on it? Which episode is it in? The most recent one is all UFC talk.

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It's beautiful and touching... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 6:31 PM | Posted by JMiller: | Reply

It's beautiful and touching, and yet... "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal." What I've discovered from subsidizing and then being dumped (and ripped off due to lack of pre-nup) by a spouse, and what I've discovered from volunteering with HS kids for a few years now, is that it's difficult to maintain a proper sense of self-worth when (contrary to all quasi-objective metrics) I'm operating on the belief that pretty much anybody else is a better investment of my resources than I am.

Maybe I'm just not 45 enough yet, but it seems to me that investing any noticeable effort or resource in people who can't reciprocate, or keep up, or even remember who the hell you are for more than a week at a time because they are members of or are following the -- what's that phrase -- stupidest f'cking generation of narcissists to ever walk the earth -- ? -- is basically writing happy checks that your existential crisis won't be able to cash. It's Sisyphus hoping to push the rock high enough to escape gravity without realizing that gravity is what's keeping his feet on the ground so he can push.

I think, and based on my experience with continuing to volunteer with HS kids, you glossed one critical element: Mentoring serves the "dual function of confirming your identity (I am the guy who..) and..." but "Maron might not be sure what, exactly, he is giving 20 million downloads that is of value..."? This is wrong. Maron doesn't care about giving value per se; value is created by the audience's thinking about what they're receiving and he's limited there, so the metric gets cut off at a number of listeners and maybe some good feedback follows. What Maron cares about as he records is that He Is Doing What He Does. In this case, talking at an audience. He is in harmony with what he has cultivated as his natural behavior. My volunteering is pretty similar; when I'm doing it, I'm doing what I'm practiced at doing, what I'm good at doing, what I can do in my sleep (other than pulling espresso shots or telling my cat to let me go back to sleep)... but focusing on "connecting with someone else in some meaningful way" is questionable. There may sometimes (and I love those times) be, to coin a unit of measure, "a tweet of meaning," but hoping for "meaningful" risks the fleeting sparks of value that might be derived from the venture as hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

"I want to get rich so my family has a good life."? That means that you can keep on subsidizing the kids when they move back in after college and are drinking your rum. You've written about that crowd before. Or are maybe being gassed by the police in NY so that Cable News has a story to tell you. Take your pick. The more meaning to ascribe to people and what you give them puts you at more risk for disappointment.

Also, the success of Kim Kardashian is due to the fundamental wrongness of the world and that wrongness, more than her temporal success, is what I find loathsome.

(Tangent/Disclaimer: Just recently finished reading Goethe's Faust and it's sticking with me, in particular, that Faust was saved by the work he did against the elements which happened to benefit the species despite no longer having any noticeable love for any specific person. It might even be argued that had he maintained his love for somebody, had he maintained his investment in a specific person, then Mephistopheles would have won the bet, and his soul properly, by making him want to hark back to a specific-and-passed time of pleasure rather than accepting the fleetingness of all things and thus pursuing a goal larger than -- not just external to -- himself. Of course, he died unsatisfied, with his work incomplete. God, those are dismal options.)

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Jmiller, the "Stupidest Gen... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 7:37 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Jmiller, the "Stupidest Generation of Narcissists Ever" isn't the highschoolers you mentor, it's your generation.

Your entire comment is about you. You feel like mentoring kids is a waste of time because of what you're not getting out of it, which is why the kids aren't getting anything out of it. You resent how young people act, without thinking about who they learned that behaviour from. You miss the fundamental point Alone makes, which is that real meaning, real happiness, can only be found through other people.

You are the least important person in your life. Until you understand that, you are doomed to misery.

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Hey TLP. I've been reading... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 8:57 PM | Posted by 1st Time Caller: | Reply

Hey TLP. I've been reading your blog for a while now and it seems like your grand theory of narcissism is a particular kind of Kierkegaardian despair. Am I right about this? If by chance I am, isn't the solution to go out and get some Thymos? (or God; or invest in the next generation)

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"You are the least importan... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 9:11 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"You are the least important person in your life" If you believe this how much can you really give others? After all, ultimate that which we prescribe to ourselves we indadvertandly ascribe to the other.

Each person has meaning. Each person is a hero. Sometimes being the hero is giving someone else space to be the hero. Sometimes it's saving someone that will never give anything in return. Sometimes it's letting them save themselves. Sometimes it's letting them save you. It's really about being willing to see need, and what your role can be in filling it-- simply because there is a need. The reality is... there is no reason to be hero for it's own sake. Everyone already has worth. The only reason to be there for others is that we are intrinsically connected to their wellbeing. The only reason to go to great lengths for others is not for the act itself, or to "be a hero" which you can never actually be--- but to make sure others are ok, and have what they need to do work, feel love, play, and achieve the same amount you do.

The well being of the whole is the path for happiness of the individual. But remember, each person is part of the whole. There is no Neo. The idea that he is magic is an illusion. He is given gifts only because his purpose is true. But being "the one" is an obstacle, not a reward. The hero is the person who leasts wants to be a hero, but is willing to do it anyway--- because what matters is there will be terrible suffering if it doesn't get done. There is not any reward for being a hero, you're still the equal of everyone else. But what happens, that is good-- is that suffering is alleviated; true happiness, safety, well being and longevity are made possible. That is meaningful. There is no self vs others. We are all meaningful in the universal story. To be able to give great gifts, is really a joy for each of us. To recieve great gifts is a joy for each of us. To give others the ability to give is a joy.

We are so individualistic that we don't intrinisically understand what it means to be connected to the well being of ourselves and others. This is the sickness. A social species like humans is meant to find harmony in promoting well being of the self and others. Not either/or.

The hero just wants to garden, drink tea, and smoke the herb pipe, not enter the land of darkness and withstand wounds that will never heal. Who the hell would want that? There is no social praise that is worth torturing yourself for in this way. It would just be cruelty to yourself if done for that purpose. The only reason to do so is if others, or perhaps even yourself, are in great need.

After all that you're just a hobit in pain that won't heal that can't even enjoy gardening or skrewing anymore. Lame. But if the well being of others was protected, it was worth it. The problem with finding self worth in the heros quest is that you forget you already had worth all along.

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@Anonymous: No. I take iss... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 10:01 PM | Posted by JMiller: | Reply

@Anonymous: No. I take issue with the possible conclusion that "real meaning" can be found through other persons because any specific person has a tendency to disappoint. Instead, spread your labor of love over the species, over a mass of humanity as wide as you can, and let the persons come and go as they will. Do not wait for lightning to strike twice in the same place and do not wait for That Man to resume a "meaningful" connection. (To which end this comment isn't for you, but for anybody else who happens to read this thread. ;)

Also, I did not assert that the kids aren't getting anything out of my efforts (some of them are) or that my time is wasted (in the conventional sense) despite the paucity of time I spend with them relative to their parents, peers and teachers. I can only resent them as much as I lose investing in them; what I spend freely on them -- as they come and (mostly) go -- I love.

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"No. I take issue with the ... (Below threshold)

October 3, 2011 10:26 PM | Posted, in reply to JMiller's comment, by TheCoconutChef: | Reply

"No. I take issue with the possible conclusion that "real meaning" can be found through other persons because any specific person has a tendency to disappoint."

Disappoint you?

So what's the primary focus here?

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"3. This is how you could ... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 12:07 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"3. This is how you could help someone else with this kind of "mid-life depression:" making them feel valuable in a consistent way. If this is where, say, your father finds himself-- empty nest or career gone flat-- regularly soliciting his opinion on things he considers himself an expert in can help remind him of his value. The point is not that he needs to accomplish something, the point is that he needs to feel he is valuable to you accomplishing something"

Yep... good one, Doc.

I was going to mention my father.

You just described him. ;\

Thanks...

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"It is a mental disease whe... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 1:14 AM | Posted by JohnJ: | Reply

"It is a mental disease when a middle aged man reacts with rage to the success of Kim Kardashian, however underserving she may actually be."

There seems to be a lot of rage lately at those allegedly undeserving of their success.

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"To use an example from The... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 1:26 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"To use an example from The Matrix: The Oracle "lied" to Neo when she said he wasn't the One, but she had to lie in order for Neo to believe that Morpheus was more important than he and to risk his life to save him; only by making this sacrifice, by being willing to exist for someone else, could he actually become the One. Had he "known" he was the One, and then let Morpheus die so that he, the One, could live, then by the atemporal nature of existential logic, he wouldn't have been the One after all."

Nice. Reminds me of something that could serve as an addendum to my comment on your last post. From a Zen koan:

The emperor Goyozei was studying Zen under Gudo. He inquired: "In Zen this very mind is Buddha. Is this correct?"

Gudo answered: "If I say yes, you will think that you understand without understanding. If I say no, I would be contradicting a fact which many understand quite well."

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Forgot to put in my name. T... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 1:27 AM | Posted by Or: | Reply

Forgot to put in my name. That last comment was me.

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"Rogan is a savvy student o... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 5:08 AM | Posted by Tom: | Reply

"Rogan is a savvy student of human nature and a well practiced judge of character"

You know Joe Rogan believes that some crop circles are made by lasers from satellites.

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Tom, if your oncologist use... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 8:43 AM | Posted, in reply to Tom's comment, by Guy Fox: | Reply

Tom, if your oncologist uses the latest chemo techniques to treat you AND prays, he's probably dead wrong about the efficacy of one of those. When he cures you, will you denounce the effective treatment because he also practiced the other?

My point is that you can't discredit an idea by associating its author with a completely different idea. If Madame Blavatsky had come up with F=MA, would that invalidate physics?

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"I'd trust his insight way ... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 9:59 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"I'd trust his insight way before any psychologist, let alone the armchair variety they use to stabilize the chairs at The Atlantic...."

Who's the narcissist?

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I have long believed that o... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 10:23 AM | Posted by MW: | Reply

I have long believed that one of the biggest causes of depression in parents of handicapped children, specifically cognitively handicapped children, is that it breaks that connection to the next generation. Sure, it's still raising a kid but that kid is not going to contribute anything to the world and when you die they'll be alone, helpless, and at the mercy of a system which the media takes great delight in telling us is largely modeled on the Auschwitz theory of dependent care. Not only are you NOT contributing, as the typical narcissist might not, you are ACTIVELY MAKING THINGS WORSE.

It'll suck all the joy right out of your day sometimes, I tell you what.

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This is completely off-topi... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 10:49 AM | Posted by sid: | Reply

This is completely off-topic, but TLP, can you post something about the whole Amanda Knox saga? I feel like this is something you would have some brilliant insights about...

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Guy, it's the lazy thinking... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 11:13 AM | Posted, in reply to Guy Fox's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Guy, it's the lazy thinking that I object to. Joe Rogan picks and chooses certain things and repeats them as fact. Crop circles created from lasers shot down from satellites is a great example of that. Joe never asks why would anyone bother going to the trouble of doing that. Same thing talking to dolphins. Great so you talked to dolphins, did you actually learning thing of value? Nope.

The author of this article makes the same mistake of picking and choosing "facts" because they fit nicely into his narrative. Rogan's beef with Maron started over the Mencia episodes of WTF. Marc wanted to interview Joe and discuss the issue of bullying as well as social criticism. I believe Joe turned down Marc's request as well as calling Marc a pseudo-intellectual.

Joe isn't a savvy judge of human character anymore than this author is a comedic historian. It does make for an interesting read.

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That was my reply, I forgot... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 11:15 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Tom: | Reply

That was my reply, I forgot to put my name in. If that wasn't totally obvious.

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Isn't this age of onset chr... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 1:52 PM | Posted by Inertia creeps: | Reply

Isn't this age of onset chronology a function of two separate "timings", maturity and jadedness?

Much of what I've been doing with my free time may be seen as an attempt to recover an adolescence I wasn't emotionally able to enjoy (learning how to surf, hipsterish photography, etc.). I was living a 29 years old's idea of intellectual actualization during those years and I'm trying to catch up with what I may have missed, because I'm really fucking jaded about the whole intellectual actualization thing, cringe when people talk about Infinite Jest or Borges, etc. It's a bit like a premature mid-life crisis.

On the other hand, I'm going through the same process of emotional/social/personal maturation as everyone else my age. I was as immature as them, at each age -- I just got jaded faster. This is good because the consolations of maturity -- a kind of stabilization of identity that's not really about stagnation, but about understanding choice exists and knowing which identities you can hack -- offset the drive to make up for the lost time, but I'm scared for my actual 45- crisis because I'll have ran out of fast motorcycles by then. But maybe the maturity cycle goes on and I get to understand what my dad told me when I was a kid when I worried that he had stopped short of his potential as a touring musician to raise us -- that there is an age and circumstance where self-sacrifice isn't really "sacrifice".

I don't think I'm adding much to the discussion. I'm a bit bored and hypergraphic. But does the jadedness/maturity chronologies make sense, or am I just too dp/dr to grok the painful narcissistic problem of protecting identity?

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One of Alone's best. It has... (Below threshold)

October 4, 2011 4:45 PM | Posted by sam: | Reply

One of Alone's best. It has everything: Louis CK, The Matrix and narcissism. Quite sapid!

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Being in my 20s it took me ... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2011 3:04 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Being in my 20s it took me a while to figure out, but the reason this won't work for a 20 something, is because at our age, you're supposed to be developing your identity and self worth by doing things that will tell you, to paraphrase Tyler Durden, what kind of man you are.
You shouldn't feel like a failure if you've never tried to succeed.

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this article is making me t... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2011 3:37 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

this article is making me think a lot. already the next gen has given me a lot of hope for our future, although it's hard not to let some cynicism weigh in... my girls say the texan kids in their new Austin high schools are hard core blue bloods. that is the opposite of their former peers in Arizona, almost without fail they are cynical, smart as hell, world wise, internet wise, seeking out their own knowledge, sharing it between themselves in snippets or semi-distorted but well-meaning information type of kids, political but not realizing it, maybe never realizing it

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this article is making me t... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2011 3:39 AM | Posted by Marcus: | Reply

this article is making me think a lot. already the next gen has given me a lot of hope for our future, although it's hard not to let some cynicism weigh in... my girls say the texan kids in their new Austin high schools are hard core blue bloods. that is the opposite of their former peers in Arizona, almost without fail they are cynical, smart as hell, world wise, internet wise, seeking out their own knowledge, sharing it between themselves in snippets or semi-distorted but well-meaning information type of kids, political but not realizing it, maybe never realizing it

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Is this article really abou... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2011 5:14 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Is this article really about you?

You, blog writer, sound like somebody who doesn't have any children.

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There's no way TLP has kids... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2011 12:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by ZyprexaBaby: | Reply

There's no way TLP has kids -- too much booze, travel, and free time (i.e., blogging).

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TLP has taught me that most... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2011 4:09 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

TLP has taught me that most people write for their own catharsis. Because of this, one should not put too much value in what others write.

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Thank you for this, Alone. ... (Below threshold)

October 5, 2011 11:11 PM | Posted by thecobrasnose: | Reply

Thank you for this, Alone. I'm (narcissistically, egoistically, whatEV) grateful you're out there writing this stuff.

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Taking a line from a movie ... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2011 3:16 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by DG: | Reply

Taking a line from a movie "You haven't failed. Failure is earned. You haven't done anything, so you can't claim to have earned the right to be a failure"

that is the true reality of being 20 something in America.


But what to go with? So many options, too much thinking about the top (CEO instead of manager, Steve Jobs vs programmer at Apple).. narcissism looks like something that doesn't let you just accept reality since it isn't what YOU thought it was. But isn't everyone's reality subjective? I can go to a bar and leave with 5 numbers if I want. So my reality isn't that "it's hard to meet women" when some other guys might be

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Spot on again, doc. <... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2011 4:14 AM | Posted by Morever: | Reply

Spot on again, doc.

Mentoring, whether personally or via internet, is a very powerful force. Talk about immortality... a family may die out but even if a mentor is forgotten, his sage advice and ideas live on forever.

I can see how this works myself, when I share what I've learned from my mentors with anyone who is willing to listen. Like seeds flying in the winds.

DG: That quote describes the reality of MANY 20-30 year olds on this planet. Which movie was that?

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to paraphrase Walter Tevis ... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2011 1:07 PM | Posted by sharpy: | Reply

to paraphrase Walter Tevis from The Hustler, "Self-pity is the greatest indoor sport in this country."

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movie "Take Me Home Tonight... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2011 4:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Morever's comment, by DG: | Reply

movie "Take Me Home Tonight", there are a few nuggets in there.


The more and more I contemplate this whole thing the more I realize that there is actually just one option, and many of these problems like anxiety and narcissism could just be defenses against not doing it.

And that option is - to go be a part of this world. Whether you can make it or not, at least you lived.

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DG: Thanks, sometimes the h... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2011 4:20 AM | Posted by Morever: | Reply

DG: Thanks, sometimes the hardest thing to comprehend is that at the end of the day, we have nothing to lose, because we've already lost the game the day we were born. Life is terminal. Might as well take chances.

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Now I'm addicted to the Joe... (Below threshold)

October 20, 2011 12:30 AM | Posted by The Wobblies: | Reply

Now I'm addicted to the Joe Rogan podcast, even if he and his guests are low-brow types constantly fascinated with woo-woo, that think psychedelics bring great insight about humanity that cannot possibly be obtained in other ways, that DMT will save civilization and that MMA is an actual sport.

That guy's got great charisma. He's a certifiable idiot and I listen to every minute of his twice-a-week 2-hour podcasts. Fuck.

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Someone sent Marc the defin... (Below threshold)

February 3, 2012 3:32 PM | Posted by Andrew: | Reply

Someone sent Marc the definition of Compensatory Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which he reads out loud in the episode with Steve Almond (10/27/11). Wonder who that could've been??? :)

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Well, now I'm a little worr... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2012 4:25 PM | Posted by Gabe Ruth: | Reply

Well, now I'm a little worried. On the one hand, after a short period of minor existential angst and dissatisfaction with work and life, I've grown more peaceful by exactly the route you describe, thinking about my purpose as raising my daughter. On the downside, I'm in my 20's, so I will probably need something new when I get to my 40's.

I wish I could send this to several guys I've worked with because it's excellent advice, but it would be very unsubtle.

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