One of the more annoying characters I’ve run across recently is Janice Soprano from the Sopranos. If you’ve never seen the show that’s fine (I’m not far into it) as it’s not required. Janice Soprano has spent the past 10-20 years of her life finding essentially doing nothing that would differentiate herself from a 20 year old college drop out. She’s smoked some pot, done some protests, and that (at least thus far) appears to be about it. But that’s not what’s annoying about her. What’s annoying about her is that she thinks that her drifting from one location to another with no forward progress on anything ever qualifies her as some sort of enlightened renaissance woman whose worldly wisdom the world can really use (and those that can’t use it are just not enlightened!). She has no kids but is not at all hesitant at lecturing Tony and Carmella Soprano about how to raise there kid (the advice was correct, but only after she completely contradicted her previous advice). She’s been out of the mafia circle for fifteen years but lectures her boyfriend and her brother about how things really are.

Yeah, I’ve known a few people like that throughout my life.

I’m not completely referring to unrepentant potheads here, as Janice is. I’m thinking of all sorts of people that have done nothing with their life and thinks that the (usually self-inflicted) hard knox they’ve faced imparted some sort of wisdom. This is usually belied by the very fact that they look at their failures in life that were usually self-inflicted and see themselves as Job at the hands of a curious God and mischievous Satan. And they confuse their experience and whatever angle they’ve derived from it for philosophy or morality.

What actually comes to mind more than potheads are embittered failures. I almost said “cynical” but a cynic has to a degree found peace with his or her world as he or she understands it. Bitterness is something different. And it’s not a philosophy. It’s one thing to believe in the nefarious nature of The Government or Big Business or The Church, but without any explanation as to the underlying weakness of capitalism or socialism or religion they are not actually contributing to the conversation and generally speaking, they’re not helping. But they don’t know anything beyond the Cliff Notes of the philosophy they claim to hold even while they claim expertise. They have one or two stock answers for just about everything and those answers are never challenged because any question they can’t answer they determine comes from a questioner that “doesn’t get it.”

And not to pick fights, but the other thing that comes to mind is a particular strain of Christianity that I am reminded of any time I take a trip back to Delosa. Jesus is not the answer to every question and The Holy Bible does not contain the solution to every dilemma. I’m less offended by the content of their teaching than I am by the pure stupidity of it. I’m not talking about Christianity’s theological and philosophical history and I’m not even talking about the people that believe that every word of the Bible is 100% literal truth. I’m talking about this cotton-candy game wherein people are selling books about what The Bible tells you to eat and how God thinks you should go about trying to get rich and that a bigger problem just means that you need to scream “Praise Jesus!” a that much louder.

If any particular person wants to guide their life with this philosophy, I say “power to’em”. If it works for them and enough other people I may give it a go myself! The problem is that they don’t stop with themselves. They figure what has worked for them (which actually has rarely actually *worked* for them except by possibly blinding them to its failure) must work for everyone else and must work under all circumstances, even those that the person has never, ever been in and is not remotely familiar with.

It’s worse than a reluctance to grow. It’s even worse than proudly regressing into an adolescent intellectual mentality. It’s demanding that the world regress to your own level.


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8 Responses to Never Been There, Know All About It

  1. Spungen says:

    What’s annoying about her is that she thinks that her drifting from one location to another with no forward progress on anything ever qualifies her as some sort of enlightened renaissance woman whose worldly wisdom the world can really use (and those that can’t use it are just not enlightened!).

    It’s worse than a reluctance to grow. It’s even worse than proudly regressing into an adolescent intellectual mentality. It’s demanding that the world regress to your own level.

    Spot on. That’s why I love the character, because she’s so realistically annoying in such a California way.

    That’s a good way of explaining what bugged me so much about those older male student/friends, by the way. I wonder how much of it has to do with potheadedness? I don’t want to turn into a drug scold, but I’ve heard the theory many places that people with alcohol or drug problems don’t mentally or emotionally mature during their time of heavy use, so when the stop (if they stop) they have to start back at the age they started using.

    Many of the really preachy people I’ve known were heavy drug users, usually potheads. And not just when they were high.

  2. Ethan says:

    Hey, I’m having problems with your comment system. It keeps asking me for the sum of 7+2 and I keep entering “Jesus”. What gives…?

    (I don’t watch The Sopranos but I dig what you’re saying.)

  3. trumwill says:

    Spungen,

    I struck up a conversation with a coworker on the Sopranos and he almost immediately singled out Janice as one of the most obnoxious characters on television. Say what we will about her, she garners interest!

    I’ve heard the theory many places that people with alcohol or drug problems don’t mentally or emotionally mature during their time of heavy use, so when the stop (if they stop) they have to start back at the age they started using.

    Even if it’s not true on a biological level, I can’t see how it would not be true to some extent on an emotional development level. You’re not growing when you’re always out to lunch. The drug question is an interesting one when it comes to my kids if we have them. For reasons I will get into I will go ballistic if they ever try the heavier stuff, but pot and alcohol tend to generate less concern. On the other hand, unless you’re an artist of some sort I really don’t see what good comes from heavy usage of any drug over a prolonged period of time and even if they don’t end up thirty living in a pot-den and delivering pizzas, the more use the more setbacks that are going to follow. My wife is more of the mind of vociferously opposing any illegal drug use for the sake of consistency.

  4. trumwill says:

    Ethan,

    If you kept putting in “Jesus” and your comment went through, I may have to reconsider and determine that Jesus may eventually be the answer to everything!

  5. Ethan says:

    Sorry… I should have fleshed that joke out more. The punchline was that I entered “9” to get my comment through, but we both know that “Jesus” was the real answer, wink wink.

    Kinda like this “Young Earth” Creationist I read about who got his doctorate in Geology (or similar) by “lying” on the exam. What’s a few billion years between people who want their doctorate from an accredited university?

  6. trumwill says:

    Oh I got the joke, I was just joking back 🙂

    I had a friend that had to fake a number of Christian beliefs in order to pass some “theology” classes from a religious university. What I find really curious is what some of those religious universities do when it comes to their science classes?

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