We have had a great jump in viewers of late, not least because my bro-in-law Dan Colman finally let us put a self-glorifying post on his fantastic and widely read Open Culture blog, and also because I’ve started bombarding entire philosophy grad school departments with invitations to check us out.
So welcome, all you new readers/listeners. However, with our increasing visibility, we open ourselves to more criticism, both from regular web troll types exponentially nastier than this guy who called Wes a nerd (though to be fair, he is), and to those academic types whose approval we both shun and crave (Brian Leiter has not weighed in on us, but I have little doubt that we’d fall under his blanket condemnation of “…lots of solo ‘philosophy’ blogs by individuals who claim to be ‘mavericks’ and the like; most, alas, are repositories of philosophical mistakes.”)
Now, I’ll readily admit that I have a very thin skin. The small number of bad reviews (among an only slightly larger number of total reviews) I’ve received as a musician have shaped my attitude towards my own work far more than they should (speaking of which, aren’t you folks supposed to be complaining at me for more fetid music blog posts? Get on the ball, people!). As a man on the street, I keep a low profile, and when, say, one of my neighbors builds up a grudge against me for leaving dog poop on their lawn, I slink around feeling bad about it for months.
And so, preemptively, I have decided to (instead of editing the Freud episode which you’re actually waiting for) develop a series of meditative exercises (the technical term is “mindfux”) that you too can use to steel yourself against criticism.
1. Tell yourself that they’re all going to die. And, eventually, their web pages will go down.
2. Tell yourself that you’ll see them in hell. Relatedly, since according to William James we can choose to believe whatever it might be useful for us to believe that’s beyond empirical verification, if you have even the least sympathy towards the notion of hell (and on at least very hot and/or mosquito-infested days, I expect you do), then feel free envision to your critics there. Of course, you’ll probably be there too, so there’s that.
3. Tell yourself that they have no svabhava. Yes, I’m reading Buddhism now, and the Buddhists have a good trick of seeing emptiness in everything, including your critics’ big fat mouths. Y’all have got no game and no ultimate being, sucka!
4. Get all stoic and shit. My man Marcus Aurelius says in his Meditations:
Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together…
Also, you can picture these critics in their underwear, or even use photoshop to post pictures of them in their underwear, or with the body of a seal, if that does it for you.
5. You can write a whiny song about it, as did Robert Lamm of the band Chicago back in 1973 when people were just starting to figure out that his band was bad. Alternately, you can snicker at me for knowing that CD well enough that I was able to call the song to mind for this essay.
6. Be drunk continuously. This is a popular choice among writers and musicians, though only allegedly of philosophers.
7. Do poor work on purpose. If you make a mockery of yourself, then you are too ironic for criticism to stick. Moreover, if you say in a joking manner that you’re doing poor work, then the compliments are sure to roll and in and prop up your fragile ego. (Right, people? This is your cue.)
8. Criticize others to make yourself feel better. Go laugh at this guy, for instance.
9. “I am rubber, you are glue.” Accept this principle on faith as per technique 3 above. Write a 10 page essay on its ontological implications and send it to me to laugh at per technique 8.
10. Listen to inspirational speeches. Hey, I’ve got one for you right here.
11. Stop being such a self-absorbed, insecure little wanker.