Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Art of Complaining

I have never understood the taboo against complaining. Why are people so offended by it ? Why are there so many complaints about complaining ? Why is it considered to be the social equivalent of a public fart? Could it be people haven’t learned how to complain ? Isn’t that what stand-up comics do ? Because stand-up comics are really great at showing how fucked up life can be, and making us laugh. Complaining does not necessarily exclude a sense of humor. Satire is complaining with a keen sense of subversive wit. Irony is complaining with the trenchant blade of a feisty romantic. Tragedy is complaining with the sublime eloquence of ancient Greek drama. A joke is a complaint in the guise of a clown.
I love to complain. I revel in it. I complain about the weather. I complain about people. I complain about ugly buildings, bad drivers, duplicitous politicians, overly expensive lawyers, a lame and corrupt judicial system, thick, impenetrable denial, and off-leash dogs on city streeets.
One of my favorite complaints is noise. This is an area in which I can really wax eloquent. My entire life has been a battle against noise. A quest for quiet. A place to do my writing without having leaf-blower engines, car alarms, heavy metal, rap, barking dogs, power tools, and screaming children shoved down my ear holes.
Which pretty much means I’m complaining all the time, because the culture in which I live loves to make noise.
Complain long enough, and you get pretty good at it. The top award for complaining goes to Hamlet. That guy knew how to complain. Christ he was good at it. Every speech in Hamlet is a testament to the power of a good complaint.
The male role model I grew up with was John Wayne. He never complained. Complaining was for sissies. Hamlet, by Wayneian standards, would be a class A sissy. A real pussy. But I did not grow up emulating Mr. Wayne and his eternally taciturn tough-it-out, bite-the-bullet philosophy. Fuck no. I went for the Hamlet model. « O that this too too solid flesh would melt, / Thaw and resolve itself into a dew ; Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d / His canon ‘gainst self-slaughter ! « 
Of course, it could be, and will be, argued that complaining was what led to Hamlet’s tragic demise. Had he acted, instead of wander the stone halls of Elsinore brooding and scheming and complaining, he would have become king and gone on to fight another day.
But that doesn’t deter me. No sir. I will not keep my tongue. I will not be silent. I will not be John Wayne.


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