Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Erykah Badu, Baduizm (1997)


In a new film called The Banshees of Inisherin (2022), Collin Farrell plays an Irishman in 1923 named Patrick who one day goes to visit his friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson). It's an ordinary afternoon in the Irish countryside, a little before two o'clock, and Patrick is ready to head to the bar with Colm, as they have done for years. He knocks at the door. No answer. He looks through the window. Colm is inside, smoking, sitting in his hardwood chair, his dog at his feet, his back facing Patrick. "So I guess I'll see you at the bar at two, then," Patrick says, and goes on ahead.

But Colm doesn't come to the bar. So Patrick returns to Colm's house to check on him and sees on the hillside, walking in another direction, Colm. He's walking toward the bar!

Patrick returns to the bar. He posts up at the actual bar, as is his and Colm's wont. Colm steps away some distance. When Patrick tries to sidle up to him, Colm walks away, taking his beer at the table out of doors.

The bartender wants to know if they're spatting.

"I don't think we are," says Patrick, "unless I said something while drunk and forgot." He goes outside to ask Colm what's wrong.

"I don't want to talk to you, is all," Colm said. "I don't like you anymore."

Patrick is so taken aback, he can hardly speak. "Why?" he asks.

"You're dull," says Colm, "and I don't want to be your friend anymore."

I'm not telling you this by way of implication, at least not in the way you might think. This will never happen to us, my friend. But I do bring up the premise of the film for two reasons. For one, I think it's a good film and that you should watch it. For another, as soon as you find out the deeper reason Colm is doing what he's doing, as selfish as it is, it makes sense. He needs to be left in peace to be able to do it, is all.


It's been some while since I've read Epicurus, but I do know that in view of the common view, he is totally misread. The common view has it that his philosophy teaches that you ought to pursue pleasure at the expense of all else. Not so. It's much sadder. What Epicurus' philosophy is is really an avoidance of pain.

Epicurus tried to establish a community where he would meet up with his friends, play music, drink wine, and eat good food in communal fellowship. There's no problem with that pursuit, per se, but the real reason for instigating the fellowship was to retreat from a world wherein he'd endured one failure after another. I'm talking here both the failure of laboring and of social failure. Epicurus and his brethren could find no place in society.

We all know part of being a mature adult is facing up to our hardships. Nevertheless, the older I get, the more I understand the appeal of Epicurus' philosophy. When my mornings are spent trying to contort my upper body into a position to avoid severe neck pain, I know all too well the importance of doing whatever you can to avoid pain.

And as much as I still want to spend the second part of my life exposing myself to new stuff and learning, I, realizing how short life's breadth is, want to flee from exposing myself to some materials, however edifying they may be. Case in point is Erykah Badu's album.

Her voice is good, there's nothing wrong with her nineties melodies, exactly, I just don't like the LP, and I don't want to devote serious study to it. I say this while still listening to the album. I'm almost at its end.

There was another, better album I came upon yesterday that I wished I had listened to again today in full but didn't because I wanted to give Badu's album a chance. God-willing, I'll get around to the other, better album tomorrow. For now, I guess this is just to say, that is, to say what I have, my piece.

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