Henry Rollins On Cynicism
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[Henry Rollins On Cynicism]
[WARNING EXPLICIT LANGUAGE]
[Henry Rollins:] Source: LYBIO.net
So, I grew up in Washington DC seeing a few things in the streets of my hometown, but a relatively soft-handed wide-eyed boy. And so I left Washington DC into the world of Black Flag, the band, and I got America 101 right in the teeth.
And the first American tour I did, I started off as one thing; by the time the tour came to an end, I was quite another thing. I was like, “Wow, I’m 20 years old, and I saw a guy get stabbed. I have had cops plant drugs on me. I’ve been surveilled, I’ve been wiretapped. I’ve had religious groups protest my shows. I’ve had cops pull me out of the van and accuse me of doing all manner of Satanic and illegal things. I’ve been terrified; I’ve been in fights; I’ve seen blood; I’ve seen desperation; and people I’ve met in Los Angeles are now dead. I started meeting people who would soon die of overdosing on heroin and crystal meth, suicide, and all kinds of misadventure.
And so I started becoming some kind of jaded guy who, like, I know death. And it was a weird thing to be like twenty something years old and, like, not everyone’s going to make it. And not even trying to be macho about it, just like, that was my reality. And from that, I got a whole bunch of cynicism. It made me very cynical. And my cynicism, I thought, was an awareness. I thought my cynicism was me seeing through the bullshit.
And by the early ’90s, my cynicism was just at this unimaginably intense level, and I sought to enhance my cynicism. I sought to harvest and grow more cynicism. I thought I was never cynical enough! “Sometimes, Henry, people are nice.” No, they’re not. They’re just gaming for strategic positioning. They’re never nice. They’re just trying to get what they can out of you; it’s all bullshit; people suck.
Now that two-word sentence, people suck, period, is a very easy conclusion to come to, right? Like you women, you’re at the workplace, and the guy staring at your tits when he’s talking to you, you want to tear his fucking nuts off and say, “Here’s your fuckin’ lunch, pal”, right? And so, “People suck.” You get cut off in traffic, you know, something bad happens and you can start painting with a broad brush. You can start judging the many by the actions of the few. And I did that for a long time. Self-preservation. People suck. We’re all whores.
That’s why I wouldn’t want to be a parent. I’d be a super dad until the one day I would just break down. I’d be like there at 3:00 p.m. every day for the kid, “What are we going to do today, man? Alright! Let’s play in the backyard!” “Dad, will you play with me?” “Of course, I’ll play with you! I’m your fuckin’ Dad, man! I’m going to rock your world! I’m going to make you like me so when you turn 16 you won’t stab me in the face when I’m asleep!”
And then one day I’ll have to sit the kid down at the table. “Kid, I can’t … I can’t do it anymore. Sit down. I gotta talk to you.”
“Did I do something wrong, Dad?”
“No, no, you’re a great fuckin’ kid, I just gotta tell you about the ways of the world. Okay, look. Your mom’s a bitch and I’m an asshole, okay? And people are just a bunch of whores, and soon you’ll be one of those assholes too. And if you don’t kill me in my sleep I’ll be thinking about killing you in your sleep, okay? And soon I’ll be duct-taping you to a folding chair in the basement and playing Led Zeppelin 40 all weekend so you get your shit straight, but until then, just know that your dad is fucked and that’s what you’re gonna get. You’re gonna inherit my fucked-ness. Now go outside and score some street drugs. Get the fuck out of here. Dad wants to download some fuckin’ Internet porn.”
[Henry Rollins:] Source: LYBIO.net
And so, parenting is out of the question for me, and so when my cynicism was reaching these unimaginable level, like ahhhh, ahhhh, I started meeting some of the most amazing humanitarian, strong and selfless people I’ve ever met in my life.
And then I started coming to the conclusion that cynicism is nothing but intellectual cowardice. It’s basically you not taking the time to deal with what is. You’re like, “Oh, no, they’re all fucked. I don’t have to really do any work assessing humanity, I’ll just know that they’re all fucked. And I’ll just judge from there here and feel innately superior.” And so over the years, I’ve become further and further stripped of my cynicism. And I realize that cynicism is weakness that I cannot afford.
And so at first I felt very vulnerable, like, “Oh, no, I’m no longer cynical. Oh, no, I’m going to have to take the world at face – face value. No, how will I survive? Well, it’s fucking hard, just to deal with everyone as an individual and think of other people as you think of yourself, and I’m not trying to get you to go kumbaya and go out and kick a hackeysack, smear yourself with patchouli oil or hug a fuckin’ tree.
What I’m sick of is people looking at, like the few people walking into a mosque, they’re Islamofascists. They’re going in to an Islamofascist hangout. We need to kill them all. ‘Cause that kind of fucking ignorance and judgment just has to stop, ’cause we’ll never get the P-Funk Ramon Steve-O Block Party happening worldwide if we’re still thinking about shit … like, if that is still a road block this time next year, we gotta worry.
And so more and more, I travel farther and farther out into the world, because I’m a curious boy. The more amazing people I meet, thus stripping me more and more of my cynicism, I don’t know if I have any more left. And I – and it’s so weird to say that to you, because I used to think that my cynicism was my, my shield. And so now I’m out there, shield-less.
Again, this robs me of my cynicism. I would love to be cynical. It was so much fun being cynical. But I can’t do it anymore. And, – and I don’t want to turn into like some over-serious guy, I don’t want to be some floating Buddha trying to hug people, because that’s not me either. But it’s a lot of work not being cynical. Sometimes it just fucking sucks. Because you have to listen to both sides of every argument – ARRRRGHHHH! All the time it takes, damn! So, anyway, there’s that.
Here’s another thing, a revelation, a revelation I came up to about the beginning of 2007, I came to the conclusion that I was more angry that I was in 2006. Which I had thought was fan-fuckin-tastic. I don’t want to ever lose my anger, ’cause the anger, I like. I don’t want to become Lovey-Dovey Guy, because that, to me, is like the first sign of defeat, like, oh, everyone’s good, I love them. Fuck that shit.
There’s so many sick, awful motherfuckers in the world, and if you don’t stand them up and stand them down and call them what they really are, we’ll never get the P-Funk Ramon Steve-O Block Party going. And so if you think things are cool, I think you’re wrong. And so anyway, basically, there’s work to be done.
And so at the beginning of 2007, I said, “Fuck it. I have contempt for life.” Because I’m not the happiest baby in the world. I don’t wake up every day, I love life! Most of the time, I fucking hate life. Most of the time, life is a flat-line fucking existential nightmare for me, and I fucking hate it, and I want to check out all the time. There you go, now you know the truth.
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