No Frame of Reference-Musings from the Arch Dudeship
By Rev. Dwayne Eutsey
Preaching non-preachiness is one of the tenets of Dudeism that I dig most about our ethos, man.
I mean, it’s like, no matter where I go these days it seems there’s always somebody running around preaching at me about something. If it weren’t for Dudeism, it would be a real bummer, man.
Turn on the TV and there’s an exhausting array of televangelists blathering in God’s holy name, pundits ranting reactionary platitudes, and nihilistic infomercial hucksters hawking everything from ways to enhance your johnson to lifting pee stains from rugs with the ShamWow.
It’s apparently the wave of the future, dudes.
Now, I should say that we here at St. Da Fino’s try to limit our exposure to what Dudeist prophet Bill Hicks called "Lucifer’s Dreambox." (I’m talking about television here, dudes…the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation). It’s like Hicks said about the undude effects the boob tube can have on our inner dudeness: "Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third eye."
But you don’t have to sit around slack-jawed watching TV to have a massive dose of preaching paraquat squirted on your abiding. It’s even seeping into our most laidback bastions of relaxation.
In fact, the Arch Dudeship just got back to the bungalow after driving around awhile in the Arch Dudemobile and stopping at the coffeehouse down the road. I went in expecting to enjoy a nice iced coffee, but what I got served was a hot 15-minute diatribe from a fellah I know who proceeded to unfold a conspiracy theory about how all the rich fucks around the world are infringing on our basic freedoms.
You want a conspiracy TOE (theory of everything)? This dude can get you a conspiracy TOE by 3 o’clock this afternoon, but believe me, you don’t wanna know it.
Not that I mind a good conspiracy theory every now and then (my current tinfoil-hat favorite is the one about alien lizard people running the earth); heck, I even agree with a lot of what my coffeehouse conspiracy comrade was blathering on about. What struck me as very undude on his part, though, was his uninterrupted preaching at me from his soapbox of absolute, unquestioned certitude.
One of the reasons Dudeism preaches non-preachiness is that preachiness is very undude. Just look to our Sacred Source (The Big Lebowski) for some examples. When the millionaire Jeff Lebowski starts moralizing about how "every bum’s lot in life is his own responsibility regardless of whom he chooses to blame," the Dude just slips his shades on and tunes him out. When the fascist Malibu police chief pontificates on how he doesn’t like the Dude’s jerk-off name, the Dude simply retorts, "I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening."
These aren’t instances of the Dude being rude. Well, ok, maybe they are, but they also show that the Dude knows that such blowhard certitude is very undude.
It’s like Chuang Tzu, one of Dudeism’s closest compeers, once said: "Philosophizing is to philosophize about what cannot be philosophized about. Knowing that knowing is unknowable is true perfection."
I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about most of the time, and neither do you. Once we’re cool with that, we see we don’t have to philosophize and preach and push our agendas at each other. Maybe by just taking it easy with each other-sharing some burgers, some beers, a few laughs-and taking the time to commune-icate, we may actually end up getting to know each other better.
That’s what I take comfort in, and that’s what we here at the Church of the Latter-Day Dude try to create by steering clear of the whole preachiness thing.
Abide Resource Number 3: A Cautionary Tale for Dazed and Confused Dudes
But sometimes there’s a need for some elaboration of our ethos…an interpretation that fits right in there for its time and place.
I don’t know if this here mini-movie review I’m about to unfold is an example of that exactly, but it’s something I thought about while watching one of my favorite flicks recently, a movie by the name of Dazed and Confused.
According to Wikipedia:
Dazed and Confused is a 1993 coming of age film written and directed by Richard Linklater.…The film depicts a group of teenagers during the final day of school in 1976.
The film grossed less than $8 million at the U.S. box office, but in recent years has achieved cult film status. Quentin Tarantino included it on his list of the 10 greatest films of all time in the 2002 Sight and Sound. It also ranked third on Entertainment Weekly magazine’s list of the 50 Best High School Movies. The magazine also ranked it 10th on their "Funniest Movies of the Past 25 Years" list.
Not exactly a lightweight. And at first glance, Dazed and Confused even seems to celebrate our Dudeist ethos of takin’-it-easy. It takes place on the last day of school before summer vacation, everyone’s passing joints and bongs around, racially everyone’s pretty cool, oat soda streams like a lazy flowing river, and the biggest concern anyone seems to have is getting Aerosmith tickets.
A closer look, though, shows the movie may be more of a Dudeist cautionary tale than a celebration. I mean, for starters, let’s take the title: Dazed and Confused. Not traits folks where I come from would self apply.
But let’s not split hairs here about the title. Let’s look at the point of the story, which mostly revolves around a character by the name of Randal "Pink" Floyd and a decision he has to make. He’s the school’s star quarterback and a promising, natural-born leader who glides with laidback ease among the various high school subcultures (jocks, geeks, stoners).
The decision confronting him is whether he’ll sign a pledge that the football coach wants team members to sign, in which they promise not to indulge in alcohol, drugs, and sex over the summer. Anyone who doesn’t sign is off the team.
Pink, caught up in the era’s hazy live-for-today party-hearty ethos, sees the pledge as "neo-McCarthyism" and an infringement on his basic freedoms. And, yeah, it is a real reactionary thing in some ways. But is rejecting the pledge really the issue here? Characters like the psychologically stunted Wooderson (played with sleazy appeal by Matthew McConaughey) believe it is, but as the coach points out during the movie’s pivotal moment, Pink is the one who has the most to lose in terms of his life’s potential if he is kicked off the team.
Pink crumples up the oath and defiantly throws it at the coach. Seems like a pretty courageous action, but his choice not to sign the pledge is actually ironic, in my opinion. He believes he’s taken a stand for freedom, but the movie’s final scene suggests his decision has only sent him down the same nowhere road that Wooderson is on.
What’s my point here, dudes? Well, I guess it has something to do with not confusing Dudeism’s laidback ethos with some lame-ass rationalization for losing yourself in a fog of cannabis smoke or drowning your potential in kahlua. What our Rev. Wendy Nixon so eloquently said of female Dudeists recently can be self-applied to all Dudeists of any sexual what-have-you. A lot of us "manage to single-handedly raise healthy happy children, work, get higher educations and keep our rugs piss-free, all the while embracing a Dudeist ethos…"
Although Pink makes what appears to be a very Dude-like choice to abide, I think it’s an undude copout that will end up haunting him for years to come after the buzz finally wears off. Got that whole Marlon Brando "I coulda been a contender" thing goin’ on.
Reminds me of what Chris Rock observed, "You know, some people say life is short and that you could get hit by a bus at any moment and that you have to live each day like it’s your last. Bullshit. Life is long. You’re probably not gonna get hit by a bus. And you’re gonna have to live with the choices you make for the next fifty years."
Aw hell. I’m ramblin’ again, not to mention preachin’ at you a little. I’ll shut up and kick back to listen to what you’ve got to say.
That’s what commune-ication is all about.
Abidingly, The A-D
* Note: Abide resources #1 and #2 can be found here and here.
always abides says
There are basic freedoms man. One can play football and maintain a strict regiment of drug use to keep the mind limber. That coach is a real reactionary.
The Arch Dudeship says
The coach is indeed a reactionary…He could pass as the Malibu Police Chief’s brother. And Pink probably could’ve just signed the pledge and kept on doing what he wanted to do anyway (like others on the team said they were going to do).
The larger point for me is that Pink makes a decision to literally (and figuratively) follow the path of someone like Wooderson. To me, Wooderson is kind of like Iago in a story unfolded by a fellow by the name of Shakespeare. Pink says he’s probably going to sign the oath. I think that “L-I-V-I-N'” speech that Wooderson gives in response is meant to egg Pink on to confront the coach, because Wooderson (a former HS football player now adrift in some kind of post-HS deadend limbo) is seeing his glory days receed and he’s trying (like Ben Afflek’s character) to hold on to them rather do the whole Erik Erikson thing and continuing to develop and integrate his personality.
It may just be my opinion, man, but I think Wooderson’s resentful of Pink’s potential and would like to see him fuck it up. That’s kind of an unspoken message in the movie to me: Just as Pink inadvertantly helps to initiate Mitch into the “dazed and confused” high school ethos, Wooderson is initiating Pink into his aging-creepy-guy-who-still-hangs-with-teens ethos.
The coach is reactionary and I think the pledge is stupid, but I think he’s right when he says Pink has more to lose than Wooderson and Slater do.
As you can tell, I have way too much time on my hands when it comes to watching certain movies. :-)
Irish Monk says
Excellent article as always. It could have even been two articles! I liked the practical advice on dealing with the undude and non-preachiness. Reminded me of the last chapter of all the Pauline epistles.
Interesting point about Pink very possibly have made the wrong choice. That had not occurred to us, dude! Especially since he makes that choice that the audience is rooting for. What does that say about us?
He should signed it and partied anyway. Not like high schools did piss tests back in the 70s.
A-D, You may very well be right that Pink’s decision was “an undude copout”, but he was standing up for what he believed in, and drawing a line in the sand across which YOU DO NOT… lost my train of thought there. Of course, it would have been easier tojust sign it and party anyhow, but sometimes you do have to stand up no matter what the consequences. I just don’t know if this would be the fight to pick.
The Arch Dudeship says
Right you are, Dude1967. “I just don’t know if this would be the fight to pick.” Pink does the right thing but for all the wrong reasons. Or at least muddled reasons.
I find it inneresting that Linklater said in the book he put together as a complement to the movie that he told the cast “they were playing extraordinary people living in an unextraordinary place at an unextraordinary time.”
In that case, maybe I’m too harsh on Wooderson. Maybe he really believes in what he’s saying, he just is clueless as to how the times have distorted his ethos into an excuse to avoid growing up.
Everyone has their story and I have mine, which, obviously, is always subject to change.
The Arch Dudeship says
Irish Monk, I think your question (“what does that say about us?”) is right on, in the parlance of the ’70s.
I think the first few times I saw Dazed and Confused, I was applauding Pink’s choice, but there was always something about that last shot that unsettled me…you know, that lingering shot of the empty road ahead that slowly fades to black.
Something about it (and the skewed values presented throughout the movie…like the liquor store guy telling the pregnant woman who’s buying alcohol to eat a green thing every day), that Linklater was subtly (maybe too subtly) trying to undermine our identification with Pink’s choice, to see the irony of it.
Rev Wendy says
Wow. I think somebody should tell you when you’ve been quoted, so you don’t spew out your Caucasion in surprise when reading an article.
THAT was a Far out experience, man.
Having said that…
I really dug this whole piece, man. I can’t really remember the end of Dazed And Confused, even tho I’ve only seen it like a dozen times….
but I DO remember that Wooderson, of all of the characters, seems the most HAPPY and content with life.
Maybe he never much succeeded, but what makes a man anyhow?
I myself do manage to be someone the square community gives a shit about…but only BARELY. You get out what you put in, I suppose. And let us not forget, Dude, that it’s never too late to….get out and achieve anyway…when new shit comes to light…uh , like…*sigh* what am I blathering about. Lost my train of thought there.
I loved the two scenes mentioned with The Dude and his sitting back w/ his shades on and that look of slightly exasperated, “OH. You’re one of THOSE. Oh, it’s THIS speech again. OK.” expression…
Great article. I dig your style, man.
The Arch Dudeship says
Send your keyboard repair bill for Caucasion saturation to us at St. Da Fino’s, the monastery over by Camrose. :-)
Re: Wooderson, you have to ask is he half full (of BS) or half empty (of BS). Isn’t that (the half empty part) what makes a Dude?
I see Wooderson as much more than half full of shit, myself, and he’s damn near a pederast (or at least close to perpetrating statutory rape, considering his comment about him getting older and high school girls staying the same age).
I don’t see the Dude (our Dude) hanging out with high school kids or hitting on high school girls when he’s not working a lame county gov’t job. That’s why I see him (our Dude) as much more than half empty of the BS that Wooderson is so full of.
But I’m the one who’s blathering. I really appreciate your feedback, Rev. W, and I quoted you because, well, your words fit right in there and helped to illuminate our time and place.
Take ‘er easy…
Ed Churchman says
An interesting dilema this Pink guy has, AD. And very well highlighted it has been.
I think, the way I sees it (not having seen the movie, mind), you’re right, he really shouldn’t have torn that pledge up in front of the coach. There’s making a stand, and then there’s making a stand, and brothers, Pink should have sat down and made his stand over the summer with his freedom, not by poking the bear. Now the bear’s gone and eaten him. Conclusion, as the AD said, un-dude.
Surely we don’t stand for aggression, in others, or ourselves. The best way around such stresspasses are to go with the flow. Keep the coach happy, and yourself, without hurting anyone in the process. A political stand can often end up being a man’s last stand, what we need here is a spiritual stand. Step back and not let the reactionary bother you, or it is you who ends up being the reactionary, and the bear’s lunch.
An important statement made, that’s for sure, but sometimes keeping on keeping on, to make the statement is better than making it once and being chewed out. A grave mistake for his future indeed.
But on the bright side, if he really does has a Dudeist soul under that misguided facade, he would have bounced back and found maybe college wasn’t the answer for him, and he’s happy being happy somewhere right now, 32 years on.
An interesting life lesson indeed, AD, very interesting.