The Why of Why

My wife suggested I write a bit on why I chose and stuck with the moniker Prince of Why. I told her that was none of her damn business and she should mind her own!

Right.

No, the thing is this goes back a long way. Wiggly flashback visual ensuing …

WHY?

Here’s a surprising tidbit about me: I think people, though capable of incredible kindness and compassion, typically opt for outrageously self-serving dickery. Like 99% of the people, 99% of the time. This is why we all gush when someone holds a door for us, or says “Bless You” when we sneeze, or chooses not to tailgate us, or doesn’t break into our home while we’re sleeping and poo on our head or pee on our stuff. These acts are viewed as almost saintly since most of the time we can expect exactly the opposite from strangers and friends alike. Especially the peeing on stuff. Blech.

At a young age, I found myself terminally disillusioned with society and with people. It seemed (and still seems) to me that compassion requires very little effort beyond NOT shitting all over other people (metaphorically or literally). I have always found it more difficult to act knowing someone could be hurt by my actions — sometimes crippling my actions in general for fear of the consequences. Other people though – not so bothered by this possibility.

Which inevitably begs the question – why?

Why do people lash out? Why do people hurt one another? Why fight wars, why steal, why do drugs, why cheat on your significant other, why lash out and hurt the people you love, why abuse children, why not apply the golden rule at all times? Why?

In my high school yearbook, when asked about “Future Goals” I simply put “To find out why.” (Seriously, I did. I can show you. Its next to my thin-face-with-a-Caesar-cut senior photo!)

As life has progressed, and as I have cobbled together my phony-baloney self-serving pseudo-Buddhist mantras for life, the inevitability of Why has persisted. In spiritual terms, the universe reveals layer after layer of mystery as we contemplate the Why of existence into infinite loops of inexplicability.  (Editor’s Note: Sadly, I was going to place a video here, a conflicting and hilarious alternative to the high-minded “whyedness” of Crap Buddhism, featuring Charlie Day being annoyingly “why’d” by his alleged son. This clip does not appear online, however, as all anyone seems to share from “It’s Always Sunny” involves Dayman. Y’all are a bunch of Johnny-Come-Latelies to the Always Sunny party. /Scorned)

The point is this:  I believe that the simple act of asking why provides insight into your own motivations, and explores rationales outside of the easy answer of “good” and “evil” that permeates our culture. I do not believe in inherent good or evil, nor do I see these as forces at play in our universe. Good and Evil are descriptors after the fact, adjectives to simplify complex issues and make them palatable and understandable to we the idiots. Like saying someone is “lucky”: the term itself really only speaks to the past, as luck is merely a comparison of outcomes and not a determining factor for future results. Personally, I find it offensive to simplify and demean purpose and intent by labeling things as “good” or “evil.” By seeking to understand why, you inevitably place yourself in the shoes of someone else. You force yourself to attempt an analysis of data from an unbiased perspective. You seek understanding and truth in whatever form they actually exists.

And through this act, I truly believe you work towards becoming a better person.

Fine Fine, but PRINCE? Isn’t that a little  … Michael Jackson?

Again with the anecdotes.

In college, my fraternity, believing ourselves to be hilarious, designed a Valentine’s Day fundraiser which was hilariously dubbed the Psi U Love Machine. (Not to be confused with the dangerous pelvic-thrust-humping dance circle of the same name by the same frat). As I was merely peripherally involved, my details may be off but I do believe there was an actual algorithm designed to compare people from a questionnaire and then give people the names of three participants who would be good “matches.” Think Match.com but on a punchcard level. Now think even less technologically suave than punchcards, and you’re right around the level of complexity of this thing.

Anyway, I filled out one of the questionnaires for shits and giggles (I believe this occurred during one of the VERY few times I had a girlfriend during college), and one of my answers struck me as so god-damned clever and profound that I remember it to this day.

Question: Describe yourself using a four-syllable word

Answer: Protagonist

Yep. I thought I was hot soup with that one. It’s a wonder I was single for so long.

But that’s the truth of it – I always see myself in protagonists. I am an unabashed Jack Sheppard fan, and find Sawyer to be a whiney, predictable, unreliable “bad boy” stereotype with no depth beyond his beautiful, well-sculpted abs. I once got angry at a friend after she watched Streetcar Named Desire and wouldn’t STFU about how hot Brando’s CHARACTER was. I admit that Luke Skywalker is, to me, the hero of Star Wars and until my twenties I didn’t give a fuck about whether Han shot first (Note: it’s the principle of the thing, really). (Also note: I still like the Ewoks, especially Wicket)

So my approach to literature is usually to find myself in the protagonist. This led to trouble twice in my life. The first was when I read Catcher in the Rye and realized, sadly, that the dysfunctional main character, the unlikable Holden Caufield, shared more than a few similarities with 15 year old me. The second was in subsequent readings of Hamlet.

Yes, the Prince in Price of Why comes from Hamlet. Yes, I know that’s not a good thing.

But to me, Hamlet has always been about a man shaking his fist in anger at the skies. About a man full of anger and resentment and rage, who attempts to battle the highest powers on earth in the face of inevitable failure and impossibility of measure.

To digress for explanatory purposes: the King is, to medieval man, is anointed by god. Like the pope, only with lots of wealth and power and intrigue and sex! The king’s word has the weight of not only God, but also the entire kingdom. It is the alpha and omega. It is the force of the universe. It is the rival to Hamlet’s intentions.

So here’s Hamlet, a Prince in his own right, imbued with all of the wealth and fabulousness that entails (Hamlet always seemed a little gay to me – I mean, Ophelia was a bit of an emo hottie, right?! Dubya tea eff, mate?). And what does he does for most of this 5-act play? Waxes philosophical upon his own impotence and futility, followed by outrageous acts of lashing out which do little but harm those around him, many of whom sought only to appease his general unhappiness and melancholy. Shaking his fist at the skies.

So that’s it, right there. The Prince of Denmark – futile, angry, impotent, shaking with rage at how unfair the universe is, fighting against insurmountable forces in wars he cannot hope to win, hurting those around him with his misdirected anger.

And here I am – questioning the logic and rationale, the ins and outs, the motivations of these awful, stinking, lovable masses. Futile in my anger, shaking my fists at the sky, incapable of accepting the unfair nature of the universe and fuming in my attempts at putting on a play (so to speak – I mean, why does the self seek substance in the soul through reflection, when reflection is itself merely an emptiness staring back and seen through biased eyes?)

So there it is, succinct as ever. The Prince of Why.

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