Are You Serious?

As many of those who know me quite well would probably attest, I’m a rather serious person.  This doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to fun or laughter or absurdity or even relaxing, but it does mean that I tend to eschew frivolity, fucking-about, and any general sense of just not having a purpose to what I’m doing.

As a result, when I’ve decided to have a relaxing day–then I’m going to fucking relax, bitches–and there’s little that anyone else will be able to do to get me out of that state.

Thinking about where this comes from, I have often thought that it may come from my personality type–INTJ–since most of those with the same personality are often deeply serious people in their pursuit of world I mean.. general competency in their lives.  While I do believe that this is a trait that is enhanced or reinforced by my general personality type (since I have almost never met a frivolous INTJ–in fact, I never have…), I think that it also comes from other sources.

In particular, it comes from a deeper sense and attachment to creating meaning in this world.  I have always sought to focus on the creation of long-lasting and significant structures/thoughts/ideas/experiences since I was a kid.  Not surprisingly, learning was always one of those things that I could never get enough of as it helped me try to accomplish such goals–at least, that’s how I always saw it..

In any case, I know that this trait has often made life a bit more “difficult” in many social sistuations.  It did, for example, make “making friends” more difficult when I was a child (and, well, even when you are an adult) because the inability/inexperience/lack of desire to engage in “frivolous talk” makes small “get-to-know-you” chit-chat fail on a regular basis.  An upshot of this was that I had very few intimate relationships when I was younger compared to many of my friends (sounds typical for geeks–of which I definitely was one…).  Truly, it wasn’t until I was in my older twenties and early thirties that I started to become “popular” with a number of the womenfolk hereabouts, and that is mainly, in my analysis, because Women, as opposed to Girls, seem to appreciate the kind of seriousness that I generally always display…

Finally, I think an interesting connection that is helpful in explaining my outlook comes from Aristotle and his thoughts on happiness.  Somewhere in the Nicomachean Ethics, I believe, Aristotle talks about what really makes a person happy and what constitutes real happiness.  Very insightfully, Aristotle noted that there was an important distinction between amusement and happiness.  Being amused, which he linked to pleasure in many ways, was not the same as being happy.  Instead, the only real way to be happy was to be engaged in the pursuit of accomplishing one’s greater life goals.  Building a house, raising your kids, accomplishing your job, thinking important thoughts, resting after a hard day’s work–these were the things that made a person happy.

I read this part of Aristotle back in my undergrad days and it has always stuck with me.  I also think that a good chunk of my seriousness comes from the fact that my pursuit of creating meaning is pretty  much the same thing to me as striving to be happy, which is serious business to me. Thus, to slack off into frivolity just doesn’t sit well with me.  It seems like a waste of the limited amount of time I have to exist. ( Since I don’t believe in souls or everlasting life or any such thing–I have about 80 years to get shit done… and I waste in all forms pisses me off and makes me unhappy…)

Now–before anyone who ever decides to read this and get worried–I don’t expect everyone else to be like me and be serious all the time.  I’m not that kind of asshole. I believe in the diversity and plurality of humanity–people are different and that’s a good thing.  However, it is also probably true that if someone lacks some amount of seriousness and/or they tend to be unserious most of the time that I’m around them–that we will find it hard to get along.

Such is life…


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7 Responses to Are You Serious?

  1. Heh. Assign an INTJ the task of being frivolous and s/he will set about it in a most serious manner. And be successful anyway.

    I do enjoy moments of frivolity and sometimes seek them out. It is actually quite useful in pursuing my primary projects of communication (articulation and exchange of meaning) and connection (with other human beings and not just my cat who thinks I’m a can opener with legs).

    • tricstmr says:

      Hmm.. what do you consider frivolity? I’m also one who does not totally unappreciate whimsy–but I do have a rather low tolerance for it.

      Now–for example–attacking a pumpkin with a large sword for the hell of it–that’s not “frivolity” so much as just plain fun–which I consider something entirely different…

      I also don’t consider hanging out on the porch with friends and alcohol to be frivolous–because significant communication occurs..

      I guess–frivolous to me is more of a kind of designation for what I consider very meaningless activity–such as having a very intense discussion about the soccer/football game that is on… (I like sports–but don’t think they are anything to really write home about…)..

      anyway–I’d be interested in your definitions of frivolity… to see if we are on the same page–or are on different ones. 🙂

  2. Frivolity – something done without purpose, silliness, not serious.

    I strongly appreciate the absurd and am often ridiculous.

    I’d consider the Pumpkin Slaughter to be hugely frivolous and a huge amount of fun. I mean, we are destroying perfectly good squash with archaic weapons and the remains are useless for pie and it produces nothing. It had no actual purpose and was not at all serious.

    I like the side-effects of frivolity such as bonding opportunities that might not occur if action was serious or deliberate. Fun is also a side-effect. As is ice-cream with googly-eyes and antenna.

    • tricstmr says:

      Okay–I think–as often happens–we are assigning different meanings to words that are leading to different conclusions…

      I also strongly appreciate the absurd–but that does not mean that I think the absurd is without purpose. In fact, I would argue that so much of life falls under the definition of “absurdity”–as I understand it–that consciously trying to appreciate the absurd has many important and deeper purposes.

      To me–for example–enjoying absurdity is a way of really embracing the reality that stares you in the face all the time–which ties in nicely with many of my bigger purposes in life.

      Anyway–getting back to the squash smashing example–I don’t see your actions as purposeless (and actually I don’t think you do either in many ways!!) for you have actually clearly outlined a number of really critical purposes for the violence against vegetables. It gives you an opportunity to bond with others. It is just fun! (although we might analyze this further to see that it is fun because we get to vent various internal emotional states in a way that is far less destructive to ourselves than in many other ways..).

      Yes, it is true that we are not using said gourds in the normal ways that most people would use them–but that doesn’t mean that our activities are without purpose… at least not in my book…

      Of course–I also think it is possible to smash pumpkins in purposeless ways. Kids do it all the time and there is very little thought behind it. Perhaps, for me, the difference is the thought that goes into it. If said actions are the result of a conscious decision to do so with some forethought and appreciation for the grander life-affirming results (bonding, etc.. ), than that doesn’t seem frivolous to me–it’s just fun…
      However, there are so many typical activities that are done in unserious ways and if you actually ask people why they are doing them–they couldn’t actually usually tell you beyond “isn’t this just what people do?” (and most of the time they will just stare at you in disbelief for asking such a strange question…)

      Anyway… that’s my further thoughts… perhaps I just use very weird definitions for words.. 🙂

      • I was going with the dictionary definition: “something done without purpose, silliness, not serious.” I don’t think our definitions are much different but our subjective views of what constitutes membership in that definition is different.

        One thing really jumps out at me: if my pumpkin killing isn’t frivolous then why is an intense discussion about soccer/sports frivolous? They serve the same purposes of fun and bonding (etc) to the people involved.

        What is coming across in your argument is that things you do that you subjectively view as valuable are serious (good) and stuff that other people do that they might find valuable may be either serious (good) or frivolous (bad) based on whether or not you can subjectively find value in it. Was that your intent?

        I’m not particularly dismissive of frivolous activities and have no problem with labeling my own activities as such. You have said that you don’t like slacking off into frivolity. This difference of opinion towards the positivity/negativity of the label will strongly affect how we subjectively assign it to activities. That might be a bigger source of our disagreement than definitions.

      • tricstmr says:

        I think you have picked up something in my argument that I’m also having a hard time articulating. Specifically, you are correct that I’ve made arguments that have used content descriptions as a short-hand of differentiating between serious(good to me) and non-serious(bad to me)–and that’s not really what I want to do or what I really mean.

        I think it is more of an attitudinal thing for me. And I’m highly suspicious that there is just some inherent bias of mine in here. Anyway–getting back to the sports discussions–I actually don’t find intensediscussions about sports to be frivolous. My good friend, B., for example, was highly involved in a Chicago Cubs Sports blog for a while–and he put as much effort into doing that as I’m doing this here. Now, while I wouldn’t find such an activity to be super interesting (I’m a Cubs fan too, by the way, but not avidly), I would not dismiss it as frivolous. Obviously, B. was creating significant meaning in his life by doing this–and he could tell you why it was important to him.

        And I think that is what is key to me–that they can tell you why it is important with a bit of thought.

        Now–perhaps this is all just part of my subjective bias against a more blase/lackadaisical attitude towards things and is really much more of a “subjective truth” kind of thing (as I’ve elaborated and defined in a different reply to one of your other comments…)–but let me just add a bit more anecdotal evidence to the pot to try and back this up a bit more….

        Specifically, I seem to know a lot of people who go about living life without really being able to articulate why clearly to anyone else. They do things for various reasons–usually habit or tradition or because it’s the easy path–but they don’t really seem to clearly grok why these things are being done or to consciously view these things as what is constituting the greater composition of their life-path through reality.

        Now, one could ask, SO WHAT? And it is true that such a–using my terminology–unserious way about going through life might be and is often, I’m sure, just fine for people. However, I have also noted that almost all of these people who are my friends or acquaintances in some way also often hit the same number of road blocks that life gives everyone to deal with–and when they do, these hiccoughs can and do become big existential crises far more often and far quicker than they do for people who approach life more seriously (by my definitions…).

        Now–I’m not expecting everyone to be a mastermind planner etc etc as they go along in life. My best half, for example, lives life totally in the moment (well, mostly, she’s learned to plan more since she has kids and has been around me…), and is not making any of these highly theoretical/abstract justifications for her decisions along the way–but she does lead this life seriously in my sense of the word… and she takes on life and its problems much the same as I do…

        Anyway.. now that response is way longer than I intended.. time for me to get some stuff done today.. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Thoughts on Beauty… | The Philosophy of NOM

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