Preeminent Velocity -- "I Hurt" by Seth Karon

Next on "Geraldo": preoperative transsexuals with low sperm counts who happen to be apprentices of Shakespeare that work in ball bearing factories. "Only in a Jeep." "Tom Brokaw, now more than ever." "Revolution, evolution, masturbating, copulating, regulating, concentrating, meditating, congregating." "Where do you want to go today?" "I'd rather be with an animal." "Metamucil; because if you don't use it, you'll get cancer and die." "Sony; because Americans are too damn tall." "Federal express; we'll screw the other guy to get your package there on time." "What works works."

Slow the fuck down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is as if simply living is beginning to hurt. Our "need" for efficiency and mainstream societal acceptance is leaving me empty. Today, making a cheap radio is viewed as more important than making love. Reelecting convicted felons is easier than electing decent people. Assassinating our respected politicians becomes the subject of conversation on the Tonight Show. With all of our daily "responsibilities," we are failing to give ourselves the opportunity for living an enjoyable life. The high priced, cut throat, fast food lifestyle of our society is only causing unnecessary pain and suffering. Life would be much more enjoyable if we would just slow down.

Unfortunately, society will continue to push, and push, and push people until they break. Irrelevant activities such as writing speculative social commentaries, commuting to work, and switching from AT&T to MCI only bring about more and more stress. I don't know about everyone else, but I am tired of being told which mouthwash to use. I am tired of seeing laboratory results that show how the Denorex tingle tells us that it is working. I want to wake up every morning without checking my blood pressure because my doctor says I am at risk for a heart attack because I eat Spam every day. Societal pressures are just a large scale version of carpal-tunnel-repetitive-motion syndrome. We get up, go to work, go home, struggle to get to sleep. We get up, go to work, go home, struggle to get to sleep. Living in an anti-Emersonian world leaves us with a bitter, stale, decrepit taste in our mouths. That is not what I want. I want to take a break from everything, so I don't end up twenty pounds overweight, a child of an alcoholic, and a co-dependent living in a van down by the river. I want to feel something.

The demands of society leave us with no time for emotions at all. Is fighting through gridlock on I-94 more important than giving your child a hug? How about studying your ass off just so you can go to a college where you are only a number? Finishing that ever so important sales projection presentation? Are any of these "necessary" activities more important than caring about someone? When having emotions takes precedence only after we get our paychecks, that is a sign that we need to take a break.

Because we never do get a chance to slow down, we view almost every activity as an imperative. Is working on your chemistry lab until two-thirty in the morning really worth it? Does it make life enjoyable? Twenty years from now, will you look back on your life and say: "Gee, my life has meaning because a certain Mr. W. gave me an 'A' on my essay?" It is almost as if we must win at everything, even though we don't like the game, because finishing fourth isn't acceptable. Why not? In Zen Buddhist terms, we (and our activities) are no more important than, say, meal worms. We are just the same. If our daily activities are not that important, then what is?

What is important is what we choose to do without the pressures of society breathing down our backs. Writing an essay would be a perfect example, if it were inspired, not required. People have a hard time handling the "necessary" activities because they have no choice but to do them. No one gets up in the morning and says to herself "Do you know what I need? I need to rush my ass to McDonald's only to spill seething hot coffee in my lap while I am going forty-two miles per hour in a thirty zone while I am forty-eight minutes late to the most important business meeting of my life. That is what would make my life complete." People don't have time to admit this, but they want to be free from obligation.

What I am advocating is a humanist take on life. We must recognize that we are humans, animals, not Reaganistic "little people" that spend all of their time at the office. I am not saying that stopping to smell the roses is the solution to all of our problems (although that would be good if it were on a sunny summer's day while taking a walk in a park), but rather that we need a shift in our priorities, from our bosses to ourselves. Anyone would prefer to sleep in all day than stand behind a counter in a 7-11 for eight hours while reading U.G. Krishnamurti. The emphasis we should be placing on ourselves is that of feeling and emotion, not building another federal building.

The major problem in our society is our need to constantly do, make, or build something. We are a materialistic society. What is wrong with sitting on our asses all day talking to each other? Can't we just throw a hackey-sack around while drinking sixty-four degree beer for sixteen hours straight? There is nothing wrong with being lazy if you are doing it with someone else. But, current societal standards don't allow for that unless your bank account is bigger than George Wendt's liver. The only way to achieve a humanistic society is through National Endowment for the Arts funding.

We must replace the greeting card sentimentality that we have now with real emotions. Hallmark is simply selling us short. However, the concept of making your own card is a step in the right direction. Taking the time to think of something honest and sincere to say is much better than a picture of a chimpanzee with sub text reading: "This is what happens when people turn forty." Humanism is the ideal goal we must reach for, but we need to take steps every day. If someone does well on a test or social commentary, please, congratulate them. Don't simply say "Good job. I liked it. No, really." Get into specifics. Take the time to notice details.

And, whatever you do, don't allow the fast pace of society to turn you into a machine. Minimally, take a few minutes every day to have a bonding experience with someone. That does not mean you have to wear bearskin clothing and carry around a big stick. Just realize exactly how hellish this society would be without other people. If we would all recognize our need for companionship, empathy, and feelings because we are humans, we wouldn't have the societal problems we have now.

"One baby to another says 'I'm lucky to have met you.'" Maybe if we could all stop and do this we would be a little happier.

MIT Obituaries, February 16, 2000

Seth L. Karon '01 died in his hometown of Plymouth, Minnesota, last Wednesday in a suicide. He was 21 years old.

Karon, who had a longstanding battle with depression, had been on a formal leave of absence from the Institute since August, said Dean of Students Robert M. Randolph.

He majored in Chemistry and was a member of Tau Epsilon Pi. In addition, he was a gifted photographer and writer.

Funeral and prayer services for Karon were held on Friday and Saturday in his hometown. The Chemistry Department is working to arrange a department-wide gathering to pay tribute to him.

Karon is survived by his parents, Robert and Stephanie, and a brother, Jason.