The Dismal Scientist
Cognition - for the Hell of It!
Absence of motivation is found at all levels of experience.

By Paul Revere (and the Raiders)
(171 words; posted Sept. 24, 1996; to be read Sept. 24, 1999)


I was running against Sandy Whorehole of the Savage Blood Party. His platform was to codify peer pressure -- to get it all down in writing -- so anyone who wanted to succumb to it, could know exactly what to do. Step by step. And without requiring the unpleasantness of actually interacting with any peers.

"This is a 3-pronged problem," candidate Whorehole had said. "By addressing and solving the 3rd part, we will make it possible for independent enterprise to spring up and solve the first two."


My platform was much simpler: "Get drunk! Watch pornography! Then apply for and (automatically) receive early reincarnation! No questions asked."

That was it.

"Fuck everything else!" was the campaign rallying cry.

I was also proposing a return to "historical" borders and power politics and petty nationalism and the brutal elimination of "pre-historical" enemies and a return to world unilateralism and an end to the so-called "one world communications order."

Sandy Whorehole, on the other hand, wanted to create a world where it was, once again, safe to be a celebrity. He wanted to revive the world consumer network database and give everybody a government-subsidized spare room where they could store all the Mickey Mouse (tm) lunch boxes and Goofy (tm) music boxes and Donald Duck (tm) drinking mugs they'd buy through these databases.

e wanted to pass a law that every game -- public or private -- had to always award bonus points to the player with the most camcorders running at once.

To counter this, I proposed conscripting an army that could take on the Sony Guard and re-occupy the Old California territory outside Asia Mex. Then we'd bring settlers to the area who'd set up bridge tables outside simulated cafes and just play cards there, all day long. Games like Dream Crash, or 4-hand Bile of Paradise.

And the flag of this new colony would be a picture made of fragments of pictures of all my current opponents, mixed in with pictures of all-time world celebrities like Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot and Reagan.


Of course, the election itself was just a way of squeezing the last few drops of content out of all the old thoughts and leftover crumbs of ideas that couldn't really be sold or turned into money anymore.


wo months into the campaign, I decided to change my name or my slogan to "Sexo Computurasido," but then was unexpectedly called away on vacation and so missed the actual voting and don't know if I won or lost.

I'm sure that, whatever happened, it was a hard-fought election, where, in the end, the voice of the people spoke loud and clear and, most likely, everybody got what he (or at least somebody) deserved.


For my vacation, I boarded a train, rode for a while, then got off and walked a few blocks, without really knowing where I was going.

Eventually, I realized I was in a 7th Day Avengers neighborhood, because everybody was out in the street playing Circle of Control.

A lone Oldsmobile drifted through, and the game was halted momentarily as the players stepped up on the curb to let it pass or try to schmooze its passenger -- the local El Supremo -- when it pulled over at a loading zone, a few yards away.

This was a town run on tai chi time, and when I wrote a song here, I found myself doing it at the rate of a note a month and, then, shooting the film of it at the rate of a frame a week and writing the book of it, a word a day and, then, being sewn up after receiving surgery for it, at about one stitch per hour.


'd come here to talk about coming here. Of course, I could've done this from anywhere and just faxed it in, but things were so perfect here that you had to keep solving complex mathematical equations in your head, just to convince yourself you weren't dreaming.


So I kind of lost all control and went around pledging money to start up whole new philanthropic foundations (which were really whole new concepts in philanthropic foundations) for every worthy cause I bumped into on the street.

But, soon, I was so stressed out from all this, I needed to take a recursive vacation from the vacation I was already on -- and did so, just moments before the down payment was due on the land for the first foundation.


On my new vacation, everywhere I went, they needed my philanthropy, real or imagined, even more than the last place.

Their populations were composed, almost entirely, of people who'd floated out of the sky, one day, strapped to old gliders -- and the only way to keep them under control was to let them be different people with different names and different occupations, from different classes and different races and with different personalities, limitations, predilections, abilities, desires, thoughts, upbringings, and genes, on a daily basis.

Or to let them not be people at all. Predicated by none of the human parameters.

Paul Revere (a.k.a. Mark Lindsay) is former lead singer of Paul Revere and the Raiders and professor of economics at Stanford. His books include Hungry -- the Novel; Just Like Me -- the Book; Good Thing -- the Whole Story; and the Kicks Songbook.

Illustrations by Kitty Porn Partners

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