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George Carlin, R.I.P.

George Carlin died at age 71. He was a damn hilarious comedian, philosopher and human observer. That is redundant.

Here are a couple of interviews with Carlin:

The A.V. Club circa 1999:

GC: Well, they say, “If you scratch a cynic, underneath you’ll find a disappointed idealist.” So I would imagine there’s some little flame, however weak, that still burns, but I know time is against my seeing that. I think this world would need a long time, maybe a thousand years, to evolve to what may be a golden age, and in the meantime, there are all these very small, parochial struggles between peoples of different language and color and arbitrary political and national boundaries. And my understanding of it is that there is no hope, because I think we’re locked in by commerce. The whole idea of the pursuit of goods and possessions has completely corrupted the human experience, along with religion, which I think limits the intellect. So with those two things in place as firmly as they are, I don’t see any hope for getting around them short of some sort of interesting cataclysm. So I root for a cataclysm, for its own sake, just as entertainment. I don’t even care if it has a good result. We’re circling the drain, and I just like seeing the circles get faster and shorter all the time.

Mother Jones circa 1997 (Carlin was actually married for at least 30 years prior to his wife’s death):

Q: Are you lonely?

A: There is a core of loneliness. It’s partly existential. Secondly, I was raised a loner. My parents were not there. My father was asked to leave because he couldn’t metabolize ethanol. Actually, my mother ran away with us when I was 2 months old and my brother was 5. Real dramatic stuff: down the fire escape, through backyards.

So, I sort of raised myself. I was alone a lot and I invented myself — I lived through the radio and through my imagination.

One of the interesting things about “outsidership” is that underneath it there’s a longing to belong. I just wish the thing I refused to belong to — the species, Western capital culture — was a little more respectable.

The full interviews are worth reading if you have the time.

A couple of must-see videos after the jump.

I need to memorize Carlin’s pitch on why he doesn’t vote because its hard to imagine saying it any better than he does here:

[video:youtube:0u6lCBnRoHQ]

And his incredibly irreverent critique of religion:

[video:youtube:MeSSwKffj9o]

In both of the above videos, Carlin lays bare some stark truths and he does it with succinct, seamless execution. You hear the audience die of laughter on hearing them. The laughter springs from the incongruence of the truth Carlin speaks and the beliefs the audience holds dear. What’s sad is that the humor masks the enlightenment, allowing the audience to go home, with misguided beliefs still intact. Nonetheless, George Carlin’s observations of the “freak show” of humanity, as he often called it, will be sorely missed.

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