John Cleese on responsibility for own emotions

The remarkable John Cleese is spot on again:


I’m offended every day. For example, the British newspapers every day offend me with their laziness, their nastiness, and their inaccuracy, but I’m not going to expect someone to stop that happening; I just simply speak out about it. Sometimes when people are offended they want — you can just come in and say, “Right, stop that.” to whoever it is offending them. And, of course, as a former chairman of the BBC one said, “There are some people who I would wish to offend.” And I think there’s truth in that too. So the idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is what I absolutely do not subscribe to. And a fellow who I helped write two books about psychology and psychiatry was a renowned psychiatrist in London called Robin Skynner said something very interesting to me. He said, “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.” And when you’re around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what’s going to upset them next. And that’s why I’ve been warned recently don’t to go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea, which is let’s not be mean in particular to people who are not able to look after themselves very well — that’s a good idea — to the point where any kind of criticism or any individual or group could be labeled cruel.

And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy, and believe you me I thought about this, is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke like how would you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans. Now that’s about the human condition; it’s not excluding anyone. It’s saying we all have all these plans, which probably won’t come and isn’t it funny how we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke. It’s still critical. All humor is critical. If you start to say, “We mustn’t; we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.

15 thoughts on “John Cleese on responsibility for own emotions

  1. He’s talking about the rules of humor, not the expectations for behavior in every situation. For example, you can’t say everything at work you can say at home. If you are in a business with customers, and you offend one enough that they don’t buy or go to your competitor, you hurt your own paycheck just to satisfy your ego.

  2. Don’t you just LOVE the incisive delivery, of this amazing man of countless abilities?

    Though, it is unfortunately quite difficult indeed, to deliver to those people who live in the cuckoo’s nest, wouldn’t you say? 😀

  3. The point here, for me, is: ” political correctness can lead to an orwellian nightmare ” , which is a complete truth. Sometimes one has to be sarcastic and critical just to break with humor the solid human conditioning and, in doing so, to start with the state of creativity known as free will.

    1. Agreed Raf. I just called Cleese “Batshit” but fucking love the guy.

      Again, the tie to genius and batshit has long been established.

      Now let’s AMP up John’s crazy by 10,000 percent. Let’s also up his genius by 10,000 percent.

      Now what?

      He’s WAY crazy and WAY brilliant. So brilliant, that he can make many of his batshit notions TRUE.

      … Hmm …

      Maybe batshit aint so guano.

        1. I’m beginning to think that KG is totally, absolutely sold too… On batshit!! (what else?) 😀

          1. I see that we can look through life through three lenses:

            1. Scientific Lens: via the scientific method.

            2. Religion Lens: with that a-prioris and mythology(ies) and tautologies.

            3. Artistic Lens: by observing the dance of chaos and meaning.

            I’m not “sold” on Batshit. I’m more like a soul “batshit” fanboy. I WANT to believe, but a factual soul is impossible in this universe to KNOW.

            One can decide and embrace batshit as reality. But one can never know.

            These lensed I lifted from the book, “The Structure of Religious Experience” a very short tome I had to hunt down years ago and pay $ 95.00 for it on amazon for a used copy. It’s an amazing lecture from the forties.

            1. Yes. But that “If” is a fixed variable.

              I don’t “believe” in free will, as I have no proof. I can “decide” on it and IF it exists outside this universe and interfaces with my ego, something MAY or MAY NOT occur.

              But I may choose to act AS IF I do have it and perhaps I can indeed nurture it or rather have IT nurture this version of my ego in this universe. If the experience is merely a materialistic delusion, then the delusion in the worst case is choosing to be real as it is programmed to do by evolution.

              If not, than the Batshit is emerging as a self.

              Ah, what an amazing puzzle!

              And my choice “for” free will does indeed point to a better kind of wrong IMHO. If one is wrong, it is a better kind of wrong than being wrong about non-existence.

              This is pretty much the same argument Theists use for centuries. It’s called “Pascal’s Wager”: “If God exists and Jesus died for my sins, I am saved, but if God doesn’t exist than I lose nothing.”

              The problem with PW is that it presumes a specific God and ignores Thor, Odin, The Flying Spaghetti Monster etc.

              But … the real thing is not does “GOD” exist, but rather, do “I” fucking exist?

              Because if I’m just a creation of God, then I have no real free will other than that given to me from another being, and a bestowed free will isn’t really MINE. It’s a subset of God’s free will.

              In this case, God has free will and I’m just a little bitch.

              So, wagering on something like a free-will Ātman, is a better version of PW.

              But a wager is ACTUALLY a decision, it’s not a belief. And there is light years of difference between the two.

              We place our bets and enjoy the race. Maybe there is a universe where the Free-Will horse wins over its deterministic opponents.

            2. “If not, than the Batshit is emerging as a self.”

              It’s kind of a social rule that the batshit may not emerge as self. Exception: In the hyper-controlled and moderated arts. Then only the idealized form of batshit is allowed to emerge ‘as self’ according to closely moderated mores. Batshit that falls outside acceptable batshit isn’t tolerated. (Like in Hollywood, some movie director can be a philandering pedophile rapist and a successful director. But not a Republican, that batshit ain’t guano.

            3. “We place our bets and enjoy the race. Maybe there is a universe where the Free-Will horse wins over its deterministic opponents.”

              Great post.

            4. Yes, Geir, the point is if we CAN choose.

              But all we know for sure is that we can FEEL like we can choose, but not know for sure we actually can choose.

              So … yeah. I’ll take Pascal’s Wager on the free will soul.

              Chips. Down.

              ((SPINS WHEEL))

              “BIG MONEY! BIG MONEY! Woo-HOOO!”

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s