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Manufactured In America | Hapiness Is A Side Effect Of Meaning

Manufactured In America | Hapiness Is A Side Effect Of Meaning

Manufactured In America | Hapiness Is A Side Effect Of Meaning

NEWSFLASH: It's a beautiful day to be alive here at the peak of recorded human history

GO FORTH AND BE MIGHTY!

Lyrics

Greetings, thanks and congratulations
To Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005

There are these two young fish swimming along
And they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way
Who nods at them and says
“Morning, boys. How’s the water?”
And the two young fish swim on for a bit
And then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes
“What the hell is water?”

What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches
The deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories
The story thing turns out to be one of the better
Less bullshitty conventions of the genre
But if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish
Please don’t be
I am not the wise old fish
The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that Are hardest to see and talk about
Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude
But the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence
Banal platitudes can have a life or death importance
Or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning

What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning
To try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value
Instead of just a material payoff
So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre
Which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about, quote:
“Teaching you how to think.”
Think

If you’re like me as a student
You’ve never liked hearing this
And you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody
To teach you how to think
Since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think
Think (faded)
Think (faded)

But I’m going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché
Turns out not to be insulting at all
Because the really significant education in thinking that we’re supposed to get in a place like this
Isn’t really about the capacity to think
But rather about the choice of what to think about
If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing
I’d ask you to think about fish and water
And to bracket for just a few minutes
Your scepticism about the value of the totally obvious

What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
What the hell is water?
Next
Stage
In the mystery of the human development
Is that of
Old age
Coming on
Just about when you learn
How to do
What they have been trying to teach you
You begin to fumble
And then you have to
Pull yourself together
And for another few years
Act as though
You still could do it
And then everybody else begins to see
That he’s not doing so well
They put another waiter in
To take over the job for you
And
That kind of thing
You are gradually
Eased out
You are gradually
Eased out

[Chorus]
The first half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’
And the last half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’

In other words
The first function
Of the
Local social mythology
Was to
Bring you from childhood
Dependency
To responsibility
In terms
Of the social demand
And then just about when you are beginning to feel good about it all
The society that has said
You’ve got to do what we want
Begins to say
Well
It looks as though you can’t do what we want
So
You are on your own
Then you have what’s called a nervous breakdown

[Chorus]
The first half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’
And the last half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’

The
Next problem then
In a mythological order
That is going to take care of us
Is to tell us what to do with our psyches
When that begins to happen
The economic problem isn’t the main one
Not that somebody should
You know
Give you a fishing rod
And send you out fishing
And then have dinner for you when you come home

It’s what are you gonna do?
With that
Power inside you
What are you gonna do?
With that
Power inside you
What are you gonna do?
With that
Power inside you
What are you gonna do?
With that
Power inside you
What are you gonna do?
With that
Power inside you

[Chorus]
The first half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’
And the last half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’

You’ve become
Somewhat
Aware
Of the world
Of the mystery of the world
And you just don’t want to go doodling along with silly little children’s tasks
And that’s not what you’re
Worth
It’s not what you are ready for
There are problems to face
The most challenging one
Is death
Man is the only animal that knows he’s going to die
And as soon as you fumble that ball
It’s coming
It’s coming

[Chorus]
The first half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’
And the last half of life
When there is a knock on the door
You think
‘Here it comes‘
‘Here it comes’

So
We find
This
Wonderful problem
And mythologies
In general
The religions
Have served it
They have provided
Images
Tasks
Discipline
That carry the child
From
Childhood dependency to responsibility
Rather simple responsibilities
Those that society says
You’ve got to
Accept
And then
They’ve provided
A way out
They tell you
That daddy
Will beat a bear
And you’re going back home

Now this isn’t quite enough anymore
Either [audience laughter]
Is it any wonder that our clergymen look a little bit anxious these days?
[audience laughter fades]
Now the third function
Of
A mythological tradition
Is to validate
And maintain
A certain moral order
Now these moral orders greatly differ from one society
To another
For example
The requirements
Of a primitive hunting community
Are very, very different
From a primitive planting community
What is required of the young men and women
Is in each case quite different
Likewise, in a complex
Society
Of
Differentiated
Tasks
With professional
Doctors, Medicines, Medical men
Astronomers
Or scientists
Governing people
Trading people
All of these coordinated in one society
We have a quite different
Social problem
Quite different moral problem
From that of a simple
Primitive community

[Chorus]
The individual must be shaped
He must be made to react
In the way that that culture wants (it to)
The individual must be shaped (oh)
He must be made to react (oh)
In the way that that culture wants (it to)

And so there is this variation
From society to society
In terms of the social orders
Now some of these social orders
Are extremely
Ruthless and fierce in their requirements and extremely
Narrow
In their demand
Individuals may be
Thus divorced
Separated
So to say
From their own nature

Read some of the descriptions
In the anthropological works
Of the primitive
Initiation rites
What is done
To the young people
In
Some primitive societies
In order
To
Test their courage
In order to integrate them
In the social group
Now most societies
Are extremely
Dogmatic
And fierce
In their
Integration
Of the individual
The individual is born as a separate
Entity
He is carved up
So to say
And made to fit
Into a pattern
That the society requires
It doesn’t require a total man
It requires a “part man”
Not an individual
But a “dividuum”
Someone who has been divided up and put into a notch

[Chorus]
The individual must be shaped
He must be made to react
In the way that that culture wants (it to)
The individual must be shaped (oh)
He must be made to react (oh)
In the way that that culture wants (it to)

This happens in the most primitive societies, already
Nature produces
This wonderfully
Rich being
Full of possibilities
The society and you cannot blame society
It requires
A certain
Specific - Limited - Type
It’s got to have that otherwise it can’t exist
And so
The individual is
So to say
Carved into shape
Scarified
And teeth knocked out
His body is changed
So that he will know;
I’m a member of this group
Not that group

[Chorus]
The individual must be shaped
He must be made to react
In the way that that culture wants (wants it to)
The individual must be shaped (oh)
He must be made to react (oh)
In the way that that culture wants (wants it to)

The individual must be changed
He must be made to react
In the way that that culture wants it to
The individual must be changed (oh)
He must be made to react (oh)
In the way that that culture wants it to

[Bridge]

And
In so
Shaping the person
The person is removed
So to say
From his own nature
From his own nature
From his own nature
His own nature
Let’s consider this
Problem
The human
Eye
Opens
At a rather late-stage
In the development
Of the individual
He has already
Done the most
Marvelous work
He will ever do
In a mysterious way
In his mother’s womb
He has built
A human body
And this body
Has organs
That are
Directed
To certain ends
And intentions
And these
Were not
The organs
Designed by reason
Designed by consciousness
Reason and consciousness comes to itself
And asks
Later

[Chorus]
What is it
I am all about?
What is it
I am here for?
What is it
I am all about?
What is it
I am here for?
Why is it?
I do this
And that?
Why is it
I do this
And that?
What is it
I am all about?
What is it
I am here for?

Furthermore
The coming of the eyes
Into the general biological picture
Is very late
Life had already originated
Hundreds of millions of years
Before eyes opened
And saw what was going on
Saw what life
Was doing
Now if you’ll see
And think
What it is
That life does
That life has to do in order to be life
It has to kill
And eat
Other life
That‘s the basic thing
This is a rather monstrous thing
And when the eyes see
What the
Situation is
On which its own life
Depends
Its own existence
When conscience
And consciousness
Become aware
Of the
Preconditions of their own existence
There is often
A sense of shock
A sense of horror

You know
The basic
Word of Buddhism;
All life
Is sorrowful
That’s one way
Of recognizing this
There is also the feeling
Many have of guilt
Simply for being alive
This is
In a way symbolized in the image of the fall in the Garden
Life
Is monstrous
Life
Is monstrous

[Chorus]
What is it
I am all about?
What is it
I am here for?
What is it
I am all about?
What is it
I am here for?
Why is it?
I do this
And that?
Why is it
I do this
And that?
What is it
I am all about?
What is it
I am here for?
Now there have been
In the past
200 years
A great, great many
Investigations and researches
Some of them very
Pious
Some of them
Very
Cynical
Of the religions of the world
And certain
Quite constant
Motives
Basic themes
Have come out
Throughout the whole field
These universals
These continually recurring
Themes

Also, in each of the various areas
There are quite special
Particular inflections
Quite different
From those in
Other areas
That is to say, we have this spectacle of
Continuity
And consistency
And at the same time
Differentiation
I want to speak tonight in a very general way
To
The main
Problems
That these situations
And these observations
Bring up

[Chorus]
What are the functions
The human functions
Served by mythologies
What are the functions
The human functions
Served by mythologies
By symbolic forms
Which
Have been served
For 200,000 years
200,000 years

And have sustained the race
Even on the simplest level
And even on
The levels of the highest cultures
We all know the greatest
Monuments
The greatest
Architectural
And
Art
Monuments
Are in celebration of these mysteries
I don’t care where you turn
These are the things
We now
Go by jet
To see

[Chorus]
What are the functions
The human functions
Served by mythologies
What are the functions
The human functions
Served by mythologies
By symbolic forms
Which
Have been served
For 200,000 years
200,000 years

What are the functions
The human functions
Served by mythologies
What are the functions
The human functions
Served by mythologies
By symbolic forms
Which
Have been served
For 200,000 years
200,000 years

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