In which Andrew WK explains exactly why love is essential
December 6, 2014 3:28 PM   Subscribe

"Hey, Andrew.
I dig your music and what you stand for, but I'm kind of getting sick of all the hippy-dippy love stuff lately. Please don't take this the wrong way, I just think your whole message has kinda gotten corny. Maybe I'm out of line, but I don't see how all this cheesy lovey-dovey stuff makes sense in the real world. You're naive. Sometimes love just doesn't work. Sometimes people need to experience a bunch of bad shit in order to wake them up and see the truth. You have to admit that sometimes violence is the only way to make real change and get people's attention. Love isn't always the answer, man."
posted by hippybear (84 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gosh, Mr. Strawman, I'm glad you wrote to me today. I was just thinking that deep lasting internal change occurs when . . .

Here's the thing, I enjoy his music and really want to wholeheartedly embrace his writing. Something's ringing my bell, though. Something's off. Maybe it's just me, though; maybe my bell got rung by too many handsome, talented, popular men with good ideas. In that case, pay me no mind.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:38 PM on December 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Tides change. Andrew WK plays bass on Current 93 records. Some things can't be explained.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 3:38 PM on December 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


Love: necessary but not sufficient.

Duh.
posted by leotrotsky at 3:56 PM on December 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


So many bitter dudes and dudettes.
posted by discopolo at 4:26 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


About as fun and dangerous to listen to as early 90's Henry Rollins.
posted by Nevin at 4:32 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Andrew WK plays bass on Current 93 records.

Huh!
posted by kenko at 4:34 PM on December 6, 2014


Love isn't always the answer, man.

"Hey mom, what's for dinner?"

" Love."

"Aww man, we had that last night!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:38 PM on December 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


Or, yeah, what leotrotsky said.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:40 PM on December 6, 2014


Hey, Andrew. I dig your music and what you stand for, but I'm kind of getting sick of all the hippy-dippy love stuff lately.

*Andrew responds with a bunch of contentless, vague hippy-dippy love stuff* Hope that helps, sincerely, Andrew WK
posted by naju at 4:51 PM on December 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


So easy to preach love and hippy-dippy stuff when your life is awesome. AWK is just fully reterritorialized from "PARTY ALL THE TIME" to "LOVE EVERYONE" (a short hop, honestly).

And I hate how he signs off "Your friend, Anderw W.K." Dude's not my friend.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:53 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a game of rock-paper-scissors. Love only works as a weapon when you're resisting people who have real qualms about harming innocents.

Gandhi vs. Churchill*: Gandhi wins.
Gandhi vs. Hitler: Hitler wins.
Hitler vs. Churchill: Churchill wins.

* Okay, Attlee, fine.
posted by Oxydude at 4:55 PM on December 6, 2014 [14 favorites]


So easy to preach love and hippy-dippy stuff when your life is awesome...

...and so utterly necessary to know love when your life is at rock bottom.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


It's a game of rock-paper-scissors. Love only works as a weapon when you're resisting people who have real qualms about harming innocents.

Gandhi vs. Churchill*: Gandhi wins.
Gandhi vs. Hitler: Hitler wins.
Hitler vs. Churchill: Churchill wins.


Wait, so who beats Spock?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:20 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Love only works as a weapon when...

I'm not sure you know what love is.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


I like Andrew WK's music but even more than that I like his contributions to our most entertaining of institutions, crazy internet conspiracy theories.
posted by jason_steakums at 5:34 PM on December 6, 2014


Andrew WK: Just place an X on the Life Line in the appropriate place.

No Peace: No, I mean I know what to do, I just don’t get this. You can’t just lump things into two categories. Things aren’t that simple.

Andrew WK: The Life Line is divided that way.

No Peace: Ling Ling finds a wallet on the ground filled with money. She takes the wallet to the address on the driver’s license but keeps the money inside the wallet. I-I’m sorry, Andrew WK. I don’t get this.

Andrew WK: Just place an X on the Life Line in the appropriate place.

No Peace: Life isn’t that simple. I mean who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.

Andrew WK: Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.

No Peace: Okay. But you’re not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can’t just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else.

Andrew WK: If you don’t complete the assignment you’ll get a zero for the day.

posted by 23skidoo at 5:35 PM on December 6, 2014 [14 favorites]


Wait, so who beats Spock?

Mistress Whiplash, just not in the UK.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:44 PM on December 6, 2014


So easy to preach love and hippy-dippy stuff when your life is awesome.

I went through a really difficult time a few years ago, and was just socked and shocked by the love, care and kindness from my best friends. Life was not awesome, remembering to breathe was hard, and I was gutted, but damn, love is a great thing. Really helped me heal, and stay a loving person.
posted by discopolo at 5:55 PM on December 6, 2014 [17 favorites]


I feel great reading that second letter. Love is a great habit to cultivate, and one of the best things anyone can do is love one's self enough to be happy.

If you are habitually unhappy, try this, it is my invention. Try 100 smiles a day in your mirror. Do it as a facial physical therapy session. If you forget this morning exercise then do it driving to work. First of all your face will get some good exercise and it will be a lot easier to smile naturally. Then later in the day you will find yourself smiling but can't remember the happy event, it is the exercise. In about three weeks you will find your facial symmetry is much better. It will actually bring up the baseline on mood. This seems mechanical and downright goofy until you get comfortable with the idea of smiling for your self, for your own benefit, it is an intimate exercise of about 1 1/2 minutes. Three months down the road it will be a lot easier to focus on the happy parts of events. This is tops 45 minutes per month, two hours and fifteen minutes over three months.

This exercise makes it a lot easier to approach happiness and love, for one thing you are smiling for yourself and taking reponsibility for a commitment to personal happiness.

This may seem off, but it was very easy for me to buy into the second letter. There is an ingrained neuroloical pattern built. Facial PT is often used for stroke victims, and Bell's Palsy victims to try and restore facial balance.It is not unheard of. Creating the pathway, and exercising the facial musculature gives a powerful subliminal message of well being, that is not attached to another or a set of ideal circumstances, it just makes it easier to stay upbeat.
posted by Oyéah at 5:59 PM on December 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


Love is definitely great for the lowest points in your life especially - for all points, I believe - and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. What I'm wondering about is AWK's angle throughout this piece; that we are ignoring "love" as a means of dealing with conflict:

When our anger is inflamed, our immediate emotions tell us that we must lash out -- that love is stupid and beneath us -- that we must take extreme action -- that we must do something big. It seems like love is too small and soft and meek to accomplish anything tangible -- love seems like a cop-out.

Does anyone really consider love "stupid" and "beneath us" who isn't a complete sociopath? I'm all in favor of hugs and talking it out as a means of conflict resolution, but I don't understand the implication here that acts of great force or "extreme action" cannot be acts of love. I can't really agree with that.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:02 PM on December 6, 2014


Service is love and heroic, war or violence is not love, it is just easier than loving, or coping with the loss of love. Almost anything is easier than the grief process.
posted by Oyéah at 6:08 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh I know a ton of bitter people that think being positive and loving is some kind of sucker's game for fools and that only being bitter and angry and shouting all the time is the way to get anything done and if you're NOT bitter and angry and shouting all the time, you must be an idiot or gullible sheep.

It's one of the things I see in my activist friends. Being angry and bitter all the time feels really good and if you say "Hey, maybe dial back and stop screaming all the time," then you're part of the problem, you're buying into the system, man.

It feels really, really good to drink from the poison well of anger, but it's a million times harder to reach out with genuine love for someone. Hiding behind the shell of bitterness and cynicism is easy and feels good. Putting yourself out there over and over again and taking that rejection takes real strength.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:12 PM on December 6, 2014 [26 favorites]


You have to admit that sometimes violence is the only way to make real change and get people's attention

Can we put this guy and Mr. WK in a tiny room and make them have a cliche off? Can we do it just for me? I'm imagining it like the walk-off scene in Zoolander only stupider.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:27 PM on December 6, 2014


Oh I know a ton of bitter people that think being positive and loving is some kind of sucker's game for fools and that only being bitter and angry and shouting all the time is the way to get anything done and if you're NOT bitter and angry and shouting all the time, you must be an idiot or gullible sheep.

This sounds more like a familiar defiant affectation than the straight-up assertion that "love" is stupid. Unless we're going by a very narrow definition of "love", such as the one AWK is creating here. If he defines love as something that is always talking it out, offering a hug rather than hitting, then he needs to broaden his scope a bit. An act of love can be an "extreme action", it can be a heated argument, it can even be violent. He is maintaining that you can't feel more than one emotion at the same time, not considering that maybe a person's anger is motivated by love.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:33 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


God i just can't give a fuck about anything this blowhard writes after his response to the "my dad is a bigoted asshole what do i do?" thing where he's like "you just have to see him as a human! both sides!".

He just strikes me as the kind of fence sitting asshole who breathes legitimacy in to terrible people and movements, i don't know. That attitude really cheeses me off though, and the number of people i saw posting that piece as if it was some "deep" thing really made me want to bang my head on the wall.
posted by emptythought at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


If we're going to get hippy-dippy, I much prefer the Matthew Silver video that's been going around. LOVE..... EVERYONE.....NOWWWWWWWWWWWWW
posted by fungible at 6:58 PM on December 6, 2014


well you have to remember that he can get you weed so his opinions are worth listening to
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:58 PM on December 6, 2014


God i just can't give a fuck about anything this blowhard writes after his response to the "my dad is a bigoted asshole what do i do?" thing where he's like "you just have to see him as a human! both sides!".

Yep. Love is great and all, but Andrew W.K. is horrible. I spoke about it at length in the last thread to feature his ridiculous garbage.

This, in particular, is execrable:
"When we think about the growth of an individual, we start with the newborn child, who expresses and desires nothing beyond the most pure love and gentleness. When a baby reaches out for the embrace of its mother and father, all it wants is love and to give love in return."

Babies do not work that way. Love does not work that way. *People* do not work that way. In any just world, this guy would be mopping up dog crap for a living, not given a soapbox.
posted by mordax at 7:01 PM on December 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's a bunch of stuff that sounds nice, and appears on the surface to mean something, but actually means fuckall and even ceases to make sense when you stare at it. It's like cargo cult philosophizing.
posted by emptythought at 7:03 PM on December 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yeah, has Andrew W.K. ever parented actual babies, or is he only concerned with rhetorical ones made of pure baby magic?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:03 PM on December 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sounds like Andrew W.K. is channeling Leo Buscaglia.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:16 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love that AWK is a complete act that people think is real. I think even he is surprised by it. It almost makes him awesome.
posted by umberto at 7:22 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


In a media filled with so much outright crap, AWK actually expresses some compassion.

What a horrible, horrible human being. How dare he. It must be fake. Surely, more vitriol and Limbaugh is the answer.
posted by underflow at 7:27 PM on December 6, 2014 [13 favorites]


This Andrew WK, is he the same one from when I was a callow youth? Like, over 20 years ago?

OK, then.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:46 PM on December 6, 2014


It almost makes him awesome.

Almost. So close and yet so far.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:07 PM on December 6, 2014


P.S. I have never heard of Andrew C K, aka ACK, nor his music. I just liked the letter.
Babies do work that way, and then there is a lot more they need.
posted by Oyéah at 8:12 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


I love that AWK is a complete act that people think is real.

Same goes for the rest of us.

Love each other.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:30 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


This Andrew WK, is he the same one from when I was a callow youth? Like, over 20 years ago?

Possibly not. (Which, even before the BS response to "my dad is a bigot" was enough for me to write "him" off.)
posted by Lexica at 8:31 PM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oyéah: "Babies do work that way, and then there is a lot more they need."

As leotrotsky once said, necessary but not sufficient.
posted by RobotHero at 9:25 PM on December 6, 2014


I seem to remember the last time we were talking about Andrew WK's advice column we thought it was pretty cool. It's sad that pure love gets a bad reputation for mostly being associated with idiots, but it's really important. I mean, come on, he's not wrong:
Whatever actions we take, and whatever means we use to achieve our collective goals, must use love as our guiding principal, or else we simply continue the very things we're fighting against.

That being said, how do we use this to pull back from how fucked up everything seems right now? I don't know!
posted by bleep at 9:26 PM on December 6, 2014


Love is a wavelength we can choose to manifest, it is at large in the universe. We can be like a conduit for love and from what I have learned of it, people sense this energy and they want to feel that way. Love is a safe state, aware, quickened, connected. The predatory urge is at bay and the defensive reaction and search for offense is at rest. It is a creative and receptive state.

The world is aggravating right now, partially because we can see it all, all the time. Like the bumper sticker says,"If you are not screaming, you are not paying attention." As far as I know, being without fear and with loving intent, is both the best way to live, and the best way to die. Conmen, shucksters, charismatics, performing artists are good at connecting by their various crafts, but chief among these skills is the projection of caring or, love. Love is as love does, so they say. It is always worth it to love.

Maybe it is not what a lot of people think, but say Rosa Parks loved herself enough to keep her seat, and in so doing helped all of us to know ourselves and our tendancies better.

I do have the hardest time keeping a positive attitude, but it is worth it. People who are snarky, puffed up, who feel more vital when angry, they just haven't tapped the reality yet.
posted by Oyéah at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2014


Orgone collectors for every MeFite!
posted by benzenedream at 10:44 PM on December 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


The problem I have with Andrew WK is that he self-consciously provides the "right" answer, i.e. the one that is considered socially and maybe even ethically/philosophically "correct", and presents it with enough of a gloss that it becomes, in a sense, ineffable (or at least would-be ineffable). It's a rhetorical tactic that I know well, because I've used it a lot myself, although it generally leaves me feeling a bit disgusted with myself and I've been kicking the habit more and more over time.

It is very difficult, and I know this because I've tried this too, to say something which is universally insightful and agreeable. That which 90% of people might find genuinely wholesome and valuable may be just extraordinarily repulsive to that final 10% — worse than pablum, actively malicious. Likewise, sometimes you find sentiments which are vital to you and your survival, and they're seen as generally loathsome to a more apathetic public. A particular strain of atonal, dissonant, unnecessarily confrontational music was sort of my salvation when I was younger, despite its being insanely alienating to many of my closest friends. That's a mild example, of course.

But there's a way to rhetorically frame your statements in a way that places you on the side of "good", or even of merely "innocuous"; you stake out an opinion in a space which may not even be as overt in its moralization as WK's writing has been, but to which disagreement will always feel like aggressive provocation. In doing so, you don't eliminate what's problematic about your argument — and again, the complex nature of rhetoric and thought means that there's no such thing as a non-problematic statement unless you have a somewhat shallow mind — but your stance helps punish people who disagree with you, by making it harder for them to disagree with you without becoming the "bad guys". We're good at teaching people to feel guilty about themselves when their feelings go against the status quo, either popularly or critically or academically; we are even better at lashing out at those people who disagree with whatever belief we hold precious, especially if they can't help but disagree in a less-than-thoroughly polite manner. It stifles conversation in a particularly insidious manner, and is related to smarm though not entirely the same thing. I hold it to be a little bit more malevolent, even if unintentionally so.

Again, I have a lot of familiarity with this technique. It's common when you're forming a personal philosophy of your own — everybody wants their own moral formulation to be connected with purity and ethical goodness, and thus we often wrap our thoughts in a layer of "if everybody did this thing that I feel would be cool, the result would be peace, love, and happiness, the end." Then if people disagree with you, even if they've got the healthiest of intentions, you still wind up bruised and wounded. Ideas are vulnerable things — that's not sarcasm, they really are, and often I get nervous when I'm thinking about a new realm of ideas that I might be disagreed with so harshly that it shuts down my willingness to explore a subject ever again. I'm not saying that isn't a thing, or that people being too harsh towards a person attempting to formulate an idea can't be a major problem. In fact, I think they are, and that that has been one of the major complications with finding a healthy approach to discussions on MetaFilter.

That isn't the only complication that exists, however, and in this case awareness of that complication leads to a worse and nastier technique, which I sometimes feel that Andrew WK is at least partially engaging in. That technique is when you use that "assumption of moral rightness" as a deliberate tool of stifling your potential opponents in a particular debate. Rather than debating them honestly, all you have to do is up the cost of their disagreement to the point that they can't afford to keep arguing. At that point, you haven't just "won" — you've prevented the debate from beginning in the first place. That's a problem if you, like me, consider debate a necessary component for discovering any subject's ambiguities and complexities, and ultimately discerning nuances which you otherwise would never feel compelled to recognize.

It tickles me that in the responses here we've seen, not only defensive protections of Andrew's arguments, but a couple of attempts to loop in the usual negative suspects for continued harassment as well. Yah, screw all those bitter protestors, who insist on speaking up about the things that matter to them! If only they could express their feelings as wholesomely as Andrew WK, or understood that every topic gets easier to talk about once you repurpose and repackage it and make it about love instead.

(Let me tell you: the best writers I've encountered on love are far from gooey-nice about the concept as a whole. The nicer ones still make you doubt every feeling of love you've ever felt. The ones that hit me the hardest were sometimes explicitly confrontational in their forcing me to rethink all my assumptions. You know it's gonna be rough if they're really funny about it; that's when you know there'll be shivving ahead.)

I am learning, as I grow a bit older, that it takes an awful lot of responsibility and courage to own up to your opinions — and not just the ideas that you state because you agree with them, but also your awareness and understanding that people may disagree with you on levels that may find you truly in the wrong. I've been asking myself, more and more explicitly as I write, how much I am encouraging my potential detractors, how freely I am allowing them to disagree with me without repercussion. Letting them do that puts the burden of energy and negativity on me, not on them, and to the extent that I can bear to do that I'm finding it a gratifying and rewarding process. It requires a deeper compassion and empathy than I'm used to reaching for in situations like that, but I feel that the process is an important and a necessary one.

All this is to say that, while I both agree with the broader points of what Andrew is saying here and think that his vast audience means his voice here will almost certainly do a lot of people a lot of good, I am uncomfortable with the ways in which he writes his messages, and to quite a considerable extent. The conversations which occur in his wake only reinforce this discomfort for me; they seem to reinforce this feeling that Andrew is either being disingenuous/"performing" this idea in an unhealthy way, or simply that he's not as comfortable with his own ideas as he lets on, and is adopting this manner of rhetoric as a defensive mechanism. Either way, I agree with the people who feel there is something problematic about this, and would extend my critique here to apply to many of the other people associated with the New Sincerity movement, whose attempts at ironic non-irony ultimately resolve to a weird sort of hostility towards people who would critique their sincere expressions of thought. Which, yeah, I get why you'd want to do that, but at the end of the day all you're doing is preaching the notion that if a thought is sincerely held, there is nothing wrong with it and that idea is entirely beyond reproach.

(I know too many advertisers and bigots to feel as if sincerity is the name of the game here; a defense of sincerity is oftentimes just a defense of already-existing ignorances, and Andrew himself has said enough problematic things in his column for me to feel comfortable extending my critique to him as well.)
posted by rorgy at 10:58 PM on December 6, 2014 [20 favorites]


People who are snarky, puffed up, who feel more vital when angry, they just haven't tapped the reality yet.

This kind of nonsense is exactly what I'm talking about. It implicitly suggests that anger cannot be loving, that snark cannot be compassionate, that humor and emotion and just plain old giving a shit cannot be "real" unless they are positive and fulfilling. It serves to disenfranchise entire modes of being and living and thinking and feeling, and offers little insight beyond the contempt its opiner holds for people who would make their lifes a little bit less straightforward.

I say this, by the say, as a huge fan of positivity and wholesomeness and all that other jazz. I respect a lot of New Age writers, love the shit out of my George Winston collection, prefer philosophers who focus on the expression of a wholeness to those who operate via critique, and generally cut people who're pointlessly negative out of my life. None of that make negativity any less meaningful. In fact, anger as often suggests the deep extent to which somebody does care, does give a shit, to such an extent that they're incapable of letting a situation pass as graciously as they maybe ought.

This whole pseudo-Zen thing is great and all and I genuinely believe that love is a virtue, restraint is a noble trait, and calm is one of the hardest and most important things a person can achieve — but keep in mind that Zen Buddhism has a vital tradition of snark, mockery, and just thwacking people with sticks until they reach enlightenment. No healthy system considers negativity to be solely a detriment. That way lies a determination to avoid whichever problems legitimately exist, hence their being voiced out loud.
posted by rorgy at 11:10 PM on December 6, 2014 [21 favorites]


Possibly not. (Which, even before the BS response to "my dad is a bigot" was enough for me to write "him" off.)

From that first link:
The original 2004 Andrew WK blackmail threats and codes also contained information related to Mountain Dew, leading many, including this site, to believe that the entire Steev Mike concept was created as a promotional mind-control advertisement for both Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist. It is also tied into a larger "Coke Wars" cola conspiracy that has Scientology and Tom Cruise himself in partnership with MTV (proven Illuminati), NBC (all seeing eye), Playboy (Scientology), and both Pepsi-Co and Coca-Cola (both Freemason corporation and political partners of the New World Order). Andrew WK was and still is part of a larger effort of these combined mega-corporations, but he's just one of many, as the Lady Gaga example illustrates.
Seriously, regardless of whatever the merits are of anything else AWK does, this stuff is fantastic. Because I'm completely convinced that AWK himself wholly invented a fake conspiracy about being multiple fake people and the internet just took that and ran to batshit ridiculous places with it. Unless sites like this are also his fabrication, which makes me actually kind of love it even more, which I kind of do lean towards because a lot of it seems like it's trying to hit the notes of a conspiracy rant pastiche but it doesn't feel like it's got that urgent drive behind it, there's something that feels off with it. Which then makes me think that everything he says including the love stuff in the OP is another bit of calculated fabrication. To what effect, I'm not sure, but I don't trust it at face value because I think all of the weird Steev Mike stuff looks a hell of a lot like a performance piece intentionally toying with notions of authenticity and earnestness so I don't trust it when he does the whole over-the-top naive earnestness thing where he tries to come across as this weird pure being made of 100% positive energy in the shape of a man. I feel like it's gotta be another part of whatever he's getting at - some kind of rock star deconstruction performance art, I suppose.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:13 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


P.S. I have never heard of Andrew C K,

Me neither, but that's a Comedy Bang Bang character waiting to happen. Hop to it, Jon Daly or James Adomian!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:16 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Jesus that was total nonsense! Is it meant to be ironic?

I think this response is even more full of it that the previous one about family etc.
posted by mary8nne at 1:46 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


You folks are really trying to have a serious discussion about a love song from the party hard guy?

Okay then.
posted by clarknova at 2:08 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Love is the secular folk religion of our age. You hear it's hymns everywhere, praising it in unequivocal terms in a way reminiscent of terrified peasants euphemising malevolent trickster deities as the “fair folk” or “kindly ones”; a parallel which holds when one contemplates what a destructive force love can be, from the debilitating OCD-like effects of its initial throes to the anguish and mayhem it has caused throughout history (everything from crimes of passion to wars).

It's time to stop taking love's name in vain, and treat it with the respect a dangerous substance deserves.
posted by acb at 2:09 AM on December 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


underflow: In a media filled with so much outright crap, AWK actually expresses some compassion.

What a horrible, horrible human being. How dare he. It must be fake. Surely, more vitriol and Limbaugh is the answer.


Contary to what you may think about my relationship with Richard Dawkins doing a wheelie style skepticism, i don't hate positivity and i'm not some grumpy grouch.

I just think that there is no sincerity to this positivity, and it isn't even a meticulous enough farce to be internally consistent. It's deep in the uncanny valley as far as reeking of BS goes.

And not even just for the reasons rorgy covered above with it being presented in a fairly manipulative headset-clad megachurch rockstar preacher or self help seminar mogul sort of way where if you disagree with it or poke it at all you're the negative fun-hating bad guy who just wants to shit on the world.

I disagree with nothing when it comes to the world being filled with crap, but i think that this sort of disingenuous false positivity is just more crap, and helps nothing. Especially when some of the positions he's taken support and tacitly defend people, groups, or things that are actively making the world a shittier place.

False compassion is just as bad, and arguably worse, as none.
posted by emptythought at 4:02 AM on December 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


This kind of nonsense is exactly what I'm talking about. It implicitly suggests that anger cannot be loving, that snark cannot be compassionate, that humor and emotion and just plain old giving a shit cannot be "real" unless they are positive and fulfilling. It serves to disenfranchise entire modes of being and living and thinking and feeling, and offers little insight beyond the contempt its opiner holds for people who would make their lifes a little bit less straightforward.

This was my feeling on this, too. Sometimes a person's anger is motivated by love - they will shout, argue, even fight for it. Sometimes you absolutely have to, especially in defense of the people you love, in the concrete or the abstract, against people who would do you or your loved ones harm. When faced with these kinds of struggles, it's a bit condescending to have someone scold you for not trying to hug it out or hold hands and talk about it. It's the kind of scolding you get a lot from moderates, who believe they have found some Golden Mean of Truth by placing themselves always squarely in the middle, while telling people fighting against real oppression and trying to make this world a little bit better that they're being too angry and shouty and are therefore not motivated by love; or at least, the very limited form of love AWK can enjoy from his very comfortable place in the middle. It's like a philosophical tone argument or something.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:28 AM on December 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


This kind of nonsense is exactly what I'm talking about. It implicitly suggests that anger cannot be loving, that snark cannot be compassionate, that humor and emotion and just plain old giving a shit cannot be "real" unless they are positive and fulfilling. It serves to disenfranchise entire modes of being and living and thinking and feeling, and offers little insight beyond the contempt its opiner holds for people who would make their lifes a little bit less straightforward.


"God, why does everything we do have to be cloaked in like 15 layers of irony?" -April Ludgate, parks and Recreation
posted by discopolo at 5:05 AM on December 7, 2014


April Ludgate is talking to her two "ironic" gay boyfriends, who are sneering at her for possibly liking a guy who is enthusiastic about things, even things which are not particularly cool.

Andrew WK took something which was "not particularly cool" and wrapped it up in several layers of irony, performance, and detachment, as part of a high-concept investigation into "partying" that's now led to his becoming an advice columnist who offers terrible advice about love.

Parks & Rec also offers one scene with a crabby old woman who complains about not seeing the point of eating healthy because "I've eaten lasagna and muffins every day of my life, and I feel terrible." And we're suppose to laugh at that instead of taking her belief in lasagna-as-health-food seriously, so like.

Maybe turning to sitcoms as a way of understanding notions of sincerity isn't the best way to make the point I feel that you're trying to make.
posted by rorgy at 5:50 AM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


rorgy: "Maybe turning to sitcoms as a way of understanding notions of sincerity isn't the best way to make the point I feel that you're trying to make."

It's bringing love, don't let it get away!
Break its legs!
posted by vanar sena at 7:14 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is no fun to be rorgy. Waa waah.
posted by discopolo at 8:09 AM on December 7, 2014


Love is a lot more complicated than this. WK's version of love is to real love what those smiley yellow faces are to real human smiles. It's a processed Love Product, like Cheeze Whiz that only resembles the real thing, optimized for mass production and low margins. That said, I still think it's kind of an interesting project.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Blerg I am cut off! Waah waah to discopolo!

Also, rorgy, you realize the crabby towns person and April have 2 different functions as characters on the show? Even April realizes irony and sarcasm aren't necessary defaults. And the townsperson is clearly insane and complaining/negative with crazy ideas as means of seeking attention.

But this isn't an analysis of Parks. Why use sarcasm when you can be very clear in your communication.

When I say,"It's no fun to be a rorgy, waa waah"---that's not helpful at getting at what I really mean, which is,"Well, rorgy, I wouldn't be very happy living your life. It doesn't sound happy to me. And your insistence on snark in interpersonal situations---well, thankfully I don't have friends like that. Maybe you need less love and intimacy in your friendships, but that doesn't suit me or strike me as healthy. But to each his/her own, I guess. I think Andrew WK has written a nice piece."
posted by discopolo at 8:23 AM on December 7, 2014


Love is a lot more complicated than this. WK's version of love is to real love what those smiley yellow faces are to real human smiles. It's a processed Love Product, like Cheeze Whiz that only resembles the real thing, optimized for mass production and low margins. That said, I still think it's kind of an interesting project.

I'm learning so much about you all in this thread.
posted by discopolo at 8:26 AM on December 7, 2014


just thwacking people with sticks until they reach enlightenment.

Dear AskMe, how can I follow this path of Zen Buddhism IRL without being arrested? Tips for achieving this in the halls of government greatly appreciated . . . .
posted by soundguy99 at 9:02 AM on December 7, 2014


You're sort of disproving your own point here, discopolo, since you've basically spent the whole thread shitting on everyone who points out that shitting is a real and sometimes necessary element of interpersonal relations.
posted by forgetful snow at 9:39 AM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Love apparently in this thread is the elephant in the room, under examination by six blind...It is a wall. No! It is a snake! It is a tree!

I must define love differently, but love is definitely not a candy machine you can shake down if you are out of coinage. I think of it more like the energy holding the atoms and molecules of the candy machine together, as well as the sidewalk, the city th sky, and all of us all through time. It is not something you fight for, though you may have to fight to be, it is not something given to you as it has always been yours, it is something shared among all things.

Why, just the other day, some notable physicists decided to define consciousness as a property of matter. I think I read that in the science section of the NY Times, you can consider this your metaphysical citation. If you are interested in this concept, look it up.
posted by Oyéah at 10:03 AM on December 7, 2014


Why, just the other day, some notable physicists decided to define consciousness as a property of matter. I think I read that in the science section of the NY Times, you can consider this your metaphysical citation. If you are interested in this concept, look it up.

Generally the way discussion works is that the person making a claim or a reference is the one responsible for providing a link or citation to it.
posted by Lexica at 10:25 AM on December 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I never stated that emotion is not love, but let me state that now. Emotion is the messenger part of the human nervous system it will tell us if things are or are not working out. How many songs say it? Love is the drug. Only it is not a drug, we become addicted to the emotions surrounding human acts, some of call that a life, any emotion they have is reality, problematically it is internal to the individual. Then the individual expects to have others respond as if they were an extension of their inner emotional workings. This is not even adequate communication, much less love. Then people are angry in the absence of the desired, highly addictive set of co-responses.

Now much of the love scene starts nowadays behind the safety of a firewall, and ends up a never ending re-visit to Kübler Ross's five stages of grief, or angry people are fighting for love they are afraid to lose, but really is is more like contract negotiations gone south, regarding non-verbal contracts neither individual consciously communicated. So much for romantic love. Only the stone is wrtten in stone on this world.
posted by Oyéah at 10:29 AM on December 7, 2014


It's time to stop taking love's name in vain, and treat it with the respect a dangerous substance deserves.

Agreed.

"Love can be tender like a bullet train." (Red Aunts? I misremember.) Sorry to quote lyrics at you, but this worship of love as some kind of pure healing force is exactly the kind of toxic "love" that was preached about in my religious, abusive family. It's a kind of unthinking forcefulness that leads to "tough love" and all kinds of crimes perpetrated in its name, because if your motives are noble and pure, how could your acts be anything else?

Why not espouse a more straightforward virtue instead, like patience or respect (in the context of a relationship)? Love is far too complex a subjective experience to be universally admired without context. Besides, the implications of Andrew's argument make me wonder: if I'm not loving even to people I dislike, I'm falling short of this universal ideal? That's an awful thing to say to people. "Love is the thought above all thoughts and the height of this thing called humanity." Then I suppose I'm a subhuman monster. There are plenty of people I dislike whom I actively wish bad things upon. That rejection of love lets me take back control of my individual life from people who have harmed me.

Look at what he says. "The moment this type of unconditional and brotherly love is declared 'naive,' or gets lost in the midst of our lesser emotions, is the moment we lose our humanity and evil triumphs over good." He actually said that. It would appear that my membership fees to the Church of Satan are overdue.

Andrew W.K. is way, way too caught up in his personal fantasy of the awesomeness of Andrew W.K.
posted by quiet earth at 10:37 AM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Max Tegmark, MIT, Our Mathmatical Universe, discusses consciousness as a property of matter.

Ny Times article, Our Mathematical Universe.
posted by Oyéah at 10:39 AM on December 7, 2014


Wishing hateful things on others is entertaining for some and an escape from what is really the cause of upset. It is not vaguely related to love, it is just escapism. There is no point in judging this stuff, just consider it a message that needs attending to, that has reached critical mass find out what you are trying to warn yourself about. Usually it is a repetitive pattern linked to old business. Gotta care for yourself rather than wasting time on old patterns, find the item, mollify it, heal it move out, make better choices.
posted by Oyéah at 10:50 AM on December 7, 2014


I wasn't judging myself, but thank you, I suppose.
posted by quiet earth at 11:23 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Andrew WK, this one letter is all I have ever known of him, I know less about Lewis CK. Just so y'all know, I bear no false compassion for anyone posting to this thread. I just liked the letter and the hopeful sentiment, I gave extra points because Andrew WK gender identifies as a man.

Oh snap! Now I've done it.
posted by Oyéah at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2014


It's really weird to me how the defenders of WK in this thread are resorting to personal attacks on the people who're disagreeing with them. Or rather, it proves my initial point about the problems with this sort of rhetoric pretty effectively.

Yes, occasionally snarking in the company of friends means I live a sad, lonely life, accompanied by the sounds of sad trombones. Where the fuck d'you get off drawing such an absurd conclusion out of what I've said here? My critique of your Parks & Rec quote provides you with some insight into who I am and how I live my life? You've got to realize how absurd that is, right?
posted by rorgy at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


Andrew WK seems kinda like Jesus: has long hair, and tells everyone to just love each other; and some people don't really like it when he says that.
posted by ovvl at 5:06 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not a Christian, but no he doesn't; the money lenders might disagree with the claim that the love of Jesus was always gentle.
posted by jaduncan at 5:14 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Love in a lyrical sense is precisely that transcendent thing without which nothing, so to object that pragmatically, love is just one of many difficult aspects of living, I think it kind of misses the point. Conversely it is folly to suggest that you can get through daily life based on a creed of "love is all you need". But neither of these deny that love, somewhat like reason, is universally held to be part of a good life. As far as I can judge this does justify extending one's circle of concern, because it does tend to diminish suffering, and I think that does deserve expression, if perhaps not in Andrew's limpid voice.
posted by dmh at 6:32 PM on December 7, 2014


Thinking back on this, I mostly have a bad reaction because I feel like his words aren't earned and don't contain anything substantive. Authors like Cormac McCarthy or Hubert Selby Hr. arrive at their ideas on love after hundreds of pages of harrowing stuff. Someone like Mr. Rogers doesn't just spout abstract nonsense, but grounds his love in the concerns, fears, and growing interpersonal relationships that are specific to children. Michael Haneke's film Amour puts love through nearly unbearable challenges. Andrew WK's message isn't bad, but it's not couched in everyday reality, and it doesn't acknowledge how hard Love can be to grow in a near-hopeless place. That's where my objections lie. On a visceral level I'm opposed to the bland Hallmarkification of concepts which are important to me and which deserve a thorough examination and real acknowledgement of when things get hard. It's not a big deal compared to all the active hatred going on in the world. But still, I believe stuff like this harms more than it helps.
posted by naju at 7:07 PM on December 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Instead of italicizing the entire excerpt, the following is from an article about the Dalai Lama's visit to Santa Fe, NM, in 1991:

As we finished, a young waitress with tangled, dirty-blond hair and a beaded headband began clearing our table. She stopped to listen to the conversation and finally sat down, abandoning her work. After a while, when there was a pause, she spoke to the Dalai Lama. “You didn’t like your cookie?”

“Not hungry, thank you.”

“Can I, um, ask a question?”

She spoke with complete seriousness. “What is the meaning of life?”

In my entire week with the Dalai Lama, every conceivable question had been asked—except this one. People had been afraid to ask the one—the really big—question. There was a brief, stunned silence at the table.

The Dalai Lama answered immediately. “The meaning of life is happiness.” He raised his finger, leaning forward, focusing on her as if she were the only person in the world. “Hard question is not, ‘What is meaning of life?’ That is easy question to answer! No, hard question is what make happiness. Money? Big house? Accomplishment? Friends? Or …” He paused. “Compassion and good heart? This is question all human beings must try to answer: What make true happiness?” He gave this last question a peculiar emphasis and then fell silent, gazing at her with a smile.

“Thank you,” she said, “thank you.” She got up and finished stacking the dirty dishes and cups, and took them away.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:46 PM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the point Andrew WK is trying to make is that love is far better to carry in your heart than bitterness, anger and hatred. It's not that people can solve everything with hugs. Anger can help people break free of abusive situations and can catalyze change. But anger is not an end unto itself, and allowing yourself to harbor negativity and act in ways that lack compassion are harmful to oneself and others. It's worth considering how people are not good or evil, but their actions can be harmful or beneficial. Allowing anger to take root in your heart will cause damage to yourself first, and will guide your actions, even if you consider your own choices to be moral.

We have plenty of empirical evidence that your own thoughts and emotions cause physical changes in the brain over time. Positive thought and focus on compassion have long lasting effects in the brain. So does meditation. Anger, stress, rumination and negative focus do too.

What thoughts and feelings do you carry with you throughout your day? Careful consideration of this may surprise you. We tend to be more self-destructive than we realize, and in turn we act in ways that harm others, whether we're aware of it or not. Honest self-assessment is hard. But we all have the choice. What kind of person do you want to be? Right? Correct? Angry? Compassionate? Loving?

We all have the potential to act in ways that harm others. We all have the potential to act in ways that benefit others. In the beginning, it starts with what motivates your actions, what is in your own heart. In the end, your thoughts and actions determine what kind of person you become.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:22 PM on December 7, 2014


I can't wait for the next thread where Metafilter has a contentious discussion about Justin Bieber's thoughts on long-term financial planning.
posted by clarknova at 12:05 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


rorgy,
I'm a defender of WK (not in all his life choices and past associations) but won't resort to personal attacks. I'm sorry to see that happen here, and would gladly hang out with you and snark and laugh for hours, if you're ever out my way.

I agree that this essay is preachy and full of platitudes, and yes, sometimes you really do have to get pissed off to change things, and yes, some people are just straight-up busted and no amount of kindness will make them stop abusing you or others. However, I don't get the same ping on my BS meter, I just see an imperfect, party-addled performer who has maybe stage dived one too many times, saying ham-fisted / naive / reductive / probably heartfelt stuff.

The essay may rub you the wrong way, and sure, lots of other musicians have spread messages of peace and love in more obviously genuine and effective ways, but consider that some WK fan out there will almost certainly read this and start thinking a little, maybe take a step back and rethink how they interact with people, and take something useful from it, however silly it seems to a skeptical observer. It happens -- musicians (even when their delivery is flawed, incomplete, or even contrived) can have that effect on people, in or out of song.

Today is murderous, been working for 16 hours now, with no end in sight. If you'll excuse me, I have a date with a pair of headphones, a Bobby McFerrin album, and an hour-long idiotic grin. That's love, right there.
posted by jake at 2:21 AM on December 8, 2014


See, I think it's weird that you think my criticism of Andrew WK here means I don't appreciate the joys of Bobby McFerrin. Vocabularies is one of my favorite compositions of all time; his solo jazz performances are both intellectually provocative and sheerly, simply joyful. You're damn right Bobby McFerrin makes me want to love everybody — and, in case I didn't, I dunno, sufficiently prove myself capable of happiness upthread, I am chock full of joy and love. Says so right here on the label.

Like I wrote in my first comment: the danger of the sort of rhetoric WK uses here is that it assumes the "morally right" position, and thus automatically positions its critics as somehow anti-love or anti-compassion. And people buy this shit, as you can see above with discopolo going out of her way to make multiple comments insinuating that people like me are what's wrong with this world today.

Can you see why I'm saying this article sets up an "us versus them" dynamic that's unhealthy and which undermines the message WK thinks he's trying to spread? I'm not talking hypothetically anymore — you can read this very thread. You'll note that in my very first comment I mentioned that despite my criticism, WK's reach means this might do good for his vast audience, so the point you just made above is one that I'd left dozens of comments ago.

Assuming I don't appreciate the music Bobby McFerrin because I said Andrew WK is a poor columnist is ludicrous, and demonstrates exactly what makes columns like these so damn pernicious.
posted by rorgy at 5:38 AM on December 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Whichever one of you just read my comment and sent a hired goon to smash my window and ransack my car right outside in the studio parking lot while I was working (and I know it was one of you and don't play dumb with me):

I just have one question: Is this your way of demonstrating that love DOESN'T conquer all, or that I should extend love and compassion to the junkie who jacked my shit, because they probably need my stuff more than I do? Either way, describing a keytar to a police officer at 5 AM is a memory I will laugh about for a while, so it was worth it.
posted by jake at 5:40 AM on December 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh my god that is horrible. I now feel bad about the irate tone of my previous comment, jake, apologies.

McFerrin listening, my place, Tuesday night?
posted by rorgy at 5:42 AM on December 8, 2014


TUESDAY IT IS. But first:

See, I think it's weird that you think my criticism of Andrew WK here means I don't appreciate the joys of Bobby McFerrin.

Good lord, no! I was not implying in any way that you don't like Mr. McFerrin, not in a million years; my mention of him had absolutely nothing to do with Andrew WK or this discussion, it was a total non-sequitur footnote about my being burnt out from work and taking a break with the happiest music I can think of. Which you, like all sensible people, would also like.

Seriously, I was being 100% for real about not attacking you or putting you down. Whether you think Andrew WK is Kurt Vonnegut or an insufferable douchecopter, your opinion is valid and well-stated, and I totally get where you're coming from.

My reply was mostly just wondering out loud if even a "manufactured" feel-good essay, like a long-form Hallmark card, might actually be enough to tip some folks into constructive self-reflection, even if it has a totally different effect (or none at all) on you, and even if it's all platitudes as part of some performer's stage persona. At the very least, I don't think it will do any serious harm by giving people the wrong ideas about conflict resolution, and at best, it might actually help a fan or two cope with stress or depression.

Now I do have to run, because I have to a) deal with insurance; b) do the rest of the work I was supposed to finish tonight, haha. Long as I wake up tomorrow, all is well.
posted by jake at 6:56 AM on December 8, 2014


I just have one question: Is this your way of demonstrating that love DOESN'T conquer all, or that I should extend love and compassion to the junkie who jacked my shit, because they probably need my stuff more than I do? Either way, describing a keytar to a police officer at 5 AM is a memory I will laugh about for a while, so it was worth it.

I'm sorry that happened to you.

The reality of life is suffering. This is true for everyone. It's always your choice how to respond to it.

My step-dad used to respond to situations like this saying things are only things, and would be grateful that nobody was hurt- if it happened to him, otherwise he would respond with empathy to the person with the loss. He made a living as a teacher and public school principal raising four daughters on his own. He was a genuinely happy man and in turn spread that feeling to everyone around him. It's not to say he never was angry, but he didn't let allow circumstances to make him an angry person.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:07 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


My reply was mostly just wondering out loud if even a "manufactured" feel-good essay, like a long-form Hallmark card, might actually be enough to tip some folks into constructive self-reflection.

Then no, it will not.

Here's the thing about feelings: they happen for a reason. Everything we feel, be it love or lust or wrath or fear or joy? They are all legitimate, if primal, responses to the world around us. We can't just wish them away, nor wish for them to happen. If we want to change them, we have to take actual steps to do so either by addressing our external circumstances, or taking a hard look at how we approach them.

Nothing about it is easy.

AWK is all about telling people that isn't true, putting them one step *further* from becoming better people. The experience rorgy has had in this thread really is a good illustration of what happens when folks buy into it without any additional context on what it means to be a decent human being.

The message 'be more caring' is great, but the message 'it is easy to be more caring' is a lie, and when people lie in the public square, we should call them on it rather than speculating whether or not it might be for the greater good.

Give me Mr. Rogers any day. (For that matter, here are my own thoughts on the subject of love, from back when I ever updated my blog.)
posted by mordax at 1:08 PM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing about feelings: they happen for a reason. Everything we feel, be it love or lust or wrath or fear or joy? They are all legitimate, if primal, responses to the world around us.

I think there is a vast difference between feelings, which indeed are vital and primal and should in no way be diminished, and what I believe Andrew WK is talking about in this essay.

He's not talking about feeling love toward other people. He's talking about the apparently still quite radical idea that all of humankind and perhaps even the planet would be better off if we all acted toward each other as if we loved one another. He's talking about choosing the path of kindness every time, even when our emotional state tells us to make another, more destructive choice.

Love, as a word in English, is rather awkward. Too many layers and connotations, too easy to have confused meanings.

But reading that essay... AWK is not demanding that anyone not feel their feelings. He's advocating for love that is a way of acting toward other people, not trying to enforce some kind of emotional state as being "better" or something.

I mean, I dunno... I'm a hippie. But yeah, I think it's okay to say "treating the other people in the world around you like you would treat people you love is a good way to make the planet a better place, and if practiced widely enough would actually really change things".

If nothing else, I'd love to see it become a global experiment, you know, for science. ;)
posted by hippybear at 2:44 AM on December 9, 2014


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