Monday, August 18, 2008

The Wisdom of Johnny Rotten, pt. 2

By Hanno

There are two parts of his autobiography I want to examine. This is from p. 309 (work previously cited, and heartily recommended).

Am I a walking contradiction? A singer who never sings along with records at home? A touring performer who can't handle flashing lights? A shy kid who became one of the most notorious pop figures around? Oh, yes, I'm not!
After we finish chuckling at that last line, we might think about its implications. First, Rotten simply is not worried about what appears to be inconsistency to others. He is who he is. Rather than try to defend himself by showing that the apparent inconsistency is in fact consistent, he is perfectly happy to accept the inconsistency, indeed, to revel in it.

And second, the deeper lesson is, of course, for us all. We all have contradictions in our lives. A psychologist friend once told me "Everything implies its opposite." He meant that strong feelings show that the opposite is there as well. The person who is the most confident also goes through the pangs of insecurity, perhaps deeper and more painful pangs. Its not that the confidence is a show, no, they really are confident. But within themselves, there is also the other side, and that insecurity may come out in other ways, or even as over confidence. The person who wants order also needs chaos.

These maybe points that philosophers and psychologists are familiar with in other guises. But I don't think rotten discovered or believes this because Nietzsche said it, or because some psychologist told him. I think he found it on his own, and I think that is extraordinary. I also I find the way Rotten presents his acceptance of himself a humorous as well as fresh.

Next up: Rotten's hyper-individualism.


Anonymous said...

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Johnny ain't the only show in town.

Hanno said...

Yeah, I thought about including that one in the post.