So there has been some interesting flak around my recent obituary posted by Chris Schwarz. I’ve received several phone calls and emails, and been truly and genuinely surprised that there actually do seem to be some people who might be saddened by news of my death. My only regret is about the people who took the blog as true and were saddened by it. That wasn’t the intent. It’s also the reason I posted in the comments of the obituary almost immediately. To make clear that it was a (bizarre/twisted/stupid/genius/droll/unfunny/oddball/kaufmannesque/unforgiveable – take your pick) joke.
Of course, Im not actually dead – other than this blog, at least.
So here’s the skinny: Chris sent me the post before putting it up, asking me if I thought it “went too far”. I said of course not. There’s a lesson in that for anyone (sadly) considering reaching out to me as the voice of restraint. I most definitely do NOT do restraint. You might want to consider taking Chris off your ‘good angel on the right shoulder’ candidate roll as well.
Was it in poor taste? Maybe it was – certainly a few people whose opinions I respect thought so. But part of my defining personality has always been that I have no care for ‘taste’. I am pretty firmly on the irreverent side of any line you care to draw. I dislike sacred cows, and I dislike piety in most forms. I think righteousness in most of its incarnations is one of the great ills of our society, and I think we tend to avoid the uncomfortable to our own detriment. I have never felt more of us ought to be easily-offended, but almost always think most of us take ourselves too seriously. It’s a stance I am comfortable with, and plan to keep.
I also have a thoroughly lowbrow and childish sense of humor.
I also know that I share at least a few of those qualities with Schwarz. It’s one of the reasons we’ve always gotten along well. There’s lots of laughter – usually very inappropriate laughter.
But before you write him off, you ought to consider that his off-kilter personality is the driving force behind his single-minded bulldozing forward of the ‘hand tool woodworking’ world. And anyone who’s been paying attention for more than a few years will have to admit that he’s one of the singular driving forces behind the ‘resurgence’ that we’re enjoying. Without his personality tics and off-center socialization, you don’t get the brilliance of the writing or the obsessive details in learning about this stuff we all care about. You also wouldn’t get the audience that gave him such a powerful megaphone to make the case in the first place. Is it worth it to you?
Before you answer – think back to the days when EVERY magazine cover had a router table plan at the top of the roll, and hand planes never showed up in anything but a logo.
Personally, I tend very strongly to value the differences and quirks in people much more than the things that make them good little members of society. I think it’s the oddballs that move us forward, and that make it interesting.
I’ve never been exactly a conformist cog in the social wheels myself, though, so that’s probably a self-serving stance. But it’s mine nonetheless.