Incoherent and incomprehensible!
On my best days I am not very bright. I have a brain that muddles through days organizing the various inputs 7 to 10 times slower than the average man. When I was seventeen I had a part-time job bussing tables at a faux fancy hotel/restaurant named The Red Lion. I wore my black pants, white shirt, black apron with some pride and worked as diligently as I could. Trying my best.
After two weeks the manager pulled me aside and said, “Everyone else here is in 5th gear and you seem to be stuck in 2nd.” I imagine it was just a pep talk but it enraged me and that night, after closing, I returned with my black pants, white shirt, black apron bundled in a brown paper bag inscribed with the words, “Get bent!”
Now, some two decades later, I have realized the manager was right. I am stuck in 2nd gear and would you like to read a man stuck in 2nd gear ramble incoherently about the books that give him great bursts?
I think yes. I think yes you would. I had the great pleasure of chatting with surfing’s preeminent journalist. The man who broke the kook-gate scandal wide open. We are forever in Billy Wilson’s debt and we spoke the other day about great books. Here are two:
‘EITHER/OR’ BY SØREN KIERKEGAARD
“I love some Kierkegaard! I’m too dumb to know anything about him but I love just to stare at his words. I did a semester abroad at Oxford and didn’t read any of the books I was assigned, and instead I discovered Albert Camus. I thought I was the first person in the world ever to read Camus, and Camus talked a bunch about Kierkegaard, so I followed the rabbit trail to him.
“His idea of the absurd — and I don’t know if I ever understood it correctly — always made me smile. I thought that somehow he was plotting a big joke in philosophy, though I doubt that he was. And truly the most absurd, Sisyphean thing a man can do is surf.
“Either/Or is written from two different perspectives — it’s about looking at life aesthetically versus looking at life morally, and how we’re going to judge the value in life. I’m an aesthete over an ethicist every day of the week!
‘THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES’ BY JOSEPH CAMPBELL
“I wrote the pitch [for Cocaine + Surfing] as a total lark, and when it was actually time to write it, I was like, ‘There’s no book here! It’s just two words!’ So I was really struggling.
“One of my least favourite ever pieces of writing is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. I always hated the concept — it just always seemed so obvious and ham-fisted. Of course a lot of books have this arc with a hero and his journey — why make it all weird and metaphysical? So every chapter of Cocaine + Surfing is a chapter from the ‘hero’s journey’ with me as the hero, on the hero’s journey, in search of cocaine and surfing.