Dear brothers and sisters, what if I were to tell you that surfboard shapers are evil creatures seeking to keep the whole of humanity locked into embarrassing mediocrity so that they can go to surfboard shaper conferences or hang out in surfboard shaper bars and mock and laugh and laugh more until tears come into their eyes and wash the foam dust off their cheeks about our poor skill? Our hunchbacked rail bogging, slow top turns, non-existent bottom turns and very bad lines?
Oh, I am joking, and I know myself that my jokes are not brilliant, but you know one can take everything as a joke. I am, perhaps, jesting against the grain. But in truth, I am tormented by questions; answer them for me. Surfboard know-it-alls, those who know all about liters, rocker, concave, etc. want to cure surfers of their old habits, ordering boards that are inappropriate for their body shape or skill level, and reform their will in accordance with science and good sense.
They see a fellow surfer in the lineup straddling a high performance JS Monsta squash tail and paddle over, clucking the tongue, saying, “You, sir, are not a professional and should be on something with much more volume.” Or go on Instagram and comment, “Too little volume, too much rocker” underneath posts of a fellow surfer taking off too late and making an ugly turn.
But how does the surfboard know-it-all know, not only that it is possible, but also that it is desirable to reform a surfer in that way? And what leads him to the conclusion that surfers’ inclinations need reforming? In short, how does anyone know that such a reformation will be a benefit to surfer? And to go to the root of the matter, why is the surfboard know-it-all so positively convinced that not to act against his real normal interests guaranteed by the conclusions of reason and arithmetic is certainly always advantageous for man and must always be a law for mankind?
So far, this is only supposition. It may be the law of logic, but not the law of humanity. You think, brothers and sisters, perhaps that I am mad? Allow me to defend myself. I agree that surfers are pre-eminently creative animals, predestined to strive consciously for an object and to engage in engineering — that is, incessantly and eternally buying new surfboard models with tweaks and adjustments, following new roads wherever they may lead. But the reason why a surfer wants sometimes to go off at a tangent may just be that he is predestined to make the road, and perhaps, too, that however stupid the “direct” practical man may be, the thought sometimes will occur to him that the road almost always does lead somewhere, and that the destination it leads to is less important than the process of making it, and that the chief thing is to save the well-conducted child from despising engineering, and so giving way to the fatal idleness, which, as we all know, is the mother of all the vices.
Surfers like to make roads and to create, that is a fact beyond dispute. But why do we have such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also? For sucking so badly and publicly? Tell me that!
But on that point I want to say a couple of words myself. May it not be that surfers loves chaos and destruction and sucking so badly and publicly (there can be no disputing that we do sometimes love it) because we are instinctively afraid of attaining what we seek and becoming good and powerful surfers?
Who knows, perhaps we only love that idea, becoming actually good, from a distance, and are by no means in love with it at close quarters; perhaps we only love pretending to become better surfers it and once a surfboard we are riding makes us surf too good we abandon and order a board from Greg Webber that looks like a banana, tossing our other board into the yard for the use of les animaux domestiques — such as the ants, the sheep, and so on.
Now the ants have quite a different taste. They have a marvelous edifice of that pattern which endures forever — the ant-heap. With the ant-heap the respectable race of ants began and with the ant-heap they will probably end, which does the greatest credit to their perseverance and good sense.
But surfers are frivolous and incongruous creatures, and perhaps, like chess players, love the process of the getting better, not the end of it. And who knows (there is no saying with certainty), perhaps the only goal on earth to which mankind is striving lies in this incessant process of attaining, in other words, in life itself, and not in the thing to be attained, which must always be expressed as a formula, as positive as twice two makes four, and such positiveness is not life, brothers and sisters, but is the beginning of death.
Anyway, surfers should always be afraid of this mathematical certainty, and I am afraid of it now. Granted that the surfer, especially the surfboard know-it-all, does nothing but seek that mathematical certainty, he traverses oceans, sacrifices his life in the quest, that magic board, but to succeed, really to find it, dreads, I assure you. He feels that when he has found it there will be nothing for him to look for exactly like Kelly Slater feels, filling his time with empty social media battles and faith healers.
When workmen have finished their work they do at least receive their pay, they go to the tavern, then they are taken to the police-station — and there is occupation for a week. But where can surfers go? Anyway, one can observe a certain awkwardness about the surfer that has attained such objects (see Kelly Slater again). Surfers loves the process of attaining, but do not quite like to have attained, and that, of course, is very absurd.
In fact, surfers are comical creatures; there seems to be a kind of jest in it all. But yet mathematical certainty is after all, something insufferable. Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too. And why are you so firmly, so triumphantly, convinced that only the normal and the positive — in other words, only what is conducive to welfare — is for the advantage of surfers? Is not reason in error as regards advantage?
Do not surfers, perhaps, love something besides surfing well? Perhaps we are just as fond of suffering? Perhaps suffering is just as great a benefit to us as surfing well? Mankind is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering, and that is a fact. There is no need to appeal to universal history to prove that; only ask yourself, if you are a man, or woman- a surfer- and have lived at all.
As far as my personal opinion is concerned, to care only for surfing well seems to me positively ill-bred. Whether it’s good or bad, it is sometimes very pleasant, too, to smash things and surf like a complete Cro-Magnon. I hold no brief for suffering nor for surfing well either. I am standing for … my caprice, and for its being guaranteed to me when necessary. For paddling out on a very throaty day, barreling and whatnot, on a surfboard not built for barrels. Likewise, paddling out on a very small day on something that demands perfection to perform.
Suffering would be out of place in vaudevilles, for instance; I know that. In a “perfect world” it is unthinkable; suffering means doubt, negation, and what would be the good of a “perfect world” if there could be any doubt about it? And yet I think man will never renounce real suffering, that is, destruction and chaos.
Why, suffering is the sole origin of consciousness. Though I do believe that consciousness is the greatest misfortune for man, yet I know man prizes it and would not give it up for any satisfaction. Consciousness, for instance, is infinitely superior to twice two makes four. Once you have mathematical certainty there is nothing left to do or to understand. There will be nothing left but to bottle up your five senses and plunge into contemplation. While if you stick to consciousness, even though the same result is attained, you can at least flog yourself at times, and that will, at any rate, liven you up. Reactionary as it is, corporal punishment is better than nothing.
All to say, there is no perfect surfboard for any surfer and anything a reputable shaper produces, whether a custom order or one that is pulled from the rack, is fine enough. Surfboard shapers should not be blamed for our misfortune, our poor skill. We crave it and need it and will never become Kelly Slater because Kelly Slater is miserable. Also, the surfboard know-it-all should shut his mouth.