The Unclever – Like Zombies, but Dumber

Dear KK,

Today we get deep and existential. How much are you worth? Are you worth more than, say, your sister? Are you worth more than your Mom? Don’t worry, I won’t ask you if you’re worth more than me because of course you’re bloody not. I can guarantee you that at some point, probably more than once, you’re going to be asked probably one of the most stupid questions of all.  It goes something like this ‘If your mother and father were drowning, who would you save first?’ Or, the quite insane ‘If your sister and your dog were drowning, who would you save first?’ Seriously, be prepared. Human beings are, unfortunately, generally not nearly as clever as they think they are – which gets completely out of whack at times because the more clever people think they are, generally, the less clever they are. Some of this has to do with youth, some, probably to do with genes and body chemistry and some is simply down to sheer, willful stupidity. Be warned the stupid, who think they are smart as they will bore you, annoy you and may even frustrate you to the point of having violent thoughts.

snorkelling in the rain (2)

If your Tia (who I will tell you about one day) and this dog were drowning, who would you save?

Now, this brings us to an interesting point about your Badass Auntie. It may appear she believes she’s really clever, certainly lots of other people do (Never believe other people’s opinions of you. Everyone has an agenda) – but to have the audacity to think that her wisdom is worth reading, she must be one of those stupid people who thinks she is clever. Well, I’m delighted to tell you that one of the most important pieces of wisdom I can bestow upon you is that Badass Auntie thinks she’s pretty amusing, there’s no doubt about that and, she’s also quite fabulous, but the older she gets the more frustratingly apparent her lack of ‘clever’ becomes. The sad part about this is that only intelligent people are blessed with this epiphany.

When I was young, I thought I was stupendously clever and yes, I was quite intelligent, but things were pretty black and white in the world according to me, at that time. That is pretty normal a. Unfortunately, the unclever are forever stuck in the purgatory of the stupidity of youth, much as zombies remain in the purgatory of the undead. In fact, there are many similarities between zombies and the stupid.

Before we get to that, I think it’s important to define certain terms as I use them in case I cause any confusion.

Intelligence – The ability to critically think and the capacity to learn. This has nothing to do with education and is, usually a genetic luck of the draw sort of thing. Though some surprisingly intelligent people seem unlucky enough to find themselves surrounded with stupid relatives. You, my darling nephew, are not one of those. Let it be known that the intelligent can also be very stupid at times.

Clever/unclever – This is my own definition, so don’t bother looking it up as you’ll only find the proper one. I never claimed to be proper. Also there are some contextual differences. If I say ‘that was very clever’, unless it was said with a slight undertone of snark, it was sincere and meant I thought something was, indeed ‘clever’, ‘smart’, or ‘ingenious’. If I say ‘you think you’re clever, don’t you?’ I am implying…no, nix that…I am stating categorically that I think you have an unjustified high opinion of your intelligence and ingenuity, which I do not share. People who believe they are clever, when they are not truly clever at all are, in fact, the unclever. Thinking one is clever and being clever are two very different things most of the time – unless you’ve truly done something genius and as you’re my nephew, I’m sure you will do so.  To make sure you appear both authentically clever and adorable all at the same time, I would suggest saying ‘I’m a fucking clever little bugger, aren’t I?’ No one will be able to resist that.

Stupid – This also has nothing to do with education and is normally either environmental or a lifestyle choice. For some, it may be a form of survival. Stupid is not genetic and it’s not something you’re born with. Some people may be intellectually different to one another, but one’s intellect, within my definition, is unrelated to one’s stupidity. Stupidity is willful. It’s about saying and doing things that are simply illogical, immoral, ignorant, bigoted, thoughtless and sometimes dangerous for no other reason than..and this is the real sticker..because the stupid person thinks they are clever. Possibly one of the worst things a human being can be.

Badass Auntie admits that she thought she was very clever by her own judgemental definition, at times, and has the potential to think so in future.  I would opine that this is specifically related to consumption of wine. There have been times when she has also been stupid, again, by her own definition and, even worse than that – stupid and well meaning, which is potentially the most dangerous kind of stupid. This sort of thing most often happens when people become associated with some form of extremism. In my youth my cults of extremism were anti capitalism, anti apartheid (now that will be another great essay for you one day) and pro animal rights. Anti capitalism and pro animal rights in their more extreme forms, I should point out, are types of ideologies, not dissimilar to religions although they do not involve invisible talking people, deities or making wishes to the sky.  Being anti apartheid was just about being a decent human being – although some of the more extreme lengths taken in the name of that movement, were perhaps, the mark of the unclever.

In fact, it gets even weirder.  Your Badass Auntie is faithless, as mentioned in previous blogs and could almost identify as an apatheist, if, for no other reason, than it sounds good. There are members of the faithless community, who often identify as atheists, who are both unclever and stupid. Go figure. The unclever get everywhere and they, like their counterparts, zombies, can spread their disease. So, it’s best to avoid them at all costs.

Today’s Badass Auntie wisdom, not from a place of thinking that I’m clever, but from a place of hoping I can help prevent you from  making some of  the same unclever and stupid mistakes I have is – Surround yourself with intelligent people, who do not think they are clever. Allow them some give and take on saying and doing stupid things, which often will be affected by their alcohol consumption but only, and this is the important thing, only if they are amusing and mostly intelligent the rest of the time. Be aware that your level of tolerance of their stupidity may be reflected in how many times you get into actual physical fights and how many times you end up in jail. If you don’t want to get into physical fights or end up in jail, it may be wise to only be around intelligent and amusing people, prone to bouts of stupid, whenever alcohol is not involved. Oh, and the unclever. Unfortunately, unlike zombies, a stake through the heart won’t work. Just remember that they will try to lull you into their purgatory, especially if they catch you when you’re weak. They’ll know you’re weak because you’ll be thinking you’re clever. You’ve been warned.

Much love from your Badass Auntie

Dear CK,

Just so you know. I never got an answer from your brother about that question ‘If your sister and your dog were drowning, who would you save first?’ in case the issue ever comes up in future.  I was writing to him about value and got sidelined by zombies. It happens. So, let’s get back to the concept of worth because it’s of particular importance to you.

In the world and even in your ‘advanced’, ‘civilised’ and ‘developed’ country girls are given a lower value than boys. Let’s be fair about this, there are lots of truly sucky things in the world that are completely unequal, but what’s so fucking frustrating is that on much of our planet, if a society was asked a question ‘If a boy and a girl were drowning, which would you save first?’, it would be the boy. Every. Single. Time. There are so many stupid fucking reasons for this, many of them based in religious beliefs but cultures relatively barren of religion also value the male of our species greater than the female.

Fortunately, you live in a country which, while it definitely values women less than men, women are pretty much able to overcome that idiocy and develop their own sense of worth. This may be how you expect to be treated by others, what you expect to earn, how you choose to express yourself and who you choose to spend time with.  One of the great things about this is that your worth and value have nothing to do with anyone but you. If the behaviour of anyone else changes your worth, that is because you have allowed it to. Because our worth is all in our own heads.  The fucking reality is that we are just one creature of millions of the same species, on this planet for a short time where we’ll eat, drink, piss, shit, possibly reproduce or not, as the case may be and then we’ll die. If you decide to believe in reincarnation – welcome back!  You can do it all again.

Everything else is in our heads and unless our chemistry is a bit funky, what goes on in our heads is entirely our prerogative. Once you grasp both how tiny and worthless you are in terms of the galaxy, you can truly comprehend how huge and important you are in your own mind. This can go either way of course; just refer back to my explanation of the unclever. But aside from the unclever, who you should avoid at all costs lest they try to poison you with their disease, the rest of can determine how other people treat us by the way we value ourselves, as long as it’s justified. The unclever believe any old shit, but everyone else will want some sort of evidence before they completely accept that you are brilliant.

So, how do you just ‘be brilliant’? It’s not that hard really. And this is the subject of my Badass wisdom of the day. The Badass Auntie’s guide to being genuinely brilliant and therefore making it possible for others to bask in and appreciate your brilliance.

  • Know what you’re good at. Once you know what you’re good at, work like fuck to get better at it but never ever be a bragging arsewipe. Let other people discover your brilliance. Brilliant things don’t have to tell anyone. They just are.
  • Know what you enjoy. OK. You may be good at some things but you might not enjoy them. So focus on the things that you are good at that you enjoy and then don’t become fucking complacent. There are some things that you may be good at and enjoy that aren’t recognised by others as brilliant. Enjoy the fuck out of them anyway. You can’t be brilliant if you’re boring.
  • Know what you’re absolutely shit at. Once you know what you’re shit at, determine whether those things are important to you. For example, Badass Auntie is shit at running. Badass Auntie has found very few uses in her life for running. Therefore, getting better at it is not important and she doesn’t waste her time improving her running skills. Should the unclever ever become desperate and start chasing people, I may have to rethink that.
  • If you’re crap at something but it’s important to you, strive to improve but keep your expectations realistic. Decide exactly how good you really need to be, because if you spend too much time trying to get better at things you are crap at, especially if you don’t enjoy them – you’ll be wasting a lot of time that could have been spent on things that you’re good at that you really do enjoy.
  • Avoid the unclever but identify people who are good at things that you are interested in. Don’t spend too much time with people who also enjoy the things you enjoy and are good at the things you are good at. This will make you boring and will stifle your opportunity to find new things you are good at and enjoy. Spending time with people just like you makes you part of an intellectual ghetto and can lead to problems associated with being unclever.
  • Do things that make you nervous if you’ve done your due diligence and are pretty certain that your odds of dying are very low. If you only do things that seem safe, you’ll never be brilliant. Also spend time with people who do things that make you nervous, even if you plan to never do those things. These people will prevent you from losing your brilliance.
  • Laugh whenever possible. But, if you find yourself constantly laughing at people because you think they are better than them (Except for the unclever and stupid. You can laugh at them all you like – from a safe distance), you may be becoming an arsehole and that can lead to becoming one of the stupid. Do not become stupid. Yes, the crack whore who forgot to dress from the waist down shopping in Walmart might inspire a juvenile giggle once, but if there isn’t a tiny bit of you that feels ashamed to be giggling, you are definitely becoming an arsehole.
  • Express yourself through any form of creativity that takes your fancy. That could be music, art, writing, photography, poetry, shouting, having purple hair, shaving your eyebrows or dancing embarrassingly in public places. Don’t ever give any flying fucks what anyone thinks about how you choose to express yourself creatively.  Also, don’t kid yourself that this self expression will be brilliant, make you brilliant or make anyone else think you’re brilliant unless it also falls under the category of ‘things you are good at’, but it is as essential to being brilliant as chocolate is to…well….life.
  • Don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks of you. I know. That’s really, really hard. But want to know the truth? Those people who you think have an opinion of you, probably aren’t thinking of you anyway. They probably have much better things to do. If they are spending any real time thinking of you, as long as they are not plotting to infect you with their unclever, they are doing so because you’re brilliant. Trust me. They may hate your brilliance. They may be jealous of your brilliance. They may love your brilliance. Ultimately, the only thing you can change in this world is your own behaviour and thoughts. So, don’t waste any fucking time trying to change someone else’s.

And that, my little chickadee, is just about that. If anyone ever asks you ‘If your brother and your dog were drowning, which one would you save?’, tell them to stop asking such fucking stupid questions and then move away, quickly. They are one of the unclever.

Much love from your Badass Auntie





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