Barry Smith: Irrelativity
July 4, 2011
Hey, did you catch the talk I gave at last week’s Aspen Ideas Festival? No? Well, maybe that’s because they once again neglected to include me. Every year I send in my application to this top-notch talking-about-stuff festival, requesting my slice of stage time, and every year I’m denied. Well, to say that I’m “denied” isn’t really accurate, as it implies some sort of response … which has yet to happen. Honestly, I’m starting to doubt that they’re even reading my list of proposed lectures, and it’s frustrating to spend so much time on something and then have nobody read it. So …”9/11, THE ENVIRONMENT, THE INTERNET, AND OTHER CRUCIAL BUZZ WORDS NECESSARY TO INCLUDE IN ANY IMPORTANT LECTURE TITLE”In deciding which lecture to see, sometimes the title is all you have to go on. So why not see the lecture that includes all the key words that a good title should have, despite what the lecture ultimately ends up being about? The same holds true for the description under each title, so with that in mind I’d like to just say “biodiversity,” “social media,” “racial tolerance” and, even though I’ve already mentioned it, “9/11.””BREAKFAST – OUR UNTAPPED ENERGY SOURCE.” Since “everything” and “nothing” cannot exist in the same space, the attempt to merge the two should create fascinating results. My theory is that ordering an “everything” bagel with “nothing” on it will create a paradoxical conundrum, thereby releasing nuclear-reactor-like levels of clean, renewable energy. In theory. There’ll also be some funny slides. “I’M GIVING THIS LECTURE BECAUSE I’M SMARTER THAN YOU”In case there’s any doubt as to why I’m here at the podium and you’re there in the crowd, well … I’m clearly superior to you in many, if not all, ways. I’m smarter, sure. That’s an easy one. I’m probably taller, too, especially up here on stage. I’m definitely more clever, though that’s pretty much a given. I can probably juggle better than you can, but why be smug, right? 90 minutes plus Q&A.”THINKING HARD ABOUT MAKING A DOCUMENTARY, FOR REAL THIS TIME, NOT LIKE THE OTHER TIMES YOU’VE GOTTEN ALL INSPIRED TO DO STUFF BUT THEN DIDN’T.”Documentary filmmaking is really, really important. And you can do it! It’s pretty easy, actually. You just, you know, film some stuff. Who can’t do that, right? You probably have a camera already, or know where you can borrow one. After this informative presentation you’ll be ready to get started, and it probably won’t take very long to finish, because really, how long could it take? Sheesh.”IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY: WHY ARE YOU SITTING HERE LISTENING TO ME?”In case the other presentations aren’t leaving you with the level of guilt that you feel you need to have gotten your money’s worth, this one will get to the heart of your guilt center. In the unlikely event of inclement weather, title will be changed to “There are Important Books to Read, Why Are You Sitting Here Listening to Me?””WHY TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND STUFF?”You see all those people cleaning up your coffee cups that you left on the floor after that “How to Live Even Greener-er” panel discussion? Well, if you carried your own trash out, then they’d be out of a job. Do you want to contribute to unemployment? Of course you don’t. Carry on. “LET’S FACE IT, OIL IS PRETTY AWESOME”Ever take a moment to really ponder how awesome oil is? You probably drove to this conference today, despite the fact that you could have pretty easily walked, huh? Well, that car that you drove – that’s right – oil. Oil made that happen. Other examples will be discussed in this lecture, examples that are completely nonbiased and in no way shaped by the fact that one of our sponsors is an oil company. Nope: Oil is just plain awesome. “HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS DEATH THING!?”Apparently we’re all going to die eventually, no matter how much yoga we do or how well we reduce our carbon footprint or how many carbs we don’t eat. In light of this recent discovery, talking about anything else seems pointless.
Barry Smith’s column appears in The Aspen Times on Mondays. Get inside his brain at barrysmith.com.