Literary slackers seem to have more in common because, well, they're literary, fictional, embodying types of behavior. A Sardine favorite is Oblomov, a Russian aristocrat created by Ivan Goncharov. It took Oblomov more than one hundred and fifty pages to rise from bed. A contemporary of Samuel Beckett commented on Beckett's Oblomov-like tendencies, particularly his inability to rise before noon. But using aristocrats and writers as slacker examples is too obvious.
The best examples come from Richard Linklater's first film, Slacker. The parade of slacker types is staggering, enough to forget The Slacker Handbook. In fact, the types are anti-types, individualistic antagonists to society. How do you "type" someone who believes that she possesses Madonna's pap smear? Yet, her very preoccupation spurns the world at large. A rebel without causality. A drifter who embraces her inner aimlessness. Linklater's film has the same structural causation. A working paradox: structural slackness.
The pursuit of the slacker paradox, however, follows historical examples and, ultimately, personal ones.
Most prominent in the slacker firmament is W., 43rd president of the United States. Having seemingly achieved the most powerful position on earth, the Junior Bush appears slacker proof. Those who would defend him from this apparent de-faming just would not understand the incredible honor it is to have slouched into the Presidency. A living paradox, indeed.
It is impossible, though, to deny W.'s slacker credentials. A classic non-achiever, Junior could have become Jeffrey "the Dude" Lebowski incarnate had he not been born into obscene amounts of money. W. and the Dude share several qualities:
- indifference toward scholastic discipline
- inclination to partying—in the parlance: doing drugs
- incapable of forming coherent sentences and thoughts
Another historical slacker who shook the world—but from a non-governmental post—is Karl Marx. He never held a job and put forth an economic and social theory that, theoretically, would be a slacker's delight. Sharing the work and profits represents intellectual catnip to any self-respecting couch intellectual. "It's not my job" merges bureaucratic and socialistic slacking.
Binding W. and Marx into a single categorical unit further illumines the slacker paradox. Whether you want it all individually, or want to share it all, at the apex of these respective intellectual desires you uncover a quintessential slacker ethos.
As an activist/troublemaker, however, Marx does not descend to the level of "the Dude". Because Marx don't Bowl!
On a personal level of paradoxical slackerhood, you could pair Joe T. and the Sardine. They have infinitely less in common than W. and Marx. However, this distance between us takes one close to the platonic idea of a slacker. With Joe T. and the Sardine, we strip away the materialistic prejudices. The clearest, most lucid form of a slacker waits to burst out.
Logged-in Public: What is it? What's this ideal form? We have to see it.
"Yeah," says Joe T., "what have I got that you got the same of?"
Joe T. doesn't like to share his essential qualities. He desires to remain unique, despite the sickening sameness that emanates from his words.
"What did the Sard say?" asks Joe T. "I don't think I like what he said."
To answer your question, Joe and the Sardine resist the demands of the world. In completely incompatible ways, our souls guard against the social imperative.
"Come on, tell me. I want to know myself."
To conquer and burn all in your path.
L-I P: Wouldn't that increase the number of slackers to the point of meaninglessness?
You know how the Sardine feels about too many fish in the tin, too many agreements with one's opinion, too much "the majority is always wrong". Alas, the world has grown too large. Six and a half billion human carcasses. Near ninety billion for a grand total. Start counting and you'll find a great many people avoiding society's demands.
L-I P: What happens when the slackers become the majority?
Never will happen. For one, the average slacker doesn't care about the world and wouldn't think beyond his or her own feelings. In this case, Joe T.'s feelings come into play.
"I resent that," says Joe T.
It was meant as a compliment.
Another point where Joe T. and the Sardine diverge. The true slacker doesn't feel—cannot feel—assaults on his character. The slacker majority will not emerge because too many people find it impossible to give up basic desires. Like: needing to know what constitutes the slacker essence.
L-I P: We resent the criticism.
Bob Castle is the unveiled author of A Sardine on Vacation. Check out his bio page.