George Carlin died yesterday. I suppose the proper way to say that would be to say that he "passed away" or that he "is no longer with us," but knowing George's hatred for all things euphemistic, he's dead. He didn't expire or fade away or crossover or anything else. He just f***in' died.
I hate that I had to use asterisks there. Blogspot's bandwidth. Blogspot's rules. That's fair, I suppose. (I'm going to be hard-pressed to find a video of George that I can embed here, though.)
I learned to curse from my dad and uncles and older cousins. I learned how to curse well from George Carlin.
I learned a lot more from George Carlin, though, too. What I know about critical thinking, I learned from watching George's stand-up routines (late night on my cousin Bart's HBO.)
Reductio ad absurdum.
That means (essentially) reducing an argument to the point of absurdity in order to explode it completely. I don't think anybody did that better than George.
I recognized very early on that my brain didn't work the way that everyone else's that I knew did. I was less willing to accept statements as facts. I questioned a lot, which was a point of much consternation among my Sunday school teachers. (Can you imagine trying to explain the story of Adam and Eve to a six-year-old who insists upon logic?)
I think I was about eight years old (maybe seven) when I first saw a George Carlin HBO special. (Also the first week I saw boobs on television. Thank you, HBO! That was a big week.)
I remember thinking: "See? This guy gets it! A lot of stuff that we're just supposed to accept in life doesn't make any sense."
All my life I have always felt a certain kinship with George Carlin. I have found other philosophers (and I do consider him a philosopher) along the way who have helped me to form my world view (still a work in progress, by the way), but George was the first person that I ever encountered who seemed to be "my kind."
My world changed when George Carlin entered into it.
I will miss him. I will miss him a lot.