George Carlin in an interview earlier this year talking about the Obama phenomenon.
Do you think that over the past years of the Bush Administration - the FCC stuff and Nipplegate with Janet Jackson and the focusing on 'morality' and the rise of the Evangelicals, all of that - do you see that as being a direct correlation with the American situation as you've observed it?
Well, there are a number of things you've brought up here. First of all - let me go back to an idea that I usually express in a different way, okay? And then I'll get back to your question. I don't believe anymore in my fellow human, or my fellow American. I divorced myself from these two groups a long time ago, somewhere around 30 years ago. I found myself feeling completely outside of the human race and the American experience. Abraham Maslow, the psychologist said, the fully realized man does not identify with the local group. And when I read that it really hit me. I said, "That's me." I really don't identify with these people, I don't feel a part of this - I've never, never felt a part of this. And by "this" I mean - the human race yeah I know, I'm human, by definition I'm in it, I mean feeling like I'm in it. I mean feeling like I'm American. I just don't give a shit anymore. I stopped giving a fuck. And because I did that, it gave me a great deal of artistic freedom - it gave me emotional detachment from which I could operate with a more even-handed look at everything. I didn't have a rooted interest. I didn't have an outcome I was interested in. I didn't have a rooted interest. I wasn't a cheerleader. I was really just an observer. When you're born in the world you're given a ticket to the freakshow; when you're born in America you're given a front-row seat. And some of us in the front row have notebooks and pencils. That's you, Rachel, that's me. We sit there and we say, "Look at the fucking shit that going - look at this. Do these people know what they look like? Let me write this down." And so, that kind of divorces me from any of these attachments. Yeah, underneath it all I'm a disappointed idealist. Yes, I think the Obama story is an inspirational story, it's a wonderfully unique American story and it's exciting and fun to watch but even if he's elected and makes a lot of changes I still retain the right not to belong.
I just like it out here. And I understand that the flame of the idealist flickers underneath, and that's fine - I can't deny that - but I kind of like it the other way because it kind of gives me the freedom to point at everything.
Wow. Okay, so let me ask you this: You brought up the Obama thing, and you seemed to have done so sincerely and not with irony or being jaded. How do you view that as a phenomenon, even as one you don't want to belong to?
Well, it's an exciting story to watch. What's exciting is that it doesn't happen in this country very often. There were moments in the history of the American people - and by the way, one of the reasons I got off the train of the American experience is I think - I'll get back to Obama in a minute - I think that human beings were given great gifts and had great potential and they squandered it all on goods, possession, power, territory and on a superstitious God that watches everything and controls. These things, I think, crippled the human animal to the extend that we never lived up to their potential. The same thing happened in this country. We were given great potential. We were given this great system of self-government, the best one that had been devised so far.
And we've given it all up for gizmos, and goods, and toys and possessions, and - in this country - God, overlooking everything and spoiling everything. So... there have been moments in this country when people have, leaders have emerged who were inspirational, and who could carry the people with them because — in order to effect change in their lives and experience as a group, they need to be led, and they need to believe in something and they need to believe in themselves, and they need to believe that they can change things. And they way that happens is through an inspirational leader. FDR was that, Franklin Roosevelt - he gave people something to believe in, and mainly it was themselves, that they could weather the storm, and he got them through the Depression and a fuckin' World War. So, these things happen and they're interesting to notice - I don't know how much overall meaning it has, I do respect what's going on as a true American phenomenon, this rising up of someone who - maybe, I don't know - has the quality to inspire people.