They say that great minds think alike. Some jokes start with sayings like that.
Now, as a comedian, you’ll typically take the opposite stance, i.e. They say that great minds think alike…damn, I can’t think of a joke here. Let me go to something else then I’ll come back and give my right brain a chance to work on the problem…
They say that great minds think alike, but I don’t know anyone great who thinks like I do. OK WHATEVER! It’s not the best joke. Let’s just move on, aight?
No? OK fuck. Ummm…They say great minds think alike, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. Did someone else come up with that? Let me check…Nobody ever connected those two sentences? Weird. It seems like such a hack joke. Anyways.
A less likely path is agreeing with the statement, perhaps because being agreeable isn’t the most obvious well-spring (well-spring, not wellspring, right?) of laughter, perhaps because to agree means to inherently lack conflict, conflict of course being a bedrock of comedy (every joke has a victim). That said, it’s still an option, i.e. ‘They say that great minds think alike, which makes sense because my wife eats like a shark.’ (It’s my attempt at Roger Dangerfield; if you’d like to try it as dangerfield, make sure you bulge your eyes when you say ‘shark’ and then give a annoyed to the point of being bewildered look)
The third, and least traversed option, exists: a nuanced look at the quote. First, we might recognize that every quote has an opposite – but seemingly true – mirror to itself i.e. Great minds think alike vs. no two people are exactly the same.
Religious literalists often into this problem, i.e. The bible says do unto others but then also says eye for an eye. I remember sitting in church and thinking, ‘Man, there must be another preacher in the world right now doing a sermon on this very passage but inferring a completely different conclusion than the one my pastor is inferring…and both are going to seem entirely convincing to their congration. Amazing….scary.’
Oh wait, there’s the pun take on the quote, i.e. ‘They say great minds think alike, but I haven’t met enough sentient shredders to have an intelligent opinion on the matter.’
But wait, you say: stop. Stop right there. Read the quote again: great minds think ALIKE. It didn’t mean SAME. Ah fuck now I wrote all this shit based on a shaky premise like stevens? But wait, what then is the importance of the statement if you don’t take it to the extreme? Great minds think alike? Oh yeah? Doesn’t every think alike is some cases? Are you saying that ALL great minds share a statistically significant collection of thought patterns, rendering them alike in the way that they think? Yeah, OK. Yeah I’ll agree with that. But there’s more here.
To restrict great people to having the same mind would be too Western-oriented. In the East, they believe in Anatta, which stands for no self. A great mind, a Buddhist would say, is not the ultimate goal. Their version of the saying would be: great beings be alike.
Ok, but are there other options here? We can agree entirely, disagree entirely, or agree with caveats. Can we do anything else with an opinion?
Lets take a simple opinion so the task is as light as possible: I like Vince Vaughan movies.
So there are the extremes: I love Vince Vaughan movies VS I hate Vince Vaughan movies.
(Picture of Vince with nose guy checkmark in green superimposed, side by side with a picture of Vince with Jennifer Red X on it like Family Feud’s X)
Then there is the caveated, qualified opinion: I love Vince Vaughan movies when the guy with the nose co-stars. I don’t like Vince Vaughan movies when it co-stars Jennifer Aniston, because watching Jennifer Aniston is depressing. Why? I don’t know why…there’s something….something lonely about her. I have this feeling that she’s destined to settle by marrying a good man, but not a man she’s in love with. But then again, maybe I’m projecting my opinion of her archetype onto her, as in 45-year old 8.5 out of 10 Caucasian woman can never find true love. Maybe I’m doing what people do to celebrities where they pretend to know someone because they’ve seen them on TV.
Hm, lets try that one on for size. Perhaps a more complicated subject will provide more room for opinion options.
(Strikethrough) I love writing comedy. (/Strike through) I love writing.
Oh wait, there is the no opinion: I neither love nor hate Vince Vaughan movies.
Oh wait, there’s the confused opinion: Which one is Vince Vaughan, the tall Jew or the crooked nose Gentile? But wait, that question implies the auteur has an opinion. That’s not really a different.
There’s also the recognition that no opinion is static. For example, if Vince Vaughan decided that he would only do movies with the happy 34-year old Ebenezzer Scrooge, then after ten years I might say I love once Vaughan movies (just so I could get the bad taste of the Jennifer Aniston movie out of my mouth).
Then the real question is: did you exercise free will in forming your opinion, or is your opinion simply the result of biology, experience, and the effects of randomness? Because that’s what Sam Harris believes.
Sam Harris not only believes that there is no self, but he also believes that there is no free will. Your decision to read this far? That wasn’t really YOUR decision. That decision came about as a complex result of your biology, life experiences, and the effects of randomness.
For example, ‘I’ formed my opinion after falling asleep to that Vince Vaughan movie with Jennifer Aniston in Cuba. I say ‘that’ movie because I don’t know if there is more than one Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston movie.
I wrote this while listening to EchoSmith’s Bright, you guys know that song? You make a girl go eww Whoo eww! Lah lah lahhhh…
Who knows how that song colored my opinion as I was supposedly thinking about it free of influence? Who knows how the much the song influenced my mood, causing my synapses to fire like this instead of that?
I’m a genius. I don’t care if anyone likes this shit. This shit is fucking money, coolie. Or perhaps it’s not genius until the idea is laid out in a way makes it conducive to mass consumption? Hmmm…but wait. Shakespeare is revered broadly, but not popular. But as far as plays go, he’s the best…OK so yeah.
Can genius which is inaccessible to the lay person still genius? It is, if the best of the best agree on it.
No, bc the best of the best still have different tastes, and being judges well by one’s contemporaries isn’t necessarily an indication that one’s ideas will be valued by future generations.
But you can reach more people by making things clear. Shakespeare made things CLEAR through descriptive language and appeal.
Write a blog explaining difference between eastern and west philosophy in the way you explained it to Lisette in Cuba.