The late comedian George Carlin could never outrun his Catholic boyhood and his neurotic Irish Catholic mother. He never knew his father. A scarcely hidden emotional gap surfaced early.All this in George Carlin’s Last Words.
Blessed with high intelligence, Carlin was educated in an open concept, no grades Catholic elementary school.The nuns were great. He quit his education at grade 9 and joined the air force at 17.
He paid a heavy price for his deep alienation. Almost a life long addict who drove his wife to drink and daughter to pot at age 10, Carlin finally licked his addiction in the last 10 years of his life.
Like a lot of working class kids he had primal insticts, a good sense of right and wrong. But like a lot of rednecks with little education and hidden anger. his reading was shallow, As Keats would say, he did not drink deeply of the Pierian spring. He went on gut instinct and was often manipulated by the BS artists in the government propaganda dept.
Then he got smart, started to read deeply and analyze political currents. Chomsky, Mother Jones, the Nation became de rigueur.
It was round Ronald Reagan’s time that he started to lose hope in humanity, In his words,”I gave up on the species.” The election of Reagan, a real cipher if there ever was one, was “absurd. To this day it remains absurd.More than absurd, it was frightening.It represented the rise to supremacy of darkness, the ascendancy of ignorance.” So obviously a creation of the corporate class, Reagan did its bidding and enough of the poorly educated and politically naive, bought his avuncular crap.Thankfully, George’s death spared him the advent of Sarah Palin.
The last time I saw George three years before he died, he was brilliant ripping into the shallow Reagan/Bush culture of excess with much ferocity. Sadly he had little to offer in refutation. No grand vision of peace, the common good, the dignity of humans and the earth. A deeper reading of authentic Cathiolic culrture could have helped him.
Nonetheless the brother saw through much of the cultural crap. He did get the critical imagination but missed some of the sacramental.