Mr. Williams

robinby Glenn Fairman  8/11/14
They say that in order to make them laugh, you need to know how to make them cry. Robin Williams was of this mold. While he charmed and delighted with his frenetic style of comedic mayhem, his best roles were sad, contemplative, and serious. His roles in: Awakenings, The Fisher King, and Dead Poets Society, among a host of other gems, revealed a reservoir of pathos and tragedy that he could reach down and summon at will. They say that those who make us laugh — those who are “always on,” are overcompensating for something needy and broken within. I suppose this was true with Williams. I know he had his demons and he wrestled with them for decades – as do many of us. Those who have this capacity for the manic “up” must always suffer the corresponding “down” that cannot be averted. One cannot defy this natural law of the personality – which must eventually, like all things in life, return to equilibrium.

Only those who have wavered on the edge of the volcano know how blackened life appears through the lens of depression. There is a seeming futility in moving ahead and the fiery blade of emotional anguish consumes your thoughts relentlessly. Anyone who says that the wealthy and famous have no cause to succumb to such despair does not even begin to comprehend the intricacies of the soul. If there is release from such torment in death, I hope he has found it. Be thou at peace, sir.


Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca.
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62 Responses to Mr. Williams

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    You said a lot in very few words, Glenn.

    I had sort of tuned out on the culture at large, and haven’t seen a Robin Williams movie in quite a while. But I was there when he made his manic splash on the TV screen with Mork and Mindy and on the Carson show.

    It’s true what you say about the ups and downs and the natural law of the personality. It wasn’t very charitable of me, but when my brother told me of his death, my first and only word was “Coke”? I could think of Robin only in terms of the ups. But they don’t generally put the “downs” on display. That’s usually private, a personal hell for many. And those who have not actually suffered even a small temporary bout of depression cannot understand that natural law of personality.

    Still, the man did probably live the equivalent of several lives in just this one. I hope there is a Heaven. And I hope right now that Mr. Carson is saying hello to him.

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    the death of some people just seem to affect you—–even though they and the rhythm of their lives are as distant as stars. There just seemed to be something precious and vulnerable about him. The three movies I mentioned are very special to me because of his presence. I know its Hollywood but even fantasies take form for a few moments when the soul is rightly aligned……..

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ditto. I like the movies you mentioned, although I don’t offhand remember the plot of The Fisher King.

      Fantasy does indeed have a way of expressing something wonderful. We humans tend to remain empty shells, the spirit of youth generally chipped away by the reality and pains of living. Art and artists remind us to be excited again about just being, to find meaning in the tragedies, to laugh at our foibles, and to just generally lighten our hearts and open up to a view of life quite outside bland utility.

  3. Libertymark says:

    Had he realized how much a part of our lives he was, had he known how his suicide, if that be what it was, affects so many of us, would he have chosen such a craven and cowardly way out?

    Perhaps that is the miasma of depression: it is a form of narcissism, more deep and wide than most of us can ponder.

    May I never suffer the mental ravages this man suffered. One of the most competent and loved men of his day, yet he checked out in such a self-absorbed fashion.

    I will miss him, because he insinuated himself into my life and times. How odd is that?

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I am not so sure it was narcissism. Perhaps it is a case of despair so deep that it seems impossible to climb out.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Perhaps that is the miasma of depression: it is a form of narcissism, more deep and wide than most of us can ponder.

      Mark, I’m not a psychologist. I just play one on TV. I do think depression is an often overpowering influence. That said, I think there is an element of self-centeredness to it. I know I used to be more that way (never sharing Mr. Williams’ highs, of course).

      And then it eventually dawns on you that God “sends rain on the just and unjust.” That is, shit happens. It is often our expectations of 24/7 sunshine and roses that is half the problem (perhaps only 1/3 or 1/4 in Mr. Williams’ case…I don’t know).

      It relates to what Pascal said: “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

      But being alone with oneself can be one of the hardest things of all. But now I actually seek it out and find that true craziness tends to exist among crowds.

      It’s quite possible that Mr. Williams had an overpowering neurological-based depression. It’s also quite possible that living in the make-believe land that he inhabited of TV, movies, and the entire false-front of the secular Hollywood crowd that this 1000 watt veneer of tinsel and fatuousness screwed up his perspective. I do believe one can become alienated from oneself and from reasonable expectations if you spend too much time in that 1000 watt veneer.

      It was probably always a case with Williams that in order to burn as brightly as he did, there had to be this dark side, which is certainly what Mr. Fairman is intimating. Perhaps it’s the price we all pay for flying too close to the sun. And would Williams give up his peek and radiant experiences for another 20 years on this planet? I imagine he would not.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        We can not rule out the question of a change of brain chemistry due to year long abuse of various mind altering substances. And even that might only be a part of it.

        I grew up across the street from a very kind and level headed woman. One of her children was the same age as I so I could observe her over a period of many years.

        In her later years, her husband became very ill and his care and her concern for his health wore her down over several years. Eventually, she became depressed and had to seek treatment. The doctor advised her son that the years of care and worry had physically changed her brain chemistry. I saw her a couple of times after her husband regained his health, but she was never the same.

        My point is that outsiders can never know the whole story of what is happening in a person’s life and sometimes the brain does things which really are beyond our control.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          There is a scene in Atlas Shrugged in which a local official, discussing the suicide of Todd Starnes, refuses to criticize him for killing himself — who knows when someone has reached the limit on what he can endure? (He does criticize how he did it, in particular doing so in such a way as to devastate others.) I have no idea if Rand herself would have agreed, but she might. And I do think the point, in any case, is a good one.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            The libertarian view would be “It’s my life…I can take it if I want.” There’s some merit to that view….if one sees oneself as an atomized fish out of water connected to nothing, beholden to nothing, and attached to nothing.

            I think depression can be such an overpowering mental state that it’s a bit dicey to call someone who commits suicide “selfish.” It’s not “selfishness” that is on their mind but escaping their desolation….a desolation that few know. And those who make it through the other side are often blessed with a profound wisdom.

            • Libertymark says:

              And those who don’t make it through to the other side?

              Ah, now we arrive at a core question: is suicide a viable “out”? Viable, justified, legitimate, moral?

              Isn’t escaping one’s desolation at any cost (the ultimate cost), regardless of the results or impact to those around us, ipso facto *selfish*?

              Is life sacrosanct, even one’s own life force sacrosanct? Or is the sanctity of life up to individual choice, as the libertarian would aver, as you say? Or perhaps those who commit suicide are simply victims of their own overpowering mental state? In which case do we not buy into a form of Victimocracy? Is not the term “suicide victim” itself an oxymoron?

              Are we all in tacit agreement that suicide is a viable option for some? Or do we repudiate suicide as illegitimate?

              And if we tacitly condone suicide for some, do we not pave the way for assisted suicide for others? Can this lead to euthanasia for those some think would benefit more from being dead than alive? Where does this stop?

              These are questions I struggle with.

              • Glenn Fairman says:

                If we were our own, it would be legitimate; but if we exist for another, then that is a horse of a different color.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                Suicide prompted by alienation, sadness, a sense of failure, or a sense of chronic inferiority are inherently spiritual problems. There could always be a hint of narcissism because of the expectation of better. But to hang it up because of this is to refuse to take the next step down the road, or to even imagine that such a path exists. It’s short-circuiting a potentially meaningful process. The problem is, good luck finding advice on this in this highly materialisticculture.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Had he realized how much a part of our lives he was, had he known how his suicide, if that be what it was, affects so many of us, would he have chosen such a craven and cowardly way out?

      One of the most competent and loved men of his day, yet he checked out in such a self-absorbed fashion.

      These two sentences got me to thinkin’ as we say down here in Texas.

      What had become part of the public’s lives was a creation, a mask to use a somewhat hackneyed phrase. It wasn’t Williams. He certainly knew this and one wonders if, and if so, how this affected his thinking.

      The public doesn’t know the real person and, in general, has little real interest in him. If the public “loved” Williams it was certainly a caricature which they loved and not the man. This being the case, why would the man worry too much about how his suicide would affect the public?

      What the public is likely truly mourning is the death of a symbol of their past. And the symbol’s death merely confirms, in a very harsh manner, the mortality of us all.

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        As Sheldon would say, Mr. Kung: “Bazinga.” Very astute.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Thanks. The mind can be a subtle thing, but in the end, its main concern is self.

          I was not a huge fan of Williams, but thought he had an exceptional ad lib talent. That being said, I don’t believe he has been that popular or in demand for many years. His greatest popularity was in the past and that is what many mourn for.

          It was John Donne who wrote; “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”, which says it pretty well.

      • Libertymark says:

        This would be true of any public figure, even your heroes. Nothing different here than say Reynaldus Maximus, for example. Public figures are loved for their public persona. How else do we know them?

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          We love public persons for their persona

          but there is a huge difference between someone like a Ronald Reagan and a Robin Williams.

          As you wrote below:

          I had a friend once, who was the life of the party, as they say. Funny as hell, someone whom others were attracted to. When he was “on”, as he described it.

          But he had a dark side, one where he felt isolated and alone. It was almost as if he was bi-polar. And he resented those who identified with his “on” side, but could not see his “true” side.

          This is perhaps where I see Mr. Williams as narcissistic. Like my friend, perhaps he was angry that no one saw his real self, only the image he used to attract us. How ironic that a man uses his skills to attract us, then resents us for not being attracted to the real “him”. How muddled and befuddled a psyche.

          Nanoo no more. RIP, Robin Williams.

          I think this speaks to the and even strengthens part of the the case I make. In fact, I made several points and I don’t see how you have showed anything I said was not the correct.

          • Libertymark says:

            My point, and disagreement with your point, is that the public persona is as real as the private person. It’s not a mask, it’s their creation, their product, their contribution to society, the goods and services they trade for the money to live. If Mr. Williams found the “love” of that to be a contradiction of some kind, as my friend did, that’s not on the public! That’s on him! If you did not like the Ronald Reagan comparison, try this. I love Henry Ford for his invention of the production line, just as I love Steve Jobs for the iPad, just as I love Zig Zigler for his motivational speeches, just as I love Robin Williams for his movies and humor. If any of those men reviled the adoration of their contribution to society, and found that cause for despair, it’s on them, not me. The public persona is not phony because it is public (or even because it’s from Hollywood), it’s just the public persona.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              If you really “loved” Henry Ford, or Steve Jobs or Robin Williams then I would find it strange. Public love is, in my opinion, odd. It makes me think of a mob showering adoration on some tyrant. Admiration, appreciation, regard or esteem for any of these fellows, I can understand. But love?No. However, that is just me.

              my disagreement with your point, is that the public persona is as real as the private person.

              I do not agree. That is analogous to saying Sherlock Holmes or Sam Spade or Tom Sawyer are real. They are real only in the sense that they are the invention of some person who imagined each of these characters and wrote their “experiences” in a book. They were not real people. They were not beings of any sort other than imaginary.

              Equally, the characters created by a Williams or even a Reagan are not whole characters. They are only inventions of men. To take your Henry Ford example, you may have had a Ford Model T in your youth, which you loved, but that does not make you love Henry Ford and the Model T is not Henry Ford even though it was his creation. The two are distinct.

              It’s not a mask, it’s their creation, their product, their contribution to society, the goods and services they trade for the money to live. If Mr. Williams found the “love” of that to be a contradiction of some kind, as my friend did, that’s not on the public! That’s on him!

              I am not sure of your point. I was only wondering how Williams might have viewed things understanding the public liked his creation which is surely not the same as liking him. I did not suggest one way or the other how it might have affected him.
              I am suggesting that he, or any other performer would not give a whole lot of consideration to anonymous audience members when considering the question of suicide. As I heard one actor reply to a question from some overly earnest spectator, who posed some theory about the meaning behind the actor’s character and of the whole show and what the actor thought about that, “it is after all, just acting.”

              The public persona is not phony because it is public (or even because it’s from Hollywood), it’s just the public persona

              The origin of the word persona is Latin and it means “mask, character played by and actor”, according to my Compact Oxford Dictionary. Furthermore, this and other dictionaries go on to say it is the Public Face, as opposed to the private face. And we all know the public face is generally not the true face particularly when money or power are to be gained. If the public persona is real in any sense, it is that it is real in its falseness.

              • Libertymark says:

                “Love” in this context is simply a turn of phrase, Mr. Zu. Substitute any word your dictionary permits.

                Clearly I have taken this debate down the rabbit hole. I yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from Texas.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Mr. Kung, I always wondered what it would be like if your peek moments were tied up in stagecraft. Is there an inherent dispair in knowing that you are lauded for something that isn’t quite real?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I suspect you meant “peak”, not “peek”. I wouldn’t bother usually, but when dealing with an entertainer it can also be a nice bit of wordplay. Deliberate or fortuitous?

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I think that peak moments very often require an immense expenditure of energy, physical and more importantly emotional. And I suspect these peaks are not something which the normal population experience on a regular basis.

          Functioning at peak level, and I don’t mean just a high level, is something which cannot be maintained for a long period of time.

          Is there an inherent dispair in knowing that you are lauded for something that isn’t quite real?

          I think that goes back to my other 8:26pm posting. Modern performance is very much about stagecraft and given the technology of today is even more removed from reality than in the past, especially for acting. And the whole thing with Method Acting gets even more bizarre.

          That is one reason I prefer music.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    Being given over to brief and moderate bouts of depression and having at one time checked myself into a hospital for suicidal thoughts when my life took a miserable turn a decade or so ago, I can affirm that you are just not thinking and perceiving reality correctly. There is an oppressive anguish that assaults you that is only alleviated by sleep, and sometimes not even then.

    Face it, given what we know about the ones that love us, it is a very selfish thing to will on them such an affliction. Suicide can have complex motives: some despair of pain and some despair of pleasure—-the latter are the truly pathetic ones. Some just want a release from the endless cycle of accusation or emptiness that runs like a tape loop. Some, like cancer patients, just find the whole itinerary of incremental death too much of an absurdity for themselves and their families to endure.

    I’m sure glad that my dark night of the soul did not lead to driving off a mountain road because I learned a lot in digging my way back into life. I am, therefore, careful of judging a man who is at the end of his rope, even if I perceive it to be velvet lined.

  5. Timothy Lane says:

    I recall seeing bits and pieces of Mork and Mindy, but I can’t say I ever really watched the show. The main thing I remember Williams for was Moscow on the Hudson. I also recall that he and Barbra Streisand did a series of concerts to raise money for the Democrats in 1986, which wouldn’t have thrilled me — but then, I tend to assume that anyone in the entertainment field is a liberal until they prove otherwise.

  6. Libertymark says:

    I had a friend once, who was the life of the party, as they say. Funny as hell, someone whom others were attracted to. When he was “on”, as he described it.

    But he had a dark side, one where he felt isolated and alone. It was almost as if he was bi-polar. And he resented those who identified with his “on” side, but could not see his “true” side.

    This is perhaps where I see Mr. Williams as narcissistic. Like my friend, perhaps he was angry that no one saw his real self, only the image he used to attract us. How ironic that a man uses his skills to attract us, then resents us for not being attracted to the real “him”. How muddled and befuddled a psyche.

    Nanoo no more. RIP, Robin Williams.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      To some extent, I think you have to be a little crazy to be a performer. I’ve always heard that to do so is cathartic. But I wonder if wearing those false fronts doesn’t lead to chronic existential fatigue. It’s a great gift that Williams had but it probably comes at a price. Perhaps no wonder drugs are so prevalent in the entertainment industry.

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        The adulation and bravos of faceless millions is the greatest drug in the universe, but coming down off it is a mutha……

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That makes much sense…the coming down part.

          The only way I can relate is to say that I used to play a pretty good class clown in high school. It was more a mask of insecurity. I know false fronts and how shallow they leave you. Whether this relates to acting, in general, or Robin Williams, in particular, I don’t know. But let’s just say that my days of acting are over. It’s somewhat healthy to say, for purposes of illustration, that if you don’t like me then I can live with that. Having as a goal to please other people is a bitch.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I assure you, the public of any performing art, projects a lot of their own feelings and meaning on to the performer. The ability of a performer to capture this emotion, feed on it and turn it back on the public is one of the things which makes great performers.

        But as I have told you, I believe artists perform in the first instance for themselves. While they may appreciate the admiration of the public, they believe that most of the public have little idea of how gifted the artist truly is.

        There is also a certain physical high which one achieves in a great performance, at least there is in music.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          My own guess, Mr. Kung, is that musical performing (playing a violin at Carnegie Hall) is more cathartic and deeply fulfilling than being an actor or stand-up comic. Singing or performing great works has less of a ring to it of being a trained seal.

  7. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, I read in today’s newspaper obituary of another Robin Williams role that was familiar to me, though I didn’t know it was him: Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum movies (which I saw a year or two back on AMC). Since I’ve heard they plan to do a third, he will definitely be missed there.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      According to this article:

      . . . the prolific actor left behind a slew of movies that he either finished shooting or was currently working on.

      Movies that the comedic legend had finished included his recurring role of Teddy Roosevelt in “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” which is set to be released this December and is the third movie in the “Night at the Museum” series . . . “Merry Friggin’ Christmas” is another movie featuring Williams, Lauren Graham and Oliver Platt — that was finished and set for release later this year in November.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Yes, I just learned that on another website and was coming here to correct it. But while he will be in the third, he won’t be in any future movies they do.

        Incidentally, I first became interested in that series when I saw a promo for the second movie in which Ivan the Terrible complains that his sobriquet (Ivan Grosny) would properly be translated as “Ivan the Awesome”. I’ve read a biography of Ivan, and it noted that the sobriquet was best translated as “Awe-inspiring”, so I was intrigued that someone had done some good research.

  8. Timothy Lane says:

    Hannity tonight was discussing Williams’s charitable contributions, including his support for the military (at least the men, if not the wars themselves). I will also note that Hot Air includes a posting that links to William F. Buckley’s very favorable assessment of Williams.

    Incidentally, one description I heard tonight of how his body was found made me wonder if this was actually one of those occasional tragic cases of autoerotic partial strangulation gone wrong. If so, he wouldn’t be the first to die that way, nor the last.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, Williams will be missed. I tend to agree with those who say that we probably know little about the real Robin Williams if we go only by his public persona, although I do think that public persona springs from sources that are all very real.

      Williams was America’s class clown. We always need and want one. When I was young, that class clown was Jerry Lewis. There are others since then that don’t spring to mind, but the new generation of clowns was Steve Martin and Robin Williams, almost simultaneously. Today’s clown designate is Jim Carrey.

      We like people who can make us laugh. And Williams — in the movies, and for the reasons that Glenn mentioned — became a part of America’s soul. He evoked emotions deeper than those produced by slipping on a banana peel.

      Now, one can lament the fact that America’s soul is far too much a function of faddish and transient culture, that any popular star is necessarily going to be a poor reflection of us (such as Obama). After all, this affliction eventually gave us Miley Cyrus, the pagan saint of foolish and air-headed pop stars. She was the celebration of no more than celebrity. She defined for us the fact that we had become defined by no more than a group mind geared toward glitz-without-substance. The point is to *be* somebody, even if it is based upon notoriety, and air-headed Americans are more than content to do so via pathetic proxy.

      Williams, in some of his movie roles, moved beyond that. But pop culture is what it is. This was not Lou Gehrig painfully saying goodbye to a grateful nation. The manner of his death — tragic though it may be — is indicative of the kind of existence those at the top live. Imagine snuffing yourself (apparently by hanging) when the world was your oyster. You have most of the things Americans dream of: fame, fortune, apparently a nice family, a nice house, a rewarding career, and most of all that magic elixir, celebrity.

      Perhaps Mr. Kung is right and all those drugs did change his brain, and for the worse. And thus it is not just a political disagreement when we yell to the foolish libertarians and others: Do not make pot and other hard drugs a common and respectable thing, you flippin’ idiots.

  9. Glenn Fairman says:

    I knew it would come. When “Mr. Williams” was presented in the blog section of AT this morning, it brought out the steel hearted harpies who frankly have no clue about the human condition, or a molecule of compassion for those who lacked the strength to keep up with the cadence of the world. Even knowing how much agony he had endured and how much good he had done for others emotionally and monetarily, the vultures who fly the conservative banner are the very first to defecate on a corpse that has not yet assumed room temperature. There is something nauseating in the flinty heart of men who believe that their lives are the sum total of their exertions, and are therefore swift to judge a man’s entire being through the lens of his weakness. May they be accorded the same measure of justice as they stand before that all-seeing throne.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      the vultures who fly the conservative banner are the very first to defecate on a corpse that has not yet assumed room temperature.

      Could you tell if the were conservatives or libertarian types?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Well, I hope you don’t consider my comment (about the possibility that what happened was an autoerotic partial strangulation gone wrong) as an example. It certainly wasn’t intended as an attack on Williams.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      There is something nauseating in the flinty heart of men who believe that their lives are the sum total of their exertions, and are therefore swift to judge a man’s entire being through the lens of his weakness.

      Holy crap, that’s Old Testament prophet stuff. 😀 Well said, Glenn.

  10. Glenn Fairman says:

    Go give a gander and try and hold down your breakfast. I am ashamed to be numbered among them.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      Hard to say what is bothering these people. Obviously, they were not fans to begin with. It is also apparent they brought to the discussion many things which had nothing to do with suicide of death. Sound like they may be pretty unhappy themselves.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, in a weak defense (I haven’t read those comments yet), suicide is not a commendable way to go. And who doesn’t lash out in anger (at least sometimes) when a loved one passes on and deprives us of something special? (And celebrities are amongst the greatest loves that our culture can have outside of sheep, goats, and pot.)

      And perhaps a little contempt is bound to arise when we see someone at the top who seemingly has in totality all the things we struggle for — financial security, a little fame, a fancy job — throws it all away because it’s not good enough.

      Perhaps a little stigma regarding suicide is a good thing, even if it brings out a little ugliness from the peanut gallery. And as much as I admire American Thinker and its writers and publishers, the comments section (like much of America) isn’t always populated by the “thinkers” or, certainly, the moral thinkers.

      I don’t know Robin Williams. And I’m inclined to say that his death diminishes me. But neither was he a buddy or pal of mine. We don’t really know his circumstances. And if spitting on his grave is distasteful, it’s also distasteful to me when people take celebrities, such as O.J., and make a cause célèbre out of them. I can certainly find reserves of sympathy for a fellow man falling, especially by his own hand. But to pretend at more familiarity would be to suck myself into this celebrity culture which is the cause of so much harm in this country, even if Williams himself, by all reports, was personally a very charitable man.

      Okay, that’s the best defense I can do. I’ll take your word for it that some of the comments at American Thinker were pretty hateful and unfeeling.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Perhaps more students should be taught “Richard Cory” by Edward Arlington Robinson (which was the basis for the Simon and Garfunkel song). That might open some eyes to the fact that we never know what pressures people face.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Truly you get to the heart of things, Timothy. It’s typical for the mob (and, according to Glenn, there can be a conservative mob as well) to look at successful people and scorn them because they assume they were born with a silver spoon in their mouths or were just somehow “lucky.” In fact, this “lucky” theme is what the Left uses to discount and demonize those who have succeeded. It plays to the mob mentality where your typical slob just wants to sit back, sling burgers, and lament how he never caught a break — all while demanding a $15/hr minimum wage, full benefits, and a coach to help him decide on his next tattoo series.

          One thing you can be absolutely sure of, as easy as Williams made some of his schtick look, there is a lot of work put in in the background to polish and come up with that schtick. Yes, the few who reach the pinnacle are very well paid. But they face far more pressure (despite the fame, and because of the fame) than any poor burger-flipper can ever imagine. For the burger-flipper, his greatest angst is that his iPhone battery needs to be charged.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            MAD once had a short item involving some guy who works his up from the mailroom to running the company — and at the end, wishes he were back in the mailroom again. To some extent the point being made was that people are never satisfied, but it also brings up the point that it’s never easy no matter where you are.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              In the immortal words of somebody:

              “life’s a bitch and then you die.”

              I suspect people with powerful imaginations, of whom Williams was undoubtedly one, find the bitch part to be more disturbing and burdensome than those with less imagination.

  11. Glenn Fairman says:

    Conservatism is far more than the conservation of wealth. As Burke might say, it is the continuing conversation between a people: forming a spiritual/cultural/ moral link between them. That pernicious stoic and never erring archetype of judgmental moral rectitude is a caricature of conservatism and this meme owes more to libertarianism and liberalism than what defines the Paleo-Right in America. In truth, it has done more to curse the promulgation of the gospel message than it has in winning souls to Christ. Christian mercy is a hallmark of the West, and God help us if that one sheep that stumbles is left to its own despair as the ninety and nine slumber in contentment.

    One should not suppose that the moral weakness that comes from succumbing to despair is being vindicated when one mourns the loss of men who fall by virtue of their own hand. So often, conservatives are the first to knife their own wounded if they do not live up to rigorous standards and are so harshly quick to cast their verdicts on the character of a life that they know only through the media’s prism.

    Williams’ patriotism and generosity were legend, and his long enduring financial support of Christopher Reeve’s family was legendary. The fact that he was a liberal, if such a statement is even true or not, should not come into play—since in the final accounting, all labels and ideologies will pass through the fire and only what was produced in selfless love will endure.

    Those shrill voices who scream that our sympathy would be better served on the multitudes who suffer in silence, may have a valid point, but they sound like those self-righteous ones who believed that the woman anointing Christ for his forthcoming burial should have better served mankind by selling that balm and giving the proceeds to the poor. In a race, when one falls, all efforts are diminished. It is illusory to believe that any of our checkered histories can ultimately stand even the most cursory scrutiny. It is wicked to pass all of life through the gauntlet of an earthly ideology, no matter how perfect we believe it to be.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I appreciate what you said, Glenn, and I’m glad you said it. One of the impetuses for starting this site was to get away from what I considered the shallow and pointless bitching at the bottom of the articles at National Review Online and elsewhere. I recognized in myself that I was beccoming too oriented to fault-finding, that the entire climate of the Commentsphere was too often corrosive, pointless, and emotionally/intellectually/spiritually damaging.

      Bitching has become an American pasttime. Our forefathers would be ashamed of all the time people spend on Facebook and elsewhere doing little but complaining. And that defines to a great extent the Zeitgeist of our age. We live in and through pop culture. We measure our lives more than we ever perhaps have by what we own, who we know, and what fashions (especially including intellectual fashions) we are aping. We are not a humble people and have set impossibly narcissistic and fussy standards for ourselves, thus we bitch as a way to bring others down and thus to narrow the gap with where we perceive ourselves to be.

      Betty Bacall died August twelve. And only thanks to listening to Rush Limbaugh this morning was I aware of that. She, apparently, was into heavy Left wing stuff in her career. We can bemoan this cancerous creed entering our country, but we can also understand that everyone has a religion. Yes, I’ll miss you, Betty.

      Many of these stars got swept up in the transition from liberalism (which probably always had a Left wing bent to it) to outright Leftism. Once they identified with that side, it is/was very difficult for people to change their minds, the “other” side having been turned into a caricature. But Leftism is the religion of Hollywood and of California. We have to acknowledge that and also acknowledge that there is more to a person than their religion (even if they themselves don’t, as describes many I have met online).

      Some people couldn’t make the transition from the Commentsphere to feature article writers. And I can respect that. But whatever the circumstance may be, I remind myself — and I remind yuze guys — that this sight is not meant to be a 24/7 bitchfest about Obama. Being against a bad thing is fine and understandable. But if we are not for something then we are liable to become those kinds of people that we lampoon and fault for seeing everything through a political lens.

      If we can’t celebrate the best of Western civilization — including a harmless and likable comedian who at least was very generous to his friends — then we out ourselves as members of the bitchfest who have little more to say about this world other than that we are dissatisfied with it. And that would be Robin Williams’ greatest sin for this bitchfest crowd: He apparently had little to bitch about and yet threw it away anyway. How dare he.

  12. Glenn Fairman says:

    I suppose that people who put themselves out there politically are fair game. But none of us is strictly a walking, jumping, or riding horse. As for Obama, I have affixed that bastard squarely in my political crosshairs, so to speak. He has done more to destroy American than those who flew over Pearl Harbor a lifetime ago.

    As an aside, I have never had a 250 word piece generate such heat and light as this one that was written in 10 minutes.

  13. Timothy Lane says:

    Rush Limbaugh yesterday discussed Robin Williams by quoting what the synoptic media were saying about him, which he claimed reflected their liberal politics. (I didn’t hear this myself because most of the show was pre-empted for a local sports event.) The liberal watchdogs assumed he was expressing his own views, so he was denounced (something liberals always seek an opportunity to do). He responded today by explaining his point (which is how I know about it).

    Incidentally, in one article on the subject, a blogger responded by quoting the poem “Richard Cory” in full. Very apt.

  14. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Dan Flynn has a short piece on the ravages of drugs: Drugs Are Bad, Mkay?. It sums up the cartoon (but apt) logic of South Park‘s Mr. Mackey.

    And this isn’t a shot at Robin Williams. But it is a reminder of the devastation that drugs wreak, and I would say a direct rebuke of the flighty and ill-considered beliefs of libertarians. What if it drugs weren’t “cool”? What if instead of people thinking they were the second coming of Thomas Jefferson by promoting their widespread use, there was a stigma attached to their use?

    • Timothy Lane says:

      And that stigma comes from illegality. Unfortunately, for adolescents (of all ages), that also is much of what makes them cool. But the “fun” of getting high would ensure that a lot of people found them cool even when they are legal — and without the stigma, more people will use them and with serious consequences.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        And that stigma comes from illegality.

        That’s a great point, Timothy.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I read once that people don’t (e.g.) rob banks because they know that it’s wrong — but they know that it’s wrong because it’s illegal. That’s why I can see a case for decriminalizing drug use (the war on drugs has been as big a success as Prohibition), but not going quite so far as making them truly legal.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            That’s why I can see a case for decriminalizing drug use (the war on drugs has been as big a success as Prohibition), but not going quite so far as making them truly legal.

            As I remind libertarians, the “war on murder,” the “war on theft,” and “the war on assault” isn’t going too well either, but that’s no reason to dispense with laws against those things. I vote we quit using the language of libertarians and acknowledge that it is not a good reason to dispense with a law simply because many people wish to break it.

            A conservative, unlike a libertarian, can (or could) make a better case for these things because they would be based upon sound principles that take reality into account. But policy-via-sloganeering (which is the wont of libertarians) does not make for wise laws or good and free societies. They are for the legalization of all drugs and simply back-fill with their rationalizations such as “How’s that war on drugs working for ya?”

            But never do they lament that the “war on murder” isn’t going that well either. Would they have us dispense with those laws? Or, as I suspect, are they just using clever rationalizations to try to forward a cause that is for them pre-ordained, non-negotiable, and not open to argument or reason?

            • Timothy Lane says:

              Well, we don’t have mass police corruption from murderers and bank robbers, as we do from drug dealers (and did under Prohibition from bootleggers). Nor are the regular criminal gangs as vicious (though whether MS-13 and its like would simply; branch out into some other branch of crime if drugs were legalized is an interesting question that may be answered in Colorado and Washington soon). And fighting regular crime doesn’t have the devastating effects in Latin America and other such places that pursuing drug gangs have (though, again, if those gangs simply chose other criminal lines, they would still need to be pursued, and hard).

  15. Anniel says:

    For those who were Robin Williams fans this is interesting:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/11/04/lewy-body-dementia-the-devastating-disease-that-robin-williamss-widow-blames-for-his-death/

    Just had a friend whose Parkinson’s Disease suddenly and very quickly became Lewy Body, it is not pretty.

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