Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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This also reminds me how many times I talk to people I greatly love and respect who wind up making the most insane decisions about themselves! Their work, their love life, where they live, what they wear...sometimes it seems like even they say their own nuttiness, but it's like it's done by a stranger or some evil gremlin in their head...

Donna B.

Humans as a group are obnoxious bores at best. Witness Congress.

Though my blogroll may not look as though I read a wide variety of blogs, I do. I just can't link to some of them, as their delusion is so painful for me.

I link to many that I disagree with daily for my own amusement. I wouldn't want to miss a post!

But others, I don't want to link because that would give credence to their inability to reason.

An example is a "mommy blog" I read regularly. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The most illustrating example is in the gift registries she's posted - two different furniture styles, no thought given to what they might actually need and use... it just pains me to see such disorganized thought.

And that takes some doing, as I don't think my thought is all that organized.

Then I wonder if it's a loss of brain cells that does not let me enjoy insensibility now. Maybe I am just a cranky old lady.


That seems very arrogant to me. He is "contemptuous" of the choices most other people make in life. He's saying he knows better than everybody else what is best.

Did he try to change it? Perhaps he thought he was, but basically he spent his life insulting and offending people. He didn't run for office, he didn't minister to the poor. He made us laugh, which is of course a valuable contribution, but did that actually make the world a better place? Help people make better choices?

He looked for, and thus found, the worst side of people. Look at his incessant mocking of religion. Sure, people have caused a lot of harm in the name of religion... but religion has also done many worlds of good for huge numbers of people. But no, Carlin couldn't see the good part. He could only focus on the negative, and tear at it, not caring whether he helped undo the good parts of religion along with the bad.

In that interview, it sounds very much like he can't stand any actual people, only the idealized, mythological people who exist only in his own mind, dancing to his tune. Sad.


Not everybody can do everything. Carlin did what he did extremely well -- he was, in fact, a kind of philosopher who looked at the darker side of people's social behavior as if from the perspective of a Martian who'd never seen it before -- and as such, he made some people think and laugh, while others were free to avoid him. I can't criticize him for what he wasn't. There is room for dark jesters too.


No question that he was a brilliant entertainer, amba. And there is room for dark jesters. I laughed at a great deal of Carlin's material, including his anti-Catholic schtick in the very funny movie "Dogma."

But what frustrates me are the anti-conformist types who love to mock others for conforming, while the anti-conformists themselves all in fact conform to one another to a remarkable extent.

In the TV series Weeds, which I've mentioned recently, the theme song is "Little Boxes," by Malvina Reynolds, a folk singer in the 60s. It's a beautiful little song, very catchy, but its message criticizes all those who choose to "conform" by living in little suburban boxes and going to the university to come out all the same.

But if you look at the universe of folk singers and anti-establishment types, aren't they pretty much "all the same," too?

Here's more from the Carlin interview:

I was 30, and I resonated much more truly with the 20-year-olds. I was more in line with them than I was with these people I was entertaining in nightclubs. I began to notice that. I began to be affected by it, and along the way, the judicious use of some mescaline and some LSD managed to accelerate the process. It gave me more of an insight into how false the world was I was settling for, and to see that there was something much richer and better and more authentic. And those changes happened, they just—they happened naturally and organically. It took about 2 years for the total changeover to occur.

My beard got a little longer, the hair got a little longer, the clothing changed, and then I suddenly found myself being as—the best combination of both, this person I really was who was kind of out of step, antiauthoritarian, who also had these skills and talents that he was honing to express himself. And so I started expressing those feelings.

In other words, he decided he admired those 20-year-olds and their movement, and decided to emulate them. Why is that any more "authentic" and "antiauthoritarian" than the kid who admires his dad for working in the boring bank all day to provide for his family and deciding to do the same?

My frustration with Carlin and others like him is their failure to realize that they really aren't themselves that terribly different, and certainly no better, than the "squares" they love to criticize. He says later in the interview that he doesn't take himself very seriously, but he does take his work seriously. I think the problem is that he (and these other similar performers) do take their work far too seriously. Just because you can make somebody laugh at the President or some institution does not mean that the President or that institution is in fact a joke. It may mean that he or it or they have flaws, just as we all have, but too many comedians, including Carlin, seem to think that because there were jokes to be mined in the foibles of, say, the Catholic Church, that that means that the entire Church is a joke.

Kudos, by the way, to Jay Dixit of Psychology Today for his excellent interview.


Pat: another point is that so-called nonconformists (who of course have their own conformities -- we can't escape being social animals) depend on conformists in two ways: 1.) who else would they criticize and make fun of? 2.) do you think they would really enjoy living in a society run -- or not-run -- by their fellow nonconformists?

A final irony is that in his observation that humans do not live up to our potential, Carlin actually has something in common with the Catholic Church.

By the way, when he said he loved individual people, I believe him. He's in the vein of Swift who said something like, I heartily love Tom, Dick and Harry, it's "humanity" I can't stand.


And of course we square conformists would get very bored if everybody really were just like us. The world would be a lesser place without its Carlins and Malvinas.

Your point on the similarity with the Church is a very good one. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" is a universal truth.

I agree with your final point, and have no doubt that I would have gotten along well with Carlin, had I ever had the pleasure of meeting him. I suspect we could have had some long and enjoyable philosophical debates on these topics.


BTW, Donna B., almost all "mommy blogs" scare me. My cousin's wife has one; she's a home-schooling, lawyer, pageant mom. (ok, well, she stopped doing the pageants after the second daughter didn't do well in one as a baby, thank goodness). Kind of creepy, really, though of course I would never say so to her face.

Donna B.

haha, PatHMV... I can understand. I do like those that really let me into their thinking, often naively so. The one I mention is such a case. I feel that, as the curmudgeonly resident grumpy grandma, that I am making a difference.

There are a few that are absolutely hilarious in detailing family life. These do not denigrate husbands and do not dismiss the reality of raising a child. I enjoy these tremendously, but they are not the norm.

Home-schoolers and pageant moms can be strange. I was once a judge at a preschool pageant and absolutely hated the experience. (I was invited to serve by a person I served on a jury with for two weeks.)

However, I've found myself wishing that my daughters would consider home-schooling rather than public school. I will settle for after-school home-schooling.

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