Aside from male-pattern baldness, it might seem that William Wordsworth, 18th-century Romantic poet, and contemporary comedian Louis C.K., have little in common. But I’d argue that had they not been separated by an ocean and 200 years, they may have enjoyed sharing a pint or four and agreed on a few things. Most notably: the world is too much with us.
I remember the following poem from Dr. Hahn’s British Literature course at Towson. Since I first read it a decade ago, its title has popped into my head and out of my mouth innumerable times. Because really, the world is too much with us. I also always come back to Renee Buettner’s phrase: “Beyond the beyond.” I am pretty sure we are beyond the beyond the beyond at this point. But let’s take a deep breath, put Anthony Scaramucci out of our minds, and see what Wordsworth had to say.
The World Is Too Much With Us
by William Wordsworth
The following is on Kid Rock’s campaign website:
“One thing is for sure though…The democrats are ‘shattin’ in their pantaloons’ right now…and rightfully so!
We will be scheduling a press conference in the next 6 weeks or so to address this issue amongst others, and if I decide to throw my hat in the ring for US Senate, believe me… it’s game on mthrfkers.”
— Kid Rock
Oh yes, Kid, you better believe I am shattin’ in my pantaloons. I love your excessive use of ellipses. It really shows how substantive your campaign will be, because you know, English. At this point, I was going to include a Kid Rock quote but there are too many perfect ones to even make a selection.
Onto Louis. He has a bit about God in which he hones God’s perspective. It’s called “If God Came Back.” He talks as God and then as any-human-USA. “The polar bears are brown! What did you do to the polar bears?”
He moves onto talking about oil spills and in response to God saying, “Who spilled this?” and asks why we took it out of the ground. The human says, “I didn’t mean to. I wanted to go faster ’cause I wasn’t fast enough. And I got cold.” And so on.
God says that he left “everything you need.” “I left shit all over the floor. Corn and wheat and shit. Ground it up and make bread.” God asks what a job is and why we need them. The human explains a job as a place where you go and then you answer the phone when somebody needs something. Louis-C.K.-God is flabbergasted.
All of this calls to mind the 2006 film Idiocracy. (Thanks, MJ, for telling me about it and making me see it manifest in our society.) In Idiocracy, the narrator says, “As the 21st century began, human evolution was at a turning point. Natural selection, the process by which the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, reproduced in greater numbers than the rest, a process which had once favored the noblest traits of man, now began to favor different traits. Most science fiction of the day predicted a future that was more civilized and more intelligent. But as time went on, things seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. A dumbing down. How did this happen? Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most, and left the intelligent to become an endangered species.”
Now, I don’t really believe that the intelligent are an endangered species but it sure seems as if the stupid are rising to the top. Does stupidity float?
And, “The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources were focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections.”
Maybe these efforts could help Louis and Billy Words (my new nickname for William Wordsworth).
And, “The number one movie was called: Ass. And that’s all it was for 90 mins. It won eight Oscars that year including Best Screenplay.”
Just watch it and weep. Are we there yet? Again, help us, Pagan gods.
To swing this slightly less negative but certainly not quite positive, I often think the world is too much with us when I am at the beach. Ocean City, Maryland is a “world is too much with us” place. I do love it but, man–it calls to mind Wordsworth in big ways.
Last weekend, I watched a guy with a beach cart attempt to board an elevator with me. As he scooted the cart toward the elevator, the beach chairs crashed to the ground, no less than five balls rolled across the lobby, shovels and buckets tumbled, a towel unfurled, and the cart vomited the rest of its contents. He looked up at me like, “Oops.”
Then I went outside and walked by a man sitting in the trunk of a massive SUV blowing up several beach floats using some sort of machine plugged into his cigarette lighter (or whatever they call those these days). Is all of this necessary? Is this what we need in order to enjoy the shoreline?
When we got to the beach, our view was blocked by big top circus tents as far as the eye could see. Country music blared as far as the ear could hear. Luckily, you can’t smoke on the beach in Ocean City anymore so the nose didn’t have to worry about as far as it could smell. There’s one point for society. But, if you want to be at the beach, just be at the beach. But no, we’ve got to modify it to our very specific specificities. A massive ocean, a shining sun, and miles of sand–not enough. We need all of the equipment wo/man can invent. The beach is too much with us. “It moves us not,” right, Billy Words?
I’m hardly a simple person and I know this. But man, there’s something to be said for the simplicity of a world where people go to the beach and just watch the waves. There’s something to be said for politicians who don’t use the f-word (even though I have a total sailor’s mouth, hey, I said I was complicated). There’s something to be said for enjoying a rare eclipse with your cardboard eclipse glasses from your father-in-law without a camera glued to your cheekbone. There’s something to be said for looking at nature and thinking, “Wow, Pagan gods, monotheistic God, Buddha, Vishnu, Muhammed, Joseph Smith,” or whoever receives your nighttime thoughts and prayers, “Thanks. This is enough.”