Monday, January 12, 2009

New Meanings 6

I just realised the real reason the Atheist Bus slogan - 'There's probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.' -  is so annoying. It's that 'enjoy'. People are always telling me to enjoy things. 'Enjoy your cheesecake with custard and organic pork gravy!' they trill in restaurants. If you buy anything, you are instructed to enjoy your computer/newspaper/boiled egg slicer. And not buying anything is no solution; then they just shriek 'Enjoy your day!' I think this only started a couple of years ago. It is obviously an American import. What gap does it fill? I suppose there is no conventional form for the seller to celebrate the conclusion of the deal with the buyer. Silence would be alarming, implying, perhaps, that the buyer is a sucker and the seller doesn't care. But there's something weird about the way 'enjoy' is scattered about the place. It's awkward to this English ear. 'Enjoy your life' is the worst of all because it is arrogant and implies that there might be some other life I could enjoy more... or less.

18 comments:

  1. You're Welcome, Good bye. Or more usually the cold eyed stare of the shop person, twitching a finger in something nearer to another gesture.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Agnostic Bus is annoying and mildly offensive because it presumes to tell you that failing to believe in the probability of the non-existence of God is a hinderance to the enjoyment of life.

    Well I'm here to tell you that one can quite easily believe in the probability of the non-existence of God and still be a miserable sod.

    It's less annoying than the term 'Bright' though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You're so right about bright, Brit

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've forwarded this post to Jack Dee's agent. If ever he's sick you could, perhaps, fill in.

    enough of the bus already! (this is appealing to your jewish 50%)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Come to think of it, the Agnostic Bus is irritating solely because of that now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

    If it simply said "There is probably no God", it would have been an amusingly blunt statement of the Dawkinsian end of the agnosticism scale. It would have been thought-provoking and artistic.

    I would have admired it, though "There may or may not be a God" would be even funnier.

    ReplyDelete
  6. No bus in history has had the amount of publicity that this bleedin anti-christ charabanc has, except maybe the one Circlip Richards used for his Med hollies.
    I think it's a Bryan / Brit double act in rehearsal, due at the Palladium in March.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My understanding is that you drive a pick-up or supercab. There must be space on the side for a poster, so you can test this out yourself with, say, "There's probably a God, now start worrying and prepare for death." Look on it as like Jeremy Clarkson's "man love" run across the Deep South.

    I'm with you on "enjoy" (also on "fun" which often means "dismal"). I suppose it fills a gap that used to be filled with whatever now cannot be said. Perhaps "God be wi' ye" or a similar term from the Middle Ages.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I quite agree with you Bryan about the incessant demands to be happy. It is a particularly American affliction. Being a phlegmatic introvert in my youth, I was constantly being ordered to smile by adults who thought I should be putting on a cheery vaudeville show for their amusement.

    Every monday morning at workplaces across America, there is a ritual about asking others "how was your weekend?", to which the obligatory response is "I had a GREAT weekend!"

    But religion has drunk deeply of this be happy mantra. That's one thing I can't stand about church, this incessant imperative to "rejoice" and revel in the spirit. This is more evident in the evangelical and pentecostal strains of protestantism than in the catholic & mainline protestant churches. Frankly I often can't tell where the boundary between the likes of Tony Robbins and Oprah stop and legitimate religion starts.

    ReplyDelete
  9. In an interview published by the L.A. Times, Richard Dawkins said:

    'I think I'd have preferred something like, not "Enjoy your life," but "Spend your life doing good," or something more high-minded. . . . By the time I came into it, it was almost too late because the slogan had been announced and money had already been subscribed.'

    ReplyDelete
  10. What if i can only really derive enjoyment from maiming people who annoy me?

    Well, i'd better get on with it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Actually, since no one says i can't go ahead with Project Maim, the people who annoy me most are those benighted souls who think the purpose of life is to have a good time.

    So that's where i'm going to start.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I guess that would make a lot of things annoying... 'bon appetit' for example. "Good Morning". "Happy Birthday".

    ReplyDelete
  13. Personally I like starting my day by either giving or getting a hearty "Fuck you!" The giving is like taking a good dump, expel a bit of the poison from the system. And the getting? Well, what's life about if not to be shit upon?

    ReplyDelete
  14. 'Enjoy your life' is the worst of all because it is arrogant and implies that there might be some other life I could enjoy more.


    Yes it's called Heaven!

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's a bit vulgar to suppose Heaven would be ENJOYABLE.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I thought the whole idea was to the annoy the believers, in the same way that public religiousity seems to annoy many non-believers. It's tit-for-tat. Mutually Assured Annoyance.

    ReplyDelete
  17. A restaurant I go to rather frequently had been training its waitstaff to ask "are you done enjoying your [salad, soup, entree, etc.]" before clearing a plate. It was like scraping a fork against the plate--just painful to the ears.

    ReplyDelete