Tirade – 11 Guidelines To Being Passive Aggressive (part 2)

RIP VIP: Frederick Kobrick (1981-2011) “Mountain Passages”

Written by Adam Holzrichter.

So you came crawling back for part 2 of my master class on how to be an unbearably self righteous finger wagger. Glad you’re here. Now let’s have ourselves a recap from part 1 of this article. In a roundabout way we learned to avoid self destructive bad actors, dissuade harmful memory recall, question what we don’t know to be true, walk carefully, behave compassionately toward others, and to clean up our own damned messes.

In this second installment we’ll be covering guidelines 7-11 from my list of occasionally passive aggressive methods to living as a halfway decent human being.

  1. Stay out of volcanos.
  2. Let memories fade.
  3. ?
  4. Keep a careful gait.
  5. Speak from a caring place.
  6. Respect the blue circle.
  7. Half measures avail us not.
  8. There’s always an angle.
  9. Unencumbered success.
  10. There is no power in judgment.
  11. No secrets kept from shadows.

So hear me out…

  1. Half measures avail us not!

If I recall correctly, this one was lifted from the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.” – The Big Book (p.59)

I like this even more today than I did when this list was first created. Now I understand the value of faith. Back then I just looked at it as an adage that we must be full-hearted in our pursuits, which seems more like a quote from a self help book about business ownership than a rallying call to the human spirit.

When I paint I must have faith. I must allow my faith to act as though my brush is being guided by an outside force. I must permit that abandon, or my work becomes stiff and stale. It looks mechanized. Dead of all humanity. I didn’t come to this understanding of painting by means of blind faith. It comes from a system of automatic movements I make in the moment – not too dissimilar from dancing – which are based on practice representing realistic forms. That plus thousands of hours of drawing and education on understanding form and space. True faith is earned through education. Blind faith is stupid. Teaching others to use blind faith is harmful. Blind faith is a sort of half-faith.

  1. There’s always an angle.

Put yourself into the mind of a subway-car-riding con artist. Okay, maybe harder for some than others. Imagine you’re driving in rush hour traffic on crowded city streets. You see a line of traffic on a one way street that will set you back about 20 minutes, and you’re running late already. You see no one is using an alley that cuts straight through the 5 blocks of traffic leading to a broken traffic light. Here’s your opportunity to beat everyone who is using Google Maps. You drive down that alley and find a truck blocking the way with a few workers trimming tree branches from a power line. Now you see another option to reverse out of the alley and drive up to the next alley. You’ve just saved yourself 15 minutes instead of 20. Be persistent. Be smart. Don’t be a victim of circumstance when you clearly have the option to not be one.

  1. Unencumbered success.

Here’s another guideline that doesn’t ring so true, as my network has gotten much larger over the years. Not everyone around you needs to be of use in order to have a place in your life. We have many types of friends as we walk through the world. We have pleasure seeking friends, friendships based around utility, and we have friends who have a deep mutual respect for each others’ accomplishments. Aristotle believed the truest good life had you surrounded by that third group, but I don’t believe he discounted the value of the others. 

Variety of company does certainly help us to genuinely harmonize with the world. Although we also have to keep in mind my favorite, if not the only bible verse I remember from the Jehovah’s Witness’ New World Translation of The Holy Scriptures: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Bad associates may pose as your friends, but they are not interested in your welfare. Only their own.

We have the second interpretation of this guideline, which deals more with emotional baggage. If you carry every trauma into every interaction you have you’ve become the traumatizee – an employee of your trauma. Working for nothing to uphold the story of what wounded you. When it’s possible, we need to leave this stuff behind. It’s a gargantuan responsibility to hold onto a good life, while also recognizing that the past exists, but most times it’s quite transparent today. Like a fog of war. The war is still out there. If we’re stuck living in the trenches we aren’t doing ourselves any favors today. I hope I sound like a tough guy. Tough guys are cool again.

  1. There is no power in judgment.

I’m sorry to say it, but I have been an unbelievably judgmental person for as long as I can remember. Habitual outcasts may tend to lean heavily in this direction because of the powerlessness they experience in social situations. Each time I meet someone who annoys me with some specific quality they may exhibit I have to remind myself that in order to suspend judgment I must be totally present in that moment. I will listen to every word they say. It’s often people who hold me captive in conversation that I’m contemptuously nodding at, over their inability to notice my micro-expressions of being in physical pain, and desperately aching to leave the conversation.

Having no friends is the highest price I’ve ever paid for being so judgmental in the past. It was incredibly harmful to myself. At that time I held the illusion that I was in power, because only I knew the truth about how I actually felt toward everyone. Powerless people flail so wild and harmfully when they ache for control. I would gossip and slander people with impunity. All my closest outcast friends did. We were disgusting together in that way. Those who still do it remain remarkably untrustworthy to me. There’s a cliche I can insert here that has rung so true, in my experience: If this is the way someone talks about everyone when they aren’t around, just imagine what they’re saying about you.

  1. No secrets kept from shadows.

God, I love this one. You know that every lie you’ve ever told anyone was a lie. Can you live with them? Your shadow is a reflection of you; Except when the sun is really low in the sky, making your head and limbs hilariously elongated. In all seriousness, keep your shadow-self in check. Make sure your dark side doesn’t outweigh the light you’re capable of emitting. Help others. Be honest when you can be. Be honest when you should be.

So that wraps up the favorite list I’ve written. It’s helped me to feel out the walls on how to conduct my life in a somewhat reasonable moralistic fashion. It’s been such a privilege to share our time together on this occasionally Hellish planet. Let’s do our best and avoid the all-to-easy tendency to turn cynical as a reaction to adversarial colleagues, and all other sorts of other dark psychology-employing bad actors. We punish ourselves the most when we punish everyone around us by projecting our past interactions onto new people.

Please be nicer than is necessary to each other. Especially when you say goodbye. H8<3

Dedicated to Frederick Kobrick (again).

I wrote this list of 11 guidelines during the same period when I met Frederick Kobrick. I recall how much I felt absolutely energized by him and Sarah being in my life. The spirit of a free agent was more alive in him than almost anyone I have ever met. It was pathological. I loved Frederick’s mischievous humor and desire to live on his own terms. I think of him very often when I feel like an outsider. He taught me so much in the short time we had together. I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco, with the specific intention of making great art together. Not long after my arrival there I was informed he had been killed by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle. I remained lost in LA for 4 years, until coming back home to pursue my art career in Chicago.

Fred lives on in many people whose lives he somehow deeply influenced to be courageous, despite existing in a society which appeared to be working hard at crushing their fierce interdependence. God, I love that I knew Frederick. He lives on as a symbol of freedom in my mind. His spirit is still very much alive in my forward momentum. H8<3

Me & Fred being a freak show.
Deer Dead Fred

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