The Existential Burden of Fatherhood

“Let me tell you about my vacation. On this trip we took, I was rubbing noses with my folks every day from morning to night for the first time in quite a while. Fathers! Just think about it for a minute–they’re enough to make you puke. Fathers are evil itself, laden with everything ugly in Man.

“There is no such thing as a good father because the role itself is bad. Strict fathers, soft fathers, nice moderate fathers–one’s as bad as another. They stand in the way of our progress while they try to burden us with their inferiority complexes, and their unrealized aspirations, and their resentments, and their ideals, and the weaknesses they’ve never told anyone about, and their sins, and their sweeter-than-honey dreams, and the maxims they’ve never had the courage to live by–they’d like to unload all that silly crap on us, all of it! Even the most neglectful fathers, like mine, are no different. Their consciences hurt them because they’ve never paid attention to their children and they want the kids to understand just how bad the pain is–to sympathize!

“On New Year’s Day we went to Arashi Yama in Kyoto and as we were crossing the Bridge of Moons I asked my old man a question: ‘Dad, is there any purpose in life?’ You see what I was getting at, don’t you, what I really meant? Father, can you give me one single reason why you go on living? Wouldn’t it be better just to fade away as quickly as possible? But a first-class insinuation never reaches a man like that. He just looked surprised and his eyes bugged and he stared at me. I hate that kind of ridiculous adult surprise. And when he finally answered, what do you think he said? ‘Son, nobody is going to provide you with a purpose in life; you’ve got to make one for yourself.’

“How’s that for a stupid hackneyed moral! He just pressed a button and out came one of the things fathers are supposed to say. And did you ever look at a father’s eyes at a time like that? They’re suspicious of anything creative, anxious to whittle the world down into something puny they can handle. A father is a reality-concealing machine, a machine for dishing up lies to kids, and that isn’t even the worst of it: secretly he believes that he represents reality.

“Fathers are the flies of this world. They hover around our heads waiting for a chance, and when they see something rotten, they buzz in and root in it. Filthy, lecherous flies broadcasting to the whole world that they’ve screwed with our mothers. And there’s nothing they won’t do to contaminate our freedom and our ability. Nothing they won’t do to protect the filthy cities they’ve built for themselves.”Image

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