Sunday, November 12, 2006

Abe Lincoln

Here's a quote that my buddy Soup sent me last week in response to my post on addiction:

"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues."

It's from our beloved 16th president. It's kind of a hard one to shake. It reminds me of the old Mike Tyson, back when he was the heavyweight king of the world. He was a bad man. I remember seeing an interview with him at the time and, in his funny kind of high-pitched voice, he was bemoaning the fact that he'd be out running at five in the morning and see his buddies just getting in from being out all night. He said he wished he was with them. That said a lot about his character right there. He was also manic depressive, which in my opinion meant he had somed heightened sensibilities, which enabled him to channel the excitement of a heavyweight fight, the crowed and the moment, and really kick some ass. If you remember, he could really kick some ass. Come at you with both hands flailing like jackhammers. But then all sorts of shit started to distract him. And I don't know if he got medicated or what following his attempted suicide/murder of Robin Givens by crashing his car into the tree, but he went downhill after that.

The only other person I've come across who openly supports my theory that psychosis helps the performance of some athletes is Dr. Z. - the grizzled verteran football writer for SI.

But, like Tyson, Abe L. apparently drove his wife crazy too. Greatness is a tough thing.



DocTorDee said...

I'm surprised to hear you say that "The only other person I've come across who openly supports my theory that psychosis helps the performance of some athletes is Dr. Z."

I thought that connection was well-established. Remember Steeler Ernie Holmes? He was fucking crazy, carried a gun under the seat of his car, despite being a giant of a man. And some of those players for the old Oakland Raiders teams...some of them could have as easily been on Alcatraz as on the football field.

I can remember my days in the dorms of Clarion. Members of the wrestling and football teams had some serious emotional problems. They were titans on the outside and children on the inside, like Mike Tyson. Combine that with overcomsumption of alcohol and you have violence in the extreme.

I would agrue that Ernie Holmes was psychotic, defined by Merriam Webster as "fundamental derangement of the mind (as in schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality especially as evidenced by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech and behavior."

I'm not so sure that I would classify the college stuff as psychotic, but those guys has some serious problems and alcohol would bring those problems to the surface in ten minutes. We would steer clear of those guys.

Then there is the question involving Sigfried and Roy. Nobody in their right mind would step into a cage with a live tiger. These guys cultivated a delusion of safety and control in order to make money and have adulation heaped upon them. Sort of an intentional psychotic state, encouraged by the masses. They managed it well for a long time, but it ended badly...

Any lucid person would call their endeavors insane, and if you've ever seen a house cat go bananas on a toy mouse, you'd understand why you don't want to fool with the big cats. They can kill you in the blink of an eye.

Speaking of Clarion, I worked with a guy on the college paper there. His name was Chuck Lizza. After graduating, he went on to work as a lion tamer (I'm not kidding). He was killed by a tiger during feeding time about ten years ago. Chuck would have been 42 this year, I believe.

Finally, although I see the wisdom in Lincoln's quote, I also must point out that people with lots of vices have very few virtues. In other words, I don't spend lots of time with guys who drink too much, smoke too much, beat their wives, don't pay child support, and snort cocaine. If you're too caught up in the vices, the virtues never seem to come to the surface.


Ralph said...

Dr. Dee:

Please don't ever mention Sigfried and Roy on this blog again...Just kidding, great story about the lion tamer. I can't say I've ever met anyone else who is/was a personal acquaintance of a lion tamer.

Anyways, I guess I could rephrase it and say that very few media type seem to openly endorse psychosis in athletes like Dr. Z. did. He pretty much lamented that once you medicated a psychotic athlete you doomed them to mediocrity...not really a PC position I think, but one which makes perfect sense. Everyone talks about guys like T.O. getting help, but I guess the quesiton is, would you really be helping them?

Finally, I don't think you syllagistic (is that the word?) logic is faulty in your final analysis of the Abe quote. I don't think he's saying that all people with virtues have vices, but not that all people with vices have virtues...

Carry on.

DocTorDee said...

I do agree that people without any vices are typically boring. After all, you gotta be into something fun, whether it's sex or drugs or rock and roll. Maybe all three?



Jim Lichtenwalter said...

Not sure if you knew this but Abe Lincol suffered with depression most of his life. When the lady he fell in love with died unexpectedly his close friends had to keep an eye on him because he talked of suicide.

I do not think it was him that drove his wife crazy. She had serious mental health problems also.

Stan Langerhaus said...

R, I have always liked that quote from Honest Abe (aka the "Railsplitter").

John Milton had another way of putting it. When describing the otherwise brave and loyal (to his own renegade comrades, that is, not God's gang) characteristics of Lucifer in Paradise Lost, he wrote "..but for the others' safety, he despised his own/for even devils damn'd do not lose all their virtues..." Well said, I think.