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Five Minute Speeches - Jay Kinney

A marvelous book called the Tao of Physics came out a couple of years ago.  In it the author notes the increasing similarity of a frontier of science, quantum physics, to many Eastern religions and philosophies. He speaks at one point of something called "the boot strap principle," which I found very useful. Thisisthe notion that since there is no single unified theory which explains all the different phenomena which physics examines, that one should be able to employ a number of theories, which each covers certain portions of  reality. The trick is that each of these limited theories may have gaping holes, but the theories tend to cover each other's gaps. People who use this patchwork method are called "bootstrappers," that is, people who lug themselves around by their own bootstraps.

If you use this method in real life it can help keep you from going too crazy, which is also important to me, otherwise I couldn't get my comics done.  This is all pretty abstract, so I thought I'd give you an example from my own life.  In a typical day I might try to simultaneously juggle the following theories, using each one in a different area and time Marxism, anarchism, Jungian psychology, Taoism, the western magical tradition, the Protestant work ethic, surrealism, feminism, and sexism.

Let's say I get up in the morning and stagger around for the first hour trying to wake up. That's when I bring surrealism into play, because my mind's in a pretty strange state.  I'll get breakfast and go down to work at Rip Off Press, which is a comicpublisher, and while I'm down there I may cart around some comics boxes, address envelopes, and do a lot of dirty work like that. That's where the Protestant work ethic comes into play. And Fred down at Rip Off may say that his tool box got ripped off the night before, but that's okay, because the moon was in Scorpio, and he knew it was going to happen anyway. That's the western magical tradition coming into play.

Okay, next I'll leave work and drive by a Safeway on the way home, see some pickets out front, and think to myself, "Huh, that's the Class Struggle in progress. I need groceries, but I won't go there." And that's where Marxism comes in for a moment. So instead I go to a collectively-run food store in my neighborhood, and I think, "Well, this is much better to support, this is people doing their own food, doing it themselves without profit," and that's anarchism.

I'll get the groceries at the food store, stand in the check out line, stand in the check out line, keep on standing in the check out line, it usually takes forever, so all I can do is relax, wait, go with the flow, and realize that fretting won't make it any easier. That's sort of Taoism. Okay, while I'm standing in line, I may admire the woman in front of me and think to myself, "Boy, she sure is cute," and other unmentionable thoughts that obviously is sexism. Then she'll turn around, I'll see she's wearing a t-shirt that says, "I am not a sex object," and I'll think to myself, "Well, that's true, you know.   Right on." And my feminism will sort of tardily come into evidence.

Then I'll go home and try to get some work done on a comic strip, and we're back to the work ethic again, but the comic strip may be about a talking chihuahua who travels in a flying teacup, and that's surrealism again. You get the idea. This approach to life helps me keep my sense of humor and makes for some weird comic strips.  It's called the bootstrap method.