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India Doyle: The importance of not being earnest
|Columnists||Wed, 22 Feb 2012||Tweet|
by India Doyle
Oscar Wilde once said, “a little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.” This week, for reasons completely unbeknownst to me, I have been thinking about humour and sincerity and the problems with taking life too seriously.
Of course there are many areas in life in which sincerity and seriousness are vital: concerns and action towards combating starvation, poverty, racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and human sex trafficking, to name a few. Human beings have the capacity to commit terrible crimes and cause copious amounts of misery. With this knowledge however, in a world where we are exposed to and encounter these atrocities every day doesn’t that make it all the more important to desperately cling on to our capacity to laugh?
I’m not saying that we should never take anything that isn’t supported by a charity seriously. St Andrews, oh St Andrews, is a wonderful place and we’re a very dynamic bunch: from The Stand to the fashion shows; Kate Kennedy (stay tuned I have a goodun’) and Lumsden to Bubble TV, and every crazy night in Ma Bells, we get shit done. However, it’s important to keep some perspective – which I guess in a place called ‘the bubble’ is difficult – we’re in a town in Fife, a very small town at that. Just like being a prefect at school is now a redundant addition to your CV, so ‘writing a column for The Stand should not be considered the be all and end all of my existence. I’m proud of what I do but I also realise there’s a world out there with 7 billion other people who literally could not care less.
If you put too much importance on what you do and who you are, you’ll miss out on real engagement with other people because you’re too concerned with protecting your sense of self and your ‘image’. Who cares? Let go. As Louis Armstrong sang, ‘when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you’. Just sayin’.
In a self important and irresistible addition:
Regarding the KK and being sincere and having a sense of humour about yourself I would like to add ‘go KK!’ (the initial one). Our ever-present Director of Representation, Sam Fowles, and the two ‘rebels’ have been floundering around and causing a rumpus, dragging us all into a ‘fellowship’ that I do not want to be in, nor ever voted to be in... and is feminism having a man fight for my rights? Past the principle (pun intended) does anyone really care? The good old elitist boys were running around in suits and laying flowers on James Irvine’s grave. I think that’s a lot more bearable than semi-self-righteous declarations over Star radio?
The traditions of the University have always been with the individual, carried on through the stories we tell and the way we interact with one another. The KK was a tradition – something more than just their pretentious swishing of red gowns – but how many people really thought that they were the ‘safeguards’ of our traditions? I was more than content with paying money and turning up at May Ball, I don’t want a say in how it’s organised.
What I’m mumbling away at after that brief side note is that, ultimately, we need some perspective on things here:
If we can’t joke about ourselves, do we become the joke?