Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 10 Aug 2023

1.  Beginners Without End


"Not conservative master of one profession but the
jack-of-all-trades by being the perpetual beginner."
From The Amateur Manifesto


Western culture has become a city without green spaces.  Have you noticed?  A town without fountains, a city without parks.  A bike path littered with hurdles, spike strips, and chains.  Nowhere to run.  No place to stroll.  Nowhere beautiful or contemplative to sit.

I think that's why people get excited about the ratty Astroturf tacked to the cracked pavement in the parking lot (junkyard?) of Western culture by "alternative" mainstream acts like Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, and that other guy.  People who are afraid to admit the truth will talk about how there's in fact a massive overabundance of "sonic content" (not music) to choose from today, which is true.  Amateur garbage produced as an afterthought by people with no natural inclination toward the craft of music is indeed everywhere.


"Live in amateur way; assume an amateur attitude."
From The Amateur Manifesto


They think it's a good thing.  Flop around like a dying fish on the surface of everything; never focus on anything or look beneath the surface, even in life.  "Live in amateur way."  Notice how mastery of the language is also optional.  Not live in an amateur way, but rather, live in amateur way.  Live in amateur way.  Start with the way you talk.  Literacy is a form of white rape.  Talk like an illiterate ape, and you will never achieve anything, or threaten the other homunculi on the plantation with the notion of excellence that will shame them into repenting of the sin of compromising with hateful people who believe excellence is undesirable, and that mediocrity is a virtue.

I would expect nothing less (or more) from a manifesto for amateurs.


"Against professionalism but not amateurism."
From The Amateur Manifesto


A culture of garbage that doesn't work, in other words.  Ask Stockton Crush and the people at OceanGate if they're still against professionalism (more on him in Chapter 5).  If we're a culture of perpetual beginners, that means we never come to an end.  Not in a timeless way; nothing disposable and unfinished can be timeless.  Unfinished is the word.  Perpetual beginners never finish anything.  They're always beginning.  They live in a pidgin reality, and never achieve fluency of any kind, on any topic.  They can say hello in 8 languages, but never truly communicate in any of them.  They can plunk around on the piano, but never really play.  Because they can never finish what they start, nothing ever gets done.  To create something that resonates, to create it repeatedly, takes time, intent, and effort.  The kind of time that will put off people who aren't inclined and/or talented toward the trade.  I have no interest in cooking, for example.  I have no talent for drawing, or designing rocket ships, or microchips, or aeroplanes.  But, if The Amateur Manifesto is to be taken seriously, then so should this, as the blueprint for a space program.


Is OceanGate expanding into space exploration?  Would Stockton Crush take a giant beercan into outer space, to inspire the youth to an infinity of beginnerhood?  If you're willing to die on the hill of amateurism, should you charge people for the privilege of dying on that hill alongside you?  Or, if "inspiring people" is truly your goal, should you rather inspire them to aspire to something greater?


"Every artist was first an amateur."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


You have to start somewhere.  But who stays at the beginning all their life?  Even babies turn into old people, if given the opportunity.  Should we abort ambition in the womb, so that it never learns to master the art of breathing outside the protective covering of the mother?  Shall we be amateurs forever?  Beginners without end? 

And anyway, what is a culture without mastery?  A culture with no masters, in which no one excels at anything?  No master painters, no master technicians?  A culture in which no one ever masters anything?  A culture of infinite beginners, completely devoid of masters?  That's right:

It's a culture of slaves.


2.  Cultural Slumlords

The denial addict will huff and puff and make obsequious comments on Bitchute channels that post other people's work (such as feature-length films), thanking the guy who uploads pirated "content" all day for his cheap, non-existent efforts.  I mean, he will actually thank him.  Rather than tar and feather him, and deride him for helping to destroy the livelihoods of thousands of people (at least), he will express genuine gratitude to the guy.  That's how worthless our culture has become.  I've seen comments on such Bitchute channels referring to the uploaders as "legendary."  Like, y'know, Leif Erikson, or Thor.  Legendary.  For uploading other people's work on a video platform that doesn't play videos.  (I've seen amusing comments referring to Bitchute as "Bufferchute."  Those comments are founded in truth).  And the Bitchute guy (or handful of guys) take donations.  He probably owns a house and pays for his life with the donations he receives for running a mediocre "alternative" platform to the mainstream behemoths.

Of course he does.  It's his non-existent culture, after all.  His city without parks.  His town without fountains.  His bike path full of tents.  The Bitchute guy is a cultural slumlord, and couldn't care less if there's nowhere to sit.  He "owns" the place, insofar as it's possible to own a flaming latrine.  What does he care if people are dying on the street, and sleeping in tents on the sidewalk?  The Bitchute guy is the darker, illicit "alternative" version of the people at YouTube.  The smug autocrats at YouTube are like the overlords in the tower, who deign to allow the Bitchute guy run his miserable "free-speech" tenement in the smoking serfdom below, because it "keeps the people happy."  "Happy," meaning "down."  In the swamp of mediocre amateurism.  Down.  A culture of "perpetual beginners," never mastering anything, and therefore never producing anything excellent, or even well.  "It's art because I say it's art," "I'm a creator because I say I'm a creator," me me me, I I I, a bunch of deception junkies chasing dragons of fake truth down the aluminum foil of their own lies.  Being high on false positives, and afraid of the possibility that anything can be objectively true (and even negative), such as the condition of their culture and/or souls, they continue like ignorant monkeys to smash the skeletons of their enemies.  This act of destruction is not only creative and legendary, it's also a song.

Surely, Kubrick wasn't making an unwitting comment about postmodern mediocrity in the scene above.  "Monkeys smashing bones and believing the effect to be symphonic," and the like.  Clearly, he was trying to say something poignant about "evolution."  He may have been saying that we evolved the ability to revel in acts of malicious destruction, but I'm inclined to think that he straight-up never knew that the missing link is sin, and that there's a reason no bears or sharks have ever been indicted on murder charges, even if they kill somebody.  There is no intent in the heart of the base amateur, or the sinless, simple beast.  They throw spaghetti at the wall and believe it to be Rembrandt, they smear the ketchup of denial on their faces and pretend it's makeup.  They believe they are exuding beauty and virtue with condiments dripping from random, unintentional locations on their faces.  They flail around in the puddles of discovery, making a lot of noise, but never finding anything in the accidental mess.  They are, perhaps, trying to dodge a bullet.  Culpability, etc.  Regardless, it is a futile exercise.  Sin is for people and professionals.  We can't avoid it.


“Ever learning, and never able to come to
the knowledge of the truth.”
2 Timothy 3:7


3.  The Medieval Selfie Stick

Like it or not, we have all been elevated to the profession of having the capacity to choose between good and evil, right from wrong.  We don't just faceplant into virtue by traipsing along the edges of amateurism like a fool.  "Hey, whaddaya know, I slipped right into this puddle of excellence," like a monkey, or an ass.  It doesn't work that way.  Never has, never will.  Even the Tarot people know it.  Wisdom is a choice, even if that wisdom is earthly, sensual, or infernal.  Wisdom is not a default setting.  You don't just stumble into it.

If you stumble, very probably you stumble to your doom.  Whether the flowers of false positivity are held aloft or not.  If you're lucky (blessed), you will survive the fall.  Don't take those second chances lightly; they are gifts of incalculable value from God Himself.  But if you're a fool, not only will you never learn from the mistake, you'll probably refuse to learn from it.

Not only is it your funeral, it's your eternal condemnation.  Flounce upon the precipice at your own risk.


That's a selfie stick he's holding.  The footage of him falling to his demise went viral.  Note the presence of the amateur, encouraging him in his folly.  It is symbolized as a grinning dog.  A base, unprofessional beast.  Judging by the facial expression of the dog, it is better to skip along the abyss of perpetual beginnerhood, where it is possible to contradict oneself without (immediate) consequence, than to achieve mastery of anything.  


4.  Declaring War on the Art of War


"Life is so long to work for one profession
and human is very sophisticated to waste
the time for only one occupation."
From The Amateur Manifesto


If life is so long, how is it possible to waste the time?  Every hour spent achieving mastery of a trade is an hour wasted, even though this grueling slog is too long to spend doing only one thing.  Implying, of course, that it's possible to pursue other interests while mastering only a few.

If "human is" [sic] very sophisticated, should "it" be intimidated into communicating like an illiterate robot by a culture of unfinished people who can't talk?

If I'm not aware that my manifesto is full of contradictions, am I the perfect amateur?  If I am the perfect amateur, why should I bother finishing my own manifesto?

If we're amateurs, why do we even have a manifesto?  Whose mother finished it?  Shouldn't we have beaten the finishing of it out of ourselves, long ago?


The Amateur Manifesto is a template for creating idiots.  It is the Art of War for people at war with the art of war.  It was written by passive, wannabe Sun Tzus deceived into believing themselves incapable of excellence.  They have denied their own inner Sun Tzu, and have declared war on the art of war, ensuring their defeat.  To justify their existence, they need to increase the ranks of their religious, self-hating amateur faith (the faith of no faith).  Such hardcore (if subtle) cult recruitment tactics are a waving red flag that takes up the entire sky.  The Amateur Manifesto is a perfect example of everything to avoid in this life.  Whatever the acolytes of amateurish mediocrity and compromise say, do the opposite. 

If you find yourself falling into that abyss, even unwittingly, embrace the shame of having done so.  It's okay.  The shame won't kill you.  And we don't need to know everything about it.  You don't have to wear it on your sleeve.  But even if the bus of amateurish mediocrity only misses you by an inch, look at yourself later in the mirror and think, "holy smokes, that was close," and walk away from it.  Every day that passes walking on the path away from people who embrace mediocrity and paint their faces with antifreeze smiles, masks of denial and terror behind which they attempt to hide their true frightened selves, is a day of greater strength and personal freedom.  Cuz those people weren't created to be amateurs.  They are excellent, at something.  Everybody is.  There are no possible exceptions in the whole entire universe.  They could have been great, and woulda been, if they hadn't been intimidated into denying their potential greatness by people who are either too arrogant and/or cowardly to embrace their own (individual) excellence.  At best, it's an exercise in denial.  At best, you will go absolutely nowhere and fulfill exactly none of your potential.  Worst-case, you fall off a cliff while listening to an obsequious dog that fills your head with encouraging lies.

Your call.


"She wears the clothes of an emperor
But her paintings are a sham
And they're going for a grand
When the dealers come to view
Do they ever see the real you?"
Belle & Sebastian


5.  Stockton Crush and the Tarot Fool

Of course, it isn't necessary to search far and wide for examples of the folly of pursuing amateurism.  The Titan sub guy will forever be famous for foregoing the advice and leadership of trained, qualified professionals for the self-important, transparently-false reason of "wanting to inspire" untrained, and possibly uninterested, amateurs.  Okay Stockton, we get it... you're a fool.  A case in point, forever etched into the epitaph of amateurism and folly.  Thanks for the warning.  I am indeed inspired by your actions.  You've inspired me, Stockton Crush, to never put my life in the hands of someone who is prejudiced against me.

You've inspired me greatly.

I found this image online.  Apparently, Stockton Crush decided to decorate his submarine like guys in World War 2 decorated their bombers.  Except, instead of buxom pinups who make us think of girls back home, he painted The Tarot Fool on the side of his doomed, amateurish craft.


A deadly game, not knowing what you're doing.  Perhaps the principle extends to other, less dangerous things as well.

So it goes.


6.  Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?


"Everything we have, every great achievement has
come from the independent work of some independent
mind.  Every horror and destruction came from attempts
to force men into a herd of brainless, soulless robots."
Howard Roark


"Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?" is a line from The Fountainhead, a novel by Ayn Rand.  It is the caption of an image of a genius beaming with achievement, printed in a newspaper run by professional amateurs who seek to undermine the excellence of everything around them, the entire world not excluded.  More than merely mocking the excellent work of the dedicated tradesman, the caption "Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?" is intended to mock the achievements of the individual, and intimidate the desire for excellence out of others.

"I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life.
Nor to any part of my energy, nor to any achievement of mine...
The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing."
Howard Roark


The Fountainhead should be required reading for every sentient creature between here and the Andromeda Galaxy, at least.  It dramatizes the struggle between the individual and the collective, the war between the excellent, individual human soul and the community of compliance that demands constant compromise at the threat of exile, as though being exiled from a cult of amateur conformists isn't an obvious form of parole.  If you find that "human is very sophisticated to waste the time" on reading an entire book that isn't about masturbating children or angry women, the movie will definitely suffice.  Even though Ayn Rand's Kubrickian-Darwinian religious leanings are immediately apparent in this excerpt from the film, the individual who is tired of sitting on the broken folding chair set up by Jason Aldean* in the junkyard of Western culture will have no problem looking past them.

After all, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Fountainhead is an individually-excellent piece of work.

*Is Jason Aldean et al. merely the Bitchute answer to YouTube's Taylor Swift?  Are he and his ilk nothing more than the anti-Lizzos, the "controlled opposition" of Western culture?  Just a thought.

"Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?" also happens to be the first song on Vol. 2 of my double album Slow-Burning Fun.  I have always thought of it as the Christian "Across The Universe."  While tipping a hat to the strong possibility that there is indeed some wisdom, maybe even truth, in looking beyond the self and the self-absorbent mind, the song also wants to know, "What are you going to do about my broken heart?  Cuz I don't want to hear about how all I have to do is pour antifreeze and meditative denial all over it.  It doesn't work on the smile, and it isn't going to work on my heart.  I'm not interested in the spiritual hubris of a bunch of celebrated millionaires.  The heart is real.  The pain is true, belongs to myself alone, and clearly can't be numbed indefinitely, even by denial.  So whatcha gonna do?  Cuz I really wanna know."

The song is a rhetorical warcry against the mass assimilation into numbness-posing-as-enlightenment, or-even-joy.  While tipping a hat to the possibility that there is indeed great wealth and peace behind the ego and the mind, it retains its healthy doubts.  It declares itself to be valid on its own, even if it's only a minute long.  Like life, the song is "a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."


"For what is your life?  It is even a vapour,
that appeareth for a little time,
and then vanisheth away.”
James 4:14


Maybe life's not so long after all.  Maybe it's unwise to waste the time flopping around on the surface of the truth like a suffocating fish.  After all, if they have taken all the parks out of the city, where do we go to sit, and appreciate the sunshine?  The beer tent, or the sky?

Thanks for listening.

Are You Happy, Mr. Superman?

Just beneath your non-existent
there is an endless source of

Behind your non-existent
you will find
everlasting peace

What's happening to me?

And who will take apart
my non-existent
for me?

©2009 Nathan Payne

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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket.


Replacing my blog at

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