Surfwise, Livedumb

I’ve been waiting for this to hit YouTube: the trailer for a documentary of an archetypal American character, the freewheeling intellectual.

As a somewhat freewheeling intellectual myself, I feel no hesitation at saying that Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz was a completely self-centered man who confused hedonism with enlightenment and whose pathalogical need to be “different” rendered him incapable of being free. The most humbling truth apparent in this biographical film is this: that voluntary subjugation to the tyranny of doctrinaire antiestablishmentarianism should not be mistaken for intellectual triumph or self-determinism. It is fascism.

Now, enjoy your surf movie! Hippies in a bus = good times!


Here is the much prettier official statement:

Like many American outsider-adventurers, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz set out to realize a utopian dream. Abandoning a successful medical practice, he sought self-fulfillment by taking up the nomadic life of a surfer. But unlike other American searchers like Thoreau or Kerouac, Paskowitz took his wife and nine children along for the ride, all eleven of them living in a 24 foot camper. Together, they lived a life that would be unfathomable to most, but enviable to anyone who ever relinquished their dreams to a straight job. The Paskowitz Family proved that America may be running out of frontiers, but it hasn’t run out of frontiersman.


11 thoughts on “Surfwise, Livedumb

  1. “Voluntary subjugation to the tyranny of doctrinaire antiestablishmentarianism should not be mistaken for intellectual triumph or self-determinism” — Brilliant!

  2. ““Voluntary subjugation to the tyranny of doctrinaire antiestablishmentarianism should not be mistaken for intellectual triumph or self-determinism” — Brilliant!”

    Yeah. I had to like, read that about ten times.

  3. Can’t watch the video–damn workplace computer anyway.

    However, anyone with nine kids who voluntarily confines himself in the same vehicle with them is probably a prime candidate for an entirely different type of less-voluntary confinement.

  4. I don’t understand why so many people view him as a hero; I seem to be the only person online going, “Hey, maybe he was just a selfish asshole, not a pioneer.”

    I get wordy when my vocabulary has been pent-up by doing lols all day.

  5. i’m with you on the film. doc’s megalomania turns the potential freedom of the ‘endless summer’ into a fascistic lock-step march between american coastal scenes. scary. i am a bit perplexed, however, by your exercise in polysyllabic modifier stacking:

    “Voluntary subjugation to the tyranny of doctrinaire antiestablishmentarianism should not be mistaken for intellectual triumph or self-determinism”

    a few questions:

    what is intellectual triumph? (say this out loud about ten times and see if you don’t laugh yourself out of the room). my best guess would be it lies somewhere between an incomplete philosophy dissertation and waking up in a pynchon novel. but i’m pretty sure a person in either situation would agree that ‘triumph’ is hardly an appropriate description.

    which sort of voluntary subjugation SHOULD be mistaken for intellectual triumph or self-determinism?

    what about involuntary subjugation?

    where is this magical land where self-determinism allows subjects to skirt the edges of some-sort-of-tyranny; be it the ‘tyranny’ of capital, the ‘tyranny’ of religion, or the mundane ‘tyranny’ of being a human in society?



  6. You do, indeed, appear to be boggled, although I would judge from your tone that your response is as spontaneous and innocent as a NASA rocket launch.

    Happy to disambiguate (uh, simplify) for you.

    1) Intellectual triumph is the realization of an eternal truth OR at the very least the formulation of a consistent, logical system of thought, achieved through the application of the human mind to a problem.

    2) ha. ha. I THINK you actually get what I’m saying: in words of two or fewer syllables, it’s that he prostrated (oops, sorry) worships a set of beliefs that he stole and does not “get” at all, really. When you make up the beliefs or discover the Truths through thinking, you get a free pass. He just went to the big Thots-R-Us and bought the boxed set.

    3) “Tyranny” comes from the Latin “Tyrant” which meant the ruler of an independent city-state. You had to do whatever the tyrant said, whether or not it was a good idea. Real grown up people are allowed, and even encouraged (sometimes) to make their own minds up.

    4) if you like smaller words, try this tag instead.

  7. you disambiguated. lol.

    1) there are eternal truths outside of finite logic systems? doesn’t this sidestep the dynamic complexity of the world? similarly, how do you formulate a consistent system of thought in a world of dynamic relations? i guess my point is: if the only consistent truth is the overdetermination of everything and the unknowability of anything, then my ‘triumph’ should look a lot like indifferent resignation. :)

    2) okay. i get what you’re saying. not sure i agree that doc’s ideology was cut n’ paste though. (post-holocaust survivalism + beach bum + in-situ distaste for the status quo = a pretty non-formulaic blend) problematic? yes. formulaic? not so much.

    3) kind of. ‘real’ grown ups get to decide which commodities to buy, which shows to watch, which party to support, and which sports team to follow. of course, these choices are limited to the choices available. this is where/how ‘self-determinism’ comes to seem euphemistic at best. we basically ‘determine’ HOW (democrat or republican) we enroll in various social constellations, but our enrollment itself is always-already a fact.

    4) i wasn’t making fun of your verbose phraseology as much as i was interested in talking about the ideas underpinning it.



  8. This is the best description I have ever read about Doc “Fruitloop, The Nutcase” Paskowitz…sure surfing is great and a healthy way of exersizing, sure eating healthy is good for you and sensible, but the BAD this guy inflicted on his family far outways the small amount of good he did.

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