By Matteo Baldi
“A” stands for “Abide”. How could a dudeist alphabet goes on?
“B” is for Bowling, the oldest sport in the world, “C” is for Caucasian, not the race, but the cocktail, another name for a White Russian, a very delicious and nutritious beverage, “D” is for Dude, who really ties our philosophy together, “E” is for Everything, because even though it seems like a silly stoner comedy, The Big Lebowski is actually a story about the entire human condition. I guess I can stop there.
“Everything I need to know, I learned from The Big Lebowski”… Why do you think that movie have had such a strong impact on you? What’s the most prominent message about life you’ve read in it?
The movie is a hologram for the human condition. For one thing, it contains lessons from, and allusions to, nearly every important philosophy that has existed in human culture since the dawn of civilization: Taoism, Buddhism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, Cynicism, Judaism, Christianity, The Enlightenment, Structuralism, Existentialism, Nihilism, Post-Modernism, Transcendentalism and Pragmatism. I’m sure I left out a few there. But Dudeism is made up of bits and pieces of all of those – the good bits and pieces. Therefore pretty much anything worth learning can employ The Big Lebowski as an illustration
However, for me the main thing that i learned from the movie is that when it comes to life, you’re never going to win. Even the so-called winners are troubled and conflicted. There is no “enlightenment” as such, only “enlighten-up-ment”. That is to say that a spiritual path doesn’t have to be so serious and in fact is often a comedy of errors. The point is that you enjoy the steps, not that you arrive at some conclusion.
Fifteen years have passed, since the movie prémière… and the world has not stopped turnin’ ever since! Many things have gotten worse, in a dude’s perspective. These are harsh times for those who want to live in a peaceful way, don’t you think?
Yes, it seems that the technological revolution which was supposed to be the “great equalizer” has in fact only benefitted an elite few. Now clever people can cheat the system with bizarre financial techniques and consolidate power in a way that was unimaginable forty years ago. When the porn mogul says “wave of the future, Dude, 100% electronic” the Dude replies “I still jerk off manually.” This symbolizes his prescient disdain for the fetishization of technology (which only began in earnest a few years after the movie was made in 1998) and how it might sabotage our happiness. And it’s disappointing how fear-mongering, populist messages seem to be more popular on the internet than those who champion humanistic, altruistic values. The Internet seems to be amplifying our weaknesses more than our strengths. That’s just my opinion, man. But yes, it’s not easy being a Dude when your phone keeps buzzing all the time with ads and annoying pictures of your friends’ lunches.
How does it feel to be a carpet messiah?
I’m not a messiah at all. I’m more like a magazine editor who coordinates information, or a janitor who posts things on the walls and cleans up the messes. Dudeism is an open source religion. I just help mediate it. I call myself the Dudely Lama because it’s funny, not because I’m anybody special. There are many people who are far more Dudely than I am. But maybe not so many who would want to take on the task of administering a religion.
Could you please describe a typical dudeist mass, if such a weird ritual does exist?
At the moment Dudeism is largely an online phenomenon. There haven’t been any Dudeist masses that I know about. And I’m not sure that a ritualistic ceremony would fit with the Dudeist ethos. Maybe a few Dudeist Priests getting together, doing some stretching exercises and some rugasana (laying on the rug and meditating) would make more sense. Followed by some cocktails, perhaps.
What does it take to be a good dudeist, except for a well balanced white russian?
The thing about Dudeism is that the concept of “Dude” is something that we all must learn to intuitively perceive. What is “Dude” and what is “UnDude” should be obvious if you study our books, our website, and watch The Big Lebowski. It’s a lot like the Tao of Taoism – it’s a mystical concept but it’s also very pragmatic. It’s a way of dealing with reality that is flexible, investigative, and above all doesn’t hurt anyone else.
Where do you guys usually meet? In a bowling house?
At the moment only online, but we’re working on setting up a Dudeist Social Network which will help people meet up in real life.
Would you please give our reader some suggestion about the best way to take it as it comes?
Though humans are genetically programmed to take it easy and go with the flow, it’s hard to be true to our natures with all the pressures of civilization. So we have to train ourselves to be natural. Meditation is the best tool for re-programming your mind, followed by a regular contemplative reading practice. One of the most Dude books out there is Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Keeping a journal can help, so we can keep track of our dudeness and our undudeness.
Belongin’ to a church often implies rules and devotion… There’s a buzz in my head, which keeps on tellin’ me that there is something strange about founding a church over the pillars of dudeist philosophy. Isn’t it?
It’s very ironic, isn’t it? To some extent we’re playing with the traditional aspects of religion – which is not to say that we are necessarily criticizing them, only that we’re offering a more playful approach. Most scholars of religion would admit that the original forms of our traditional religions were far more easygoing and philosophical than they are today, largely because it’s hard to manage a huge number of people. Religions tend to turn into things resembling business corporations. Dudeism is more like a corner shop where people hang out and don’t buy anything.
One additional problem is that I’m finding running this “religion of taking er easy” to be quite hard work. I’m overwhelmed sometimes by all the attention (all of it good, so far) and enthusiasm from my constituency of over 200,000 ordained Dudeist Priests.
Any cool book for the young dudeist?
There are so many I could recommend but I’m not sure if they’ve been translated into Italian or not. I’m working on a book called The Tao of the Dude which will contain Dudeist quotes and passages taken from a variety of sources, and we just also published Lebowski 101 which dissects the film via over 40 essays. Maybe they’ll be translated into Italian too, just like our Abide Guide has recently been.
I guess I’d say it would be advisable to study up on Taoism, the original uncompromised first draft (before it got superstitious). The Hall and Ames version of Dao De Jing and Holmes Welch’s The Parting of the Way are excellent introductions. After all, Dudeism is fundamentally a modernized version of Taoism, the oldest continually existing religion in the world, one that ironically seems more appropriate for our modern world than all the others which came after it.