What Is a Dickhead?

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A pothead is someone who smokes lots of weed. A Deadhead is a someone who likes the Grateful Dead, who listens to their recordings, attends their concerts and was infatuated with Jerry Garcia when he was alive. The thing that potheads and Deadheads have in common is an addiction to mind altering forms of substances (if we look at music as having the same properties that drugs do with regard to consciousness). A Dickhead similarly gets off on works like Minority Report and The Man in the High Castle written by the science fiction master, Philip K. Dick. Of course a dickhead is also a person who is a dunce, a person who just doesn't get it. Dickheads are unavoidable. They're the people you can't get through to, no matter how hard you try. If you are an Enlightenment rationalist, a follower of Voltaire, Locke or Hume, you'll be especially confounded by dickheads, who demonstrate the limits of human reason. A dickhead can also be a person who's actually malevolent. Such a person possesses ratiocinative abilities which they choose not to employ for opportunistic and often expeditious reasons. They know exactly what you're saying, but they play dumb because they don't want to listen to reason. A dickhead is someone, for example, for whom the ends justify the means. When it's pointed out to a dickhead that the American judicial system depends on due process and individual rights such a dickhead will simply give one of those chuckles which is supposed to indicate we're all in agreement about the real truth-- which is that none of these things, which are ultimately the groundwork upon which democracy is based, really matter.

Illustration by Henry Vandyke Carter

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}