The Tao of Murdock


“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?” ~Ursula LeGuin

“[Murdock’s] craziness set the tone for The A-Team.” ~Stephen J. Cannell

 

Behind dark eyes...

Today was a quandry. I did, at one point, want to post something more philosophical, wistful, even…perhaps a discourse on the first time I ever remember feeling genuine sorrow, or how much I miss my hometown, or why dogs always love to stick their heads out the windows of cars. On the other hand, since it’s still midweek and I need a pick-me-up, my inner voice prevailed and declared “Screw all that when you can write a fluffy piece about Murdock again.”

However, the sensible, adult part of me wanted to compromise, so that’s just what I did. Today, I want to explore the serious, philosophical side of everyone’s favorite lunatic pilot. Remember the bestselling books The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet from a few years ago? I’m going that route by exploring the Taoist/Zen truths behind some of the choicer Murdock quotes. Whether I’m just babbling, or there’s actually something here, I’ll leave up to my readers. How much meaning could there really be in a 25-year-old action parody show? Well…

“Use your imagination, or you can borrow mine.”


I never figured out exactly what this quote meant (proof positive that Murdock confuses even me from time to time.) If I had to guess, I’d say it meant that to be fully human is to share all that we can, not just the tangible things like money or food, but the intangible qualities as well. God knows there are plenty of times where I’ve wanted to share a bit of common sense, a bit of humor, or the ability to work well under pressure with others. In turn, I’ve also wished that they could share their social graces with me. It works both ways. Hardly anyone is good at everything, so why not share our gifts for a better world?

“Actually, Colonel, it makes almost no sound at all.” (Murdock’s response to Hannibal’s inquiry on how turkey and whole wheat sounds)


This is probably the Murdockian equivalent of the old Zen koan about what sound, if any, one hand clapping makes. It also makes me chuckle because it reminds me of the Aspergian tendency towards the literal (it is, of course, the most logical answer to that question.) As a society, we are often expected to give polite or illogical answers; the Geico commercial featuring Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln jumps to mind. When we are given an honest answer, or one that makes sense, many of us laugh. The truth is not what we are used to hearing. Children and autistic people will give you honest answers…if you ever require them.

“I’m not talking to myself. When you talk to yourself you are alone. No one hears you. You happen to be with me. You hear me. Therefore I am not talking to myself.” (to B.A. while in the midst of a soliloquy)

This is an age-old conundrum: when are you talking to yourself? If you pray, are you talking to yourself, or to God? If you’re engaged in an interior monologue, is that talking to oneself even though no words are audible? What about speaking in an invented language, to invisible friends, as I did so many times growing up? In some traditions and cultures, those who talk to themselves (monks, yogis, gurus) are considered close to the divine, in others they become outcasts and street people. It’s a hard question to answer, but to paraphrase Bill Clinton, it probably depends on what one’s definition of “alone” is.

“You know, there are places in this world where fools are worshiped? Like Hollywood, California!”

Consider for a moment how much American society tolerates, and even celebrates, neurotic behavior in celebrities. Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, LeBron James. Would we tolerate them for a minute if they were some faceless nobody from Des Moines or Cleveland? Likely not. On the other hand, there are real heroes among us every day whose autograph we will never seek and whose picture will never adorn our wall. One of my favorite anecdotes which illustrates this principle involves a rich Englishwoman observing a nun taking care of leprosy patients in India. The Englishwoman told the nun “I would not do such work for a million pounds,” to which the sister replied that neither would she. Interesting to put it in that perspective, isn’t it?

“You don’t really see a tractor, do ya, Murdock?”

“You’re right, I was just guessing.” (Murdock’s response to a Rohrschach inkblot resembling a butterfly)

Another old bit of wisdom I like: the moment in Return of the Jedi where Obi-wan Kenobi explains that the story he told Luke about his father was true “from a certain point of view.” Much in this world depends on perspective. To many people, their Hoover vacuum may be a useful tool. To a dog, it might be a fearsome predator, or to an autistic person, a source of pure dread. One major flaw in Western thought is its assumption that everyone must conform to a single category; one paradigm fits all. This is evident in our eductational system as well as our uniform policies in many workplaces. If homogenity were really so great, there would have been no Leonardo da Vincis, no Thomas Edisons, no Ayn Rands, no Chuck Palahniuks. Everyone would look and act the same, think the same, dress the same. Consider for a moment how boring…and dangerous…that would be. Shudder if necessary.

“I don’t like wearing someone else’s straitjacket!”

The surest way to kill a creative person’s soul is to tell him or her not to be creative. I went through this many times in high school and beyond: told that art and writing were “a waste of time” and not to be pursued. The argument I wished I could have given at the time is how many artists have not only succeeded, but thrived at being creative spirits. *Someone* has to paint pictures, write scripts, design clothing. And someone has. Many have become well-known for it. It can be done. Not everyone is meant to be a cubicle jockey or a plumber. My advice to those who know a creative soul? Encourage him/her every time you can. Make sure to display his/her creative work on the refrigerator. Don’t destroy that which is different or try to force it into a mold which doesn’t fit. (You, and your child, will be happier in the end.)

I may make this a running series…because if there’s one thing I enjoy far too much, it’s putting Murdock on a virtual couch and analyzing him from new perspectives. I hope my readers don’t mind my indulgence. It gives me an excuse to write, doesn’t it?

Even crazies can soar to great heights!

Enjoyed this exciting Murdockian edition of P&Q? Be sure to click “Like” and follow us on Facebook too!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on March 8, 2011.

6 Responses to “The Tao of Murdock”

  1. […] A-Team just has to be here. But which member? The most entertaining character was usually Murdock. Howling Mad Heather is without a doubt the internet authority on Murdock, but I always liked Face. He was super slick, […]

  2. I found you on Susie’s Party Blog I used to watch the A-Team all the time growing up. Murdock used to crack me up. I like the “I don’t like wearing someone else’s straightjacket” line. Classic.

  3. I think we should accept our own idiosyncrasies and not worry about it. I grew up being told to relax! Constantly. You can see from my videos that I am pretty high energy… The trick is to surround ourselves with people that accept us for who we are!
    I for one think you are pretty cool Heather!
    Thanks for coming by the party! I hope you enjoy clicking on a few links and saying hello to my friends!

  4. I miss this show. Loved the A-Team, probably more so because my Evil Stepmother forbid me to watch it. Saw you on Susie’s Blog, btw…

  5. Hi! Just popped over from Susie’s party to catch a little wisdom from Murdock.

    I caught bits and pieces of this show a few years back with a friend. I think Murdock was the sanest of the whole bunch!

  6. Hi, checking out your blog from Susie’s party. I don’t remember the A-Team, but I like the quotes. maybe I’ll have to dig up some re-runs.

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