Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Back in March, BENOIT LELIEVRE did a guest post here, and this is what I said about him at the time: "Benoit Lelievre is one of the most talented young unpublished writers I know. He has a keen mind, and a unique perspective on the world and knows how to verbalize it. His blog, Dead End Follies, is one of the few that I check on a regular basis, because it never fails to be relevant and entertaining."

All of that is still true, except for one key point-- Ben is no longer unpublished. Recent months have seen his work appearing at Shotgun Honey, the Lost Children anthology, and the upcoming OFF THE RECORD. He's also taken on the mantle of film reviewer for Spinetingler, doing exactly what he does at his blog, but to a wider audience.

Kid's come a long way in a short period of time. Do I need to remind you that I predicted as much?

I'm pleased to present, once again, BENOIT LELIEVRE...

I was thirteen when the Backstreet Boys released their first single “We’ve Got It Going On”. Looking back, it was a defining event in my life because it was the first time I caught on to a sales pattern. Six or seven years before, I had bought into the New Kids On The Block mania pretty hard and after their lame ending I refused to buy into repackaged bullshit. Unfortunately I was pretty much alone in understanding this, so I didn’t get laid for most of my high school days.

But point is, I’m twenty-eight years old now, about to turn twenty-nine. If I could tell something to my thirteen year old self today it would be “You’re smart kid. Don’t listen to anybody, because you can figure things out on your own”. But I didn’t do that. I went to school for way too long, got way too many useless diplomas and all that, because I kept putting my destiny in other people’s hands because I didn’t have the courage and the confidence in myself to make my own way.

But I see the way now. I think.

Everybody will try and tell you what to do. It’s very flattering for the self to think your own wisdom is a wanted commodity. “Study under me and I will show you everything”, “Put your savings in my hands, I will make you rich”, “Work for me and accomplish your dreams”. You know what I mean? Don’t think, just work, pay and be productive, leave the rest to us.

We live in a world like this now.

Trusting has taken the place of thinking and it’s not because the world is a safer place. It’s not because we’re lazy either. OK, maybe we have gotten a little bit, but think back to the days of our parents and our grandparents and let’s play a comparison game. They didn’t have any money and most of them didn’t go to school very long. They have learned to survive, doing odd jobs, managing money, planning, trying to be smart about the very little they had. The past generations had learned to learn. We were given learning 101 in the face from the time we’re six years old and what have we learned?

Fuck all.

We are a generation of people with one area of expertise and who defer the responsibility of everything outside of work (and often at work too) to other people. We’re not responsible for ourselves anymore. We are afraid to think because we don’t trust ourselves. I’m not saying we should all be lone wolves, vowing for our own interest only. No, what I’m talking about here is what Ralph Waldo Emerson called self-reliance.

You don’t know something? It’s up to you to learn it. Don’t depend on somebody else. You’re poor? Do something. Get a second job, spend less, trust yourself to ensure you get by. Maybe if you put your shoulder into it you can have a promotion or even start your own business. If you limit your contribution to the world to a forty hours a week schedule, the world is going to give you back what you put in it.

I have never learned anything in school but what my martial arts teacher (you might know him) resumed in one sentence about ten years ago: “Be your own coach”. Go after what you want, take responsibility for it. Don’t wait for people to feed you off opportunities, because you will die alone unless you are Michael Jordan, Celine Dion or somebody that can make them a lot of money. When I moved in to Montreal ten years ago, I was desperately looking for a young driven martial arts teacher who would help me turn my life around and I found him because I was looking. The most important thing he taught me is those four words: “Be your own coach”.

I’m going to turn thirty soon and every people I went to school with and had dreams of being professional athletes, television personalities or to have any form of fulfilling career have all buried their dreams because they preferred debts and comfort. They are the prime audience for Jersey Shore and they go to U2 concerts, thinking it’s a spiritual moment. I discussed the issue with several of them and you know what they told me? “When I clock off work, I turn my brain off. I don’t want to think anymore”.

I’m sad that thinking has become something so frowned upon. I love thinking and when I go home, I just want to build things, master patterns and get the exhilarating flow of dopamine from understanding things. I’m not trying to say I’m better than anybody here. I’m saying we all have the capacity to do this and enjoy it. You just have to take responsibility for who you are, have a little faith in your abilities and don’t buy Backstreet Boys records.


  1. "You’re poor? Do something" - As Chad Eagleton nicely put out on Twitter, I could've used a better example than this. He's absolutely right. The best example of poor people doing something and taking responsibility right now is those people occupying the financial center of their respective cities nowadays. They're doing something concrete against injustice.

  2. Hmm, this Benoit fellow seems to have his head on straight. I thought they had processes in place to stop this kind of thing.


    Moody Writing

  3. Great post Ben.

    Most people are told what to like and what to do. To some extent, I think everyone is, can't be totally uninfluenced.

    But you must be able to tell why you like or do something. If you don't or you don't put too much of yourself into thinking of an answer it's probably because you never asked yourself the question.

    And if you don't feel the need to asking it then you're being told what to do or what to like.

    And if you're fine with the idea of being told what to do and what to like because that's the easy way to be.

    I think you don't own yourself entirely.

    I'm not saying that following trends is bad. I'm saying not asking yourself why you do is. And that's what I think Ben understood at 13 years old. It took me almost 30 years to get it myself so if I may ... Ben you're my Dr. Doogie.

    P.S. If you think it has anything to do with hipsters ... I guess you don't get it.

  4. I realized it at 13 years old, but it's not before I finished school and purged the notion of systematic thinking in my mind that I could really understand what I thought. I just droned up for many years, looking for somebody else to make me great. I'm unfortunately not that good.

  5. Great post, Ben. Absolutely fucking great.

    While I don't agree with you about the occupiers, I agree !00% about not trusting anyone else to make your life for you, or as you say, "to make you great".

    I always felt there was something very wrong beneath the surface of my entire school experience, from grade school through college. I felt like they were trying to tell me how to live my life, even saying their way was the ONLY way to live my life. But of course, I was just a kid, right? They were the "smart adults", right? What the fuck did I know?

    You nailed it with four words: Be your own coach.

  6. I don't agree with the idea that your failures are your fault and have happened because you just haven't tried enough. There are limits to everything. If you believe that you are unlimited, kudos for having such an attitude and outlook on life, but the fact is that some people are not given the same opportunities...period. And there is nothing you can do about it.