Pattern Interruption Hall of Fame: Zach Galifianakis

04/06/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Pattern Interruption Hall of Fame: people that wake us up from the monotony of mindlessness. These are iconoclasts, straight-shooters, rascal sages, and eccentric oddballs of all walks of mind -- i.e. the denizens of the brave new world of self-aware unorthodoxy.

Zach Galifianakis In His Own Words
"I am from the foothills of North Carolina. I now live in the mountains of that state. And also live in Brooklyn. I come from a strong family. I enjoy tractors and red wine. I feel that living your life in contradiction keeps one confused and happy. I dislike those that litter. Sometimes I like to go to the zoo and ride on the backs of bison. I dream of Iceland from time to time. It makes me laugh when people miscommunicate. I like walking over bridges and hate Donald Trump or anything like him. The entertainment business is both poison and honey. I drive a Subaru. It is an automatic. I cry sometimes in that car. I perform my routines around America." (my italics)

Watch "Between Two Ferns" to see Zach Galifianakis at his pattern-interruption best. Galifianakis seems to have an intuitive grasp on paradox and nonduality.

Galifianakis - Modern Day Diogenes

Zach Galifianakis strikes me as the modern-day Diogenes of Sinope, a philosopher-punk. Diogenes (412-323 BC) was a Greek philosopher who who was the original philosophical "dog" (the word "cynic" by the way derives from Greek "kynikos" and "kyon" for dog, thus the "canine").

A nomadic beggar-philosopher, Diogenes extolled the virtue of poverty and denounced societal definitions of wealth. Diogenes is said to have shocked Athenians by masturbating in public. He reportedly urinated on Plato's dining room carpet, and apparently flipped the bird to none other than Alexander the Great for standing in his sunlight while Diogenes was tanning. In his defiance of the norms of behavior, Diogenes was trying to devalue the "coinage" of modern-day customs. An oddball patriot, he barked at the tree of society (and raised his leg on it too!). Eventually, he ended up being sold into slavery. While being auctioned off as a slave, he announced that his "trade" was "being a master," and was purchased to govern rather serve -- as if there is a difference!

I wouldn't expect anything less of Zach Galifianakis. The similarities between Zach Galifianakis are hard to hide: Zach's homepage features a drawing of a reclining naked man, not unlike the historical depictions of Diogenes. Like Diogenes, Galifianakis, at a glance, is cynically dog-raw -- a no man's best friend. And yet, with his oddball, confusional comic style, he is an important wake-up call. Just watch his "Between Two Ferns" interviews to appreciate the degree of authenticity and presence he is able to leverage (provoke). With a relentless mix of pattern-interruption pranks and boundary-crossing tactics, he disrobes his guests down to the negligee of immediacy. By living life in contradiction, by embodying the contradiction, Galifianakis seems to be promoting a dialectically nuanced view of reality, which is an invaluable counterweight to the mindset of oversimplification. Yes, tractors and red wine can coexist!

Notes on Pattern Interruption:

Pattern interruption leverages mindfulness by way of new information and confusion. How new information changes our minds is clear. Here's how confusion comes into the picture. Confusion means loss of certainty. Loss of certainty means open-mindedness to what is. As such, a pattern break is a pre-requisite for mindful presence (and the stuff of comedy). Pattern break confuses the conditioned mind and in so doing gets it out of its own way, opening up new vistas of clarity. In other words, when mind is closed off to new information, confusion helps kick that door wide open. In sum, mind is a closed-system pattern, interrupt it to open it! Expose yourself to new information. Update your understanding of the world to prevent dogmatic stagnation. Remember: reality updates with every now!