In our last interview installment, comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan talked about being a fan of horror books and movies, psychedelic drugs, growing up wanting to be an artist, and how dangerous both chimps and polar bears can be. In this, our second part of three, Dread Central delves deeper into the mind and philosophy of Mr. Rogan.
Once again, it should be said that the following interview includes some of the notorious “7 words” George Carlin warned you about. So buckle up…
DC: You once showed some drawings on your podcast that you did back when you were younger, and they were quite good. Was drawing something you lost interest in and replaced with something else?
JR: I had a bad high school art teacher who was kind of a dildo. He was one of those guys who was always telling you that life was going to suck. “You’re not going to be able to draw what you want.” He was a failure, you know? And he was promoting failure. He wasn’t saying, “If you work really hard, you can have a job as a comic book artist. You can do it. You can live your dreams.” He wasn’t that guy. He was the guy telling you, “Well, not that many people get that job. You probably won’t. You’ll probably wind up doing diaper ads.” That’s what I remember him saying… that you may have to draw diaper ads. That was like a big thing that he was pushing. I don’t know why it was diaper ads or why it really stuck in my head, but it did. I was like, “What the fuck, man?” All I wanted to draw was monster shit. I wanted to draw like CREEPY and EERIE type comic book shit. I used to make my own comic books and it was all that kind of stuff… and some Marvel stuff, too. I was really into THE PUNISHER and THE HULK and things along those lines. I really got into it, but this guy was just such a drag that, in my senior year in high school, I didn’t even take Art. I just stopped taking it. I kept drawing on my own. I still did it, but really I was just doing it for my own fun.
DC: As this was happening with the art thing, was this also around the time you found martial arts?
JR: Well, the art thing started really, really early. It started so early I don’t really know when. My mom just sent me a box of drawings and stuff from way back when I was like four and five, so… There was never a time in my younger years when I wasn’t doing art. It was as I got more into martial arts and as my art teacher started bumming me out… He was just really negative. He just never saw potential. It was like, “Why do you want to draw this all the time?” All my drawings were like axe murderers or werewolves or dragons or some Conan-type dude fighting off some three-headed beast. It was all that kind of shit because that’s what I was interested in, man. I was fucking fourteen years old and instead of nurturing that, he was the doom and gloom guy.
DC: Isn’t that always the way? “Those who can… do and those who can’t… teach.”
JR: It’s horrible, man. It makes me sad when I stop to think about it… Yeah, I know, it’s a really minor thing. “Boo-hoo to me… I had a douchey teacher.” Nobody raped me or anything. It’s pretty minor, but… It’s fine though. He actually probably did me a service because my life turned out really fun. This was my thought at the time, “Well I could always do art on my own. I don’t really need to do it for a living. I could always just do it for enjoyment.”
DC: It’s funny how a good teacher can elevate you and vice versa… I had a guy in junior high school who taught Hamlet and really made it come alive. That’s one polarity. The other is this art teacher who just shit all over everything.
JR: Yeah, man… you can get lucky. I had a really bad math teacher, too, which is the same thing; just doom and gloom and negativity. It was like, “You’re gonna be a loser.” You know, when you really stop and think about that, it’s almost criminal – telling kids that they’re going to be losers. You fuckin’ asshole. You’re a grown adult and you’re putting that seed in a child’s mind. But, they’re really doing that because they’re incredibly weak human beings. It’s so sad that that is what we’re left with in a lot of the public schools. We’re left with these people who don’t have this massive passion, for the most part, to be educators. They just don’t have a lot of options and this is what they’re doing. What they’re doing in teaching kids is… they’re providing these kids with their first sort of real view of the world. This is the real view of how you’re going to perceive mathematics and history and life and future careers and options as far as what you do for the rest of your life, and they’re idiots. It’s the weirdest thing. It’ll never make sense to me how teachers don’t get paid exorbitant amounts of money. I mean, martial arts teachers get paid really well. You can get a lot of money by teaching martial arts. I know guys like Renzo Gracie who probably makes a million dollars a year teaching jiu-jitsu. And yet, there’s these fuckin’ teachers who are really shaping the future of all these kids and they’re garbage.
DC: There’s nothing as depressing as when you go into a public school teacher’s lounge. Just broken people sitting there smoking, dreading their next class… and all for like nineteen grand a year.
JR: Ugh… can you imagine? It’s so hard to believe that that’s what they get paid, but those are real numbers. You can barely get by if you’re a fuckin’ teacher, and it’s such an important thing to provide for children.
DC: You look at the political arena and hear how everything is “about the children,” but then you start talking about raising the education budget and people flip out.
JR: I know, right? Think about all the money being spent on these wars, and even more so, how about the war on drugs? What about all the nonsense money being spent on that and they can’t come up with shit when it comes to education?
DC: Look at the prison system…
JR: Well, there’s a lot of money in the prison system now. The most frightening thing about the prison system in this country is that it’s being privatized. That is terrifying.
DC: How do you lock people in cages for profit?
JR: And no one says anything about it. No one’s clamoring for this to stop.
DC: You’ve talked in podcasts and interviews about how you have something of an obsessive personality… like the videogame Quake (which is where I first ran into you online). So, when you got into martial arts, did that come into play? Did you just jump into it with both feet?
JR: I’ve always been obsessive about pretty much everything from the time I was a little child. Anything I got into, whether it was drawing or anything, I got into it like crazy. Martial arts was really the first thing that ever gave me hope that I wasn’t going to be a loser. So I really, really gravitated toward it.
DC: Not being a loser… that’s a big thing for you.
JR: Yeah, well… I grew up around a lot of losers and one of them was my dad. There was a lot of desire to not be like that guy and not be like all of these people around me who had no hope and no future. And when you’re insecure and your parents break up when you’re really young and you grow up poor, there’s this overwhelming desire to make sure that this never, ever happens again. When I was young, I wasn’t concerned with “Hey, I just want to go and have some fun and hang out with my buddies.” It was “I don’t want to be a loser when I grow up.” That was the number one theme in my head. Martial arts was really the first thing where I was a clear winner at something. Like, “Hey, I’m good at this. I have an identity now. I am somebody. I can be good at something.”
DC: There’s obviously this positive aspect of training, but have you ever encountered anything negative?
JR: To training?
DC: Yeah, for instance… you’ve talked about how you’ve blown your knees out.
JR: Well, overwhelmingly it’s been positive because even the knee surgery thing… I still practice martial arts and I have no knee problems. Fortunately, they have surgery now and they can fix things. There are always injuries and there are psychological setbacks and things can be very, very difficult. But those things – those setbacks – are good because you rise above them and you learn. “Hey, when things are bad and when you fuck up, you can actually take that fuck up and grow because of it.” You can use it as a tool and learn from it. So, I would say that it was overwhelmingly positive. It’s a huge learning experience. I think for kids one of the most important things for them is to do something really difficult so that they learn that they can do something difficult. That something that seems insurmountable like when you’re first learning martial arts and you take your first class and you throw a kick and you’re all off balance and you feel goofy, you will never imagine that one day you’ll be throwing three-sixty spinning wheel kicks in the air. It’s like, “There’s no way I’m going to be able to do this, no way I’m going to win tournaments against some of the best guys in the country. There’s no way that’s going to happen.” It seems like it’s impossible. It seems so far away that it can’t be reached. But it can be reached. You can make it. You just have to believe in it and you have to keep growing and keep going and keep moving forward.
I have this new tattoo that’s of this samurai Miyamoto Musashi fighting this tiger and it’s my whole right sleeve. One of the reasons I got it is… pretty much my whole life… I read this Miyamoto Musashi quote when I was young from THE BOOK OF THE FIVE RINGS and it’s that once you understand The Way broadly, you can see it in all things. What he’s saying is that once you understand what it takes to get good at something, once you understand what it takes to get Zen, to fall into whatever it is – the mindset, the discipline plus energy plus focus – all those things to get great at something, you can do that with ANYTHING. You can do that with music. You can do that with writing. You can do that with anything. It’s just a matter of time and focus and energy, and it is truly all the same thing. It all comes from the same place. It’s all focusing on whatever that is and then channeling the energy of the universe to create something. And that, to me, was the biggest lesson in martial arts. It was that I could DO this and, if I could do THIS, I can do anything. It’s really the same thing that got me good at standup comedy. It’s the same thing that gets me good at every aspect of my life.
DC: Some of the best lessons I’ve ever learned have been found in failure and getting my ass kicked both figuratively and literally. And as painful as those lessons were, they all taught me something which, in the long run, made me a better person. Failure can either make you or break you. You learn from those mistakes and those defeats, and it all helps to hone the blade. So, because you do live – what with working for the UFC and with your own training – in a world of violence, and considering that a lot of things in life come out in art, do you think that violence in art can go too far?
JR: Not too far… I mean, it can go too far for me where I don’t enjoy it or it might go too far for you. But my “too far” might not be as far as your “too far”, and your “too far” might not be as far as another guy’s “too far.” It’s all subjective. For one person to say that a violent movie is too violent… No, it’s too violent FOR YOU. The person who created this movie obviously enjoyed it. There are a lot of films that are very disturbing. Look at SE7EN… that was a fuckin’ deeply disturbing movie. To some people it was too much. To some people it was like, “What is the point of making a movie like this?” But not to me and I’m going to assume not to you. It might not be good to you, but what is it? Whatever anybody’s done in a movie, it does not come close to depicting what must have been experienced by real, live people during The Holocaust. All the shit that you hear about experiments that were done on people, some of the crazy shit that the Japanese were doing… Art often mirrors real life and, if that’s the case, then there is no line that you can cross because every fuckin’ horrific thing imaginable has actually been done by someone. You might not want to see it and that’s understandable, but that’s your choice. It’s not like someone’s going all CLOCKWORK ORANGE on you and propping your eyelids open with toothpicks.
DC: You always have the remote to shut it off. Do you think your experiences with things like DMT and other psychedelics have opened up your imagination to certain genre films and literature? I mean, once you’ve seen reality take a distinct and mind-expanding bend, are you open to more expressionistic art and concepts?
JR: That’s an interesting question. I think once you’ve seen what you can see in a full-blown DMT experience, it does sort of open you up. In your mind or in your imagination, there’s a fence somewhere where everything past this fence is preposterous and the DMT experience is so preposterous, but so real, that you kind of go, “Do we need these fences anymore? Let’s just knock these down, because even if I don’t go there, we don’t need these fences.”
DC: I equate it to pain tolerance. I mean, you talk to a young girl and she cuts her finger and it hurts. But then, you talk to a woman who’s given birth and that cut finger is no longer a concern because, as you’ve said, the fences have been moved. Now, her concept of pain and your concept of what is preposterous have been altered.
JR: I think it certainly changes. I think your perception of everything changes when you have such a mind-blowing experience. People have talked about how much being abducted by aliens has altered their view of the world. They don’t feel as if they live in this innocent world anymore. They feel like everyone around them really has no idea. They’re almost like children who are insulated from this brutal reality. The reality of what alien abduction probably is… I don’t know what people are experiencing, but it’s most likely that they are having a DMT experience which is happening organically. Almost all alien abductions take place while people are sleeping. We know that when you’re sleeping, you’re brain is producing psychedelic chemicals. People can have panic attacks. People can have adrenaline rushes. You could easily be having some sort of DMT rush and you can have it while you’re sleeping. You can have some incredibly intense experience that feels real. And you know what… this whole idea of discounting it by saying, “Ohhh, it feels real that you went to some other dimension and were taken aboard a spacecraft, but it’s really a hallucination.” I’m not even sure about that. I’m not sure that it, instead of a hallucination, is not possibly a real experience. Like what you’re experiencing is not a chemical that perturbs reality, but in fact the chemical that opens up a gateway to another reality. That’s just as possible.
DC: Someone on your messageboard asked a question about “sleep catalepsy” or “sleep paralysis” and, because I happen to work a regular job in sleep medicine, I tried to explain what was going on. But what was interesting was that my post explaining this was sort of dismissed because the idea that something spooky was going on was sexier, you know what I mean?
JR: That’s a good point.
DC: People really want to believe that something otherworldly is going on.
JR: They want to believe SO much. It drives me crazy because I want to believe, too, but I recognize what it is. I have a lot of friends that have real fuckin’ issues with UFOs. Some of them WANT to believe. I’m not saying that UFOs aren’t real. What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t take a position unless you’ve had personal experience, and even that personal experience should be evaluated as objectively as possible. “Was I hallucinating? Did I have some sort of schizophrenic experience? Am I looking at this from a realistic point of view, or am I just tricking myself into thinking this is really happening?” Critical thinking is really lacking from people who are looking for that “sexy” experience.
DC: Have you ever gone to a UFO convention?
JR: I haven’t actually. I’m sure they must be fuckin’ crazy.
DC: Some of them are crazy. They’re so intent on it all being real. It reminded me of this documentary I saw that talked about how we make up our minds on a visceral level and then we begin to accept or reject information filtered through that emotional decision we’ve already made in our minds.
JR: Absolutely. We look for validation to confirm our ideas and it’s not objective. That is my problem with a LOT of people when it comes to this goddamn UFO experience. I’ve talked to people that say, “I’ve done research, man! I’m watching these YouTube videos… All these people can’t be lying!” Oh, yes they can! Is it possible that there is a liar? Yes! I know liars. Do you know liars? Yes. We all know liars. So it’s possible that there are a thousand liars. Or a million. And some of these people might not even be liars. They might be crazy or imbalanced. You’re telling me that you can’t find a hundred imbalanced people? I can find a hundred unbalanced people in a day. If you just let me drive around Los Angeles and just stop people on the street and ask them a few questions about Life… “What do you think about this? What do you think about that? Has this ever happened to you? Do you believe that you’re psychic?” I guarantee you… You give me a full eight-hour day and I can find a hundred unbalanced people easily. A hundred people where you couldn’t trust a goddamned thing they said. If they said the sky was blue, you’d need to double-check on that. If they said that the water is wet, you’d say, “I’m not sure! If you say water is wet… we might have to check.”
DC: And yet these are the people that get held up as “authorities.” Art Bell used to do it and now George Noory does it on Coast To Coast AM… They have these people talking just crazy shit in an authoritarian manner and people believe them. I mean, the guy may be a little sketchy, but the fact that he’s preaching to the choir, he gets a pass.
JR: Preaching to the choir is really dangerous. You need people to step in and question what is going on because these people really don’t want it to be fake. They don’t want these people to be crazy. It’s a belief system that’s just as rigid and silly as Christianity or anything else.
DC: Look at Jesse Ventura…
JR: Yeah! Everything, man… “9/11 was an inside job.” Do you know for sure, man? Is it possible there was incompetence? Is it possible that it was a combination of incompetence and SOME PEOPLE knowing? Did they maybe know something was going to happen, but didn’t know the extent?
To be continued…
Click here for Part 1 of our chat with Joe, check back soon for Part 3, and in the meantime look for Joe online at the official Joe Rogan website or on The Rogan Board (Joe’s messageboard). Also, don’t forget to follow Joe Rogan on Twitter.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Move fences in the comments section below!