Louis C.K. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Columnist

I’m back! I know I admitted to doing some lousy things to women who trusted me and looked up to me. But don’t worry. I atoned.

I did Whole 30. I walked across a lake of fire. I listened to some podcasts where people did not hold back. I did sit-ups. I lived in a hut. In a hair shirt! By candlelight! For a year! Well, less than a year. And not by candlelight. Or in a hut. Or any of those other things. But for a period of literal months, I did not do something that I wanted to do. Which is an extremely long time.

So it turns out that nothing you do actually has any consequences. Have you noticed this? I always felt like if you did something really wrong you would be stopped somehow, and if no one stopped you, it couldn’t be that wrong. Like, when your computer won’t let you click on something. Ding! Not allowed! Or like a video game. “Sir, that’s a wall. You’re trying to walk through a wall.” Oh, okay. Thank you, game, for looking out for me and not letting me walk through that wall. But if the game is like, obviously, it is frowned upon to drive the wrong way down the highway and murder the women you encounter, but, you know, we have programmed it so that if you want to, you can. That doesn’t feel like it’s on me! That feels like it’s a programming failure on the game’s part.

You know how if you leave a cat alone for three days with a bag of food, the cat will figure out how much food it should eat and pace itself, but if you leave a dog alone for three days with a bag of food, the dog will just eat the entire bag of food because there is nothing there to stop them? I resemble that second thing. You want me to — not do this thing? But nothing will stop me? And afterward people will offer to clean up? That can’t be right. This feels like a setup. I am offended. I think someone owes me an apology, frankly.

And if I did do a bad thing, can’t I atone? Like in the old days. When you could go and do a series of labors and then they would be like, oh, didn’t he murder his mother? No, yeah, he totally did, but he traveled a lot and then he touched the Shrine of Athena, so, it’s, like, fine. You know? Didn’t he light his spouse on fire? Yeah, but he went down to Hades and he walked this dog, and, so, you know, clean slate.

It doesn’t seem fair that today if you do something bad, you’re just — stuck. Like, you can literally make “Ignition (Remix)” and people are like, nope, still a bad person. And you’re supposed to go away forever. Forever? That’s like, multiple minutes. I’m just supposed to sit underground forever where no light shines, like some kind of albino mushroom or a woman’s career?

I’m not denying that I did something that was wrong. I do understand that. I feel bad. I have felt bad! I felt really bad for a really long time! People yelled at me, and I had to sit there and listen to them tell me that I made them feel bad, and I felt bad. That is a terrible feeling. I don’t want to overstate this, but I think it is literally the worst feeling in the world, having other people tell you that you did something wrong.

Although, are we 100 percent sure about this whole right and wrong thing? I’m just asking! I’m just putting it out there! Science, I feel like, science has figured life out, it knows about cells and things. But philosophy is just sort of like — we have some theories. No one’s like, well, we’ve made a big breakthrough in philosophy, we’ve figured out definitely what is and is not moral to do, you know? Like, the ancient Greeks, they were maybe the best at philosophy, but to get to the philosophy you have to wade through like a whole framing device about courting a young boy. Before we reach the metaphysics, it is very urgent that I give you these tips for hitting on adolescents! Which doesn’t make you feel great about philosophy, going in. So maybe there is no right or wrong! Maybe nothing I’ve done has any impact on anyone! In which case I have definitely put in enough time.

I want to do my task. I want to be like, I’ve atoned! I went down to Hades and I walked a dog, and I also slew this big beast with like eight heads, more heads all the time! I had to singe the necks! It was incredibly difficult! And then I put a microphone on my shoulder and I walked until nobody knew what it was, and I lived there for up to six entire weeks, so Poseidon isn’t allowed to still be mad.

Everyone’s like, why did you do that? Did you ask the people affected by your behavior what they wanted, and they said to do that? Did you read the suggestions that people came up with for what you could do to make this right? No, no, I just did the beast thing, because that is what you do to atone. I think we can agree that it was very difficult to do what I did with the beast and the dog, much more difficult than talking to the people I hurt, who are, for the most part, nice people who are easy to talk to. What I did was the harder thing. I decided that.

And I get that some things you should not be able to ever atone for. Not ever. Except, maybe? Maybe if the thing you do is really difficult? Like, if I got rid of malaria, just eradicated it completely, I feel like people shouldn’t get to still be mad at me. That’s cutting off your not-having-malaria-as-a-species to spite your — doing-bad-things guy. I think if you do something like get rid of malaria people should have to forgive you. I did not do that, but it’s okay because I did the next best thing, which was nothing. For a few months. Which is like forever.

So, I atoned.