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schencka
Sunday Night Ruminations
Every Sunday night during a given semester, I finally get down to doing the mental work of thinking about What Needs to Get Done. Somehow I never get what needs to get done on Sundays, or any day it seems, but G-d bless me, things seem to get done just fine. I'm talking about reading novels for my grad courses, grading papers for the classes I teach, and doing other stuff, like a total red tape exercise for the Writing Program (for whom I teach), the infamous Teaching Portfolio.

What I actually end up doing is watching West Wing on NBC, then later Big Love on HBO, and blogging (like this) and doing some other stuff. Like cooking. I made pasta and sausage tonight. Later I will surf Facebook.com, which has become a Sunday night thing for me to do.

I'm trying to develop an all-encompassing theory of misanthropy--like something for myself to live by. You see, I like people, but as a decided introvert, I actually dislike people at a deep level. I've got a lot of antipathy on a lot of subjects. To a certain degree, this kind of anger makes me happy, as it were. I can only take so much social interaction. Pushed beyond my limit, I lose my emotions, which is unforgivable for me. As a leo sign, I am full of pride, yet very "magnanimous," meaning giving in a kingly kind of way. Actually, what this mix means is that I like people as long as I can join in with them and enjoy what they are good at, and I can latch with people that are good at things that I want to be good with, but I cannot stand to be with people that are good at things that I can't be good at, and people for whom I can't perceive any kind of skill or quality of character I can only hold contempt. Yes, I hate boring people, people to lazy that they've given up on themselves.

So, as an introvert, I hate people. It's true. What my wife has been accusing me of, which is such a harsh canard, has a grain of truth. "All you care about is yourself; you're selfish; you can't see anything outside of yourself," she often says to me. Actually, if these things were true, which I don't think they are, if they were true I would applaud my theoretical asshole self's honesty in Right Living. People can't know everything. We have what we know we know, and what we know that we can know, but anything outside this rubric is hypocritical posturing--"I'm a good person" circular thinking: "I'm nice to people, people like me, I'm a good person." Seems more apropos in my mindset to think in the linear: "I'm a good person, thus will I treat people good, how they react does not affect whether or not I am a good person, because people are not reliable and are subject to flights of fancy and impertinent emotion, thus one must rely on oneself." But I realize that my Rumsfeldesque poetics is its own form of posturing, of hypocrisy, its own running around the center which is not there, the perennial Western nonexistent pillar, the Self.

Maybe this is why people talking about being "genuine" really bothers me. There's no such thing, no singlular narrative that has any hold over another. I, for example, could be said to have some authority of what it's like to grow up in a small town in the Midwest, only to leave for greener cultural pastures and professional opportunity. But why should I try to talk for another? We can only speak for ourselves. Can the subaltern speak? She certainly can't write, Ms. Gayatri Spivak.

All things being equal, I often find myself drawn to a hyperbole of living and writing, a metaphoricity which I think underscores my personal drive to Do Things Bigger, to be larger than life, to be greedy, but not of money, but of experience. When I don't feel like I'm in that space, where I'm not doing Something Worthwhile, I'm under the gravity of expectations unmet, a place like Hell for someone of my sensibility. That's why the stasis of marriage is difficult for me, I'm not an "incrementalist" who can revel in The Small Things (of relationship)...the relationship to one's self, intellectual in nature, which appears to be so monstrous to those outside that frame of mind--the relationship to one's self is the only real thing for me, the rest is misapprehension, or even the Shakespearean misprision, a vulgar haystack of chaff with no needle, a place people go and cannot get out of.

To live in this world, and know that one lives in this world but feels genetically different, and indifferent, can lead people (especially men) to two things: an upstanding life, ostensibly "happy," but always demanding More, or the other, which interests me at a literary level: an Empire of Hate, a world of contempt resulting from a lack of acknowledgement. The great that are born unwanted, we call these "sociopaths." They continue to show us something shocking about human nature, something we can only wince and perpetually deny: the sheer force of something we think is there but is not, the shadow of the great, transcendent Self.

This could make for a compelling reading of Nietzsche, maybe Heidegger. Here's a site that shows I'm not the only one interested in these ideas.
 
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