Flirtation with Misanthropy (an insomniacs rant)

9 11 2005
I havent been able to sleep at all the last two nights and i figure i may as well write something to pass the time.
I love the internet cafe’s in the united kingdom – alot of them use the same software which is so easy to hack and hence so free :). I think i’ve paid about a pound for internet access the whole time i’ve been in the uk.
 
Although i enjoy writing in this blog, i do not enjoy the pleasures of anonymity like many some other bloggers. I am hamstrung by the fact that most people who read this will know me. This means that i get judged on what i write and i pull alot of punches on what i write.
 
Its a shame that I cannot complete me rid myself of the tyranny of what ‘they’ (the great mass of unnamed people) think. However it is probably one of the untalked about and pervasive forces in society today. But why even bother with status in the first place? Why care what others think of us?  I  have been asking myself – why do i care what other people think? Who are they to judge me? 
 

I agree with Chamfort who says ‘public opinion is the worst of all opinions’. Because it will not subject itself to rational riguer is polarized,emotional, simplisitic. Complexities and subtelties must be obliterated and it must be simple enough to appeal to ‘the people’ and that is generally a euphamism for ‘the lowest common denominator’. Yet media holds public opinion as soverieghn. Daily there are articles about public opnion on issues. And whats worse – people are influenced not by the merits of an argument but by what most other people think. The reason is that most people couldn’t be bothered putting the effort into weighing up and making up their own mind it’s easier to simply let someone else make the decision or to ‘go with the flow’. And really who cares? As long as the pokies-pub is still open and Big Brother is still on it doesn’t really matter what happens.
Why is this kind of opinion important?
 
The greeks were the first to realise this.
Aristotle was unperterbed when criticised by someone and when questioned on this he says
‘Should i be angry if an ass had kicked me?’. Instead any criticism was reviewed by ones own mind and only if true was it taken to heart.
 
Much later Schoppenhaur similarly says
"Each reproach can hurt only to the extent that it hits the mark. Whoever actually knows that he does not deserve a reporach can and confidently will treat it with contempt’.
 
 Regardless of the accuracy of the opinion of society – where do they get the moral right to judge?

 
 ‘In every country the principal entertainment has become card playing. It is a measure of the worth of society and the declared bankrupcy of all ideas and thoughts’
 
George Orwells big brother may not have eventuated in modern society, but we have a much more nauseating and depraved version which is just as ubiquitous. Media is a two way mirror and reflects what people want to see – hence it is a measure of mainstream society. Media’s rapid descent downwards in an effort to reach as large an audience as possible by waring with other stations to reach the lowest common denominator. Its not just an intellectual descent – the dumbing down of media, but also a moral descent. In england there are topless women on the front page of the most widely read papers (Daily Mirror and Daily Sun), full of stories about so and so’s ‘fantastic affair on the kitchen sink’. Australian media is not too far behind with the success of shows like ‘who wants to marry a millionaire’, ‘temptation island’ a testament to the voyeristic carnal appetites of ‘they’. If Schoppenhauers word are true for a nation of card players, what do they mean for a society who’s principal entertainment is passively viewing the sexual indiscretions of others?
 
 ‘We shall gradually become indifferent to what goes on in the minds of other people when we acquire an adequate knowledge of the superficial and futile nature or their thoughts, of the narrowness of their views, of the paltriness of their sentiments, of the perversity of their opinions and of the number of their errors… we shall then see that whoever attaches alot of value to the opinions of others pays them too much honour.’
– Schoppenhauer
 
How i wish this was true…
 
Whilst I agree with the logic behind this statement i cannot bring this academic understanding into action. To do so although emancipating, would require amputating a prized section of my identity. To alienate myself and walk alone along the road less traveled as an aloof misanthrope. The sacrifices are great and i do not have the emotional strength required. Even now i am imagining being judged for these words. I am conscious of how sanctimoniously condescending this writing sounds. I am conscious of the naturally verbose language my mates will ridicule (take the piss out of?) me for –  let alone the content. I am conscious of the apparent hypocracy of this view given my own often enthusiastic participation in the more hedonistic aspects of society.
  
For example far too often after one too many drinks, my ethics, social mores and inhibitions are drowned in alcohol and I act in ways I never would whilst sober. All those close to me can recall seeing this  numerous times, often in comical ways. A few drinks too many out on the town and as if by magic morph into a person who i do not like at all.  It’s analguos to   R.L Stevensons respectable Dr. Jekyl drinking the potion which unleashes the amoral and devious Mr Hyde.  I’v played with the idea of giving up the grog. It wouldn’t be the first time i’d resolve to. But it would be the first time not straight after doing something really embarassing. Those  other times were just  futile and empty promise as penance for whatever dumb thing i’ve just done (though i sincerely mean it at the time).
 
But ultimatly i know i wont. To do so would remove me from ‘having a beer down the pub with the boys’, ‘coming over for a drink’, and especially ‘coming upstairs for a "coffee’" – (my Mr. Hyde may be unseemingly lascivious at times but is far more Casanova than my Dr. Jekkyl). Alcohol is the social lubricant of society. To rid myself of it is to rid myself of a cornerstone of social activity. Not to mention the source of all my funniest stories (which are also the ones i can’t post here :P). And so i go out on the piss. And i have a good time. I do not enjoy the pleasures of anonymity but despite myself, indulge in the pleasures of conformity. 
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3 responses

10 11 2005
Bonnie

*collective drawing of breath* Wow… That raises way too much interesting stuff than I can respond to at the moment…but… wow… Really well written Tom… Don\’t stop there! No hypocrisy here..!On the note of conformity you reminded me of something I read this today: "Nearly 26 million people voted in the 2001 British General Election. However, more than 32 million votes were cast in the first season of Pop Idol.."What is it saying about our society (or British society as the case may be), when people care more about pop singers than who is running their country? Scary stuff. But nevertheless, society has trained us to be this way, to think this way, to conform. Even by presenting such ideas, and responding to them, you and I are in the minority. Anyway, alcohol is indeed the social lubricant of society, and something that is almost imperative for almost all social gatherings. Enjoy it! You don\’t have to be moral ALL the time… (I think..)Anonymity is something you don\’t have here… that\’s true. I have intentionally actively discouraged people in my life from reading my blog, however, some of them have found it. This now effectively censors what I write… my site is still very me, by nature, but there are certain other things I am forced to omit lest someone I know reads it. I\’m thinking about starting also an anonymous blog… it\’s an option!Take care, that was the best blog I\’ve read in a LONG time! Thank you…Bonnie*

10 11 2005
Scott

Refuse to conform man! I must say, ur drunken self is a lot better than it was in year 11 or so, but, i mean, whose isnt! All of us went through that stage where we were drunken slobs, i mean, u went through it year 10 and 11, i went through it year 10- well, i spose i still do it a lot! Steak takes the cake, and bedders, mill and co still do it also! but, in moderation it is fine, because, it isnt that people judge u, it is that some people find it hard to be around someone whom they do not find to be "themselves", i know when one fateful night u had too much to drink and smoked some funky stuff, and then got hit in the head by a bunch of ppl, i was worried. A. for ur safety, and B. because u were acting strange, irrational and i didnt understand who u were at that point in time!However, there is a difference between having a few drinks, getting jolly, making some jokes and have a groove, and getting so shit faced that u cant stand up, u curse ur mates and try to rape women!Now, at no point have i ever seen u do any of these things! But name me a person who has never woken up in the morning and thought, "Shit, what did i do last night!" i think it is fair to say that a lot of ppl do this! But, the more regular this is, the more of an issue it is! So, i think, like all things in life, in moderation! To be honest man, i dont think u have anything to worry about, those who love u laugh at the silly things u have done and still love you for who you are, not dwell on them! So, dont worry!scotty

18 11 2005
Jessica

Hail! Childish Slave Of Social Rules (Robert Louis Stevenson)HAIL! Childish slaves of social rulesYou had yourselves a hand in making!How I could shake your faith, ye fools,If but I thought it worth the shaking.I see, and pity you; and thenGo, casting off the idle pity,In search of better, braver men,My own way freely through the city.My own way freely, and not yours;And, careless of a town\’s abusing,Seek real friendship that enduresAmong the friends of my own choosing.I\’ll choose my friends myself, do you hear?And won\’t let Mrs. Grundy do it,Tho\’ all I honour and hold dearAnd all I hope should move me to it.I take my old coat from the shelf -I am a man of little breeding.And only dress to please myself -I own, a very strange proceeding.I smoke a pipe abroad, becauseTo all cigars I much prefer it,And as I scorn your social lawsMy choice has nothing to deter it.Gladly I trudge the footpath way,While you and yours roll by in coachesIn all the pride of fine array,Through all the city\’s thronged approaches.O fine religious, decent folk,In Virtue\’s flaunting gold and scarlet,I sneer between two puffs of smoke, -Give me the publican and harlot.Ye dainty-spoken, stiff, severeSeed of the migrated Philistian,One whispered question in your ear -Pray, what was Christ, if you be Christian?If Christ were only here just now,Among the city\’s wynds and gablesTeaching the life he taught us, howWould he be welcome to your tables?I go and leave your logic-straws,Your former-friends with face averted,Your petty ways and narrow laws,Your Grundy and your God, deserted.From your frail ark of lies, I fleeI know not where, like Noah\’s raven.Full to the broad, unsounded seaI swim from your dishonest haven.Alone on that unsounded deep,Poor waif, it may be I shall perish,Far from the course I thought to keep,Far from the friends I hoped to cherish.It may be that I shall sink, and yetHear, thro\’ all taunt and scornful laughter,Through all defeat and all regret,The stronger swimmers coming after.—————————————————–Still relevant after all these years. Don\’t worry. We\’re not alone.

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