Monday, August 22, 2005

A Rat In A Maze...

"The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."
- William Blake: Proverbs of Hell

... of its own making? I don't love my life so much that I would resist too much the idea of having to give it up. If you lived for years in poverty yourself, you'd understand it. I'm basically a Raskolnikov type who does his best to stay away from evil but does not know if he succeeds, because there's an immense gap between his high ideals and in how the world actually works. My problem -- and perhaps my ultimate downfall in the future -- is that I refuse to prostitute myself.

I gave up the "bourgeois" life of getting myself a so called proper higher education (I'm a university dropout) and a "career" because I could see the emptiness of it all for myself. I don't mean to criticize any of you who chose that path yourselves -- it just didn't work out for me. Depression also had a lot to do with it, for which I underwent therapy (which ended only recently) and Prozac treatment (which still goes on) -- so compared to what I used to be (a neurotic, suicidal, uncertain nervous wreck with an extremely low self-esteem and the feeling of being a small insect being caught helplessly in a web in some hostile alien world) I guess I'm OK now, though my life is still not exactly dancing on roses.

The academic world only filled me with repulsion; with its overall stiffness, hegemonies and pecking orders, the fierce competition between faculties for general appreciation, financial resources and so on: resulting in intellectual backstabbing and personal vendettas between academic personnel on all levels and which were apparent everywhere, heavy sarcasm and obvious contempt towards their students by certain frustrated professors... (My own father being a university lecturer in social psychology and a well-appreciated man on his own field, you understand there was additional pressure from my family directed towards me to gain merit of my own in the world of academia.) And student politics disgusted me too, with all those status-seeking social climbers and future bureaucrats in the making.

Well, perhaps it's easier to understand me if you're aware of the fact of me-myself-and-I being obviously a nonconformist, a non-joiner, an outsider by my own volition and even without it. I don't know why this is so, I think it just has been always the case. When I was a kid, I'd rather often stay on my own than join the games of others which I thought were stupid and childish. It's ridiculous, really: I don't know what's the point in resisting all and everything. Perhaps it's because I'm oversensitive in certain ways, which results in myself being very critical towards my surroundings. I have burned more bridges behind me than I can even count.

However, I consider myself still being a learning and developing organism. Therefore I try not to repeat my earlier behaviour patterns: having to deal with certain sort of people and situations is still bound to cause conflicts, though. My fuse burns slowly, but when I explode, I explode hard. I don't like untrustworthy people or rip-off merchants. I don't like rude, pushy people who are oblivious to other people's emotions. I don't like the yes-men sort of people trying too eagerly to please everyone, because I always suspect they do this just for their own personal gain. I don't like people who lack identity of their own and therefore too blindly follow trends (I say "too blindly" because I can't claim being totally immune myself to this, as just another member of culture) and what is currently deemed fashionable (and this applies also to certain political ways of thinking, as e.g. being a neoliberalist -- or a fascist -- only because your neighbour happens to be). Sometimes I don't even know if I like myself.

I am well aware that I am not liked by everyone. I don't always have the strength to be a sort of nice and jovial person who whispers sweet nothings to everyone's ears. I tend to be socially awkward, sometimes moody and edgy. These days the usual medical explanation for the behaviour of people like me seems to be Asperger's syndrome, i.e. slight autism. I am not officially diagnosed but I can well identify with those people who are. When I was younger, I used to be awfully shy. I hoped I had been swallowed by the earth every time I had to open my mouth in public. I blushed easily which made me a subject of mockery by my peers, about fire engines and red traffic lights... I am still uneasy with people.

In some senses I'm a strict and severe man, who does not suffer fools gladly (and that's why staring into mirror comes so hard to me). Yes, I'm a very complicated man. Very simple at a first glance, but when you peel off some layers, you will be faced with a riddle inside an enigma. And I am the one who is most puzzled with that riddle.

People are usually so afraid of loneliness. I have always been lonely, therefore it doesn't make much difference to me any more. On the contrary, solitude of your own making is not so bad, because you can choose if you are lonely with other people, or if you're that on your own. The latter option I've often found a fruitful and creative state, so I tend to go for it. It only gets bad when you have to face other people. "L'enfer, c'est les autres"...

My conclusion here is that of a fatalist: there is a lot of hard work yet to be done, and I can do my best to alter my own attitudes, and to some extent, my external circumstances, but the outcome may be that my efforts are simply not enough. Therefore I have to accept the possibility of defeat as one end scenario.

I am not going to give up totally now, though, even if these texts so far might have lead one to think so. I have only laid down the present facts of my existence as I see them. There must always be that glimmer of hope, however faint that might be.


Tiedemies said...

I think I can relate, albeit only marginally, to what you are saying. I am quite the opposite, an almost flamboyant extrovert, so there are things in what you say, I can never truly understand.

But I have seen that side of the world, academic and otherwise, which you describe here. It is ugly, no doubt about it. I lacked the courage to take the socially unacceptable course which you are following, but there are times I think a little like you here.

Being a family man and all, I don't presume to grasp the loneliness part of your angst. I don't know how you picture the future regarding this subject, whether you have settled for the part of a loner or if your process of learning and growing might someday bring you close to some person or even multiple persons.

Whatever it is - if any - that have in mind, I hope you achieve it. Strength and respect.

pHinn said...

Well, to clarify: I'm not a total loner and have never been; I am in contact with people socially, and talk all the time with them either virtually or face-to-face. It's just that I'm not exactly of party animal type, if you know what I mean; being a somewhat reserved person, tend to more observe than participate, but I'm still there. What with the "angst" of being lonely, I've always known how to fill those solitary spaces; with reading and writing, music, films, art, etc. That has not been so bad.