May 23, 2004

A Philosophical Question Motivated By No One in Particular*

Have you ever noticed the surprising number of people in the world who'll take a reaction of disgust on your part, and turn it into proof positive that they're brave, unflinching soldiers speaking truth to power on their part? Even though, really, it's just that they're assholes? What is that--some misguided self-defense mechanism that nature provides to jerks to prevent them killing themselves from despair at their own jerkiness, or what?

*Paranoiacs are welcome to speculate that it's really about themselves if it makes them happy to do so, though. I don't want to deprive anyone of a little fun on the weekend. That would be mean.

Posted by Ilyka at May 23, 2004 03:40 AM in hell is other people

It comes from the mistaken belief that anything that "shocks the bourgeoisie" (the middle-class townsfolk whose lives and influence are supposedly so boring, stultifying, cultureless, and oppressive but who in fact have made it possible for an artistic, avant-garde, eccentric culture to develop and flourish in safety and comfort) is somehow indicative of the truth and inherent rightness of the shocking act or opinion. The idea that some things are just disgusting has been discouraged as it might hurt some loser's sacred Self-Esteem™.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 23, 2004 04:16 AM

WELL, I lived the edgy, ultra-violent, action-packed gang life and I'm very happy with my plain jane life now. ;)

Hmm... Ya got me thinking Ilyka...

Posted by: S-Train at May 23, 2004 01:00 PM

Your regular run-of-the-mill assholes will be somewhat paranoid and think you are talking about them whereas the truly great assholes will not recognize themselves due to their delusions of grandeur, which is a one of the primary symptoms of truly great assholiness.

Now I'm reminded of the axiom of mosquitoes. The male buzzes but doesn't bite. The female bites but doesn't buzz. If you hear a mosquito buzzing, ignore it. If you hear nothing.........

I don't recognize myself in your post......

Posted by: Rob at May 23, 2004 06:25 PM

Rob, you could no more be the kind of person I'm talking about than pigs could fly.

Posted by: ilyka at May 23, 2004 07:40 PM

I really didn't think so but you're being too kind. On a bad day, I can be a run-of-the-mill asshole but I don't have what it takes to get to the next level. At least, I hope not. My wife may disagree.

Posted by: Rob at May 23, 2004 09:37 PM

I am pretty sure I know what you are talking about here, but I am curious as hell.

And I was not worried it was me, ironically, since I am one of those cowaring needy people that flattens when people attack me on account of being disgusted (I can take being outraged or indignified. If people are disgusted, I just feel all slimy.), I am pretty sure it's not me.

But it might be Rob.

Posted by: Helen at May 24, 2004 11:54 AM

That a girl, Helen.

Posted by: Rob at May 24, 2004 03:09 PM

if assholes didn't play the role of unflinching soldiers speaking truth to power, would you?

see they save everyone the hassle of doing it ourselves.

Posted by: rammer at May 25, 2004 03:25 AM

But you see, they are not really "speaking truth to power." They are merely engaging in masturbatory exercises that they mistakenly believe is a form of protest.

Posted by: Miguel at May 25, 2004 10:14 PM

I dunno. Forgive me for being obvious, but it's usually not hard to tell if you're REALLY a "brave, unflinching soldiers speaking truth to power".

(How can you tell? Well, having your phone tapped, getting unexpected visits from the FBI, CIA, or Secret Service... that's usually a broad hint. Earning the scorn and disapproval of your friends and colleagues is NOT the same thing.)

Protest entails risk. That's why I never understood the college undergraduates who wanted to take over a building in protest, but wanted immunity from arrest (and wanted it codified in college by-laws, no less). If the issue is important enough to you, you'll be willing to put your own tender skin on the line, regardless of whether it's Save The Whales or a stint in the U.S. Marines. If you're not willing to do that, you might as well stay home.

In re the paranoids among us: Andy Rooney pretty much nailed it when he said, "You wouldn't worry so much about what people think of you, if you only knew how infrequently they do".

best wishes to all,
Daniel in Medford

Posted by: Daniel in Medford at May 26, 2004 10:24 PM