The Life & Loves of a Failed Misanthropist # 1

Drummer Bob

“‘I become the enemy of people the moment they touch me,’ he said. ‘On the other hand, it has always happened that the more I hate people individually, the more ardent becomes my love for humanity as a whole.’” —Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Let’s face it, I am irresistibly drawn to investigate the dark underbelly of the world, and nothing seems to ever change that. But there’s no end to the underbelly, so if I am forever shedding light on what is fearsome and loathsome to me, when do I get to write about what I love?

Graham Greene once said something about how those who love humanity have no time for human beings.[1] I locate myself on the opposite end of that spectrum. As much as I loathe “humanity,” I seem to have quite a lot of time, interest, and love for my fellow human beings. This has been my “philosophical position,” at least, and lately I have been forced to put it to the test and leave my armchair and pipe behind.

This is not from any conscious preference or choice. In fact there is resistance in me to writing about this, but there’s also resistance to not writing it. There is a feeling of urgency, a desire to nudge myself out of a habitual groove into new tunes, besides just recycling—or perfecting—old familiar ones.

This suggests that there are two of me. There is the soul of me, and there is the false identity. The false identity always has fish to fry. He has important pursuits—no matter how trivial—and sees anyone and everything as either a means or an obstacle to whatever ephemeral, elusive end he is currently chasing (always the same end, really, to feel validated and appreciated—to feel loved).

The soul of me, on the other hand, never closes. It is always open to whatever is arriving, always seeking an encounter with it. It is always eager to experience a connection to other souls (and even objects have souls of a sort). There is only room in any given moment for one of these to meet and greet the new arrivals; either my soul or my false identity gets jurisdiction over my awareness, and of those it interacts with.

When I go to work at the thrift store, feelings of irritation and resentment quickly arise within me. As the first customer comes through the door—What do they want?—or the first pile of unwanted donations arrives, I feel overwhelmed. Like most people with day-jobs, I’d rather be somewhere else, doing something different. I bring a little laptop in so I can do something else. But as soon as I begin reading emails or writing a response, reading a PDF or doing research, an interruption comes, even if only the interruption of “Hi, how are you?”

In comes drummer Bob for his regular morning shop. I ask Bob how he’s doing, knowing I risk becoming a hostage to his misery. “I haven’t been sleeping lately,” he says, followed by all the reasons why.  Then he begins to talk about how much he wants to move to somewhere better. Bob is always moving (or claiming to), and as soon as he gets somewhere new, he starts complaining and saying how much he needs to move.

Disheveled and rumpled, Bob’s thinning hair is combed back over his head into a ponytail, and he has less of a beard than the random sproutings of laziness and lack of upkeep. His red eyes peer out, like a maltreated dog, from a facial expression that hangs perilously between sadness and resentment. Bob is waiting to glom onto whoever gives him just enough attention to get his hooks into them. His unconscious need to be loved makes him repellent. He’s the tragedy of Man, in a single, plodding husk.

Though Bob doesn’t really come to shop, he makes a weak imitation of it. “Oh well, I’ll buzz around and see if there’s anything I can’t live without,” he says, before schlepping slowly from one end of the store to the other. If he sees an opening before leaving, he will make lamenting sounds about his dire future: “Oh well, I’ll carry on my way now and walk around some more before going home,” he says, as if describing a cruel and unjust sentence.

Oozing self-pity and dejection with every word, I know Bob is silently begging me to say, “Stick around, Bob. Tell me some more about how miserable you are!” But I don’t. From the moment he enters, I am waiting for him to leave. He is the saddest embodiment of how not to get love.

All the lonely people. I don’t know where they come from, but I know where they end up, sooner or later on their lonely trails: standing in front of me. Drummer Bob once told me he played with Buddy Holly and Elvis. He’s old enough that it could just about be true. The saddest thing is, he makes it impossible to care.

When I said I loathe humanity, this is closer to the truth: I loathe the superficial, over-socialized behaviors that make “humanity” a more or less homogeneous collective of neurotic, self-serving, self-indulgent, self-destructive, and mostly unconscious behaviors passing, sadly, for individuals. It’s ironic, then, that I ended up working a job that requires constant exposure to, and interaction with, the most notoriously superficial and neurotic aspect of human behavior: consumerism!

People shop to fill the void and distract themselves from their internal despair, confusion, and alienation. But underneath that, they are seeking some kind of connection, an experience of love and community. Everyone who comes into the space comes into it with two agendas, one “conscious” (volitional but also automatic), the other “unconscious,” instinctive and intuitive. Paradoxically, it is the unconscious motivation that’s closer to true consciousness, to the soul that’s seeking love through any and every interaction.

And the same is true of me.

***

P.S. This may or may not be the first in a series of pieces which I hope to alternate with my investigative analyses deconstructing the hideous false identity of humanity (the world). These pieces (if they continue) will offer simpler, more intimate descriptions of the everyday (and unavoidable) emergence of soul life, via the removal of all unwelcome “add-ons” of social distortion that prevent our true natures from being experienced and expressed, in a moment to moment way.


[1] Actually the quote is: “One can’t love humanity. One can only love people.”

33 thoughts on “The Life & Loves of a Failed Misanthropist # 1

  1. Very beautiful thoughts Jasun, and a somewhat leavening effect on the really scary shit which we usually explore, so thats nice, but my need to feel anxious and scared silly hates you now.

  2. Now that was beautifully written and touching. It’s the sort of piece that has had me following you for so many years, it speaks to my own dilemma so well. I have no doubt that, on sight, most would label me as unfriendly, and then add on all the things unfriendly people represent for them. In repose, though a handsome man (not my assessment, but I’ll take it), I have a somewhat stern, unwelcoming visage and people keep their distance, or even, from time to time, become hostile themselves. This isn’t something that I consciously designed, but the end result of being sensitive, my insensitive upbringing and school environment and too many negative, often scarring, interactions with people over the years. To try to counter my dourness I have to consciously grin, which makes me feel like a chimpanzee. So I just limit interactions in general, except online, where, like many I tend to be too strident.

    The fact is though, I am not unfriendly at all at heart. With the certain people I take too, I’m very friendly, considerate and loving even. Deep down I yearn for love, for tenderness, but doubt I’m either worthy of it or that it exists at all anymore. The truth is I don’t believe that most people have the will or the wisdom to look beyond appearances and try to learn, really learn, about the other. Even in my (attempted) intimate relationships this was the case. An idea of the so called beloved is formed and that’s it, good luck trying to get out of that box. The context of the relationship determines the persona, as I’ve found out time and time again when visiting or staying with my family of origin. I no longer visit them now because of this and the person they think I am doesn’t exist, except on visits. I do my best to please.

    My father, who had the most traumatic of childhoods, was a cynic and passed on the cynicism–and the trauma. And like my father, who was deep down a tender and kind man, I’m left with the puzzle that he never managed to solve. I don’t have too much time left to solve it and oftentimes feel like just giving in, but I’ve managed to change many negative aspects of myself, or at least not be ruled by them, so I feel the investment of the me who was then ought to be honoured.

    Whatever I’ve written recently, I respect you Jasun.

    • Glad you shared all that; it confirms my instinct to blog something more personal and intimate alongside all the analysis.

      Funnily enough, drummer Bob (not his real name) came in yesterday & I had a quite different experience of him. Because of what I wrote I was watching him more closely to see how accurate it was and finding that I saw him quite differently, as if having identified a filter in my own perception (by writing) that was now removed; at the same time the filter in my perception may well be Bob’s own cloak, what he unconsciously projects as a shield to prevent people from getting close.

      He was interested in an old fireman’s badge in the cabinet. I quoted him a price and he said he would have to come back after his check cleared so I told him to take it and bring the money later; a woman whom neither of us knew overheard and offered to buy it for him if she had enough money left over after her sale. She had a $10 bill and was buying four items of children’s clothing, which sell for 25 cents each. So she bought him the badge. She was happy & Bob was happy, and also pretty amazed at his good luck. I told him it happens a lot that strangers buy things for people who are short on cash (it does), and Bob left with his prize.

  3. I’m waiting for the part where someone else (another observer, with an ability at the written word, and validated by their own blog / podcast / publications), posts about walking into The Thrift Store and encountering you. They might manage more empathy for the human condition — that wouldn’t take much, by the way.

  4. Story’s like these. Moments of tearing open the human condition and laying it bare. They always remind me of why its so hard to be a misanthrope. I have been around allot of people I couldn’t stand. People though that than laid open their life and I have only felt empathy. Compassion, or pity, or anger, or sadness, either way, I felt as least what it means to be HUMAN. We are here to share the human condition. We may never figure it out, but we can continue to share it. Something I’ve always appreciated from Jasun.

  5. Bob is a “loser” in a world/ framework in which material status is king. That’s why The Arts can save us: in a world in which Aesthetic matters of metaphor, color, form, invention, cadence, expression (and so on) Rule, Bob can participate fully or even (with talent) be a local celebrity… and keep happily busy in Life with actual (Aesthetic) goals to strive for. “The Arts” have been hijacked and degraded into a faddy state of decadent triviality (expressing nothing) by The Rich butTthe Arts are, properly, the province of The Poor. But we are too often shooed away from the treasures that might save us and don’t know better than to accept the way we’re shunted toward idiotic, money-obsessed TV/ Movies/ Pop/Plastic Products which relieve us of our cash while robbing us of our even more valuable Time and leaving us on a trash heap of “Bobs”.

    Forget about “fighting” or “ending” Poverty: Perfect (emphasis on second syllable) it. Read and write and paint creatively; give readings in each other’s unspectacular flats. Throw the effing i-phone money-siphons away and re-learn to cook healthy meals and reconnect with Human community and re-discover the dignity that was always there under that artificial layer of Lucre Angst you wear like itchy armor. Opt Out of a venal, asinine, soul-sucking pseudo-culture you can’t possibly compete in and let’s help each other out… eh?

    Bob could be a God. Why not?

    • You really nailed it Steven. As our culture and civilization decay and wither I often wonder what can really be done. What is really the point? Nihilism is such a warm fuzzy blanket. But if we build each other up into Gods, eternity will be ours. It takes such incredible inner strength and patience to truly help another human. To build them up and inspire them. To help them become a creative God. It’s so easy to sit back and judge and feel contempt. In the end, Jesus was right all along. We need to reach out and into the Bobs and inspire them. This could indeed be our purpose as humans.

      • That might also be a way to sidestep our misanthropy – by projecting our own god-aspirations onto people instead of letting them be simply human. Let’s face it, Bob is never going to be a God – not outside of Marvel-comix and Kubrickian/Homerotic movie dreams, at least – and neither are you or I (not in this life). Becoming fully human – and helping the zombies to awaken by seeing the human being trapped inside there – does seem to be within the realms of the mundane possible.

        • Lincoln!

          I’m with you for lots of that but the Jesus stuff so leaves me cold; creation myths in general don’t float my boat. My basic point: why agree to play a game which has, as its only purpose, to turn the overwhelming majority of its players into “losers” or so-called “useless eaters”? Opt out. Opt out en masse… that’s the only thing TFIC can possibly fear from us. If we all Opt Out, Game over.

          @Jasun:

          I suspect you’re doing quite a bit of “projecting” yourself. Kubrick’s picaresque dreams aren’t “homoerotic”… you’re committing the Lit Crit autobiography-fallacy in spades, there. Kubrick’s critiques of our “civilization” are usually focused through figures of the rogue or rampaging bachelor (Quilty/ Alex/ Ripper/ Joker/ Jack2… though married, like unfucked Bill… and even HAL), which he cartoonifies with the magisterial aplomb of a Sterne or a Swift; if there’s any thematic autobiography there, it’s possibly in the fact that SK had a household of beloved women he felt anxious about protecting. Like SK, I went for the most striking, well-educated, much younger, “high value” female of the “enemy tribe” and got her… happy ever since (15 years this Xmas). The sexual kick of making love to a Shiksa Goddess with your blatant Otherness can’t be underestimated! Laugh. Well at least my fetish doesn’t involve lots of clean up… and I doubt that Stanley’s did, either… his only mistake, possibly, was overestimating his ability to keep the world from breaching the compound gates.

          Re: “misanthropy”: mine is closer to exasperation

          • I expected such a rebuttal; I was referring to 2001 only, a conspicuous exception to his other themes and messages but obviously a significant one

            Sorry to say this but IMHO you have a LOT to learn about SK and the forces behind him. I won’t say more; it’s too time-consuming to exchange perspectives with new arrivals who haven’t yet taken the time to read my previous work. It can be fruitful, and exchanging with you has been – I have cracked another layer of the Kubrickon – so many thanks for that (and to a house guest who broke my sleep and created the insomnia crack for new insights). But at present I don’t want to put energy into discussing SK with someone so evidently under his spell; been there, done that, didn’t even get a T-shirt.

          • “Sorry to say this but IMHO you have a LOT to learn about SK and the forces behind him. I won’t say more; it’s too time-consuming to exchange perspectives with new arrivals who haven’t yet taken the time to read my previous work. ”

            Ah, fear not, Jaysun. Your opinions/ belief systems are nothing to apologize for. Chats are always useful on some level. Positing your own writings as a kind of canon that the casual passerby should acquaint her/himself with, before putting a noob foot wrong, in the threads, though, is a bit much, surely…? As someone once said, “I used to think like that, too…”

            (PS: I certainly hope you’re not one of the “Tavistock!”ers. Or are you a “It’s the Khazars!”er? I started my own readings, on the matter, in the late 1960s with the seminally lurid Bergiers/ Pauwels “Morning of the Magicians” and then Charles Fort and learned, over the decades, how to triangulate/ collate Disinfo to distill a trickle of truth now and then. Politics I learned from my father’s failures as a ’60s Radical with an FBI agent of his very own. There are very, very, very few theories… or parapolitical creation myths… that I’m not yawn-inducingly au fait with. Reading Quigley against John Judge you start to get a sense of the thousands of powerful cabals that are battling it out, and sometimes harmonizing, in the name of Serf Control… there needs to be a Uni course on it! But, obviously, what Uni could be trusted to teach it? And no SINGLE thinker can be that Uni; certainly neither of us. To think otherwise is just a trick of that good old trickster Ego…)

          • Yes that’s what I wrote, Homerotic.

            So asking people who wish to engage me in discussion at my blog to familiarize themselves with my work is a “bit much”? In whose world exactly?

            The quip about Tavistock is a good example. And timely, as I just wrote in an email a moment ago: “Tavistock IMO, is great example of how apparently true facts about long-term social engineering have been reformatted into sloppy conspiracy theories for the gullible, thereby discrediting the whole subject for more serious writers like yourself. I had no idea I would come up against Tavistock in my own researches, and I had steered clear of material about it because it was never credibly sourced. There were many such surprises along the way. First rule of thumb: never believe conspiracy theories without further research. Second rule: never disbelieve them without further research.”

            For the record, I am not claiming to have a monopoly on the truth about Kubrick or anything else; all I am saying is that I recognize a particular illusion running through your comments – exemplified by the veneration for the artistic genius – that I have seen through in my own cultural conditioning & I don’t see much fruit coming from back & forthing about it – except maybe the clockwork sort. If it’s working for you, carry on.

          • Jaysun!

            I don’t discount “Tavistock theory” completely… I’m just leery of the general urge to fit a neat capstone on the control structure. The capstone, from what I can tell, is splintered and continues to splinter and “Tavistock” is just one little splinter. Things change quickly not only for the sheep but their shepherds, as well. The three original and hoary historical categories of power would be A) Ancestral Chieftains (aka badasses with clubs) B) their Merlins C) their eventual bankers: at some point the vassals struggle against their Lords. Thousands of years on it’s a clusterfuck (magnified by technological forces) that even TFIC can’t entirely make sense of. The allegiances are tenuous and shot through with justified paranoia… “even” plutocratic family members are cutting each other’s throats as a matter of course. The story isn’t written yet and it’s ill-advised to ink-in “The Winner”.

            My critique of SK’s oeuvre is purely Artistic, because I actually have his oeuvre to critique (what that oeuvre can be “used for” is a matter of opinion/ preferences). I have his oeuvre: what do *you* have with which to run *your* critique but narratives you got from the same tainted well your critiques decry…? Dark insinuations are fine for weaving an aura from which a theory might one day sort of condense but to treat that as canonical is… premature at best.

          • My critique of SK’s oeuvre is purely Artistic, because I actually have his oeuvre to critique (what that oeuvre can be “used for” is a matter of opinion/ preferences). I have his oeuvre: what do *you* have with which to run *your* critique but narratives you got from the same tainted well your critiques decry…?

            That’s not a question tho, is it? The *emphasis* conveys that you don’t really want to know what I have to offer because you’re already convinced. I did read your piece on The Shining BTW (when you first posted) and found merit it in (you may be the only person I have read to acknowledge the deliberate badness of SK’s films). But IMO you are blinded by the IDEA of SK as a creator, and fail to recognize that his movies are largely designed to instill this very idea, as a necessary frame or lens through which to read those works. It’s like the UFO or the stage magician, if all you refer to is the thing you are studying, you will always be deceived because that’s what it is designed to do, deceive you. IMO, SK movies were not made by SK not really (he was just a glorified cinematographer). You can say that’s speculation, but I would say it’s a necessary one to think outside Stanley’s box.

            One demonstrable problem with your approach is it leads inexorably to statements such as this:

            Well, no point in going around and around on all this but you’re talking about the surface levels of those Kubrick films; you’re just skimming the top. And Nolan and Fincher? Ha. Not remotely in the same league. You can’t be super-conversant with Film Art or narrative aesthetics and put those hamfisted-but-talented, deeply middlebrow, Spielberg-dark hacks in a class with SK.

            If we are going to just talk about Art, big A, then I consider Fight Club far superior as a film to anything Kubrick ever did, but then I consider most of SKs films to be mediocre as movies, and artistically vacuous or soulless. In your frame of reference, all that does is prove I am unworthy to have a conversation about film with you. That’s the Cult of Stanley speaking.

            As committee-constructed harvesters of psychic energy designed to engender obsession about them and SK’s genius, however, the films are significant cultural artifacts that I can’t in good conscience as a cultural critic ignore, however unappealing I find most of them as movie-going experiences, and however arrogant and condescending I find their admirers generally to be.

          • Steven, curious to hear more about what exactly is opting out. Living in a shack in the woods off grid? Or not having an Amazon account? I think this deserves much more discussion. Also, how does opting out change anything in our greater world? Seems very selfish. I also wish people wouldn’t throw baby Jesus out with the Christian bathwater. He didn’t make up the religion. Nor did he write a creation myth. If you read exactly what he said, particularly the texts that got buried in the desert for thousands of years, you would be hard pressed to find a better guide to proper living. Unfortunately though most of his teachings were mystery rites for his inner circle and not for the masses. But, this isn’t probably the place for either discussion.

        • For what’s it worth, in my readings regarding Bernays, and then Tavistock, I came across related topics that led to interesting factoids; lots of the “Tavistock crowd” argue that The Beatles were a Tavistock creation and that even the Fab4 songs were written for them ( no need to). I could find nothing to support that theory… and Paul is *definitely not dead*… but I also came to the conclusion that The Beatles were an orchestrated distraction from the JFK event, and that their timeline indicates precise foreknowledge in the Media programmers who handled their sudden ascent to world fame:

          https://berlin8berlin.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/i-want-to-hold-your-invisible-hand-of-fame/

  6. Inverting the hierarchy is still the same mindset. Bob could be exactly where he needs to be. Why are we all talking about Bob as though he’s not here ?

  7. Just catching this blog, Jasun. Here’s a ‘second’ or ‘third’ to your writing skills. The Bob paragraphs, even if you now see him in a slightly different light, are fine. Not just the rhythm, but the turn of phrase: ‘hostage to his misery’ and ‘sprouts of laziness’.

    There’s a verbal paint brush or ten in ‘there’, Jasun. Perhaps in that liminal place between the soul and your identity. Get ’em out more often…!

    (Your always saying ‘false’ identity, but isn’t this slightly redundant? The root of identity is idem. The same. One’s identity is always a mirage, to some degree. It’s always false compared with THE philosophical/spiritual ‘truth’.)

    • thanks Wes; good point (I think) about identity. But just saying identity wouldn’t do it, would it. Constructed identity is a phrase I used to use more often. False self is perhaps better, tho some say there is no true self (not I).

  8. One more thing, mea culpa.

    “Compassion fatigue”! That’s a section in the new, bestselling book, Notes from a Thrift Store, subtitled, Calm in the Face of a Consumed World’?

  9. Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much,
    However I am having difficulties with your
    RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else getting the
    same RSS problems? Anyone that knows the answer can you kindly
    respond? Thanks!!

Leave a Comment