Re: virus: BNW

Zloduska (
Sat, 13 Mar 1999 03:34:08 -0600

Reed wrote:

[excuse me for chiming in here...]

>>I certainly do identify with the misanthropes in Utopia -- I've never
>>fit in here, and I doubt I'd fit in there. As to odd, no. It's
>>always been that way (for as long as I can remember).
>I'm suggesting that it doesn't have to be that way. You can change
>your mind. I was exactly where you are now, and Richard just
>pushed me a little. What he asked me was, in essense, "What's
>with this intellectual crap, what are you trying to prove?"

I'm of two minds here. Is it possible for both of you to be right? I think that's the truth, but others might call me crazy or just plain wrong for thinking so.

On one hand, I take Eric's stance toward the BNW dilemma of whether to 'join' and lead a cozy and comfy (yet bland) life or 'reject' and have the freedom of an imperfect lifestyle. I remember that the first time I read BNW it was for a class, and afterwards we were required to write a paper stating our personal choice to the IN OR OUT question and the reasons why. I immediately chose to not step through that imaginary doorway and into utopia. My thinking was that it's better to have genuine happiness at the price of real pain, than to erase human suffering by substituting it with an artificial kind of contentment. What about the human spirit that cries out for the pleasure of authentic emotion? Sure, the inhabitants of BNW *think* they are happy and *feel* happy, but what is it compared to the power of true ecstasy or searing pain? It's a lesser kind of happiness that they are setting for, but for me it's not enough. Accepting life in BNW is kind of like experiencing Love through a good book by a talented author; or perhaps watching a movie for the same effect. It's *there*, but not really there.

Yet I agree with Reed's point as well. I don't think individuality exists the way most people see it. You fit in whether you like it or not. It's important that Reed said:

>>So what if we give up a little of our false sense of individuality?

I don't think we'd have to "forfeit our uniquenss" by giving up our outward identity. After all, he did say *false* sense of individuality. We all have a sense of 'self', but this is an example of how distorted it usually is. In my view, people who think they are they biggest weirdos are the most normal, and the most "normal" people are actually the most freakish. In my occupation, I interact daily with all sorts of people, and it's my observation that people in general are total freaks, and they don't even know it. It's the most benign-looking that are the most outlandish.

Everyone, no matter how banal they appear, has some interesting history or perspective to offer. And in the grand scheme of things (if there really is a grand scheme) your feelings of isolation and how you perceive yourself in relation to others is really quite common- it fits in perfectly with the majority, not the marginal. I'm not saying you're like the adolescent self-professed "freaks" that entertain themselves by wreaking havoc on 'decent' folks. They like to pretend that they are so "different" from everyone else, that it's really quite a bore. Yeah, look at all those groups of misanthropic individuals hanging out together!

My point is, you fit in "here" a lot better than you think!

>I'm a fifth year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and
>Chemical Biology at Harvard Univeristy. I work 70 to 80 hours a
>week aside from educating you. People in my line of work have been
>known to commit suicide when their projects don't fulfill them
>sufficiently; this is how focused we are on "shooting for the stars".
>I've published cutting edge scientific research and I've won awards
>for excellence in teaching. I chew pig iron and spit out nails. I don't
>have time to stare at my navel, because I'm too busy making reality.
>And NONE of that is relevant to our discussion.

Also, there is this completely antisocial customer who I call "Catfish Man". Every day like clockwork he comes in to buy the exact same thing. He is soft-spoken yet prone to tourettes-like outbursts if provoked, and tells us what odd flavor of icecream he wants from his usual favorites, and always *always* gets a wafer cone, but like an afterthought mechanically utters what kind anyway. He has a mostly bald head but for dark, static-charged projectiles, goggle-ish spectacles, a mandarin-like mustache, and frequently half his last meal and drink all over his face. He never says "thank you" or makes direct eye contact, and in a flash grabs his dripping cone with one large, wool-mittened hand, shoves it into his mouth, whips around, and waddles away.

What a card, him. I think he is as equally essential as Reed is, and not on a lower level simply because he's not an 'intellectual'. And none of -that- is relevant to my intrusion of your discussion, but it goes to show why I don't believe in social hierarchies. Aren't people just wonderful?