Monday, June 24, 2019

Who are those people I really hate?


"Of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing can ever be made."

Immanuel Kant

Misanthropy - the hatred, dislike, mistrust or contempt of humanity - is a state often confused with unsociability. The latter is an expression of grumpiness; the former is a condition.  The difference is between temperament and disorder.  Lest confusion should mistakenly arise from mere excitability, it behooves me to dilute my curmudgeonly character with an examination of the broad query, "Where exactly is it written?"  The diversion enables me to remedy a malaise (what Gustave Flaubert called the "suppressed rage at the folly of men") and to redirect the exploration to an as yet unconsidered analysis of purely scientific resource (that is, what exactly predicts acceptable behaviour). Like so many elaborate debates, the answer lies in the question. There is no code of human behaviour - other than the self-serving creations of politics and religion. Whence then do we take our lead? Are we just inches away from animals? Do we create our own ethics? Can we rely upon the example of others?  Should we?

The utility and importance of the question is that it elevates the consternation which otherwise inevitably prevails when considering, "Who are those people I really hate?" The reason is simple:  if others didn't threaten our sense of propriety or significance, we wouldn't give a damn; but, because we insist upon making demands upon others we similarly confound our own performance by overlooking the immutability of our own. While we couldn't imagine resiling from the natural behaviour of an animal, we speedily adopt the assertion that "human beings are the worst species that was ever dreamed up".  It requires minimal disturbance to adopt the poisonous opinion of misanthropy when presented with "thwarted expectations and na├»ve optimism". The damaging nature of misanthropy is that it relegates one to an unworkable existence.  We cannot escape humanity.  Some jokingly advance their preference for cats or dogs - which may well be true - but it seldom overcomes the root of the dilemma.  How much easier it is to formulate a tolerable scheme of our own making.

Hesitatingly I note that the inspiration for this blog is Monty Python, specifically "Life of Brian" if I recall correctly. There was a scene in which the laird of a manor was engrossed in writing a letter to The Times. He interrupted his progress to ask Her Ladyship, "Who are those people I really hate?" - to which she replied, "The missionaries, dear!"  He then asked, "How do you spell disembowelled?"

"And there shall in that time be rumours of things going astray, and there will be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia work base, that has an attachment...at this time, a friend shall lose his friends hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before around eight o'clock..."

The point is, humour helps. Easy to say, I know, but meant entirely in earnestness.  We take ourselves far too seriously - or at least more seriously than others.  Make no mistake, if you think anyone stews about you as much as you do about yourself, you're in for a surprise!  And a grave disappointment. This is not to categorize others as uncaring, just to acknowledge that people haven't the time or inclination to dissect all the provokes you, nor should they.  It does however require a very refined disposition to rise above the conduct of others.  I am not proposing that we abandon either our purpose or expression; but we mustn't equate the digestibility with the plausibility.

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