Hell Is Other People

So said John Paul Sartre. Never mind that this statement has been misunderstood and misappropriated by misanthropes. I’m not usually into misanthropy, though I suppose some folks have a legitimate beef with the rest of humanity. I’m actually quite a proud person, and don’t generally have low self-esteem. I’ve recently met some low self-esteem types, and they mystify, horrify and offend me. Even if some of my skills are apparently now quite poor, I still think I’m quite the hot stuff overall and deep down inside. This can create problems of its own, and I spent a lot of effort trying not to feel better than other people on some fundamental level. Arrogance, as good as it feels, simply doesn’t work, since all it does is make everyone hate you, but no arrogant person on Earth has ever figured this out, as you may have noticed. I often feel perfectly at peace, calm, joyously happy and fulfilled, just reading stuff, writing, doing research, or working out theory. I can be perfectly alone for hours or even days at a time like this. It’s not that I dislike others, but that in order to truly love being comfortably alone, you must like yourself. If you hate yourself, surely it must be gruesomely painful to be psychically kidnapped and forced to cohabit with your own awfulness, with no one else around to salve the pain. It so happens that I’m neither schizoid nor a real loner, and I do have affiliative needs. So I need to get at least once a day and go meet some other humans, even if only for a bit. It’s like a sociability injection. I get that, it feels good or it doesn’t, but anyway it was necessary, then I can go back to the glorious cave again. Problem is that when I go out, I’m often not as happy as when I’m alone. Why? Other humans. They usually let me down. And especially, try as I might, they often don’t treat me like I want to be treated. Obviously it’s my fault nevertheless, but that doesn’t mean it’s not at least a bit of a drag. Nothing against people per se, mind you – if the interactions would be as pleasant as I would wish it to me, I might linger for hours, or all day, Hell, why not? But it never is anymore. So it ends up that much of the misery I acquire from life seems to come from other humans, surely not from my perfectly great self. It is at such times that the poetry of the great British poet Philip Larkin illuminates things well. Philip lived alone his whole life, never married or had kids, and had only one chair at his table. To visitors, the message, seeing that one chair, was unmistakable. Hopefully, they would not be staying long? This is no philosophy to base your life on, but most of us have flashes of misanthropy now and again. If things get too bad, you can always get a cat. I don’t know the name of this Larkin poem, but it’s pretty funny. They fuck you up, your mum and dad, they may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had, and add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn, by fools, in old style hats and coats, who half the time were sorry stern, and half at one anothers' throats. Man hands on misery to man, it broadens like a coastal shelf. So get out as quickly as you can, and don't have any kids yourself.


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)