Monday, June 29, 2009

pity does wrong


            Pity the pitiable, which means, pity nothing; everything is grand in suffering and joy. To pity another is cruelty, so enjoy it as cruelty, make it a virtue on those terms.

            Pity is a weapon. You attempt pity to cure yourself of envy. The evangelist gives the speech: you must be perfect to get to heaven, except that you don’t, you only have to believe weird things. Jesus loves you. You don’t believe me? Alas, I pity you.

            Self-pity is like laughing. It feels good. And to insult yourself publicly, to disvalue everything others might praise you for, is a delicious revenge: I don’t want to impress you anymore. Therefore, I will humiliate myself in order to cut you off. Your opinion of me doesn’t matter, because I no longer feel important to you, and thus, you are no longer important to me. To talk everybody out of admiring you, and not with the hypocrisy of humility, which wants to be both praised and envied, but to be truly unconcerned how others think—is a dangerous and wonderful feeling. I no longer have any delusions that I can make you see me as I see myself.

            For consider the types of suffering. Physical suffering wants no sympathizers; physical suffering wants only the enders of the suffering. Spiritual suffering, and especially the joy of feeling sorry for oneself, this wants sympathizers, for it gives a sense of nobility. I suffer and you acknowledge and respect it through your pity. Thank you. But for those unimpressed with their suffering, they seek no sympathizers.

            Between love of self and fear of others is distrust and skepticism. Skepticism and doubt are joys of independence. Consider Santa Clause. A brilliant tool in our culture. What better way to make the child into a parable of independence? The child learns that authorities disappoint, that it is appropriate to take advantage of naivety, that the hope of naivety—and also hope in general?—is untrustworthy, that culture can be a conspiracy (for did not all adults confirm and perpetuate the Santa story?). Santa, a personified force of moral justice. Santa, God. The theist is ironic on this point, and that explains the irritability and forced innocence that guilts the theists. And the apology the adult makes to the child becomes a blueprint and prescription for deceit in general.

            I remember one movie I saw as a child which advocated Santa-saying on the ground that even the cynical honesty of the Santa-denying adult is mistaken, but the adult should believe too, for Santa is real. A disturbing movie for me at the time. But no less troubling was the talk of the “real” meaning of Christmas, which I did not understand, but felt odd to put at odds popularity versus truth, and commercial versus actual. What escaped my child’s mind was that perhaps the secular Christmas was truer then the sacred.

            Be skeptical, yes, and yet, excorcize the doubts of others. Exorcise them and their crystallized secrets, by the melting power of naming. “If I were you, I would be thinking…” The secret doubts and tensions freeze the flow of dialogue.

            Ah, how I have envied, and as Voltaire envied: I envy great things so that I may admire myself as I strive to achieve them. I heard the great man became great: I envied his acheivement. I heard others openly envy the the great man, I envied the envy he received—if only others envied me that way! I used to work so hard to become a second Nietzsche, a third Emerson, and now that I am great, I can look up to nobody: I envy my own youthful envy. I run across a scrap of paper with a beautiful maxim on it and wish I had written it myself, but then realize I did write it in the middle of the night: I envy myself. I catch a glimpse of the arrogant man on the street, envy him, and realize it is my reflection in a mirror—too much! I envy the envious: they have easy models to look up to. What if I am grandiose and wonderful? I must admire only my budding potential.

            Pity is endlessly kissing a fetid wound instead of gutting it out and sewing it up. The entire continent of Africa, we are told to believe, is shaped like a eternal wound, a gory money pit which we must every throw our pity into. A people constantly straving to death but never getting there.

            Pity is vampire. Does not the mosquito give of her own substance in return for the drop of blood she needs? In the same way, the pitiers always give, give, give, so that they may freely take the glorious gore of the sufferer.

            Courage cures millions, pity cuts more wounds. Words of pity are a rusted razor. The courageous man when he is merely spoken of heals and cures the victim, the sufferer, the terminally ill. The pitiers let the victim whine, but this is not his true voice, and so he acquires the second self of me as victin, rather than me as fighter. Let us not whine, nor complain, nor even straddle an inch into pity, but if the victim whines, beat him even a bit more, to awake his anger and fury. Anger cures more wounds than pity. Guilt, pity, sympathy, all pathetic and destructive. Love the man, and look upon his wounds as trifles and fuel for his greatness. Interpretations when believed become reality, and so believe your interpretations and make them so. If you pity a man, you will make him a healthy and recovered worm. Respect a man, and he will laugh at his pain and wounds and make in turn the world beautiful.


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