2016.06.10

To the peculiarities of the human mind, or at last mine, not to speak generally, comes the troubling capacity to envy and admire the very thing one simultaneously feels contempt for, perhaps secretly, perhaps unconsciously, unacknowledged.

With the dog, it’s different. He desires the rabbit chase, and isn’t hampered by a simultaneous contempt for the rabbit. Not as far as one can tell. The cats he just wants to exterminate. It’s may seem simpler, but I bet it’s superior. The human attitude complicates things.

Walking in a park yesterday, certain things pulled me back in time. You know, the way the different seasonal smells of nature can bring back a kind of images of the past; rarely pure memories, rarely explicit ones, but images, emotional atmospheres. But not like that this time, although there’s always a certain feeling in the air this time of the year. Even in the scent of lilacs, I’m sensing a certain oppression mixed with the prospect of temporary freedom. But it wasn’t that.

We were walking and having to pass all these children on outings — a tradition, presumably, during the last days of semester. Oh, it’s such an uncomfortable impression, and a feeling of discomfort that turns the stomach. The games! The noise, the running! The “fun” that was never ever fun.

All this growing up one has to do. Learning the meaning of the concept “no”; learning to recognize the inner “no” when it arises. Re-learning, perhaps more accurately. Because at so many times you scolded yourself for not doing enough to adapt, for not mimicking others fast enough, for not being able to be one of the crowd, talk the talk of others, seamlessly melt into and merge with the social organism of children, raving and raging in unity. Because for so long that had been advertised as the way to community.

If you don’t get out there, if you make no effort, how can you expect to be a part of anything?

The presumption was wrong; there was nothing to be had in that context. There would have been, if you were a different person. Pretending is a dead-end, more or less. Suppressing oneself has a limit. It is also transparent. Normal kids will sniff you out, like a dog trailing a dying animal.

You’d think this is a matter only for children, perhaps. But it takes much longer to grow up. I remember when I began studying law at the university. There was a day (or even an entire week! I have forgotten) of introduction, and senior students were supposed to arrange “fun games” for the newcomers. Of course, the few good and nice people I later got to know understood the danger and sensibly stayed at home (ironic, isn’t it!). I had internalize the message of my childhood that I can’t refuse activities because I don’t like them; no, I must do my best, never question, try to imitate the others — or take the blame for being alone.

It was awful, naturally, and at one point (it came quite soon) I had had enough: in a public square and being told to drink beer (in a demeaning way, as you can imagine) from the same bottle as other people, whom I didn’t know, I refused. It caused some consternation. But as an adult, you can refuse. It’s much worse for a child. Interestingly it wasn’t the “ordinary” discomfort I’d been feeling that made me refuse; I was used to and would have put up with that, so as to be like others, if you know what I mean, those others I thought I had no choice but to — I don’t know, try to become a part of their world, which of course would have ejected me anyway.

What saved me was my hypochondria, a dislike of beer and a hatred of crowds.

Not very noble, if you think about it.

There’s that part of me that wishes I had stood up for myself — or even had known what I wanted or understood how it could be achieved — and another part that envies and admires those, well, frankly, simple-minded morons, who revelled in muck and had no sense of beauty. You see! There they are, envy and contempt, dancing around each other like the sweet and salty flavours of certain kinds of candy!

And so it was, I believe now, with all the people of my childhood, the packs I couldn’t belong to; I was the inferior and envious, yet superior and contemptuous, wolf trailing along behind, masquerading as one of a crowd, still solitary and impossible.