Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Misanthropy.

This is the word that fills my head for over an hour. I am back in New York, at a bar called Stanton Social on the lamest night of the week, Saturday. The place is packed with decent enough looking people, but they’re all idiots. You know what I mean. Sunglasses worn indoors, each pair emblazoned with some shiny consonant intended to reflect the excessive sum of money devoted to specific acquisition. (Never mind that it’s 1AM.) Red bull vodkas, ordered with no irony or self-reflection. Those fancy $80 T-Shirts with designer tooling. Bronzer. And these are the Yuppies!

Your hero often claims to be a misanthrope. But it’s not the case. I don’t hate humanity. I may be disappointed in how easily the dance of stupidity works its way into the line-up, but I don't condemn the dancers. I want to hate, but I can’t. Our failures and idiocy are shared ones. We’re all guilty of the sort of mistakes we see in others. Perhaps the scale varies. Or the application. But we’re all an irrational mess of chemical, gristle and bone capable of extreme selfishness. We’re obsessed with being right. It takes a lifetime to gain perspective, to realize how many hours were wasted over things that didn’t really matter.

There are real misanthropes out there. Like Michel Houellebecq for instance, the controversial French author. There is no joy to be found in his regard. He seeks to find the truth and the truth is horrible and ugly. We’re awful creatures. He expects nothing holding up a mirror to us. That’s part of his genius.

I’d long to expect nothing but I can’t. We’re all we have. Better then, to laugh. You don’t hate a clown for being stupid. (Although you might fear him, my coulrophobic friends. And rightly so.) To be amused by the pettiness is somehow greater than condemning it. I suspect self loathing is at the heart of most true misanthropes. They can only sustain self worth through holding the world at an arm’s length. Usually smoking a cigarette and simpering.

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It is a hard leap from critic to clown. People don’t want to make a fool of themselves. But in the end, so much of what we hold important can seem foolish only a few years later. The domino theory. Witchcraft. Esperanto.

Of course some things are not laughing matters. Witness the events in the Near East these past few weeks (I will be one source who won’t go into excessive detail on the subject. There are many who will and who do a better job than I.) Still, here in the complacent, (to date) missile-free US of A…most things ultimately are rather silly, if only we can improve our vantage point. Integrated Marketing. Brand Equities. Finding out what pair of trouser-cut defines us as a person (Boot Cut, Relaxed Fit, Retarded Pleat). What an amusing bunch of monkeys we really are.

This monkey, known to you as Chas Chesterfield, has elected to embrace that he’s a fool. And his aim will be to entertain. After all, it’s just a lot more fun.

2 Comments:

Blogger Helen Sparkles said...

I just got back from Italy and couldn't believe the number of Americans around, I also can't believe someone didn't like Florence, but Italy can be tricky for some used to less chaos methinks. We had no idea they would be anywhere near the final when we booked the trip, but it was fabulous to be there for the winning of the world cup. All the Brits were conspicuously identifiable by their Italia shirts, including moi, just proving we all have our national idiosyncrasies.

7:57 PM  
Blogger babwerk said...

yes. Glad to find you!

2:51 AM  

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