Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Bestiarie of Human Emotions, Qualities and Quiddities: Self-Absorption

I think it's funnily unjust when we refer to a human being who is plagued by ongoing problems and who is very mindful of (and perhaps a tad loquacious about) these difficulties as self-absorbed..

I notice people rarely refer to successful and/or happy people who are just as mindful of (and perhaps similarly loquacious about) their current situation or predicament as self-absorbed.

We tend to just call these latter people lucky. And I suppose sometimes they get called annoying. Or they get called both these things.

But even the epithet annoying--when applied to a successful, happy person--seems to be much less pejorative, and to bear much less stigma, than the epithet self-absorbed when it is applied to someone who is "happiness-challenged" or "success-challenged."

For example, it would probably be ridiculous and simple-minded to refer to a celebrity as self-absorbed.

That would be like calling a cloud cloudy.

And yet even among clouds there are those different degrees of cloudness. Some clouds seem hardly to be clouds at all. Other clouds seem to bruit about that they are the very apotheosis of cloudiness, the quintessence of cloud, with the obnoxiousness of a royal fanfare whined out on long brasses.

If you stand at any distance, such musical hyperbole just sounds like a bunch of mosquitoes. (Maybe the human theme itself is a tired one, exhausted.)

I can only draw the conclusion that my culture believes that unhappy and/or unsuccessful human beings should somehow try to view themselves less as selves, or as selves in the actualized sense, meaning selves which are in the process of becoming selves through the acti of selfing, which would seem to almost invariably and constantly require some degree of self-absorption.

And how is an unhappy person to escape this fatal and fatalistic self-absorption without constantly scrutinizing its self (or possibly selves) to see if it is even making improvements?

So here we glimpse the vicious circle whereby the self-absorbed person finds itself faced with the lamentable predicament of trying to ignore itself to be a "better person."

What can the self think about that is not the self?


There are others, after all. And their problems. But I digress.

Some degree of self-absortion would seem to be a sine qua non for a self to exist at all. Whether one is going to exist for improvement or just exist for the hell of it, the hell of existing.

Maybe if one's self was a rock. Or a fire hydrant. Or a Buddhist.

But even those things seem to possess certain qualities of expressiveness and seem to express themselves.

And I mean even when those things seem not to want to express themselves at all. The third example I cite above seems to be saying that all the time. Seemingly this is without "getting" the irony. I consider all talking Buddhists oxymorons.. I should only hear your sandals. If that.

Some people would say I'm silly to even ponder this question of self-absorption and everyone knows it's a matter of degree and speaks to the sense of propriety. It is a matter of civility. It is not civil to constantly air one's miseries. It is indecent.  And yet...

Misery might love company but it seems to desire the p.a. system more.

I think the idea is not to be a songbird of one's own difficulties.

Or not to be onlyl that. Unless you're like Sojourner Truth or something. Then I think it's okay.

One must insert a few warbling notes of optimism. Into one's despair ditty.

Sing your complaints and they seem less like complaints. One's Hell with such music could become a Disney film. For God's sake cartoonize yourself just a little bit at least or you'll end up Jean-Paul Fucking Sartre. And that's nobody's dream date. (I bet he wasn't even that giraffe Simone's dream date.)

Just look at the Hellish Disneyland Morrissey made of his life! Those dreary songs are wonderful and woeful amusement park rides! "YOU MUST BE THIS TALL TO HAVE THIS MUCH WELTSCHMERZ AND RIDE THIS RIDE."

Yet we're not all born Stephens. Daedalus or otherwise.

I get the creepy feeling one is supposed to insert those few warbling notes of optimism into one's "song" of despair, one's Song of Myself, even if one is not in possession of such notes.

How will we get those cheerful notes?

Steal them.

Just steal them from another songbird.

Birds steal things from each other all the time and I'm pretty sure some of those pilfered things are musical notes.

Birds and bards are not much different in this regard.

Not that I suffer from the delusion that there are that many completely happy people out there, or that I presume that those birds which seem to be singing happy notes are actually feeling that much (or even any) happiness.

A bird's mind might as well be a blackhole. I mean if you're trying to figure out what they're thinking or feeling. We'll probably know the blackhole's thoughts first.

And I haven't even done much linguistic analysis on the word itself here.

There is the ascetic's self-absorption and  there is the sociopath's self-absorption.

Obviously those are two vastly different things.

This may just actually prove to be an untenable hyphenate, this self-absorption thingie.

Maybe there are only quieter people and more voluble people.

The most self-absorbed person in the crowd could actually be the quietest one in there.. I'm speaking mere public decibels here.

So to judge the loosened tongue merely for being loose might just be like the slide-rule calling the calculator a diva.

Both contain infinities of numerically directed and sensible epistemologies--otherwise known as equations and calculations.

It's just one has that funny battery.

You probably can't help it if you're born with funny batteries.

I'm still trying to forgive myself for being born with "funny batteries."

Probably the tree sloth shouldn't spend even one moment worrying that human crossword puzzles are talking about it all the time.

It should have better and greater slothful things to do.

Even that sloth must have a "Song of Myself."

Probably you should just absorb yourself all day long.

But donate some money and other things to the less fortunate.

Maybe even share some of your self-absorption with them.

Because you know it's burning a hole in your pocket right this instant.

I know you've got self-absorption game.


  1. Paul Dinello's ManservantJuly 25, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Love this piece, Bill!

  2. Thanks, Craig! I think I had "fun" writing it. Or had fun poking fun at myself and my various strange mirrors.