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inertia

October 6, 2008

I am no closer to enlightenment than we as a society are to a social utopia; and I am beginning to feel about the former what Dostoyevsky eventually felt about the latter. It is a frightening perspective, especially when it leads to being a miserable person who fails to act out of a perplexing array of philosophical conundrums such as myself.

I have found, to both my happiness and dismay, that there are a great deal of similarities between the man in the mousehole and I. (I must confess that I have recently been reading Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground, and I find it to be the most beautiful and terrifying thing I have ever read precisely because it speaks to me in a way that no other piece of literature has ever spoken to me before.) As perverted as the “Underground Man’s” view of happiness is, I too have always thought that knowledge and intelligence are the keys to happiness—the more intelligent we are, the more answers we will have; the more answers we have, the happier we will be.

But, much to my dismay, I have found that this assumption has not proven to be true. I have since found that my intelligence, if you wish to even call it that, paralyzes me and makes me content and miserable all at the same time; I am content, for example, in my knowledge, my self-awareness if you will, that sets me apart from the fool who acts without thinking, and yet that thinking more often than not prevents me from acting at all! This unforeseen type of self-analysis that is eating away at my sanity, I can see it so clearly: I am as cowardly as I am courageous; I am as ignorant as I am intelligent, et cetera.

In reality, this thing that I loathe to call my intelligence simply alienates me even further from the rest of society; and even though I am quite an unsociable person by nature, I still get lonely and crave the kind of companionship that the Buddha called “admirable friendship.” As I try to understand why my life is turning out the way that it is, I realize that I am doing so through the eyes of a man in a mousehole. In fact, that is how I see the whole world. For good or for ill, it is the only perspective that I have ever known without ever knowing it until now.

Perhaps this “man in a mousehole” phase will pass in time and I will see things from a different perspective, but for now this is something that I must accept. While I am no stranger to having others reject me or write me off, to having others not understand me, to being seen by others as nothing more than an eccentric anomaly that is tragically out of place, I am finding that it is becoming too much for me to bear. It is painful and humiliating and absolutely maddening. To be quite frank, I am at the point where I want to just drop everything because for whatever reason, it is seemingly becoming more and more apparent to me that any kind of traditional beliefs or values are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless.

In my own mind, I am superior — I have become like Nietzsche’s “Übermensch,” an extraordinary individual transcending the limits of mankind — and yet, in reality, I am only superior in my apathy—I have become like Nietzsche’s “letzte Mensch,” a weak-willed individual who is tired of life, takes no risks and seeks only comfort and security.

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