Thomas over on “the quiet voice” talked about being normal, and it made me think. I know, I know, rubbing my two neurons together like that is probably not advisable. But it made me think about how we deliberately or unconsciously try to fit into our environments.
And isn’t the essence of that desire the desire to be liked? In “Doctor Glas”, the Swedish writer Hjalmar Söderberg has a famous passage. Well, famous within the duck pond of Swedish literature. It is probably not famous in the English-speaking world. But in Sweden, everyone with a smidgen of education would know the quote. And it says:
“Man vill bli älskad, i brist därpå beundrad, i brist därpå fruktad, i brist därpå avskydd och föraktad. Man vill ingiva människorna något slags känsla. Själen ryser för tomrummet och vill ha kontakt till varje pris som helst.”
This can be translated as: “One wants to be loved, in lack thereof admired, in lack thereof feared, in lack thereof despised and loathed. One wants to give people some sort of feeling. The soul shudders before the void, and wants to have contact at any cost.”
Doesn’t all our lives, being the social monkeys that we actually are, and being the herd animals that we are, circle around our relation to other people? Doesn’t the successful life mean the life where one is loved, admired and respected by others? Isn’t it a failed life if one is ignored, feared, or despised?
And isn’t that the essence of the need for normalcy; the need to be liked by other people? Isn’t failure to be liked, respected the cause for much misery among people, and the root of crime and everything? Isn’t failure to find a context where you can be a well-integrated little part of a community the reason for most of the problems people have?
And to think that for children and teens, the best solutions that the adults have come up with is to force them to go to a place where they can find no such context and thus prevent them from finding the balance with the group that allows them to be liked and admired and well-adjusted.
The wannabe-intellectual in this ivory-tower of my dreams and lunacy have been toying with a project for a while that seems like such a pipe-dream. With the advent of modern publishing, i.e. digital publishing, it seems to me that just about anything could be published.
Why not experiment with the medium, and see what is possible? So, once every month I spend about fifteen minutes thinking along the lines “wouldn’t it be wicked if we got a bunch of young peeps together, peeps that had brains on their shoulders and an ability to write, and then make something like a journal”.
Of course it is a pipe-dream that at best will be met by a paternalistic pat on the head, sort of like “aren’t they precious, the little ones, so we’d better encourage the effort. One day they might have something useful to say”. Who wants to hear sixteen-eighteen year olds discuss points of law, international relations, and the essence of society from a certain point of view? Right. I said it was a pipe dream.
We are to be propagandised to, not listened to. We are to deliver pamphlets and parrot the lines adults have made us memorize. We are to lend a certain glamour to a campaign. If the leader appear youthful and vigorous, it is good. But we’re not actually supposed to have views of our own, and if we do have them – those views are coloured by our inexperience and youthful stupidity. This is a country for older men. Their wives get to look pretty at the photo shoot, and make tea. Their kids should be seen but not heard.
That sounds a bit harsh, but it also a bit true. When I go out on the wild internet as an anonymous moniker without back story people tend to listen to me at least. When they find out about my age, the will to listen often drop away, except for in a few narrow bands of my own life and experience. There are actually people who will say that my brain is not properly formed due to my youth. That’s a nice way to dismiss all that I say. I’m not finished; I’m still a working prototype of what will be. I’m a life in beta-testing, as of yet.
So, the project in my head is probably something for after University. If I’m still interested in it. But, also, since everything tends to coalesce into rigid forms after a while, it would probably also be too late because the digital publishing medium would have settled into proper genres and orders, and what I hope to do would be much more difficult because it would buck trends and upset hierarchies.
Things would settle into a new normal, and any attempts to upset that, or try something new would be about upsetting the contexts of people who have formed a context where they get their affirmations, and who would want to upset the serious business of being liked and respected by the peers?
It is Wednesday, and our house guest have crawled out of bed, and have eaten breakfast, and have gone into London for that interview and won’t be back until this evening, and tomorrow morning he’s going to head back to the area around Southampton, and things will be back to normal again.
It is funny how guests can upset the habits and normal functioning of lives; how you adapt to this foreign personality that plops down into the old and worn context that has, over time, been adapted to fit like a snug glove. It becomes like a stone in the old favourite slippers.
Mark and I have some catching up to do today, don’t we?