Some days I just hate other people. Their obtuseness, their self-righteousness, their insistence of taking everything personally, their refusal to discuss things in abstract, logical terms, their complete inability to LISTEN. And I don't just mean random people on the blogosphere. I mean friends and family. There are days, like today, when it seems to me that the only purpose other people serve in my life is to muddy the clarity of my days with trivialities, with sentimentality, with all this flotsam of emotion. How much sweeter the solitary life seems on these occasions. To be able to read, or write poetry, or listen to music without being drawn into the inconsequential mess that other people make of their lives, their piffling preoccupation with jobs and money and clothes and houses and children and relationships and food. As if all of that mattered. As if anything mattered at all - except maybe that feeling of absolute peace, that sense of having briefly glimpsed an untroubled perfection - that one can only find in art and intellect, and only alone. Wordsworth called it "the bliss of solitude". How right he was.
It's on days like these that the idea of renunciation, the notion of sanyas, the vision of Thoreau's exquisite Walden begins to seem incredibly appealing. Because the point of Walden, to me, is not about the questionable economics or the bucolic nature worship - it's the breaking free, the leaving of the quotidian behind. All through my teens I was the most anti-social person imaginable - I had barely 2-3 friends, I never went to parties or interacted with people my own age outside of school, I spent the bulk of my life locked away in my room reading or listening to music. Over the years I've become more social (though most people would still consider me fairly withdrawn), and have generally come to see that there might actually be something to this interaction thing, but on days like today I bitterly regret having ever abandoned my cocoon and wish that I could go back to it. "I was serenely independent and content before we met / Surely I could always be that way again" Higgins sings in My Fair Lady. There are times when I am dismayed by my own desire for human contact, by my inability to be the closed off person I used to be. 
But isn't that closer to the truth, though? Isn't it true that what I hate about these interactions with other people is the way they hold up a mirror to the things about myself that I find most unattractive? That they serve to remind me that I, for all my talk about the purity of the intellect and the search for the absolute through art am just as petty, just as self-aggrandising, just as spiritually weak as everyone else? That I'm just as prone to be in denial, just as susceptible to cognitive dissonance and the attribution error? Is it not the recognition that I too can be this dense, this stubborn, this ridiculous that frightens me, makes me turn away from other people? And isn't this fear itself, a kind of defensiveness - isn't what's really scaring me the idea that sometimes, just sometimes, they may be right?
What truly annoys me about my interaction with others is the way my own emotions betray me, the way I find myself becoming defensive or angry or envious inspite of all my principles, all my resolve, all my best intent. It isn't just that other people distract me, it's that I, knowing full well that they are nothing but a distraction, still let them get to me, let them distract and diffuse me, crave these contacts that make me less than I believe I could be. Is this what Kundera meant by the unbearable lightness of being? "Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them" goes my favourite part of Tagore's Geetanjali. Exactly.
At the very beginning of Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche tells the story of a rope dancer who is making his way across the high wire when a buffoon comes up behind him, and jumps over him with a loud yell, sending him plunging to his death. In my quest to be more than I am, to advance even one tottering step closer to the Superman, other people are the buffoons who send me plumetting off the thin wire of my own certainty. There are times when I hate them for this, times I complain bitterly about having to put up with them. But deep inside I know that the person I'm really disappointed with is myself - for letting them make me lose my balance, for letting them make me fall. The day I manage to ignore other people the way I want to, the day I manage to experience them as irrelevant instead of just thinking of them that way, will be a truly great day for me.
 Somebody asked me in the comments to yesterday's post what I have against marriage. Does this answer your question? If talking to people for a few hours, even people I genuinely like, can make me this unhappy, can you imagine what having to live with someone else will do?
Categories: Personal, Rant, Life