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Denial of Self, January 31, 1999 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: January 31, 1999
"Denial of Self" [permalink]
    keywords: anthropology, sociology
    soapbox #: 172
    written: January 31, 1999
    words: 1716

"Denial of Self", an Essay

Humans are mere beasts.

Sure, there is much more to man which makes him unique to all other animals, but at the heart of man is his bestial, instinctive nature. And by animalistic, I mean slavish desire for food, drink, sex, desire itself, and the inability of self-control, restraint, and consistent rational thought.

I have a problem with religions and philosophies that immediately attempt to declare humans as beings formed from matter other than animals, or that attempt to deny any relation or similarity to animals. I have a problem with religions and philosophies which declare instincts and wants to be inherently evil. I think that one of the first steps a philosophy should take is to consider what our most basic nature is -- in this case, whether we are merely advanced animals or not. Why? Because it says a lot about where we started and where we're going if we think about whether we share worldly desires with other creatures, whether we came from the same genepool, whether there is an absolute bottom state we can digress to and whether we can ever become completely separated from animals -- in short, whether being human means being a visitor rather than a native to this earth. In the pursuit of truth, ignoring whether or not we are beasts completely is a disastrous step which leads to flawed philosophies later on. Just even attempting to think about whether you're just an animal is enough. That's just my take. Know yourself first and foremost above all.

People violently react against being called animals, yet they so easily lapse into animalistic behavior whenever they get the chance. Are people ashamed to be somewhat related to the divine cat, to the powerful eagle, to the immortal crocodile? Do they cling onto thinking they were not made in the same way that other animals were? Why should evolution not allow for man to be special in his own way, even if he was not created elsewhere and placed on Earth?

Last week I was walking back home from class. I really, really don't like being bothered by things when I walk. I'm still in pursuit of being able to walk through a shopping mall...with it being completely free of people. Not because I would be able to snag a lot of free stuff, really, but more so I wouldn't have to think about other people while I look at products I'm interested in. Ordering things online is the closest I'll ever get to this dream, I think...

So anyway. I was walking back home, and...don't you hate it when people are walking behind you just fast enough that they keep up with you? And then you wait for them to pass you so you can go on doing things as normal, but they just hover behind you? Yeah, that's annoying. So the guy finally passes me and then I return to looking at the many different trees that other people never take the time to notice, or the little group of five blue jays (five!) that inhabit someone's yard along the route, that sort of thing. Then I hear this soft drumming sound, and I look up at the guy, and he's fucking drumming his fingers on every parked car he passes. Every fucking one of them. Just touches them with his oily, foul fingers, in plain day and with no hint of remorse. I don't have any sort of cleanliness obsession or anything, but doesn't it bother you when people so blatantly fondle other peoples' property?

People really piss me off sometimes. If it's not yours, and you have no business with it, keep your mitts off. How can people do such inane things which annoy the owners and offer no real benefit in the process? What's to be gained by touching peoples' things except disrespect?

Another example: in my freshman year, the room at the top of the stairs had a whiteboard on the door that friends could leave messages on. Well, throughout the course of the semester, college kids had torn that thing to shreds such that it was rendered unusable. They tore off the lining, knocked the thing down, that sort of thing. No one gained anything from it, and the owners lost their whiteboard. Not to mention a dozen pens or so, I'm sure.

Next: men are dogs. Seeing men work is sickening. I get pissed off hearing about men who give women catcalls, or who yell out lewd propositions to them, that sort of thing. From what I've heard about young French and Italian men, I'm not looking too forward to having to observe them. But then again, that's only what I've heard, not what I've experienced first-hand. Men being scummy is a universal, international thing.

And another one: my dorm is too cheap to have set up a network for the residents yet, so a bunch of guys chipped in to buy a long RJ45 cable (what you need for a LAN) and wired a handful of computers up, even between two floors. They managed to hide the wires pretty well, too. But then the guy who operates the dorm decides to cut down the cable because he thought someone was tapping into the building's utilities or some crazy shit like that. Absurd.

Yes, another: those folks who spend the first half of the week bragging about their sexual flings over the weekend, ready to go the next weekend for more sucking and fucking. Ooh, empty sex. You must be so proud. Let's just fuck up some poor sap's life by getting them pregnant or getting their weak hearts up, shall we? There's no reason for any of it, except for the pleasure attained right then and there.

Then you have the people with AIDS who still have sex with strangers without telling them, the people who hassle you for shit on the street, the professors who harass you over details just to exert their power over you, the business executives who toss your projects over to other people just because they think they know what they're doing, that sort of thing. Surely you, as the reader, have plenty of your own stories to tell of mindless acts of senseless mental or physical destruction, no?

What's happening to the human race? Has it ever really been any different, our outright denial of animalistic nature? Part of the problem with being human and thinking about these things is that it's incredibly hard to see things past one's own lifetime. How can you really know what it was like in ancient Athens, or in Persian Susa, or in Victorian London? In the United States, people seem to have this threshold they want to uphold, but rarely do; they officially deny the enjoyment of sex or drugs or eating or drinking, when in actuality, they indulge in all of it. Hypocritical. Denying what you are can destroy you. How can parents still say that sex and drugs are wrong and too mature for children, when they themselves did the same as kids? (a good answer would be that they wouldn't want their kids to go through the same problems they did, but parents begin to look at their past mistakes favorably after awhile) How will Americans break this never-ending spiral downwards? Hell, things can't get any worse, so why should kids not have sex, pack weapons, and use drugs? All that's in this world for me is myself, so fuck you if you have a problem with me touching your car, or screaming vulgarities at you on the street.

When will it end? Trust me, I'm not a bleeding-heart who wants to insert the penile conservatist morality back into the spread-open schools, but come on. There's no incentive to be good anymore, except to stay out of jail, or to avoid being shot. If you're a good person, and you believe in being a morally responsible person, you're characterized as being idealistic and even naive. If you want to be hip, you have to act like all the shit that's happening in this world doesn't mean anything. You have to...avoid it all.

I don't have the solutions for any of this, so it basically leaves me just wasting my time, ranting without purpose or alternatives, but at least recognizing things is a start. What I know is that people act so surprised when they hear of rude and disrespectful things happening, all full of shocked, open mouths and gasps, while their hands are sliding under the skirt of morality and seeing how naughty it really is.

Don't mind me. I'm just someone who isn't old enough to know what it must have been like to live in houses with open windows and unlocked doors. I'm just someone who really fucking loves the part of Jello that sticks to the side of the bowl (you know what I'm talking about, the harder, thicker Jello). I'm just someone who wants to get away from humans but can't, leaving me with such delightful alternatives as putting up with people, or antagonizing them.

Yay. Which one do I get to choose? Neither is really all that appetizing. Personally, I'd rather be able to walk to and fro without running into people. Personally, I'd rather talk to cats and other animals (presuming, of course, that they were reasonably proficient at stringing English sentences together) than talk to people. One has to wonder what it's like to naturally fly, or to naturally swim, or to naturally swish one's tail, or to naturally climb a tree, as opposed to listening to some dull human describe how much he REALLY enjoys this warm February weather. Maybe it's time for another conversation with Kitty. If not, there're at least thousands of excellent books and movies still to experience... In fact, I have Fellini's "Satyricon" on video right here... Somehow, I doubt this movie will make me feel better about man in the end...hehe.


 
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