Sunday, January 13, 2008

the self-impressed

What is it, precisely, that The Self-Impressed are self-impressed about? I'm not talking about some low-rent, penny-ante kind of self-impressed. I'm gunning straight for the top. I'm talking about the kind of people who say things like - 'Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who makes its law.'

Wow. Think about that for a minute. A fellow who says this is beyond the law. He is above the hoi polloi, the bourgeois, the intelligentsia, lords and ladies, kings and queens, you name it. You don't get more self-impressed than that. Humanity will never revere, honour or love that fellow. The only hip-hip-hoorays for him are silently echoing as a dull monotone in his own head.

There's a fascinating chicken and egg aspect to this. Is the above fellow, whom I take as an archetype, self-impressed because of he will die with the most toys? Or is his possession of the most toys, or more exactly the pursuit of them, all due to his idea of his own deserving greatness? It depends on whether you ask that fellow or me. I expect that he is impressed with himself on account of the 'success' that he and his ancestors have achieved. Genius, says he. Me, I reckon he and those before him, achieved what they did because they viewed themselves as gods deserving of all and the rest of humanity as beasts deserving to give it to them.

And sure, everyone would love to have more stuff, to live lives of ease and to indulge their whims. But there is a price to this. After a certain point, such self-indulgence must require the impoverishment and/or enslavement of others. The majority of mankind will countenance a degree of this but become uncomfortable with, say, obvious slavery. 'If you prick a slave does he not bleed?' Such speeches tug at the heart strings of the human possessed of empathy. Irony banished, our self-impressed uber-man remains untouched. He is to such humdrum desires and concerns what the nth degree is to ordinal numbers. Indeed the mathematical infinity-approaching end-point of this trajectory, which is to say the aim of our archetypal fellow, is to claim all the wealth of the world for one person, himself. Ipso facto, this aim also requires that the entire population of the world, minus himself, would possess nothing at all. And yeah, I get it - this is impossible. I'm merely defining the endpoint of the continuum.

Our paragon of selfishness is not a fool. He must concede to reality and share the winnings with others. If we now posit all the wealth in the world, slaves included, as 'n', he must aim lower - 'n' minus some minimal number. This is not a blemish on his self-perceived god-like perfection. Far from it. He knows perfectly well that it is the final esoteric knowledge that actually confirms his sacred status. One wonders if he ponders on the precise number to subtract from 'n'. But never mind the maths, his necessary sharing of the spoils (with his family and the others of his tribe) serves another self-serving measure. For the most self-obsessed man in the world, it serves as a testament to his humanity, compassion and benevolence. Don't laugh. It makes a 'great' man 'greater' still. Of course a fellow perfectly convinced of his greatness would think this way. If every single thought in his head wasn't utterly self-serving he might at some point fall down and concede the humanity of others. Perish the thought!

The simple truth is our self-impressed archetype's 'greatness' is not due to his superior intelligence. Lots of people are so endowed and besides, intelligence is necessarily finite - never mind the convoluted metaphor in the Matrix. The only thing he ought be self-impressed about is his perfectly vicious disregard for his fellow human. This is limited only by his hubristic attempt to more nearly approach 'n'. Subsequently, fellow humans must be regarded as nothing of the sort. They are beasts, cockroaches on two legs or non-people who never existed. Whatever suits. That he might meet another fellow and not know if he was 'beast' or 'human' says all there is to say about the monstrous falsity of his delusion. Our archetype must remove himself, and his children, from humanity and never join them so that his delusion remains unsullied by such moments of clarity. Ordinarily empathy for others is a natural, indeed instinctive, trait. To crush it from the human spirit requires an insanely massive edifice of lies and a lifetime of inculcation. Unsurprisingly very, very few humans could possibly be so hateful were they to adopt this world-view in adulthood. Wonder no longer at the lack of proselytising. A model positing others as beasts could only ever exist in this way.

The other unknowable possibility is that the self-impressed understand this perfectly well and that everything I've said here is perfectly familiar to them. Perhaps the father sits with his son and whilst they admire the lakes, mountains and sunset, all of which they own, ha ha ha, he turns and says, 'Forget those stories of our genius. It's bullshit for those in the stalls. We're not actually smarter than anyone else. The truth is that our unrivalled pre-eminence is due solely to our perfect and unstinting lack of human empathy.'


Anonymous said...

My nan used to say, 'Self praise is no praise'.
This has stood me in good stead over the years because when I am told by an individual that, 'I am the decider', well, heckles start to rise. And when 'Commander in Chief' comes along I start looking for the resurrected and wonder why I'm not being spirited away to my 44 virgins or whatever.

nobody said...

Your raised hackles are wasted on the sock puppet, mate. It's the bloke with his hand up the sock puppet's clacker that's doing all the talking. It's good lip-sync though, isn't it?

annemarie said...

silly nobody,

didn't you get the memo? some pigs are more equal than others.

nobody said...

Sorry annemarie,

You've probably already noticed that I used you as a prop again.

It's your fault, you know. You shouldn't write such incisive comments.

But don't stop on my account.