I said on the radio the other night that I find it harder and harder to be around people. In a loose way. Where I see how they behave and hear how they talk. I notice all around me. I hear everything. Every word. At once. This from over here, that from over there.
There's an irony here in that the subject of my life is people. For everything I create, and the range of those creations, it all comes back to people. I create, too, what I create so that people may live better.
That takes a great amount of caring, and yet, I have a hard time standing anyone. I see the cheapness, the stupidity, the repetition. I never think anyone says anything intelligent. I'm never impressed. Save with art. In art, I get what I must have. And in nature. I'm not bored then. They drive me, enrich me, thrill me.
People can be anything. I don't mean that someone can just decide to be a brilliant musician. What I'm saying is that everyone can be smarter than they are. They can grow more than they do. They have the say. That's up to them.
How far that goes isn't up to them in a way. But no one tries to get smarter. No one tries to grow. People exist. They're just there. They do the bare minimum. They go down. They don't go up. It's like they couldn't be more adverse to anything than going up.
Then they want attention, because that's all they might have. It doesn't matter if it's attention for nothing or for nothing good, which is always what it is. Then we create a system in society in which people reward people who are bad at things and always go down.
I mentioned the radio. I go on a show and I give what no one else gives as a guest, no one else could give, and everyone knows this. Anyone who listens knows there's no comparison.
But if there's a popularity contest for the guests of this show, the people who get far more out of what I do--an immeasurable amount more--wouldn't vote for me. They'll vote for someone they think is bad. Boring. Offers nothing. Or, as someone said to me the other day, "Why would anyone listen to this person? It's like listening to your Uber driver."
That's how we're conditioned now. We want what is bad and what we don't like and what no one likes. If I said, "Okay, tell me what you like about this," then the person I'm asking wouldn't have an answer, because there isn't one. Do you think that other person is smarter, funnier, more interesting, better spoken, more knowledgeable, more entertaining? No's across the board.
But this is how we are--we favor that which is less and that which is nothing. It's the reflex now.
It comes back again to Thoreau's remark that the public doesn't want a person of greatness, not even absolute greatness. He qualifies it that way. The person of the utmost greatness. They want someone average.
What does average really mean? Average changes in time. The average now was not the average two hundred years ago. Go and read something written by a Civil War private. Note how articulate it is. Note the compound sentences. The command of language. The vocabulary. The poetic quality. That was an "average" person at the time. You would never find someone approaching that now, in any place in society.
So what does average really mean? It means the most like people of that time period. That's the key to understanding what average really represents. If people are stupid, people are going to favor people who they recognize as stupid. It's not for value--it's for familiarity. The radio show is a great example. You could do it with anything. You could play me and then play someone else. Do them back-to-back. A million out of a million people are going to know who is better. Exponentially better. A million times better. Whatever the calculation is.
But if it were a popularity contest, that same person would check the box for the person they think is worse. Think about that. Think about what a mind f--- that is. And for that to be your life, microcosmically represented. That's what you're waking up to every day. Among other hellish things. That's how it's going to be until it's not because you somehow found a solution to this thing that seems unsolvable.
I belong to this Facebook group for Dogtown. Dogtown is a forest in Gloucester and Rockport. It had been a town centuries ago, then it was abandoned save for some woman who remained with their dogs, and then it was abandoned by all, with some dogs left behind. It's said to be haunted. You can see the foundation holes of the homes that had been there. It's a popular hiking spot. Entrancing, beautiful.
It takes some effort for me to get there now--I take the train to Gloucester, then walk to the woods, which requires the crossing of a busy road. It's a place that is dear to me, and one I will be in regularly when I return to Cape Ann for good.
I see this woman posting a lot. She's unstable, as most people now are. Desperate for attention. She does everything wrong. Says everything incorrectly, behaves what I'd consider incorrectly. And she always courts attention. Like most people. They don't want the notable things they've done to be noticed so that they can have their impact. If they could get applause for defecating, they'd get on social media and say that another rocking bowel movement had just transpired that morning.
The woman went to Dogtown and she took a photo of herself holding a spotted turtle. Then she wrote underneath the photo that this turtle was lost and she had saved it. He was about 100 yards from the pond where he lived, and she picked him up and brought him back.
Spotted turtles live in plashy meadows. That's what they like. I was thinking, this turtle probably made a real effort that took some time to get to where it wanted to be. And this lady comes along and undoes all of that, just so she can get attention. Clueless. Ignorant. Downright stupid.
I've been thinking about this. How people can't even go into nature the right way anymore. How can you screw up being in nature? Starting a fire is one way, obviously. Littering.
Hanover Street in the North End hardly qualifies as nature, but the other day I saw this guy--a grown man--with his pants hanging way below his ass. To show the world how tough he is.
He's drinking some whatever--a Big Gulp-sized type of thing. Ass hanging out. Clearly a deep thinker and a leader. Probably has a lot of intelligent things of value to say. Add to the world. Teach his children.
He walks up next to this big garbage receptacle. The kind you see across the city. He could reach out and touch it. So what does he do? He drops the empty container on the ground. Right on the sidewalk.
I'm looking at this guy thinking he's more fundamentally trash than what he just tossed on the pavement. He's human trash. I know everything I need to know. There's nothing redeemable about him. There is nothing intelligent. There's nothing of any positive value in the whole of his existence. Not right now. It's not just some simple faux pas. Slippery fingers. The lack of a belt. People are that simple. They're that base. They're that fundamentally nothing. That fundamentally nothing good.
Everywhere I look it's something like this. Everything I hear is some version of it, too. I go out and the people next to me say the word "literally" over and over and over and over again. Four, five times in two sentences. I think, "Where on earth can I fit in in this world?" I keep going up. I grow more and evolve more every day. And everyone else goes the other way.
How can you thrive in that world? What can you be? With whom might you be? What is there for you? Misery? Pain? Suffering? Loneliness? Discrimination? The fear and envy you induce? The silence that results because everyone is over-awed by what you are that no one else is and they don't know what to say, are too scared to say anything, and lack the ability to say anything besides in any kind of meaningful, articulate way? So even the "best" people just say something stupid and token to you. Stock. Which is as off the mark as if they said the opposite of what they know to be true, because it's equally far, in its way, from the truth. And it's not even what they believe, think, and feel--in spades. To unprecedented degrees.
But they can't say that truth to you, because then they're out there. They're vulnerable. They are emoting a lot. They are using terms of effusion that they don't use anywhere else. They feel exposed. Over-exposed. They feel like they're being worshipful. And they can't be real when they're going to feel these things and these ways. They're not secure enough in themselves. So they dial it way, way, way back. To stock platitude level. Or they act like it's "normal," a case of "nothing to see here," when we all know that no one has ever been like this or done anything like it, and it's being done and shown and being made undeniable every day. But no one can act like that's true. And certainly not directly towards me.
But if you were ordinary and you sucked and you were lazy and you were bad and you were dumb and you were boring and you offered nothing you'd be all set? You'd have support and people and opportunities and outpourings. None of it would be real. None of it would be for the right reasons. But you'd also be in denial all the time, and you'd get better at that, so you could tell yourself whatever.
That's how it has to be? That's what you'd have to be? Or it's just torture and hell until you die?