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Saturday, 25 June 2005

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> On the allure of being unhealthy and unhappy. It makes me easier to relate to. Anyone can relate to a fuck-up.

Dear postmodern protaganist,

At the end of "Catcher in the Rye", did we not understand the falsity in digression? At the end of "Notes from the Underground", did we not see the hollowness of self-hatred?

Any true romantic sees life through a different colored lens than most. Under many circumstances, this is a tremendous gift to the world. Under different circumstances, it is a tremendous burden to himself and those around him.

A romantic can only hope to surround himself with friends, family, and supportive voices to see him through harder times. But in the end, if I read those two books correctly, a man's happiness is his own responsibility. Flawed art comes from need. Beautiful art comes from joy.

I don't think the difference between genius and crazy is productivity. Get those management books out of your head. Stop listening to Paul Graham.

To me, the line between a genius and crazy is that I enjoy relating to geniuses. I do not enjoy relating to crazies. Where I draw the line is arbitrary, and relevant only to myself.

You might be a megalomaniac if: you attempt to redraw the lines of those around you rather than finding ways to fit in. Megalomania is related to power is related to sex. Sex lies at the root of all addiction. It's no wonder that irrational activities get you laid.

The internet gives us new ways of finding niches of people with the same addictions as ourselves. Whether or not one chooses to use it that way is ultimately their own responsibility. Postmodernism (the paradox of choice) is making it harder to form identity; and I think, maybe, idenity is what makes us happy.

But yeah, I'm still with ya.

Jordan

Hey Jordan,

I got different things out of Catcher In The Rye and Notes from the Underground than you did, I think. To me, those were not books that ultimately proved the main characters as faulty... it's all a mixed bag, neither better nor worse than the alternatives... but for some people the bag traps you. They are two of the most charismatic characters in literature though, largely because they are such fuck ups... don't you think? How about Humbert Humbert? Hamlet? Anyone who's name begins with an H?

I disagree that beautiful art comes from joy... well I guess it depends on your definition of joy, since many believe that incredible highs can only come with the company of incredible lows. Was Beethoven a happy man when he wrote Ode to Joy?

I wasn't saying that the difference between craziness and genius is productivity, both are usually equally productive... just that... okay maybe there is no difference. Geniuses get credit, crazies don't. And for me, I don't particularly like hanging out with geniuses... they tend to be really annoying... they care too much about things that don't matter... but by caring too much, they can often pull out new things that we can enjoy without having cared that much about them ourselves. I don't want to dive to the bottom of the ocean, but I don't mind looking at cool pictures of weird fish.

> To me, those were not books that ultimately proved the main characters as faulty... it's all a mixed bag, neither better nor worse than the alternatives...

I agree; at the end of the book we are shown both characters as human and real. We identify with the pain. However, I believe the motivation for writing both books was to show that even if those character traits are fundamental (and valid) human drives, it is better to live happily than die a martyr. And that means framing one's romanticism within the context of your surroundings.

> they care too much about things that don't matter...

Idealist western thought (Ayn Randish self-interest stuff) claims that we all care only about ourselves, but the crux is that one rarely leaves a mark on the world by acting in his self-interest. Most of us care far too much about one thing that doesn't matter: ourselves.

Many of the self-proclaimed "geniuses" I know become so entrenched in the minutae of a given topic that they lose the ability to see their effect to the world at large. Sometimes they use dense language to describe self-interest.

I dunno, I think we're using genius in different ways here. My only point is that there is no point. Everything is relative (is postmodernism, in general, a relativism? - not sure on this one). The best thing for any person is taking the path that makes himself and those around him the happiest. If you have the vision to see far-reaching effects of your talent, it is a burden to be sure; but don't expect to die a martyr.

All I got from those two books is that it was not the world that was making the protaganists miserable, it was themselves.

> many believe that incredible highs can only come with the company of incredible lows

And many believe that this country's financial success has been driven by a tendency for mania (look up the Hypomanic Edge). I've never been convinced that mania is not within any person's control, there is generally a concious decision to "follow the rabbit down the hole". I believe this decision is reversible with a little prodding and recovery - should one ever want to for the sake of happiness.

Jordan

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