Thursday, March 4, 2010

Revolt Of The Imbeciles

If you travel to work in a place like New York City, you know that daily life can be a fight through a crowd of angry imbeciles. You might be aware that such people not only seek a target for their anxious, riot-eyed frustrations, but also to blame and punish someone for them. Like frenzied peasants hunting down snooty royals one day, and a sensitive, intelligent, club footed monster the next, they live in a state of perpetual revolt. When you come into direct contact with any of them, for that moment you are the scapegoat for all their ailments. In their eyes, you are the imbecile.

This sort of thing is easily observed. Stand on a street corner for any length of time and watch the traffic. An automobile driver is waiting to turn. His progress is temporarily impeded by pedestrians availing themselves to the crosswalk. Two cars back is a driver who lays on the horn. He is an imbecile. And he is in a state of revolt at the imbeciles in front of him who will not drive.

Some days I ride a bicycle to work in order to avoid the antagonism of the subways. This helps to alleviate the tension of pressurized human interactions for a while, but ultimately it’s trading exposure to (and participation in) one form of hostility for another. For instance, there’s a cyclist who occasionally shares a portion of my commute: a twig-like malcontent who somehow manages to fit his spindly legs into pencil-thin black jeans, and who, at every encounter with any vehicle in any way obstructing the designated bicycle lane, screams with a volume and vengeance that belies his diminutive frame. The last time I saw him there was a city bus blocking the bike lane. Mind you, the bus driver had pulled over to the curb at a designated bus stop, and was simply waiting to move back into traffic. The entire block heard the shrieked admonishment made to the bus driver, indicating exactly what to do and how vigorously to do it.

I don’t know what that guy is so angry about. Maybe he should try eating something. Or maybe he has suffered some great tragedy that has left him bitter and vengeful: like a comic book villain but without any extraordinary powers… apart from screaming. Either way the result is that this young man’s viewpoint is as constricted as the roadway ahead of him or the blood vessels in his denim-compressed legs. His impeded rationality has rendered him a functional idiot. And with unfathomable rage, he revolts.

We all have our moments. But it seems like misery to inhabit that space all the time. Although when you’re in a state like that it simplifies things, having that kind of certainty. In spite of the confusion, fear and anger that otherwise plague your daily life, at those moments at least, you are justified. In those moments, the world is the imbecile.

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