Identity politics is a form of “pain for gain”. You cry very much about your hard luck because you think society owes you big — particularly people whom you identify as having the opposite identity. I’m not into “pain for gain”, but, so far, it has been the only game in town. You have to wonder why that is.
People can’t feel the full range of emotions and simply acknowledge they are there. Does one need to be a Buddhist monk to have been able to master this? It’s just human, but more: It’s the ability of a human to recognize that one is human. It’s very little. But it seems to require so much.
I think people who can’t feel may therefore resort to stressing. If you feel, then every feeling itself is a lived act — a state of self-acknowledgement of what one is feeling. But if one cannot feel, then one only has the ability to intellectualize or to stress.
I’m starting to make sense of some of the discourses posted in commentary about American popular culture recently. I’m thinking of The Last Psychiatrist and a recent, similar article on Cracked, which advises people who are unhappy with their lives how to stop hating themselves. They hate themselves because they are passive. They’ve been told they are great just the way they are, but being great just for doing nothing doesn’t feel like anything. Consequently, the self-hatred. If they started to do something, they might acquire a real identity.
Interestingly, both The Last Psychiatrist article and the associated one at Cracked go off track around this point, insisting that one must create a culturally male identity. In the first instance, one does that by eschewing the “narcissism” culturally associated with investing one’s time and money in the humanities. In the second instance, one must actively pursue social status, though making oneself socially useful, in order to attract “girls”. Both of these solutions seem to lead away from the narcissistic bubble one might seem to generate by seeming to “do nothing”, but their answer is to try to gain social approval in what is deemed to be a more substantive sense, by doing something that isn’t artsy or associated with one’s feelings.
It seems to me that so long as one is running away from what one actually feels, which is to embrace the ‘masculinist’ answer to the problem of identity, one is still doing nothing for oneself in any way that matters. You will still end up with a hollow core, despite all your busy activity in a realm of reality that necessitates a purely instrumental consciousness. Your narcissistic core remains because you haven’t attended to your true self, but have run away from it into being busy and occupying yourself with activity. In particular, your hatred for the humanities and for what they represent to you — “feeling” — will make you hollow.
But for a person who can feel what they feel, life is never hollow.