outside looking in ...


Truly objective appraisals may only be tendered if we are not a participant in the frame of reference that is being considered.

I regard myself as such a detached person. And due to my distance from human society my observations on it will likely be viewed as a tad strange to anyone who might happen to sumble upon them.

Centered in the nihilistic bedrock that I am, it is understandable that I do not participate in the world in the same way (very likely) that the vast majority of others do.

I have always been a bit of a maverick, a standoffish, even weird, sort of dude. I clearly remember my elementary school report cards being virtually emblazoned with the same comment: "Does not participate in group activities."

The reason was very simple. I have never liked people in groups. They somehow take on an aspect that to my sensibilities feels sinister, or at very least untrustworthy.

It is the character of the group they are immersed in that disturbs me (not the individuals who comprise it, since they seem more often than not to be helplessly attached).

I am fine one-on-one. I would have probably been a decent psychologist (except for the fact that I do not truly respect psychology. I consider it to be more of an amusement than a science).

One of my detached observations about group activity has lately become a virtual theme song with me. I find myself repeating its refrain again and again.

People make too big of a deal out of stuff.

For example, consider the car thing. How many people are content to have only what they need with respect to an automobile? Why exactly do they have all these unnecessary desires about having a luxury car, or a sports car, or an expensive SUV? Why?

Because they have been coerced (duped might be a better word) by the group into embracing (and pandering to) these feelings.

The group, through the insidious machinery of marketing, is transmitting these feelings, and the vast majority of its minions are receiving the transmission loud and clear, and in the manner of perfectly placed cogs in a machine they carry out their social programming by complying (in near robotic fashion) to the instructions contained in the transmission.

The group loves complacency (a euphemism for crowd control). That is, in a very real sense, its primary reason for being. (It is what religion is really all about, a very scary group indeed.)

Individuals left alone (unsupervised) are likely to run wild and crazy. The group will not have it.

Individuals must be controlled—for the sake of the group.

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

The only way to resist the group's nigh-irresistible controlling influence on us is to be fully aware that it is happening.

If we are not aware of our immersion in a group, we are most definitely being controlled by that group.

The chances are significantly high that we are not aware of such immersion, because we have been subsumed by a group since elementary school. Being contained by a group feels like a perfectly natural thing for nearly everyone. (Who doesn't go to elementary school?)

We cannot see the forest for the trees.

We cannot see the forest (as a forest) until we remove ourselves from it, far enough to allow ourselves the perspective to see it for what it is.

We cannot truly deal with human society until we remove ourselves from it. Of course I am in no way suggesting anything as extreme as incarceration or becoming a hermit.

What I do have in mind is not an easy thing to do, and for that matter many people would have no part of detaching themselves from their group. They enjoy its security, not to mention the fact that it is indeed difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. It just flat out takes too much energy.

I feel very lucky to have been blessed with an instinctive mistrust of groups. My voluntary separation from human society has thus been relatively painless.

In essence I am simply not so easily fooled by the herd mentality. I do not watch the home-improvement programs and get all excited about re-doing my kitchen or bathroom. And I most definitely do not daydream about having an unnecessarily large domicile (or a shiny new car).

I do, however, fantasize about having some land.

Yes indeed, I would not mind owning my own little piece of this planet.

I have always been somewhat enamored of Christopher Robin's ability to roam and play in a hundred-acre wood.

But if I ever were to have the good fortune to find myself in such an envious circumstance, I will most certainly have no thoughts whatsoever about erecting a 5,000 square-foot structure in the middle of it.

Hell, no. A hundred-acre wood deserves a little cabin hidden somewhere in its pristine environs. Yes, an understated Hobbit-like home that looks as if it somehow grew there, as if it belonged there.

October 25, 2007