Some Things I Have No Time For (Part One)

I have no time for idle conversation with casual acquaintances. To speak of light subjects with people close to me (i.e., people I already know to be earnest and thoughtful, and thus whose incidental thoughts are of some intrinsic interest to me) has a value analogous to a bit of butter on fresh bread — inessential, but nonetheless pleasant. But to speak in such a manner with people who have no place in my personal pantheon is analogous to scrolling through other people’s social media pages for an hour. Granting significance to the idle chatter or daily routines of relative strangers is demeaning to oneself.

I have no time for preparing “a face to meet the faces that you meet,” if I may crib from T. S. Eliot, for whom I also have very little time. As children, we spend most of our hours among others trying to appear (and sound) as we imagine they wish us to be. If the others be few and intimate (parents, siblings, best friends), this will often have educational value. If the others be many and generic (schoolmates, crowds at public events), as is most commonly the case today, the effect is entirely negative, and definitive of what our progressive psychological manipulators call “socialization,” which is a very deliberate euphemism for de-individuation. The only reprieves from this incessant training in sycophancy, cowardice, and conformity are the moments when we find ourselves alone. As one who was never skilled at producing the desired appearances for others, and was therefore continually self-conscious about having to do so, I learned early in life to cherish those private moments — daydreaming in my family’s basement, hiding out in my bedroom, wandering around on my bicycle — in which my only audience was myself, along with the vaguely comprehended “God” I always half-assumed was watching me. By the time I was about ten years old, I had evolved into a most confirmed and comfortable loner. In all honesty, I cannot remember a single moment in my entire life when I have ever experienced the pain of loneliness — except when I was forced by circumstances into interaction with groups of other humans, where I felt the most intense loneliness almost all the time (and still do to some degree, although I have spent decades constructing a daily life that allows me to avoid such social conditions for the most part).

I have no time for people who are obsessed with time. In general, those who habitually worry about the passing of time, who preach about time management, or who spend their days fretting about how time is running out (on something), are the sort who mistake a full schedule for a full day, or alternatively mistake free time for freedom. In both cases, they are people who systematically waste time and then complain as though something valuable has been taken away from them. There is almost always enough time for what matters, if one is not wasteful. One minute is all you need to suddenly recognize an important truth; you can fall in love in an hour; you can choose a life path in an afternoon; you can hear or read an idea that stirs you to improve your soul in thirty seconds; you can feel the reassurance of an understanding friend in the time it takes to dial a phone, reach out a hand, or write a note; you can experience eternity in less than an instant.

I have no time for people who tell me what “no one can deny,” as in “No one can deny that we have damaged our planet,” or “No one can deny that government needs to do more to help the poor.” That phraseology and all its kin are nothing but attempts to coerce my assent through intellectual or moral intimidation. I can deny anything I bloody well please, thank you, and so can you, as long as we are both prepared to assume the responsibility of justifying our respective denials, and to accept the consequences of failing in our justifications, or of failing to persuade anyone else. Freedom of thought and expression, as political principles, are nothing but the right to deny. To preface one’s statements (typically bromides) with insertions such as “No one can deny that…” is merely a way of hiding behind an illusion of pre-established certainty, for fear of being called to account for one’s declarations, or of being asked to prove them. Such tactics are equivalent to saying “Everyone knows that.” There is nothing worth knowing that “everyone” knows. And anything that “everyone” would claim to know is almost certainly false. Historically, no one has ever been more notoriously, consistently, and outrageously wrong about important matters than “everyone.”

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