Hmmmm. I have probably used this quote at least a dozen times on this here website, though I’ll be god darned if I’m not about to use it again:
Dry heat upon my brow? Oh! time was, when as the sunrise nobly spurred me, so the sunset soothed. No more. This lovely light, it lights not me; all loveliness is anguish to me, since I can ne’er enjoy. Gifted with the high perception, I lack the low, enjoying power; damned, most subtly and most malignantly! damned in the midst of Paradise! Good night—good night!
Ahab says this. Ahab is cool. He’s also insane . . . but also not insane! Honestly a whole bunch of the stuff he says makes sense to me. (Uh, maybe everything he says makes sense to me~~)
I was thinking today, as I do every day, that everything seems turn to ash in my hands no matter how much I wish it wouldn’t. You know? There was a time when I, and maybe you as well, could experience something without zooming out and breaking it down into parts: “This is where I’m supposed to enjoy myself because nothing in particular is bothering me right now,” and, “This is the part where I laugh because something funny is happening,” and, “This is the part where I’m supposed to interpret this event as being a meaningful one,” and so on.
High perception is useful sometimes I guess. It doesn’t mean you are superior to anyone, or smarter, or anything like that. It just means that you are sensitive to certain things. In a more abstract way: you live inside a hell which is your brain.
As for me: I am an idiot. I am a rotten fool. But I sure am cripplingly, paralyzing aware of myself, of everyone and everything around me, and of the huge three-dimensional prison we’re all trapped inside of . . . and it’s all screaming at me!
You know those scenes in movies where it’s a closeup of a drop of sweat trickling down a human’s face? Or a fly landing on a piece of food or something? Man! My whole life is seeing that stuff, and I ain’t necessarily talking in a literal sense. In a crowded room I can pick out individual conversations and read the faces of people who are very far away.
Here: Imagine you’re having a conversation with a person, and you’re listening to all the words they’re saying, and parsing their sentences and so on. But then you can’t help but zero in on their facial expressions and the inflection of their voice, and what those things usually mean based on your past experiences with people moving and talking and so on in this particular way. To an extreme degree this is how you can tell when someone is lying. But in a mundane sense it is easy to tell when someone is kind of being fake or even disguising their contempt for you (maybe this problem is mine alone (lol)). I reckon the coolest use for high perception is being able to detect when someone wants to kiss you!!! Yeah that one rules.
Anyway, about phonies: I can spot a phony a mile away. I also wish I never had to do that again. It’s awful to walk around and question everyone’s motives based on your perception of them. In some ways it keeps you safe and free from bullshit. But it also kind of black-hole vacuums up all the flavor of sticking around earth and doing stuff here. Once you’ve cataloged essentially all the ways every human interaction can possibly play out, for good or ill, it becomes very boring to be alive anymore. You’re guessing what people are going to say before they say it. I have said many times that I split when I have seen the full spectrum of a city or a job or whatever—when I have seen All The Things That Could Ever Happen. Well, here I am, and I haven’t seen or felt anything new in what seems like a very very long time.
Think about a bar. How many things can possibly happen in a bar, save for freak accidents and stuff like that? What is it? Five or six things max? I stopped going to bars, and anywhere at all really, when I had lived out the same night way too many times. I knew exactly when the curtains would go down, and the way I would feel when I got home, and on and on. And even in those surprise circumstances where you end up going home with someone . . . well, so what? I know what that feels like too. It isn’t a good feeling. It isn’t a bad feeling either sometimes, but it’s boring as hell. These little events pile up in your brain and soon they are indistinguishable from one another, and each one feels more joyless and colorless than the last. You’ve already figured the whole thing out. It wasn’t difficult. There aren’t that many parts to it. You know what to say and what to do and you say and do those things robotically, as if on cue, and are horrifyingly aware of yourself the entire time.
It’s all boring as hell, man. Get that sunrise and that sunset away from me. I can’t look at a thing and just enjoy it as a thing. I have to dissect it and wonder what it means, and wonder if it will hurt me or be a waste of my time. I’m twenty-eight years old! How in God’s name am I ever going to be an old man???
I asked my dad once if he ever stopped and felt nauseated by all the lights and colors and sounds around him. I said, “You ever just stand there and look around and feel absolutely terrified that you’re alive? What with all this stuff going on?”
And he paused and he said, “Um, no.”
I haven’t said anything like that to him since then because, hey, I know how dumb and obnoxious it sounds.
But I also know that, at least for me, it is true as well. ;-/