Am I insane?
Over the last 30 or so years, I have become increasingly alienated from the rest of humanity. One by one, my points of contact and similarity with the rest of my species have worn smooth and dropped away, leaving me feeling like an alien creature hiding amongst a pack of violent, irrational monkeys whose behaviour seems completely inexplicable.
I’m an anarchist. The very existence of self-appointed kings and potentates makes me seethe with rage, and armed men giving me orders at the point of a nightstick causes me to resist with every ounce and fibre of my being. Meanwhile, I see everyone around me gladly and cheerfully following orders and bending their knee to power. The people who run this site make arbitrary decisions about what I can and can’t say, make my questions and answers disappear at their whim, and tell me if I don’t like it, I can go suck a tailpipe. This makes me so angry I can hardly see straight, yet I see a long, long, long line of people here just waiting for a chance to leave ass-kissing postings about how much they love being under the heel of their authority. This experience is echoed throughout every forum I’ve ever encountered on the Web (though Usenet was slightly different, since it’s decentralized and not subject to absolute authority).
I’m an organizer and activist with decades of experience, largely as a result of being unable to accept things which every other person on Earth seems to find perfectly normal and desirable. I could give hundreds of examples, but the one which has been gnawing at me, and has left me staring sleepless at the ceiling for the last two weeks is the following. I’ve spent the last eight years or so at war with city hall, the police, local business, and every other official entity in my city as spokesperson for an organization which represents the poor and homeless. Recently, in a copy of THE SAME NEWSPAPER, there were three stories virtually side by side: (1) An article about how this is the hottest summer since they began keeping records, with a special note about how it’s so hot that there is imminent danger to old people and the homeless; (2) An article about how the vacancy rate in the city is almost zero, that rents are stratospheric, and that homeless shelters are operating well over maximum capacity at the same time the State is practising “austerity” measures which leaves people on welfare or disability pensions in constant danger of homelessness; and (3) An article with the city and local business crowing and boasting about spending millions to redesign a downtown street to remove all available shade as a way of discouraging the homeless from being present. No one but me seems to either connect these things or care even when I point it out to them.
I was born asexual. I’ve never felt lust. I have a sort of intellectual understanding of the concept, but I find the whole phenomenon bizarre. Because of the omnipresence of sex in absolutely everything, I have it constantly thrust into my face. I can’t read a book, watch a movie, or even walk down the street without having it crammed down my throat. For example, I’ll be reading a story, really getting into it, and then suddenly there’s a “romance.” I get to spend the next five chapters skimming through indescribably dull descriptions of emotions and seemingly irrational drives which seem completely ludicrous to me. Because I’ve spent most of my life in grinding poverty as a result of severe, crippling, untreatable, and lifelong episodes of clinical depression, I’ve been forced to live with a succession of roommates. In nearly every case, eventually I have to put up with my roommate’s sexual partner, a person I didn’t choose, don’t like, and who invades my space and privacy; my roommate gets regular sex, and I just get fucked.
I can’t even escape into fantasy. I joined City of Heroes, a superhero MMORPG, a couple of years ago in the hope that I might be able to stop the erosion of my humanity by interacting with people on a level where I don’t need to be constantly tormented by the politics and ethics which seem alien and offensive to me. I now find that I go weeks or even months between sessions because I can’t find anyone who share even a handful of my interests. The WoW-type, min/maxing power gamers with their trash-talk and damage-per-second calculations (who are the majority) are completely uninteresting to me. There is a small roleplaying community, but all they want to do is act out Mexikan soap operas with superpowers or cybersex each other while pretending to be ninja vampires or futa catgirl demon-girls and stuff. I’ve spent the last year hunting – fruitlessly – for anyone who shares my interest in pulp-era fiction or Golden Age comics.
Even as an activist, I constantly find myself on the outside. I am considered a pariah in the local anarchist community, for example, because of my unwillingness to support Palestinian nationalism as I refuse to support any other nationalism. My refusal to accept “safe space” doctrines – the ridiculous notion that it’s possible to legislate thoughts and behaviours through rules and laws – means I get called everything from a sexist to a bigot. A while back I was chosen to become host of a talk show on local television dealing with activism, poverty, and labour issues. I assumed (as did the producers) that my long career in activism would allow me to attract a lot of interesting guests. In trying to put together the first three programs, I couldn’t get a single person to return my phonecalls. I began to realize that people tolerate me on a professional level for the sake of their particular causes, but find me personally objectionable. I had to drop the television program because I realized I’d be unable to get guests.
I could go on and on and on. No matter where I go, I always find myself on the outside, Camus’ perpetual Etranger. Logic tells me that it’s not the entire world which is crazy, but me. I’m driving myself to existential despair trying to find my insanity from the inside. As the gap is widening between me and the rest of the world, I’m finding less and less purpose in living. The anomie in my life has left me motionless and useless, burning up resources without contributing anything to anyone.
Am I insane? Is this what insanity feels like?