Everywhere I have been in my life, in every situation, wherever I’ve lived and worked alongside people, I’ve always been considered by everyone to be an intruder or, at the least, a stranger. Amongst my relatives as amongst acquaintances, I’ve always been considered an outsider. Not that even once have I been treated like that consciously, but the spontaneous response of others to me ensured that I was.
Everyone everywhere has always treated me kindly. Very few people, I think, have had so few raise their voice against them, or been so little frowned at, so infrequently the object of someone else’s arrogance or irritability. But the kindness with which I was treated was always devoid of affection. For those who would naturally be closest to me, I was always a guest who, as such, was well treated but only with the attentiveness due to a stranger and the lack of affection which is the lot of the intruder.
I’m sure that all this, I mean other people’s attitudes towards me, lies principally in some obscure intrinsic flaw in my own temperament. Perhaps I communicate a coldness that unwittingly obliges others to reflect back my own lack of feeling.
I get to know people quickly. It doesn’t take long for people to grow to like me. But I never gain their affection. I’ve never experienced devotion. To be loved has always seemed to me an impossibility, as unlikely as a complete stranger suddenly addressing me as familiarly as ‘tu’.
I don’t know if this makes me suffer or if I simply accept it as my indifferent fate, and to which questions of suffering or acceptance do not enter.
I always wanted to please. It always hurt me that people should be indifferent towards me. As an orphan of Fortune I have, like all orphans, a need to be the object of someone’s affection. I’ve always been starved of the realization of that need. I’ve grown so accustomed to this vain hunger that, at times, I’m not even sure I still feel the need to eat.
With or without it life still hurts me.
Others have someone who is devoted to them. I’ve never had anyone who even considered devoting themselves to me. That is for others: me, they just treat decently.
I recognize in myself the capacity to arouse respect but not affection. Unfortunately I’ve done nothing that in itself justifies that initial respect and so no one has ever managed fully to respect me either.
I sometimes think that I enjoy suffering. But the truth is I would prefer something else.
I don’t have the right qualities to be either leader or follower. I don’t even have the merit of being contented which, if all else fails, is all that remains.
Other people of lesser intelligence are in fact much stronger than me. They are better than I am at carving out their lives amongst other people, more skilled at administering their intelligence. I have all the necessary qualities to influence others but not the art with which to do so, nor even the will to want to do so.
If one day I were to love someone, I would not be loved in return.
It’s enough for me to want something for that thing to die. My destiny, however, is not powerful enough to prove deadly to just anything. It has the unfortunate disadvantage of being deadly only to those things I want.
Rubens. Detail from Moses and the Brazen Serpent, 1610.
1968 | 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY | Stanley Kubrick