Rohit's Realm

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February 14, 2009

Doom and Gloom: The Existential, the Principal, and the Asinine

The length of time that has elapsed since I last posted an entry might have led some of you to fear (or rejoice?) that this blog had met its earthly demise with a whimper of disaffection, disinterest, and apathy (much as its owner will soon meet his own mortal demise, no doubt). But fear (or rejoice) not, naysayers and haters, for it is not death but dormancy that encumbers the Realm in these dark, despondent days of wintry cold and ever accelerating economic decline. The subject which rouses me from my somnolence, moreover, is not likely to provide any solace to those among the downtrodden or defeated, for today is St. Valentine's Day, and I see it as my duty in life to neutralize the misplaced feelings of love or happiness that are likely today to pervade (and pollute!) a world decidedly lacking in neither.

Considering, however, that I have made it a habit of posting biennially on this most critical of holidays (for more, see entries from 2005 and 2007), I do not concern myself today with dead plants or (the inevitable failure of) relationships. Indeed, my purpose in this post is greater than both the worthless assholes wallowing in self-pity over Single's Awareness Day and this worthless asshole (yours truly) perennially wallowing in existential angst (and, of course, cheap beer and perfume).

The doom and gloom of the past few months has started to wear on me, as I suspect it has for many, and in ways different than those I have known in the past. What explains this difference? The key, I think, is the distinction between the existential, the principal, and the asinine, and I explore each in turn below.

The Existential

Though the existential sources of distress and despair are probably the most abstract, I begin with them because, in many ways, they are also the most salient for those of my ilk. For us, fortunate enough to not lack in what I earlier deemed fundamental (such as food, shelter, and housing), the existential questions are probably the easiest to understand, though perhaps most difficult to answer: Are these people I hardly know and barely like really my friends? Do I really care for my significant other, or is that I just care not to be alone? Why did I end up married to this person for whom I harbor nothing but mild disdain? What the hell am I doing with my life?

Certainly, at one point or another, I have asked myself one of the above questions, and in truly dark times, perhaps I will ask all of them. Depressing though these questions may be, they evince feelings of despair that can nonetheless be ignored—or, at the very least, contained. Take me for example: I am probably perpetually consumed by low levels of existential despair, and yet, still manage to trod along in my (necessarily futile) existence, mediocre, hopeless, and lonely, though it may be. When the source of despair is fundamental as opposed to existential, however, the abyss is no longer so easily dismissed.

The Principal

The financial upheaval of the past year and subsequent economic downturn is precisely the type of event likely to induce fundamental despair. For my generation, it marks the first time, I think, that the glass may truly not be half full. Certainly, for those subscribing to my dire outlook on life, the glass has never been anything but empty in terms of metaphysical success. But even for us curmudgeons, I do not doubt that there was ever a concern about material (that is, money, cash, hoes) success. Failure in that sense has never been either an option or a likelihood.

Now, however, nothing is certain. I find myself consumed by much more primitive and troublesome questions than whether I have any real friends: Will the economy recover? Will I have a job upon graduation? Am I too leveraged? Was it a mistake to leave the working world after only two years?

To be sure, things are not all that bad right now. Being in school has allowed me to avoid much of the unrest, and despite all the hysteria, I do not yet believe the apocalypse is upon us.1 For all we know, the recently approved artery-clogging pork may yet bring about economy recovery, though with an increasingly rabid and populist Congress leading the charge (unions! corporate greed! welfare! 'Merica!), I am cautiously pessimistic.

Whatever the reality, however, the grim prospects and dire uncertainty that looms strong is in itself sufficient to evoke despair that is not as easily ignored or contained. The knowledge that I am destined to a meaningless and futile life, while depressing, is nothing compared to the possibility that I might end up awash in a cesspool of bummery, with no job, home, or sanity. And it is the latter sort of concern that has formed the cloud of despair that hangs above me (and many others, I think) today.

The Asinine

The division of despair between the existential and principal does not, however, explain the entire universe of what ails us. As with everything else in life, the asinine has its place. For as we revel in the doom and gloom that marks Valentine's Day, 2009, there are surely some people too insouciant to be troubled by existential concerns and too stupid to be unsettled by principal ones. These dredges of society are the ones crying themselves to sleep over their single status and whining about how love has continued to elude them, no matter their best efforts. To deign to engage these morons, in my opinion, is sheer lunacy in the first place, but for those more sympathetic than me, I offer two explanations by which one might console their friends consumed by asinine despair.

First, given the abysmal state of the human condition, no matter how worthless one is, some despicable person out there of the preferred gender is probably more worthless such that a romantic transaction would be efficient. The problem for our moronic friends, then, is not that love is eluding them, only that their standards are too high, and if they wish to be encumbered for Valentine's Day next year, a simple downgrade of prerequisites would do the trick.

Second, it is possible that our moronic friends' perennial solitude on Valentine's Day is truly reflective of the fact that they are so consummately worthless that no person, no matter how awful, would ever desire to spend February 14 with them under any conscious circumstance. There is very little that can be done in this circumstance beyond the drastic. I leave it to your worthy discretion, dear readers, whether to recommend this course of action to your friends consumed by asinine despair.

No matter the despair one finds themselves in today, however, whether it be existential, principal, or asinine, there is always solace in cheap beer, cheaper perfume, and darkness. In other words, shitty 4 am bars, here I come! Who's with me?

^ 1 Then again, 2012 is not far away. If we have two more quarters of negative GDP growth, I am buying guns, ammo, and canned food.


Yay! Finally, a post. I was beginning to miss your surly presence in my life. Be my Valentine?

You might be onto something. Usually, shitty 4 am bars are very depressing, but when you're already depressed, cheap beer and perfume are just what the doctor ordered. Moreover, there is an arbitrage opportunity for you. Since the girls engaged in asinine despair are going to be more desperate than you, who is only engaged in principal (or existential) despair, you can totally take advantage of that power dynamic to pick up someone for some Valentine's Day despair. Bonus will be that you feel even worse about yourself tomorrow, and we all know how you love that.

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