Monday, March 15, 2010


There is nothing worse than coming upon a like-minded person. You feel the carpet has been pulled from under you the moment they start to identify with what you’ve said. It begins like one of those tremors that precede an earthquake. The tectonic plates begin to shift and before long there is a full eruption in which your own singular experiences are usurped by an outpouring that turns your inner life to Pompeii. If there is one thing that is nice about any experience, good or bad, it’s that it’s yours. Possession is nine tenths of the law, but now it turns out that your life history is not so special, and the selfsame set of occurrences have been the province of someone else, who has in all likelihood done a better job. Curiosity is nice, but it’s terribly deflating to come upon someone who understands exactly how you’re feeling. If they’ve been divorced as many times as you, then somehow the pain is trivialized. The same is true of the death of a parent or loved one. They have been through it all. After all, at some point everyone goes through it. But what good is such knowledge? The economy of scale produced by the fact that calamity occurs on more than one playing field doesn’t reduce the individual impact. Rather, it spreads it thin. If everybody breaks their leg, gets cancer, or is cheated on by their lover, it shouldn’t lessen the fact that this is my broken leg, my cancer, my cuckold’s horns. And just remember, the converse applies too. Hearing someone talk movingly about a life-changing experience, there’s always the temptation to say, “Me too!” But it’s precisely at times like these that it’s best to shut up. 


  1. Dear Francis,

    Remind me never to empathize with you! I hold you in such high esteem that I would never wish to devalue your experience (even though you alone feel it to be diminished). From hereon in, I will switch to Schadenfreude (but always with the greatest love and respect for you). So break a leg, my dear friend!

  2. Feel free to identify Peloni Almoni. The Screaming Pope offers you a papal dispensaton. Everyone else fuck off.


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