I know for a fact I am better at “reading” most people than are most people. I think it was a talent initially, but moving around so much throughout my life forged that into a verifiable skill, just from the necessity of figuring people out over short windows of time. It made me an excellent interviewer, to the extent that of 400+ conducted I only ever had to deal with 2 or 3 agents or managers. Word of mouth prompted most subjects to approach me directly. No matter the platform I would work it out so that ownership of the article itself was split 50/50 between myself and the subject themselves, equal but sovereign and perpetual rights for reprint in whichever capacity, with neither permission nor profit-sharing required because that is the considerate thing to do. But sometimes a person comes along who just confounds me every which way, as despite my verbosity never am I saying that I know much about the world beyond my experiences or my resources.
I have punched holes into sheet-rock walls over intrinsic frustrations with myself, most often from the natural hurt and regret with my saying or doing the almighty apocryphal. Like time clocked judging others so uncannily I was basically a con-artist pretending to be some ESP sage from the darkest rooms. Lying was never necessary when faces are such blank canvasses.
Pearl Jam had this song way back about an old clerk in a small town, and when this tune was new to FM’s regular cycle it may as well have been a perfect summation of the old lady working the convenience store across from the apartment complex where my family was living at the time. I was young, but it made me wonder at those other unknowns we meet across our days, not the classmates or co-workers or neighbors but the fellows in line, the folks we pass on the sidewalks or people propping up whichever business we find ourselves in. They were human beings with thoughts and feelings chiseled from their own unique experiences, but it was always so clear that most people take none of that into account. Like how so many just oh so casually presume those they meet were nothing better than what gamers call NPCs. There were occasions where I churned out trash product in blue collar jobs, but that would have largely been due to my working 20 or 30 hours straight, bouncing directly from one job to the other; a matter customers would obviously not be privy to as they shared their venom. So what would I have been taking for granted, in the persons around me? How might we truly differ as individuals, and what could we possibly have in common, and who is fucking who?
I’ve been accused of being an objectivist in the past, but seriously I can never part with the empathy I feel in my lungs, not under any circumstances imaginable. And the older I grow the more of a sense of responsibility I also feel, for exactly how what I say and do affects anybody subjected whether by intent or by happenstance to these words or actions, fired off like they’re going out of style like so. If bills devouring a check accidentally leave me with ten dollars aside, I am not about to go spend it on a fucking comic book while the girl next door happens to need baby food. Show me anybody who does not rationalize that themselves, every toy in their collection a physical representation of somebody somewhere who they failed to give aid to. I have learned firsthand how our minds can fill in the blanks of the unknown just fine when we shut out the noise, we frankly need so little of it in our lives. Know the motivation and anything else is predictable. The universe writes itself.
Stan Lee was a capitalist and Steve Ditko was an objectivist, and the differences between the two represent the differences between capitalism and real objectivism, if we really wish to split hairs. Ayn Rand was a capitalist by her own words, all the way back to her time trading gossip and insults with fellow freelance daydreamers in the cheapest coffee shops of post-Great Depression NYC. But had she been a serious objectivist she’d never have granted an interview upon meeting with her eventual degrees of fame and fortune, letting her work do all the talking. Modern capitalists claiming to be objectivists are just doing what capital is all about on an average day, co-opting everything not nailed to the floor, as with the blatant socialism of corporate welfare’s grants and subsidies with tax breaks, tax exemptions and tax forgiveness on top. They get away with it too, because real objectivists are not online defending themselves, seeing no need for hiding behind avatars and proxies when they have functional faces and voices without. It’s a sad realization to see how few look so deep.
I see all of this as common sense, but nobody even remotely considers these things by such definitions, except the odd veteran editor by private correspondence. Jeff Buckley had this great line, poking fun at his own charisma, that when you look generic you look like everyone. When tasked whether by trade or by natural compulsion with the content curation of actual writing, I have no attributes to my name, but I see my phrasing everywhere. And realizing that, the self-awareness of that, is maybe the closest I would ever come to knowing a happiness. I am cracking a door ajar here, but I really am a private person even were we not all generously provided with terms and conditions of very reasoned paranoia round the goddamn clock, by masters of church, masters of state and masterbators of industry. I am not blaring my own signal across social media and I am not singing the praises of my credentials on my homepage here. As much as I detest ad nauseum here through essays aplenty the methods and madness of ego so prevalent in this society entrapping us one and all, I absolutely have my own weaknesses and prejudices. I feel that the cruelest thing ever to have been perpetrated against me by my family tree singularly or in unison, is that none of the too many dozens of relatives reads a lick of anything I compose. When I was a child they all thought I’d grow up to be a priest, mistaking my moral fibre for religiosity. Or a scientist, bizarrely mistaking my general ignorance for self-esteem. Some have been furious with me that I never saw fit to pursue any form of self-enrichment or entitlement.
Yet they never hear me complain. There’s other things on my mind, like addressing how little time I honestly have left. I don’t believe for an instant that identity means what the public thinks it means. I do get that. Not one of us is a static image.