By Brendan Heard.
There was a time when the varieties of human condition were not obsessively categorized. A time when you might encounter freely eccentric people (each perhaps rife with what we would label today as a psychological ailment) who were merely taken at face value. Their foibles and bizarre attributes accepted as immutable articles of their personality and soul.
Their philosophy was that a thing (or person) is what it appears and does, unapologetically.
Eccentrics lived then free from stigma, for reason of never being concerned with stigma, and by not being babied for exhibiting originality (adversity strengthens eccentricity or destroys it). Their unique tokens of personality (even dangerous ones) were known and accepted, and in being near to them one took one’s chances depending on mutual inclinations and habits. It goes without saying that in congruence with this, everyone was naturally more eccentric and personalized of habit, as well as unafraid of exhibiting extremes of cultural background and dress, adding colour and adventure to everything.
It was not a case back then of labelling the eccentric as suffering from autism, Aspergers, Prader-Willi syndrome, Rett’s syndrome, pervasive development disorder, psychopathy, nymphomania, narcissism, or any of that. The varying tiers of life-functionality encouraged people into roles and stations befitting their extremes of personality: pirates, bird catchers, taxidermists, housebound physicists, smugglers, urchins, torturers, magicians, jesters, dancers, prostitutes, masons, augurers, etc. In an organic society you knew Billy the Rat and Toothless Ruth, Cheating Charlie and Pedantic Pete – and each character you dealt with uniquely and at face value, mindful of their habits and without reducing them in total to an all-encompassing category-of-condition, indexed and filed away under ‘abnormal behaviour’. There were brigands, evil princes, martyrs, and prophets, all of which would today be scientized and their unrepentantly unique personalities locked in a filing cabinet, for reasons of a misplaced and saccharine appeal to ‘help them’.
In this age which is pretentiously obsessed with ‘individualism’ (examine my tattoo), the true characteristics of individuality are lost. We mistake the formerly rigid framework of types, vocations, gynics, trades, and tribes as oppressively strict, when in fact they were nothing more than the lawful foundation for eccentric personality. Thus we have broken the true and organic structure which supports human individuality.
There is no such thing as a person without extremes of custom or trait, physically or mentally. The mechanized consolidation of humanity into a final form of nothingness which we might call ‘the socially acceptable’ is the loss of humanity itself. Not to machine or technology but to a kind of librarian’s Dewey Decimal System which destroys human nature by scolding originality into conformity. This is policed via a surveillance state nagging which is not motivated by a genuine compassion (so often exemplified by tough-love and long-term thinking), but by the signalling of faux-compassion in a cheap social currency. A ‘please examine my compassion’ dance which is not compassionate and helps no one, comprising only false and simpering crocodile-tears without goodness or effectivity.
And all this is aimed towards abnormal habits which are seen resisting the current. Eccentricity must be medicated, and put out of sight, and those who have been diagnosed must fall in line in their queue.