Thursday, July 09, 2009


Writing fiction and talking to people who write fiction has taught me that everyone's a sadist. Everyone likes seeing misfortune happen to other people. It's given me a kind of pessimistic view of, like, everything, but in an ironically funny way. Suffering is entertaining, apparently. Weird, but seemingly true. We take a cruel pleasure in seeing people messed with, or messing with them ourselves. Just for chuckles, we're all out to get each other.

Are we all doomed, then, to being quietly and politely evil forever? I posit not.

Sometimes, I see people with a kind of reverse sadism. Two days ago, I was at the dentist, and this fellow walked in, clearly not feeling that great. Feeling bitchy, I thought. And, upon seeing this dude, the hygenist got this huge, wicked smile on her face, and proceeded to try and cheer him up. The thing being that her methods were distinctly insidious. Through evil prodding and jabbing she probably got him in a tolerable mood inside of five minutes. They walked out of the room, and I didn't see the guy again. But I'd talked to that particular hygenist before, and she's kind of contagious.

There she was, taking a wicked pleasure in insidiously causing another human being happiness. It was kind of weird, but not really all that weird.

We aren't all evil, that's what the moral of the story is.... Or maybe we are all evil, but sometimes our evil would prefer seeing happiness rather than suffering. We greedily want our way. That's kind of evil. Maybe some people evilly just want good stuff to happen.... I'm confused, now.


The One and Only John said...

Characters in fiction are supposed to be identifiable for the reader. When a character experiences pain, its sets them upon a course for growth, because that's usually what happens when someone conquers there pain. When the reader identifies with the character, they take the journey along with them, thereby growing as well. Enough times of this, and a reader gets excited because they instinctively know they will grow in a vicarious way.

There should be nothing weird about wanting to cheer up another human being, only in that not enough people are committed to doing it.

Nickel Halfwise said...

Interesting thoughts, although I disagree about the sadism. I often find in writing a story that when it comes time for a character to experience pain of some sort or another I feel less inclined to write it, though I suppose maybe that's mostly if I know it isn't exactly a happy ending.

Really it makes sense, though, that we appreciate the value of suffering even if in the wrong way because deep down we realize that salvation comes through suffering--that's what the cross is all about--and only that which has been tested can be true joy. To live is to love and to love is to give and not to count the cost.

Can you really evilly want something good, though, without twisting about the meaning of such words? Evil after all is only a privation, the lack, of good.