The Self Seers.
I was never very good at being human.
In all honesty, it wasn’t something I enjoyed. I’m inclined to say I’m far happier now; ‘far happier’. But that wouldn’t be the correct choice of words. No, not correct at all. It would assume that ‘happiness’ is some attainable state – something to be strived for. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that such radical conclusions are a very human neurosis. Particularly human indeed. I would go as far to portend that it will only lead to complete damnation of the species. But I doubt anyone would listen to me anyway. And there’s no reason why they should – I’m not even considered human any more.
It took a long while to ponder over but finally I had it removed. The lot. The whole shebang. There’s not once ounce of it left and I can only say ‘good riddance to bad rubbish!’. I often prefer to speak in cliché because it’s a universal language and nobody will complain, unless you trying to be a writer or a poet.
That’s that taken care of.
So now I am a man without desire. And if I could call myself happy, I would, but I’m afraid that would undo the entire philosophy. And of course by philosophy I mean procedure. Because it is a process, you see, an organised process, and therefore I’m quite sure that ‘procedure’ is the right word. To indulge further I would say it’s not so different to being under the scalpel. No, not at all. And time is a natural anaesthesia. Time works wonders. I trust you can understand that, at least.
Now I am a man without desire by which, of course, I refer to the neurosis of emotional need. Yes, I was never very good at negotiating that maze which changes at every turn, shrinks and swells and opens into an endless void from which one falls without net nor rope, plummets into black only to be swallowed again, snared and wrenched and torn and spat out like rotten fish. I never considered that part of the human condition as enjoyment. The frugal reward could never satiate a stomach burnt by the acid brought about by its own hunger. And hunger for what? For the hope of happiness? Tell me – how many unhappy people do you think there are in the world? And how many people are truly happy? And do you think the weight of those who consider themselves truly happy is not worth the riddance of the world’s unhappiness? Would you not take bread from those who have plenty to give adequacy to the masses? Let them eat cake! The words fall on deaf ears. You can understand this, too.
‘Remove it!’ I said. And so, they did. And now here I am. A man devoid of happiness and freed of unhappiness. A man without want nor need nor yearning for anything more than the simple fulfilment of my physiological demands.
‘Happiness’. A truly selfish neurosis – a truly human neurosis.
I was never very very good at being human. And I have yes to meet a single soul who is.
Egon Schiele, ‘The Self Seers (Death and Man)’, 1911.