3 01 2010


“We tend to idealize tolerance, then wonder why we find ourselves infested with losers and nut cases.”
–Patrick Nielsen Hayden

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.
–Hermann Hesse

“I’ve always wanted to be Brigitte Bardot.”
–Bob Dylan

“There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them.”
–Werner Karl Heisenberg

“His mother had often said, “When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.” She had emphasized the corollary of this axiom even more vehemently: “When you desire a consequence you had damned well better take the action that would create it.”
–Lois McMaster Bujold

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all-knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”
–Anna Eleanor Roosevelt


The first quote is a little expression of that sheer meanness toward the weak that is so common here in the USA, the great home of social darwinism.

I’ve heard the second quote, and believe it to be generally true. However, I would add that the hatred that springs from envy, which I have often felt, is clearly NOT due to hating something that is a part of onself—unless you could say that envy is hatred of someone else who has received something that you feel by rights belongs to you, and so is in a sense “part of yourself”.

Who wouldn’t want to be Brigitte Bardot? Gender considerations aside, she got a vast amount of what the rest of us must largely do without—attention.

“Things that are so serious…”—the greatest one by far being death.

Quote from “his mother”: True, but assumes a fully-functioning personality. Personally, as a neurotic, I have found that in many areas of life, TRY AS I MIGHT, I was unable to bring myself to “take the action that would create a consequence.”  See also, please, the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, by T. S. Eliot; or the play “Hamlet”, by you know who.

“A mature person…”: Easy for Eleanor Roosevelt to say! She was rich. The rich sit on very thick cushions. They can better manage to be mature and deliberative than the rest of us because most of the vast numbers of nasty sneaking threats whose approach can make us panic are never going to have any real chance to bite them on the ass.



4 responses

3 01 2010
Patrick Nielsen Hayden

You’re right about the first quote, which is why I wince over the fact that it keeps popping up online here and there. I forget the original context — I think I may have been discussing the subculture of science fiction fandom, where many of us have memories of being social outcasts as kids, and sometimes as a result go overboard in tolerating behavior from others that’s not just eccentric but downright abusive. But taken out of context, as a general statement, it’s just as you say: plain old mean. Which makes me suspect it may have been wrong in context as well.

3 01 2010

This is really valuable information, Mr. Hayden. I think we should therefore divorce the quote from you, and then I believe it will just be typical of the right wing side of the current American zeitgeist.
I still remember a discussion 3 years ago on the video site Glumbert where the video was of a woman dying in the lobby of a hospital that would’t admit her because she didn’t have insurance. Quite a few commentators found ways to blame it all on her!!

Would you like me to remove your name from the quote? We’ve all said things that look bad out of context. Why perpetuate them?

3 01 2010
Patrick Nielsen Hayden

I don’t see any reason to remove my name from it — I said it. I’ve said other dumb things. Learning to deal with having said dumb things will be a core skill as the internet becomes more and more a part of life.

What you describe is common in online discussions: there appears to be an irreducible minority of commenters who are determined to portray any misfortune as the victim’s fault. You get it on Boing Boing and you get it on Consumerist, both sites where the front-page posters tend to side with the underdog. I think it’s because some people can’t stand to believe that bad things could happen to them. They need to argue that if you’re smart and competent enough, you’ll be okay–and that therefore anyone who’s had a misfortune must have in fact been stupid and incompetent. They’re arguing in order to reassure themselves, not because their arguments have any merit.

4 01 2010

1.) I think the above comment is EXACTLY RIGHT and very insightful.

2. I must just add this for the special case where it is a USA person speaking cruelly of someone who has suffered economic misfortune: Americans often speak cruelly of such people because they’ve been told all their lives that this is “the greatest country in the world”, where, if you just work hard enough and are optimistic enough, you will always prosper. This belief is so passionately held here that it almost amounts to a religion. And no-one likes to hear instances of their religion not working.!

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