Love and hate are the strongest emotions a human can feel. Covering a wide spectrum of intensity these two emotions can account for some of the most important decisions one will make in their lifetime. A couple deep in love will marry and reproduce, a man gets revenge through murder, a tumblr feminist becomes indignant at words on a screen. These emotions and their motivations are usually crystal clear. More often than not these passions are our will acted upon the world. Everybody thinks they are important, everyone wants acceptance, everyone needs the love of another, and so on. When these conditions are not met we act out; we manifest hate. When these needs are met we manifest love. Why is it though that is so much easier to hate than to love?
A friend was recently raving about the new HBO breakout hit: True Detective. As if reading from a script he argued the series was the realest and most gritty show since Breaking Bad. Having finally caught up with the series I would agree. The show is very compelling, it seems real, but what is real? What is the truth?
Skimming the internet, the character most viewers identify with is that of Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey. Cohle is the distillation of every alcoholic, tortured soul, ‘real’, pessimistic and ‘deep’ character of the genre. He is the penultimate speaker of the dirty truths. He is he who says what we are all thinking. His foil is Martin Hart, a more traditional family man. Hart understands that there is more to the truth than what is rational or what can be easily explained.
A great example of the two characters’ interplay is in the following scene. They visit a traveling tent sermon to follow a possible lead. Rust believes religion is a fraud, that logically it makes no sense, therefore its followers are stupid and worthless. Martin criticizes Rust saying “for a guy who sees no point in existence, you still fret about it a lot.” Martin believes that religion gives people a sense of community, so what if they are believing in ‘fairy tales’ they get which the pessimist cannot, the positive connectedness felt by inclusion in a group and a set of morals they believe to be just.
Why is it though that truths shrouded in pessimism are able to elicit such a positive reaction from viewers? Rust Cohle is not the man any of us would want to be friends with, but the man which lives inside our heads. The one which tells us that our displeasure with the world is really truth. This pessimistic notion of truth is — more often than not — just a facade for anger or self-loathing. Real, objective, truth is hard to find even in the internet age. Charlatans can peddle their snake oil promises of eternal happiness in the space right next to the man who uses not only facts, but the broader implication of these facts to help others with their lives. Even still one must take in all information with a grain of salt and critically think when assessing its effectiveness with one’s own experiences.
I always used to find myself judging other people, thinking I was better then them, smarter than them, but am I really? One may wonder who’s dick their co-workers had to suck to land that job because they’re barely literate mongoloids who couldn’t perform a task correctly if their life depended on it, but I bet those co-workers think the same thing about you.
Do we perceive the world more negatively than it actually is so that it fits our narrative of how things should be, when in reality they are just rationalizations for our own short-comings? Why is it so much easier to accept something negative as truthful than admire the inherent beauty of the world? Would we be better off if we focused on the positives we do have — like the beauty of nature — rather than the things we don’t have or can’t change like the way society is, women with bad attitudes, or fat people?
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