A defense for the Sociably Challenged.
A brief introductory remark:
Given my sudden fascination with the political philosophers of the olden days up to the 18th century, particularly with Machiavelli and the Contractarian thinkers, the means in which they talk, argue and posit their inklings, I opted to make for myself what seems to be, in comparison to their gloriously logical rhetoric, a mock and rather laughable presentation of a defense in a style (that hopes to seem) similar to theirs. In modern terms: I wanted to try to write like them or at least in a manner that seems “like I know what I’m talking about” and so I implore you to please bear with me as you read (if ever you read) this post. Thank you.
Sometimes it makes more sense to burry your face into a book and hope to God the entirety of your existence follows, and in its following actually lose itself. Personally, I deem societal politic to be something difficult to fathom. It’s a man made locus of convoluted principles, unsaid but implied and above all, ambiguous. Not that I’ve never thought about the necessity of ambiguity. For I have and must admit to being ambiguous myself, especially under the tensions and uncertainties of societal politic. For in the realm of this politic, ambiguity despite being able to result in further tensions in its extreme, can also, during certain situations, ameliorate it, soothe it that such tensions become more controllable and less eruptive. We cannot live in utter ambiguity but we cannot deny its function and attachment to our being. For man, I suppose, with some respect to its nature, is partly ambiguous and thus, such is also the nature of man’s interactions; interactions governed by the doctrines of societal politic; doctrines that seem even more intangible, even incomprehensible than that of the abstract. Or maybe social interaction and propriety are abstract things? The self, I suppose is abstract and volatile all by itself. Imagine, now, infinite selves, infinite volatile things interacting together, living together in a state of tensions that result itself into a society, a society that demands interaction. Imagine such instability! With such a concoction, it’s only a matter of time before such a mixture, such a deceivingly immiscible mixture- for coherence, social stability and oneness is but a struggle between interacting societal strata and far from homogenous though the surface may imply homogeneity, implodes into itself or explodes into ruin. Because the struggle and tension between selves, the balance of it, also involves a balance of a multiplicity of abstractions- the tensions of power, the tensions of morals, the tensions of pragmatism and necessity and order. A fragile, flimsy balance in a vast harsh plane wherein the self is a microcosm of society, society the compounding, elevating, setting free and at the same time taming of the natural self, and the politics of things, in a way, is the means to control these tensions, is the very arena where these tensions juxtapose under the elevated guises of governance and the more minute but nevertheless crucial realm of personal relationships and by this I mean, the more individual-specific form of relationships and not the general, vague bond that connects all humankind for simply being part of humankind. Our selves are in a constant push and pull, an eternal tug of war, stemming from simple communal interactions wherein power play is almost always present, and so is second guessing and groping in a game of chess-like relations. Personally, it is easier to prefer isolation to this, to prefer the company of books, for there, we have no need of politeness or impressions, appearances and proper conduct. There one needs not measure, weigh and debate over the speech one is to utilize, the position of one’s body at all times, the moments of having to consciously choose courtesy over the impulse of rudeness, the course of action one is to pursue at each interval of the day and the consequences, implications and repercussions of each. Alas, being human, one cannot help but find one’s self in a conundrum, for if the principles of sociability is a puzzlement, one cannot simply separate one’s self from the need for society and to be, with some respect of the term, social. Man perhaps by nature is solitary- as stipulated by some of the Contractarian thinkers like Hobbes and Rousseau, in opposition to Augustine that stipulates no man can stand alone. Though, given that the context of these two characteristics of man are from different states, we must assume that both are right. The solitary man exists in man’s state of nature that is as pre-societal man. Man can stand alone in nature, but in a society connections and interactions are crucial to its development, to man’s very survival, to man’s progress. Thus giving both stipulations an air of truth to them. And with such, there rises the contradictions in man’s character and the possible claim that man, by nature, is a mesh of contradictions. A dilemma then arises as a result of being a mesh of contradictions: what if the very nature that allows one to survive depletes one’s existence into a doubtful sort- an existence beleaguered by a stubbornness, a naturally introverted, socially unsuited character? What if the standards of one’s life and therefore of one’s existence is reduced due to the necessity of sociability, in the name of order, for the sake of allegiance and with such a reduction forces one to put into question the legitimacy of such a life, of such an existence? Why live or force one’s self to live in a reduced state, especially if the obligation of sociability causes such reduction when the need for society arose to ameliorate human life through the guidance and privilege of civic virtue and order? Perhaps my rambles are mere folly given that it is a mere exaggeration and reflection of my own disinterest in interaction, connection and the rules that govern them, the behavior demanded by such rules. Or rather my rambles are a mere defense of such folly and alongside this defense, this explanation also arises my prayer- a prayer that hopes to excuse myself from such sociable necessity. It is true that not all men are sociable though man is in essence social. The problem perhaps arises in the usage of the term that somehow being social implies, nay demands being sociable. The two are rather different things to some extent. Being social means that one is related to a society and given that we are all products of a society, for, as mentioned, only through a society (which ideally should be just and virtuous although in reality such ideal has not been completely achieved) can man flourish, progress and survive, by this we are, intuitively, all social. It isn’t a question. But it is wrong to assume that because we are all related in and to a society in some way or another that we are, as part of our nature, as induced by our circumstance, educated in the manners of the sociable- the friendly. Being social does not imply vast comprehension of friendliness; for ties, the interaction of such ties and the rules of said interaction that limit, define and outline the appropriateness of behavior within such an interaction in such a tie are tricky, convoluted, flimsy and to some extent relative and therefore incoherent. For a society to function, men must form themselves into an allegiance. Society is perhaps like a clockwork of allegiances and ties, wherein society can only function if such allegiances- the very gears that form the clock- interact in the necessary manner they ought to, that a prescribed law and doctrine is necessary for order. Man acts in a peaceful, ideally altruistic manner with other people but this manner is governed by ethic and morals-supported and strengthened by legislature and positive law, which are far broader, far elevated, far civic and less personal than the rules of sociability. There is supposedly an overlap. I cannot deny that. We must be friendly to some extent but the rules of friendliness can apply to even more specific scenarios and in this realm of particulars- such friendliness and its maintenance becomes tricky, complicated, and above all exhausting, especially to those who cannot keep up or tolerate the constant changes, the constant varying demands suited to each form of tie. There is a matter of forming impressions, the changing or retaining of that impression. The rules of friendship and social interaction vary depending on the form, type, and degree of the friendship- degrees which easily interlace over another, change and flow without a notice or announcement and you must always, always be on your feet because a change in form, type and degree changes the rules, the concept of propriety, the needs, demands, expectations and so many more aspects of the connection. It is a given that all ties are strenuous but given that ties are necessary for social order and social continuance we must form them. That I do not dispute. I am merely stating a, perhaps already known or in the least implied, but never fully articulated remark- one that seems naturalized and thus is in no need of articulation, making such a notion overlooked and even forgotten, and that remark is that these ties are dangerous, tiring, upsetting and in tension much like any form of interacting mechanism. And with such a solid statement, I must remind people, that though society and sociality is a given, not all man are capable of keeping up with the maintenance of sociability- a far more specific, particular, personal and “near-the-individual” level of the social. Not all men are articulate in the language of connection, friendship and interaction. Those who are articulate and knowledgeable in these affairs or are lucky enough to survive while being ignorant to this language and politic, must not ostracize but rather understand those who cannot fathom it. Being knowledgeable in these matters does not excuse nor does it necessitate the ridiculing of those who are not knowledgeable but rather, by the very doctrines of these matters, which the majority is allegedly so knowledgeable about, requires that such people accept and perhaps aid those who are in the modern vernacular: anti-social. Although such a term may seem inappropriate, inaccurate and badly used given its psychological meaning, linguistic inaccuracy and proneness to misinterpretation of being understood as literally: anti social- against that of the social, and against that of society, hence, I prefer the term: sociably challenged. In this defense, I wish to clarify that I am not justifying improper conduct or encouraging isolation as opposed to the individual’s social development. I am merely imploring the understanding of those more inept at sociability to bear with those who are less inept in such a way that those who are challenged be encouraged to tackle, and participate in the playing fields of societal politic or in the least consider it for it is inseparable, despite having its difficulties, to a social entity- which we all are.