Monday, November 07, 2016

Hollow Man -- Reprise

I wrote this years ago. I liked it. (Truth be told, I can't say that about most of what I write.) It was, in fact, the first actual post I put on this blog ... more than 10 years ago. I think it still works today. I thought maybe my newer readers might enjoy it.
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Hi. My name is Hollow Man. I am not gender-specific; you’ll find me in men and women alike. The specifics may vary, but the underlying characteristics will remain the same. Let me tell you about myself. Who knows? You may know me better than you think.

My primary concern is for the individual. Of course, the individual I primarily have in mind is me. I determine right and wrong, good and bad, worthwhile or a waste of time by what best pleases me. I may take drugs because it makes me feel better or I may refuse to take drugs because it’s bad for me. I may even be altruistic if it makes me feel good about myself, but, bottom line, my evaluations are based on me. America loves individualism, and I am the personification of individualism. My goals, values, and interests are all oriented to what suits me best.

Older generations had this sense of "selflessness". They were willing to sacrifice personal gain and pleasure for the good of others – family, work, God, and country. I am not plagued with that malady. I know what is important. How I look is important. What I own is important. My comfort level is important. I may realize that what I have isn’t quite enough, so I will continue to strive for more. I am a lover of pleasure. I disdain the notion of delayed gratification and believe that we should seek pleasure wherever we may find it. The old "if it feels good, do it" is a reasonable motto for me. The reverse is also true: if it doesn’t feel good, it’s probably not worth doing.

Some have described me as narcissistic. I may be preoccupied with my own needs and desires, but isn’t self-esteem the number one priority? Some say that truth is important; I ask, "What is truth?" I subscribe to the notion that truth is relative – that there is no such thing as absolute truth – not recognizing that this is a statement of absolute truth. I disdain those who are intolerant and judgmental, not realizing that I am being intolerant and judgmental in this view. I will do all I have to do to obtain what I deserve. I will manipulate my friends, family, even God to get what I think I should have. There is, after all, no one who is more important than I am.

Entertainment is important to me. It comes in many forms. However, I don’t think I need to really do a lot to obtain it. I think that I should be entertained. If the show I’m watching isn’t entertaining, I’ll switch to another. If the game I’m playing isn’t entertaining, I’ll go to another. If baseball isn’t exciting enough, I’ll watch football or basketball. When I get tired of this music group, there’s surely another around the corner that will bring new excitement. If the church I'm at doesn't amuse me, I'll find one that does. I don’t realize, of course, that excitement doesn’t last, and, unfortunately, the things that entertain me today are boring tomorrow. But it isn’t my job to amuse me. It is the job of the entertainers – the media and the musicians and the actors and the sports stars and the amusement parks and . . . well, our society is clearly built on this concept, so it must be true.

Some have tried to push us beyond the here and now, but I understand better than that. The clearest presentation of the world we live in is the senses. Religion may try to impress God on us, and that’s fine as far as it goes, but there’s nothing like science for the truth. Science tests things and proves things and demonstrates things. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so why read if I have the TV? I live in a world tuned to the senses – I should indulge them. What I feel is all that’s ultimately real. To go beyond the senses is to venture into the unknown and unprovable . . . and therefore the irrelevant. The deep thinkers, philosophers, theologians and the like are really unimportant to real life. Fortunately these days there are few of that type.

School may be of some importance to me, but only so far as it gives me a better life. If I can make more money, I might pursue an education, but why do some schools require all that History and English and the like? I might even go so far as a Masters degree if it means a larger income, but you’ll rarely find people like me with more than that because, frankly, it serves no purpose. Reading is not a priority with me, either. If I do read, it will undoubtedly be fiction, since that can provide some form of distraction. Frankly, reading is not entertaining enough, when I can get the images fed to me on the TV or movies screen.

I have been accused of having no heroes, but that’s simply not true. My heroes are the rock stars or the movie stars or the sports stars or the fashion stars of the day. I admire their looks or their abilities or whatever currently strikes my fancy. I am not the least bit concerned about their virtue. Character is not an issue. Good is defined not as that which is virtuous or right, but as that which gives me the most pleasure.

It’s a funny thing with me, but I hate quiet and solitude. I will always have a radio or TV going or be surrounded by friends. I may, for instance, keep myself in good shape (because looking good is important to me), but even while I exercise I’ll have the headset on with music going. A vacation is a good thing not because I can think more, but because I can think less when I vacate. Anything I can do to avoid real contemplation is a good thing. Noise is better than quiet, activity better than rest, and anonymous crowds better than solitude. It is much better to do than to simply be.

I am Hollow Man. Perhaps you know me. Perhaps you are me. I certainly believe my shallow beliefs and pursuits are important, and I will never, never ask "Why?" or "Could I be wrong?" or "Is there more to life than me?" I wonder if you don’t identify with me.

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