Dec 28, 2009

Who's Watching Now?

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
- Oscar Wilde

I'm a very self-conscious person. I'm anxious and tend to assume I'm being judged for the worse. I believe people don't like me and will attack me if I show my true face. I'm so good at pretending, sometimes I don't even know what my true face IS (Give me back my face!)

I've been thinking about the issue of self-consciousness and judgement quite a lot lately, trying to come to terms with self-judgement and my fear of others' judgement. I've been trying to look at it from a nihilist perspective. Nihilism says that reality is devoid of intrinsic meaning or purpose. Most people assume this to mean a world that's despairing and empty, which is certainly one of nihilism's "faces". But, it's easy to forget the word "intrinsic" in the definition. Nihilism doesn't say reality has no meaning, merely that it has no INTRINSIC meaning, a vast difference. I believe the meaning of life, its purpose, comes from US. I also think the answer to the question, "who's judging me now" is: no one but myself.

In the film Watchmen, a group of dark superheros watch over humanity, protecting us and exacting justice. They do a pretty piss-poor job of it, because most of the "heros" are sociopaths who are far more screwed up than the people they are supposedly watching out for. Also, why does every superhero have to wear a cape? I don't get it...

Similar to the alternate reality of Watchmen, we all want someone to protect us. To love us, to pleasure us, praise and approve of us. Someone to be the parent/protector we never had, although I'm glad none of these "heros" were MY parents (I have enough problems already).

Maybe the price we pay for the continual seeking of others' approval, to be "filled up" with another's love, is that we become more vulnerable to their and our own judgement. Think about it. Basing your self-esteem on someone's approval gives them a huge lever on you. Everything has an opposite. Love / hate. Praise / scorn. Hero / antihero.

Lately, I'm preferring to keep the opposites inside myself. I'm tired of projecting the lover, the destroyer, the redeemer onto other people, asking them to play out the roles that are really just projections of various internal selves. Like Dr. Manhattan says when he tells his story, "I am tired of Earth. These people. I'm tired of being caught in the tangle of their lives."

Who's watching me? I am.


  1. Ah, Watchmen. The comic really makes the movie look like a bumbling idiot falling all over itself. Not that I'm a huge fan of either, I was really only into the comic for Rorschach, well, & Doctor Manhattan, but that goes without saying [I really don't get why people say it's Moore's best work. It isn't, V is, in my personal opinion, better development] & I honestly couldn't make it through the movie. The Leonard Cohen sex scene was a bit much for me. Old Jew + Comic book heroes + Pussy = God, no more. But, I really like your take on it & find everything you say more or less completely fascinating.

    Also, not all superheroes wear capes. You've angered the X-men nerd.

  2. LOL! So funny! Seriously, you have a wonderfully twisted sense of humor. And you're right. Wolverine does NOT have a cape.

  3. Thank you! I can be yours for a low low payment of 19.95, I come with a cape though. :/

    [Heaven help me I think I just choked on my own cliche]

  4. I haven't actually seen Watchmen. But I guess I will eventually.

    I believe some projections will probably be inevidable because we always exist in a social dimension with a large amount of people all around us. But I agree that when fueled by a lack of self esteem that it can be very self-destructive to seek out an affirmation of your own worth by others and their judgement. It does indeed give people to much power over you.

    I am not a nihilist but I see a positive possibility to come out of a nihilist perspective. If we individually and collectivly can shape and create our own meaning, we would probably want to incorporate a fundamental respect for difference of thinking and fubd ourselves in a pluralistic society. This really leads to a very anti-totalitarian and freedom thinking set of values.

  5. Well, I thought Watchmen was a great movie, despite what snake hater says. ;-) The opening scene where the Comedian takes a savage beating to "Unforgettable" and the opening credits set to Bob Dylan's "Times They Are a-Changing" are worth the price of the whole movie. It just works on some weird level. The credits in particular have some very subtle visual elements that give the whole background of a fairly complex story in just a couple of minutes. It took a few viewings to catch all the little nuances. To me, Watchmen is a thinking man's superhero movie. There's a notable lack of huge fireballs, explosions, and crumbling buildings ala Dark Knight. The story, and not pure action, is more the focus for Watchmen.

    I agree about the nihilist perspective. I'm trying to incorporate it into my life in recovery in the Mahayana Buddhist form of thinking, "form is emptiness; emptiness is form." I think nihilism at it root is much closer to this philosophy and is not inherently destructive. The word "nihilism" comes from the Latin root word for emptiness, or nothing.

    The way I look it at, nothing is inherently right or wrong. There are no "good" choices, and there are no "bad" choices. There are only choices and the outcomes of choices (consequences). Every choice has consequences, even "good" choices, because they're still a cause with an effect outcome. Although I never know what the exact outcome of a choice will be, certain types of choices lead to predictable types of outcomes. If there's anything I've learned from my addiction and recovery, that's it.