Misanthropic is a much-abused word.
It is used so often as an adjective which expresses negativity and when applied to a person is usually taken as an unreasonable response to the world.
How can such a life affirming approach to what surrounds us each day ever be seen as anything other than a warmly realistic appreciation of human existence?
People, as Beckett perceptively noted, are “bloody ignorant apes”, they are the Yahoos who Swift deals with in such devastating fashion in the Fifth Voyage of Lemuel Gulliver and which so rarely finds its way in to the children’s version of the story.
We might ask ourselves why the most impressive and realistic part of Gulliver’s experiences are denied to the young and the answer is surely found in Eliot when he averred that “humankind cannot bear too much reality” – it is the rose-tinted glasses of reasonableness that allows the human species redeeming features through the willing suspension of disbelief at how truly awful one’s experience of homo sapiens is day after bloody day.
It therefore follows that an expression of appalled disgust at the actions of our fellow creatures is an intellectual act of liberation and an affirmation of truth.
And truth is in the anecdotal.
The Iron Duke indicated that statistics were the most abominable form of deception and I agree that personal experience is much more of a guide than the crypto-technical mystifications of higher mathematicians.
Statistics as revelation are more akin to seeing through a glass darkly when compared to the blinding illumination that, say the way drivers park in a supermarket car park gives about the human condition.
Fallen Man is shown nowhere more clearly than in the inconsiderate, bloody-minded, illegal ways in which cars are left while shoppers go about their business.
The pathetic desperation of people to be within spitting distance of the door of the supermarket and therefore ignoring the restrictions of double yellow lines, disabled parking spaces, pedestrian crossings and clearly printed “Do not park” areas is enough to make angels weep.
If Planet Earth were ever to be had up in front of an Inter-Galactic Court of Justice and supermarket car parking were to be proffered for consideration by the prosecution the planet would be vaporised in a heartbeat – or whatever quotidian bodily time measure alien beings use as an equivalent.
Then, when these same parkers get out of the car parks they presumably return to their homes and become part of their local social organizations or communities. They become neighbours.
Humankind we are told is a social animal. Community is a natural part of the species’ makeup. Pity they do it so badly.
Forget for a moment the number of wars and serious conflicts that afflict the world and bring things down to the individual level of “ordinary” living together.
How do dogs and children fit into a “reasonable” world? Why do grown-ups allow them?
There are too many twiglet limbed and Feldman-eyed miniaturized grotesqueries that emasculated men are forced to take on thread thin leads to yap and squeak their way through their miserable lives producing nothing but aural and physical pollution and making life just that little bit less attractive.
The saintly owners who discipline their noisy captive animals and who clear up their filth are as mythical as that notable self-harmer and reputed animal lover Saint Francis. The only place such a person truly exists is in Giotto’s frescos and not in the neighbourhood of Castelldefels!
And kids - the tyrannical despots of the domestic living space whose antics put the more colourful Roman examples to shame. After all in Classical times even Caligula was a charming child beloved of the army – the modern versions who are demanding, self-obsessed, materialistic, noisy and anti-social do not even have the brief charm of childhood, they get right into social repulsiveness as soon as their opposable thumbs can work a PlayStation!
And the noise!
No Spanish child is able to communicate in anything other than a shout. And when they are not shouting they are screaming. And when they are not shouting or screaming they are crying. Or what is worse talking in that irritatingly whiney way that they have when they perceive that they are being treated badly and oppressively i.e. they haven’t been given what they want immediately.
And the parents are just as bad. You only have to look at a sports programme on the television where all contributors shout at each other simultaneously to realize where the kids get their noisy non-listening from.
Kids and dogs and neighbours surround us. And you begin to realize why flamethrowers were invented.