I am a pathological optimist but also a realist but most importantly an idiot and this is a stream of consciousness with some kind of crux and it will eventually make sense, I promise you.
In Dostoevsky’s ‘The Idiot’, the idiot is the optimist. He who pervasively believes the world to be at its core pure and good is naive, foolish, juvenile. Optimism is ignorance, and ‘ignorance is bliss but it is also blind’. The optimist is universally infantilised and patronised while his counterpart, the cynic, is praised for being wary and wise. The cynic criticises kindness because the cynic knows (and for this case I am typing knows, not thinks, nor hopes) that the world and its people are not kind but rather selfish, ambitious, slaves to their own desires. Call me a fool, but I choose to remain a pathological optimist but also a realist but most importantly an idiot and I promise I am getting to the point.
On a brisk walk between bars on the cold concrete streets of east London I recently had someone very dear to me casually profess his love for Schopenhauer, ‘the artist’s philosopher’ or better known as ‘the philosopher of pessimism’ (and side note: why is art always synonymous with great suffering and overall pessimism?). My friend particularly praised his philosophies on women. I’ve only read Schopenhauer’s writings on the horrors and absurdities of religion which I really did enjoy and whilst I can deduce from these writings that Schopenhauer is attributed to cynicism and downright pessimism, I hoped (optimistically but perhaps ignorantly) that his views on women would be less deeply distrustful and, well, downright misanthropic. Shock horror, I was wrong. Out of passing and mostly empty curiosity, I read up on his works regarding women just this morning and, you probably guessed it, Schopenhauer is notoriously against women (and don’t get me started on the word against in this context). He believed women to be inferior, as is the general consensus of the field, and states all women have ‘an incurable tendency to lie’, an ‘inclin[ation] to extravagance’, and are merely a ‘mid-point, an intermediate stage between the child and the adult man’. Interestingly and not surprisingly, scholars argue Schopenhauer’s views on women are a direct result of his famously horrible relationship with his mother (and mummy issues will always prevail). This is not to grossly condense Schopenhauers teachings - I have only poked the tip of the iceberg. I don’t enjoy his words on women because I am the butt of the joke, the same way the devout worshippers do not enjoy his words on faith. The point is, I was and am still shocked but also not shocked that someone so dear to me resonates so deeply with this, and I am reminded that, generally speaking, men tend to fucking hate women. It has since crossed my mind that my pathological optimism may be a subconscious response worn like chainmail, a shield of character forged to protect me from things like, well, this. I am a pathological optimist but also a realist but most importantly an idiot and I swear we’re almost at the point.
Three days ago I was laying in my lovers arms bound up so tight with limbs and limbs and limbs and my stomach (and another side note: I feel my emotions in my stomach and I have been told this has something to do with digestive issues or maybe because I am a virgo, if you believe that stuff). My stomach, my anxious little prophet, told me this is love. Oh, love, this is love, I am in love, this is so much fucking love, what do I do with all this love, I understand now, I do I do I do. The moment passed. I looked at him in those big wet brown eyes and I thought actually, this is going to devastate me. If this ends, it will fucking obliterate the both of us. There is no way we are making it out of this alive. I know what is happening. I can be pragmatic, too. Call it love, call it obsession, call it infatuation, call it codependency, call it a neuro-chemical con job like a good little cynic. Call it what you will. This is not a confession, I have been in love for a while. I am wading through the depths of it or more so drowning in it, willingly. I can’t imagine being anywhere else because (you guessed it) I am a pathological optimist but also a realist but most importantly an idiot and I promise I only have one more point to make.
Lately, I’ve been obsessing over moments and existing inside of them only for as long as they’ll let me because I used to be a prisoner of moments, stretching them into aeons and wearing them like straight-jackets. I try to do this thing where I remain recklessly present and not forecast the future or linger on the past because God knows I have spent too much of my life lingering but now I am almost too present because one moment everything will be so lovely and everything will be so wonderful, and then the moment will pass, and I’ll feel whatever I feel in the next moment. The all-consuming optimism is always short lived by virtue of the passage of time. I tend to do things in extremes. I have an issue with balance and existing candidly, but what poet doesn’t? I have a tendency to linger because, well, what else would I write about? In case you missed it, I am a pathological optimist but also a realist but most importantly an idiot and the crux of it all is this.
I want to see the good in everything but I am aware that not everything is always good. I am motion sick from how quickly my thoughts and feelings oscillate. The eternal cycle hath no end. I am a pathological optimist but also a realist but most importantly an idiot and maybe this doesn’t make much sense, after all. There is no crux. You shouldn’t let poets lie to you.
(Concluding side note: the optimist and the cynic are destined to fall in love. It is prophecy).