I’m a Self-Centered, Antisocial, Thrill-Seeking Hitler Wanna-be

A few months ago I published a piece in the new, start-up arts and culture zine, Revolving Floor about my Birthright trip to Israel, called “Eggs, Milk and Honey,” describing my reaction to the homeland–and the pressure to have seven Jewish babies.

The responses were…heated. Not only did strangers write comments calling me spoiled, anti-Semitic, passive aggressive and a bagel-eater (seriously, white flour? Come on, guys…), but even my own parents didn’t like the essay. I met other people who read the essay and said they were going to send it to their parents, just to piss them off. Clearly, this piece was my attempt to counteract every night in high school that I obeyed my curfew.

This month, I decided to publish what I thought would be a less controversial piece, about the ways that I have been lost throughout my life, literally and metaphorically, and my perhaps unrealistic hope of feeling “found.”

“There is a poem by Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov called “Sail.” The last two lines, roughly translated, are: “Rebellious, it seeks out a storm/As if in storms it could find peace!” In the context of these verses, the problem becomes obvious: it’s not that I like the excitement of being lost. It’s that I like the feeling of being found. I want to climb back in the car with dirty feet, awaiting a bath. My whole life, the drama I’ve created has come with a pavlovian reward: resolution. I viewed everything I had as wrong, but I always had the power to make things right when I was ready.” [Read Full Essay]

The essay seemed, if anything, a bit self-deprecating and maybe unresolved, but I certainly wasn’t expecting the following comment from Claude: “Excellent text, but sad life. Life has a way of interfering with self-centered thrill seekers; it steals their time.”

I know you’re not supposed to care what people say about you on the Web, but that hit kind of raw note.

Then, like most things in my life, it got funny. Some people, including my beloved aunt, raced to my defense on the comment page. Then the commenter, Claude, responding to a suggestion that he shouldn’t conflate my text and my entire life, wrote this: “Should the fact that Althusser killed his wife affect our interpretation of structuralism? Or the nazism of Heidegger tint his writings? Are we what we write? Actor Errol Flynn once wrote a very antisemitic sentence in a private letter. It may be a little part of him, smaller than his love of the sea, but it is there, isn’t it?
And I read this as an antisocial text.”

Murderer. Nazi. Antisocial. (!?) To Claude, I say: I may have some days of inexplicable rage, and I did like the original Robin Hood, but if I were really antisocial, I’d be…I don’t know…probably doing something like finding the online works of writers I’d never met and telling them they were bad people with sad lives…


9 thoughts on “I’m a Self-Centered, Antisocial, Thrill-Seeking Hitler Wanna-be

  1. Who the hell is this “Claude” person to judge you or your life based on that passage, or on your entire published oevre, for that matter?

    I'll take a moment to play his own game of judging people based on a passage or two: his “text” is antisocial and unwarranted to the point that “assholish” would be far more descriptive, indicating that he's a self-centered, self-righteous, ignorant bore, who, in classic dorky undergraduate fashion takes his ability to name-drop critical theory as license to spew his pretentious venom wherever he pleases. Or, in the common parlance of the blogosphere, he's simply a classic troll with nothing better to do (who perhaps, in classic troll fashion, will read this comment and then decide to leave one on my blog…ho hum. Sorry buddy, I've got better things to do with my time than waste it on you).

  2. I have to chime in here. Who cares about this guy? Do you know how often you'll get negative comments in your life? It's a mark of progress. What would be more alarming than this one mean comment among many positive ones is if you didn't get any comments at all. Are you going to write a blog post every time a troll graces you with his presence? He doesn't deserve it. Sometimes negative comments are productive, but this certainly isn't.

  3. that's the problem with online articles- people can post who have no effing clue about what they're talking about. I agree with Dr. Jay (and you!) sounds like a typical undergrad (philosophy major perhaps?) who likes to name drop.

    I read his comment as anti-social; and I would be well-qualified to judge (if we're playing the game) since my entire profession is determining whether individuals have social-pragmatic communication disorders… and his comment qualifies under that realm.

    So, since we're on this track; it is my professional opinion (and lets drop some qualifications shall we?), with my honours in Psych and Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology, that 'Claude' has mild to moderately disordered social-pragmatic skills characterized by his inability to empathize with his listener, follow social norms of appropriate tone, response and overgeneralizes personality and behaviour.

    or, Claude had a shitty day, is 18 years old, and hasn't quite lived life. In ten years he'd look back on that comment and cringe.

    I most certainly have been there.

  4. Rachel, the controversies surrounding your work make for great publicity for the site. I'd like to suggest that in your upcoming pieces on Revolving Floor, you touch on the following topics:

    the divine right of kings
    the early work of Roman Polanski

  5. Life interferes with everybody. Anybody who hasn't figured that out and thinks they're above it is probably just busy building blinders against their own fears and insecurities.

  6. When I first started attracting a wide readership I was bothered by some of the negative comments I'd get, even though I knew intellectually that I shouldn't be. But I learned a few things:

    1) There's something about the Internet that makes a lot of people think that your having an opinion slightly different from theirs is tantamount to a direct attack on them, and they respond with anger and judgment far out of proportion.

    2) Obnoxious blowhards divorced from reality LOVE accusing other people of being obnoxious blowhards divorced from reality.

    3) Even if a commenter is right, once he starts yelling and calling you names, he's wrong.

    4) Genuine criticism (as distinguished from irrational vitriol) is like a measles shot: it can sting a bit at first but it's ultimately helpful, and probably won't make you autistic.

  7. It is not as bad as you think: 1) you are a writer; 2)your aunt set me straight; 3)the comment on nazi writing was not about you (Althusser by the way was a communist), it was about the unresolved debate on the relationship between a person and what he/she writes; 4) a few things affected me the wrong way in your writing. Don't worry about it: as Liz says, it happens to the best of us.

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