by Chris R. Morgan
I live just on the edge of two and two half-bustling metropolises. The Hudson Quadrangle, I call it: Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, and New York City. Granted, the shadow of the latter one imposes itself over the others from across the river. (Or maybe blinded by its lighting.) But none should feel any less validated as promising, if not ideal, centers for any manner of proclivity towards youth, urbanity, or some arranged marriage of the two. I visit them whenever I am able. They are where everyone I know and care for make their homes and earn their wages. Certainly they have their downsides of varying degrees, but they are more than enough made up for by the upsides as to warrant mostly splendor whenever I am there, less so in transit to and from them, however.
I suppose I am a part of this world. Even if certain obstacles keeping me from being in them more stably on my part are hard to overcome. They are places much maligned at present, though, in light of events construed here as unfortunate. A whole way of living has come under notable scrutiny. Urbanity, it has come to be seen, has some weaknesses made evident in months previous. Or rather, it has willful insulations. City dwellers have constructed around themselves a “bubble,” to protect against any odd thing that gives them offense, while foisting outward any number of their own values—tolerance, inclusion, polyamory, Westworld, goat yoga, and so on. By virtue of the designations of our electoral map, their judgments and their scorn are doubly fortified and more pointed, irrevocable as any biblical edict from on high. It is, in other words, open season on deplorability, on the avowed Trump voter. Open season to be what, precisely, I can’t say. Mocked? Very possibly. Ostracized? Foreseeable. Organized against? On it. Systematically oppressed? Deplorable sympathizers accept it as granted. But I do not hasten to venture one way or the other in any general sense. In fact I would like to be able to put these concerns to rest. I find it hard to accept in totality that anyone I know who heeds closest to young urbanite stereotype can harbor such ill intent. Not, of course, because that by not seeing it myself that it is not there, but that because in every sense they lack capability. I would know.
To loathe the Trump voter is no hard task. Indeed, it is a source of catharsis and glee. Whereas some may seek pleasure in skydiving or world travel or posing, for some reason, in the presence of sedated beasts, or professing interest in any of these things to impress the opposite sex, such joys are mindless and trivial compared to pouring out all available reserves of bitterness, rectitude, rancor, and ill-feeling onto the ones who’ve invested all hope in American Greatness and pulled the lever for our president. There is, presently, no known science to detect conclusively any one who voted for Donald Trump; one knows one when one sees one, presumably. The musk of retrograde is as distinct as any putrefaction. It is unyielding in its intensity, this effect they have, whether they know it or not. And it erects existential walls of considerable thickness and height between them and me. They are not inhuman, but unhuman, ulcers that have escaped the bodily confines to walk among us in red hats. By day I envision how to bring about a social order where such people are politically, psychically, and somehow visually beneath my gallant gait. By night I concentrate as much mental energy as possible to have dreams of being secluded in a cavernous black castle, streams of magma flowing cleanly from its center out into a moat, and surrounded on all sides (or at least as far as Staten Island zoning ordinances will permit) by head after enspiked head, crookedly jutting like lawn flamingos. Alas, I dream of rainbow-colored claymation ponies frolicking in fields of licorice whip. Or my teeth falling out.
This might surprise people who know me, at whatever level of intimacy, as a man of seeming good-nature: polite, nice, kind, overall inoffensive to a degree that might seem pathological. Which, I guess. I’ve enough cognizance in manners to see value in everyday civility and, moreover, to know the variations rather than the overlap of politeness (functional), niceness (decorative), and kindness (deceitful). I err on the side of politeness, scorn niceness, and hold kindness at arm’s length.
Kindness is not bad but it is tricky. I know some people who are very much my opposite in presentation, who exude untold intensity of spite and curmudgeonliness in any direction, yet when confined more intimately have shown kindness so endless in depth that if my heart was literally made of ice they would have melted me into a happier oblivion. On the other hand, I’ve met people who, though outwardly kind (that is, not just affable but warm, cheerful, amiable, and active), have a talent for vexation. It comes out like sweat in exercise and is no less pungent. Meanness is not a mood or an emotional cast, but a kind of aesthetic pose at best and a moral entitlement at worst. When the meanness is concentrated and sustained, as the righteousness to which we all aspire, it wounds like a blade, when it is spontaneous and directionless it lacerates like shrapnel. I suppose neither camp would readily count me among their number, so I will say that I respect and envy the curmudgeon but commune among the “kind.”
But to commune does not necessarily mean to commiserate. For I do not seek so much as to place pride upon my meanness as to merely not deny it, to state plainly its existence and its manifestation in the current climate. It is doubtless possible that by admission of having directed my hatred towards people who voted for Trump, I will be applauded. I will be an exemplar of acrimony, a mentor in vitriol. To that I can only say that so long as we are free they may applaud. But I do not choose necessarily to hear them, as I don’t see much point in applauding something so innate in me, that is conveyed in natural feeling, with the automation of breath, a prejudice so inborn as to be as infinite and fine-formed as the soul. Such a thing cannot be turned into craft, nor can it be made to fit properly into a moral frame or projected through a social prism. Imagine instead a stray animal that meets you at your doorstep whenever you go out and hasn’t moved an inch by the time you come home; mangy, noisome, ceaselessly hungry, and diseased enough to be visibly repulsive but not physically debilitated or debilitating, not yet anyway. It is something that you yourself must choose to tolerate or see about putting down, it won’t go on its own and it is not something whose responsibility extends to anyone else. And it grows and hungers in unforeseen ways the longer it is left to be.
This pet hatred is an extension of myself, my makeup, my passions, and my sins, not the world in which I move. My world, to whatever extent it will have me, does not know me as I know myself, it does not hate as naturally as I hate, nor does anyone hate me as much as I hate me … er … fuck it.