Misfit or Myth Fit?

“You can do this even while you’re running around making money…”

[This is one of the first…ah…”serious” blogs I published on MS (February 2010).   Again, comments are reconstructed down below.]

What is a misfit?  Hm, that’s a good question, and a tricky one.  Off the top of my head, I’d say a misfit is one who is to one degree or another aware of the contradictions created by our current social context.  A social context which uses a blood-encrusted, corroded exacto-knife–aka social convention–to attempt, often successfully, to separate bits of ourselves from ourselves AND from each other.  Not that social convention is automatically bad, mind you—we need some kind of structure to allow us to not merely get along, but live and thrive.  Rather, the set of conventions we currently have, in which we participate, is dominated by the interests of an “elite” few.  This comes into play particularly visibly when “you can only do what you love in between making money.”  What does that tell you about the interests of that elite few I just mentioned?  Yet we all subscribe to this particular and peculiarly defined set of conventions, and we all struggle to fit ourselves inside of it—at least enough so that we can limp along, though we’re expected to run and jump.  A misfit is one who is constantly engaged in a struggle to resolve the paradox between who they are and what they need, and who they’re “legitimately” permitted to be and what they’re “legitimately” permitted to ask for.

(By that definition, technically every person on the planet could be described as a misfit, if you think about it.  Food for thought, eh?)

It’s a damned good idea to look inside yourself for who you are, but as Karen pointed out (see link below), that quite often does not provide enough of an explanation to be entirely useful.  I think what we need to do is, yes, be aware of our own inner landscape, but also to examine that landscape in terms of the external context in which it exists—that means you gotta look at the world around you, and you gotta ask yourself, “what is expected of me, how do I feel about that, and do I wanna go there?”  Here’s another really important question:  “Is there anybody else out there who feels the way I do, and what do they have to say?”  What’s different about doing this is that you’re not automatically assuming that there is something about you that is flawed and must needs be trimmed away (which, incidentally, is the spin point of the dynamic of victimization, i.e., “blame the victim”).  Instead, you’re being critical of the structure of the community in which you live, especially in terms of how well it fits you.

If we can do this, if we can sort out and come to some species of (accurate) description of the context in which we all expect to make our home, then I believe we’ll be well on our way to figuring out how to fix up that home so that it serves as a home, and not as a prison camp or a penal colony.  After all, it seems to me to make a lot more sense to structure our community based on the diversity of the people in it than it does to structure our community based on a narrowly defined set of particular interests and then try to cut away the already-existing bits of ourselves that don’t fit into this set.  Not that it’s necessarily easier to change the world rather than try to change the humans that live in it, but! what changes we do manage that are successful are going to last and are going to enable healthy growth, because who each of IS has been taken into account.

Yes, we need to be careful of each other.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow axe murderers to run around loose, for instance.  But short of that, I think there’s a lot more room for the lunatic fringe inside our “house” than we’ve so far been given to believe.

What does the fact that I’ve said all this say about who I am and how I might have arrived at this point?  Sigh.  Been through the ringer, of course.  Self-doubt, self-flagellation, isolation, bouts of suicidal inclination, depression, etc.—the full catastrophe.  What saved me—what is saving me—I think, is that I did have love.  Imperfect and fraught with the same pressures and expectations under which I was directly suffering, but love nonetheless.  I had knowledge of it.  And I think we all seek it—it is in our nature.  Even within the darkest soul, there is love, or at least its potential.  Over time, one small step at a time with many a miss-step, I sought it, sought to know it.  What I began to learn was how to be good to myself according to the self that I am, granted this is a moving target.  And I do this by opening my heart and mind to a broader landscape of possibility than I had been given to start with.  I seek out the borders of legitimacy in my own head, and strive to push them back, to expand them.

In short, I sought to stop blaming myself for failing to fit in and started asking questions.  I sought to know about this idea of “flaw.”

Ask yourself, the next time you’re beating yourself up, “by whose definition am I flawed?”  Hint:  check out the next make-up commercial or “getcher six-pack abs right here” commercial you see on TV.  What assumptions are those commercials asking you to make about yourself and about others?  Who is being set up as the authority?  In being critical like this, probably nothing HUGE will happen overnight, of course—the ubiquitous caveat.  But, doing this will open up a path toward a broader understanding that will lead not merely to survival, but to a realm in which being alive is a joyous experience.  And—important point—don’t just ask yourself.  Talk to other folks.  Learn of others, because we’re a part of who you are, and you are a part of who we are.

You can do this even while you’re running around making money…

(Karen’s blog:  http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=49588707&blogId=529208510)

8:04 AM

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9 Responses to Misfit or Myth Fit?

  1. Thea says:

    ROBERTOelDRAGÓN&IDYs!:

    ..THIS IS, AS USUALLY, TERRIFIC! ONE LIL “?” ?
    “…one which tries to use a blood-encrusted, corroded exacto-knife (aka social conventions) to separate…” WHAT, IS THE DIFFERENCE?
    ILY!
    RtD

    Posted by ROBERTOelDRAGÓN&IDYs! on February 15, 2010 – Monday – 4:38 PM

  2. Thea says:

    piratas de dios ~ NEW Layout ~ Songs:

    in the war of ideas… love is everlasting…
    there are not many other ideas that can truly survive the test of time

    when the world we are being sold, loses its meaning to us,
    it becomes worthless!

    “when diamonds and ashes have become of equal value to you, then you know you have become wise.” -Krishna

    those who take up the pursuit of wisdom
    and abandon the pursuit of money for the sake of wealth
    realize the true wealth of wisdom

    ==Larry

    Posted by piratas de dios ~ NEW Layout ~ Songs on February 15, 2010 – Monday – 4:38 PM

  3. Thea says:

    Mikey Green:

    niice. I want an autographed copy of the book. (Post modern existentialism like yours is now Post Rap to me… there’s an irony. Drummers always think in musical terms I s’pose.) Anyways, thanks.

    Posted by Mikey Green on February 15, 2010 – Monday – 9:40 PM

  4. It is much simpler: A misfit is someone who does not fit in (is “misfitted”) in the (typically) social environment.

    There is absolutely no reason why e.g. being “aware of the contradictions created by our current social context” should be a part of the definition—instead this is a state that to some degree correlates with being a misfit.

    Taking myself as an example: I have been a misfit almost my entire life (at the very latest since entering kindergarten); however, my awareness of this-and-that only grew over time.

    As an aside, my impression of social convention is rather the opposite—it is not based on an “elite few”, but on the whims of the dumb masses. (This, obviously, may depend on exactly what conventions are discussed when and where.)

    • Thea says:

      I said “to one degree or another aware…” The implication I intended is that it need not necessarily be on a conscious, articulated level–it can be amorphously experiential–or “visceral.”

      As for “elite few,” I agree that this only describes part of the social dynamic in which we exist. From a temporal perspective, the blog above is old, and my thinking has grown/expanded since then. What I think now is that we have a dominant operational narrative (that is not homogenously applied) that provides opportunity to an elite few precisely (in part) because the “dumb masses,” as you put it, are not paying attention–in other words, we tend to be our own worst enemy, but we have help. That’s over-simplifying horribly, of course, but I intend to attack this a little bit at at time, not all in one comment. 🙂 I already have started attacking it, actually…got more blogs to archive here…

      • Going through your entry and your reply again, I strongly suspect that your thoughts have problems getting through your words. There is nothing wrong with using “hard” words or abstract formulations when they make the thought clearer and increase the precision of what is said, but your thoughts would have been expressed both clearer and with a higher precision using simpler formulations.

        Now, to the degree that I do understand you:

        o Even if we allow for an unconscious awareness of some kind, we still have the issue of contradictions (if used in the conventional sense): Most misfits are not (primarily) troubled by contradictions in society, but with incompatibilities between themselves and societal norms. Say that we have a group of ten children. Nine of these find books boring and enjoying running around and shouting at each other—the tenth likes to read in a quiet spot, abhors shouting, and is not too keen on running.

        o As in the above example, the most basic norms and conventions, those that are most like to make someone a “fit” or a “misfit”, tend to a very large part to be based on the inborn behaviours and preferences of the majority. Further, while my original formulation with “dumb masses” was not ideal, it is often the case that those who are more intelligent tend to have different interests and priorities from the majority. Those of more average or below average intelligence tend to fit in better. In contrast, sometimes occuring norms like “men should spend 50 hours a week at work to build a career” or “women should be married with children no later than 30” are of a far more secondary importance when it comes to being a misfit.

        • Onehorse says:

          “o Even…”

          Hmm. Seems to me that “…incompatibilities between [ said misfits ] and societal norms…” are as a direct result of a relatively small number of malignant contradictions intentionally contrived for the specific purpose of convincing the slightly less “ignorant” masses (ah, if only they could be as “dumb” as they are deaf) that they are “misfits” in ALL the senses of the word that I’ve heard it intelligently deployed. This is quite blatantly and conspicuously for the regularly achieved purpose of furthering the divide and conquer agenda of the mammon-based oligarchy who I affectionately dub “the thousand points of darkness.” So, on this point I think I see where Thea was going…Hopefully my own word choices serve to enunciate and clarify my view, even for those who occasionally rely on context for their meanings to the less commonly used words.

          “…o As in…”

          Well darn, again I must take slight exception to the assertion here…In my opinion the vast majority of what we need, perceive we need, and even desire, knowing full well we don’t need it, is a *shared* phenomenon (albeit adjusted for the level of have and have not on a geopolitical basis–such as where we live in the world.)

          Likewise, what we consider atrocious (dietary choices notwithstanding) is fairly consistent across the race. So, as I believe you were suggesting, we merely focus more post-perceptual bandwidth on the differences–perhaps because they scare us, they confuse us, they challenge us to see ourselves more fully and accurately, and they otherwise intimidate us. It’s been widely stated that if we are content, or at least feel safe, CHANGE seems like unnecessary RISK. Similarly, we may overlook years of NOT being sick then gripe as if the world is coming to an end if we endure several weeks of illness.

          Given that most of the so-called basic or fundamental motivating aspects of our individual need and desire are shared and our pursuits are largely congruent, being ‘the same’ can hardly be the basis for “misfitdom”…randomly or strategically targeted for exile perhaps, but certainly not “based on the inborn behaviours and preferences of the majority”…I think you were trying to say something that got muddled in the over-simplification here?

          “…it is often the case that those who are more intelligent tend to have different interests and priorities from the majority. Those of more average or below average intelligence tend to fit in better…” I doubt that I could agree more with what you actually said here–absolutely on target as far as it goes, in my observation at any rate…BUT, isn’t this what Thea was saying? Perhaps I am filling in some between the lines, BUT I believe what you did here was call up a broad dichotomization of the targets for the “Norm Manipulation”, and note a couple of key threats and opportunities undoubtedly taken into account during the oligarchies rolling SWOT analysis. You also backed up my notion above that the “dumb masses” are continually in a state of manipulation, and being the “masses” assuming they behave in sheeple lockstep, that pretty much qualifies as the practical “Norm”.

          When you say “sometimes occuring norms like … are of a far more secondary importance when it comes to being a misfit.” what do you mean? Secondary to what?

          In the earlier “Aside”, when you say, “my impression of social convention is rather the opposite—it is not based on an “elite few”, but on the whims of the dumb masses. (This, obviously, may depend on exactly what conventions are discussed when and where.)” Isn’t this just a matter of how you define “based-on”? The elite few drive the norms, the masses whimsically ride in vehicle. I tend to blame the instigator, and fault the mastermind for the evil plan. Granted the masses CHOOSE to be “dumb” much of the time so they are certainly among the culpable, but THEY are busy living a subsistence lives (socially speaking) while the elite are paying massive empowered staffs to create the road blocks and pot holes that keep the masses busy swerving left and right and falling off the map.

          Once more, when you say “There is absolutely no reason why e.g. being “aware of the contradictions created by our current social context” should be a part of the definition—instead this is a state that to some degree correlates with being a misfit.” Allowing for style preferences in definitions, eventually a definition is support for usage of the term, and as soon as the term Misfit comes into play in a problem solving or wisdom seeking context, the contradictions perpetrated and propagated by the oligarchy immediately visible in a true causal relationship with much of the suffering and failure to progress experienced by said Misfits. Awareness does not require absolute or comprehensive cognition of the thing we are aware of, hence, while I may not have included the reference in the simplest of definition, I would most likely place it prominently in the conversational postulate. A consensus in communal conversational norms of this nature is one of those things respectfully negotiated by the interested parties to a given deliberation, but does not seem to in any way warrant a scolding…I think you did a good job there ms Thea of launching the topic…NOW if you carry it through to a full-blown dissertation I may suddenly turn quibbler on you 😉

          Best to you all this precious day–may grand health and sound mind bless you no matter the fortunes that come our way!

          Jeffrey

        • Thea says:

          It’s more likely that OUR thoughts have trouble getting through each others words. That’s the cool thing about language and dialogue, though–over time as you go back and forth, you can develop meaning (vocabulary, metaphors, analogies, symbolism, etc.) held in common. Just because something is written down, that doesn’t make it absolute. In any case, you’re not the first person to point out to me the existence of “simpler formulations.” I grant you this, but at the same time I point out that you gotta start somewhere, eh? I started with who I am and how I tend to write. Quite frankly, you don’t impress me as one who might suffer from any over-complication on my part.

          Too, and as I mentioned, this blog is old, and is indeed a transplant from MySpace, so it’s a little out of context here.

          It seems to me that an incompatibility between self and societal norms is a spanking opportunity for the experience of contradiction. “Societal norms” are not passive–they are part and parcel of a living, historical, recursive dynamic process that is animated by the human beings that practice within any particular social context, and are not just an “agreement” on a set of guidelines, but a system of social pressure to conform, and which may “preselect” one set of human inclinations over another, or even all others. There are rewards and sanctions for fitting in and for failing to do so, to oversimplify yet again.

          In other words, I don’t see any difference between my discussion of contradiction and yours of incompatibilities, except that you seem to present societal norms as given, or “natural,” as in inevitable.

          We need structure to get along, of course. This does not have to be a problem–or at least, not as big a one as it seems we have. It’s just when you have a relative few who are willing to take advantage of the opportunity for abuse of the process I described (albeit briefly) above that the rot sets in. I see that this rot has indeed set in. And the rot has to do, of course, with money, status, and power (a cliche, I know, but then it had to mean something to become one, didn’t it?), rather than with the nurturing of humanity, as the anchoring operational moral narrative. Whole bunch of social history goes into this, of course. As I said, this is a HUGE area of discussion, and I approach it little by little.

          As for differences in cognitive ability–yep, that’s a bit of a conundrum. Something that I think “societal norms” both does and does not take into consideration. It does not in that, as I said, a few smarties have learned to take advantage of this, and encourage the idea that norms are “given,” and does in that “the dumb masses” buy into simplification without criticism except in terms of (secret and poorly defined) self-criticism (which tends to manifest all too often in what sanctimonious social commentators style as “social ills,” which has the effect of placing responsibility for these ills squarely and solely on the shoulders of the individual), which further leads to a “lowest common denominator” effect, such that individuals are faced with attempting to trim away parts of themselves that do not “fit”–so, what do you do?

          (Don’t feel bad, I had to reread that a couple of times, too. I’m leaving it there because as I said, we can expand on it and refine it, or even toss part or all of it, later, if you like.)

          I’m not entirely sure yet. That’s another thing I’m working on with the blogs I’m writing/have written…I suspect, however, that it will have something to do with a definition of freedom (including of choice) that includes personal responsibility, social responsibility, and community responsibility as signposts defining the borders of the landscape of possibility for human endeavor…and that this will not manifest the same way for everyone, quite because of those cognitive differences you mentioned, as well as other factors.

          “Those of more average or below average intelligence tend to fit in better.” LOL!!!! To be sure (or to use a simpler formulation: No shit. *grin*). I don’t argue this at all, what I DO argue is WHO is making the rules, and on what basis, and how are the rules made operational? Because the rules don’t seem to include a lot of concern for those of more average or below average intelligence, never mind a concern for a moral narrative that insists it is wrong to prey upon each other just because we can…

          “Feed my sheep…”

          It has not escaped me that you thought to respond to this blog to begin with…welcome, and good to meet you!

  5. jingle says:

    action speaks louder, hope that you act on your thoughts positively, which leads to more cheerful or encouraging feedback…

    Greetings!
    Here is the end of the year awards 4 you, enjoy!

    End of The Year Awards 4 Friends of Jingle or Jingle Poetry Community

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! You Are The Best!

    Link a poem to our potluck today, We send blessings all the way to brighten your day!

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