It’s not easy being me.
I mean, as an educated, healthy, wealthy, handsome, white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male, with ready access to nutritious food, luxurious shelter, fulfilling and lucrative employment, abundant recreation, and unwavering support from friends and loved ones, I guess, technically, it is literally the easiest to be me. But for the sake of argument, it’s not easy being me.
The issue you see, is that I read too many books as a child. It has ruined me.
I grew up in a rich, rural town, the type of strangely anachronistic place that Trump probably has wet dreams about, where people don’t see color because all of your neighbors are white, dairy cows outnumber people, and the local high-school’s student parking lot looks like a high-end car dealership. And not used-cars, either. It was a town where dads were either wall-street bankers, or farmers, and the bankers were millionaires, but the farmers were billionaires. Don’t get me wrong, there was poverty of course. Some families didn’t have summer homes in the Hamptons, and wouldn’t even winter in the tropics, if you can believe it. My own family, in a particularly lean year, had to sell our airplane AND the Porsche. Hardships abounded.
This was the type of town where differences weren’t persecuted, but they weren’t necessarily tolerated either, and they certainly weren’t celebrated. They were instead steadfastly ignored, and whenever possible, sublimated through the judicious application of designer pharmaceuticals. The place is a sealed time-capsule, to a time that never actually existed, where everyone was happy, and everyone was special, and everyone was gifted, and everyone was white, and everyone was right.
Coming from this Stepford Wifey, cultish, Wayward Pines type idyll, I should be a close-minded, racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, sociopathic, elitist snob. Now, there are certainly times when I, like anybody, give in to my baser instincts and embrace my inner sociopath, but for the most part, I didn’t turn out like any of that at all. In part, this is because I left, went away to school, traveled as much as possible, and generally diversified my worldview through exposure to and immersion in other, less disgustingly masturbatory cultures and communities, but honestly even that wouldn’t have been enough, if I hadn’t been an avid reader of fantasy and science-fiction as a child.
The thing about Fantasy and Science Fiction, is that both genres allow anything to be possible, and when written well, even plausible. To the understandably sheltered worldview of a child whose parent’s estate was so remote that he had no visible neighbors, these fictional worlds were a blessing and an education.
Thanks to the anthropomorphic writings of Brian Jacques, I learned that even incredibly different looking people can live and love and work together in relative harmony. In current popular culture, I can see marginalized subgroups like Furries or Otherkin, and say ehh, it’s been done before. Thanks to Tolkien, I learned that even the least physically imposing among us can harbor hidden strength. That helps curtail my ableist tendencies, and to recognize an additional facet of my overwhelming privilege, that the world we live in is simply more accessible to people with my physical health and abilities. Thanks to countless Science Fiction authors, like Heinlein, Azimov, or even the Connecticut local, Elizabeth Bear,who introduced NB pronouns like Sie or Zi into my lexicon, I learned to think beyond the traditional hetero-normative gender binary, and open my mind to the fascinating, diverse, and beautiful breadth of humanity’s capacity for love in all it’s exciting iterations. From Steven Erikson, I realized that just because the world I reside in is sexist, I don’t need to reflect that in my work, and I can help change the narrative by writing strong female characters into my stories, not as exceptions to the rule, but as simple, canonical fact. From Zelazny, I learned that weird is good, and jerks make the best protagonists. Fantasy and Science Fiction both allow the author to create entire universes fresh, universes where our own foibles and faults and follies can be alternately focused on, forgotten, or twisted on end. They allow us to speculate, and think differently, to learn and grow, to escape from our mundane existence into worlds where different cultures exist and different rules apply. The result is that we are forced to then reflect on our own world, which makes us think, what if things were different? What if they were better? For the most part, I find these genres to be incredibly optimistic, even if individual stories within can be violent, dark, and brutal.
As far as modern science can ascertain, we appear to be completely alone in the Universe, but as Arthur C. Clarke famously penned, two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe, or we are not. According to Clarke, both are equally terrifying. Of course, if Lovecraft was right, NOT being alone would be far, far worse.
So you see, therein lies the crux of my emotional turmoil. By the circumstances of my birth, I should practically be a Hitler Youth, unassailable in my confidence that this world was created specifically to cater to the various whims of myself and people exactly like me. After all, if different people were meant to be in charge, wouldn’t they be? By virtue of being on top, haven’t us straight white males empirically proven that we deserve to be on top? I Should be like that, but I’m not. You know what I would say to an idiot who thought like that? Read a fucking book, you piece of fungal jelly. And Mein fucking Kampf doesn’t count.
Thanks in part to the depth of my immersion into the other worlds created by the many fantasy and science fiction books I read, I was luckily able to escape the fate of being a complete asshole, and instead grew up with a more open-minded and open-hearted world view, as well as a powerful curiosity. Which would be great if I wasn’t a nihilist.
Unfortunately, my curiosity is tempered by the niggling suspicion that the entirety of human endeavor is comically insignificant on a cosmic scale, nothing matters, everything is pointless, nobody is special, and eventually we’re all going to die. If we’re lucky. The alternative of course being much more horrifying. So I say this to you my friends and family, I say this to you internet SJWs, I say this to you feminists, I say this to you He-man woman-haters, equal rights activists, equal lefts activists, the religious right, the liberal left, to hipsters, and hippies, The New York Jets, and every human who ever is, was, or will be, I say this with all the love in my little Grinch heart: You are nothing.
‘Ph’nglui mglw’nafh CthulhuR’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.