No One At Home?
A good friend of mine, with artistic training, claims to be able to see in a person’s face whether there is anyone “at home” or not. For practical reasons I have never been able to conduct a clinical trial. To do this, one would need to be able objectively to identify who had nobody at home, then measure this against his intuitive perceptions. And to do this, one would in turn need to be quite sure what was meant by nobody being at home.
He is surely not alone in this suspicion, however. In People of the Lie, the psychiatrist Scott Peck wrote about malignant narcissists, seeing in them something of the serpent’s unblinking gaze. Is the outright evil analysed here, though, the same thing as nobody being at home? Peck saw incorrigible evil in terms of an absolute refusal to admit fault, but there is probably an overlap. What may be visible in the face of another, whether testably or not, might be the absence of anything other than a tactical algorithm. What we incautiously call his personality may be nothing other than a procedural manual, a suite of techniques, a set of If-GoTo logic gates. His aim is the animal agenda modified by the family romance, as is true of most of us; the difference is that, behind his eyes, we look in vain for anything else.
In one sense it is obvious that there is someone “at home” – behold, there is the tactical algorithm looking back at us. When we use this phrase, then, it is because we desperately want there to be something to a human being over and above the procedural manual for satisfying the animal agenda. A noble hope, to be sure, but perhaps one that says more about ourselves than about him. Our next question could then be, “How does it come about that a person wants there to be someone ‘at home’ in his neighbour?” Then what sort of thing would we recognise as a “someone” behind his eyes other than the tactical algorithm, that would tell us that there was a person “at home”?
Perhaps we are deceiving ourselves, and there is nothing else, which would mean that we have nobody at home too. Or perhaps we have never bothered to think out what we mean by this someone being at home, something to a person other than the tactical algorithm, relying instead on lazy shorthands like “souls”. Or perhaps we do all recognise the presence or absence of this “someone at home”, but it is just very difficult to put into words, much less set up a scientific experiment about.
Done in Bergen
(Fiddle date-stamp to April 4, 2010)
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Beings and Gentlebeings