Friday, July 27, 2007

The Desire to Destroy

There are times where I wake up in the morning and all I can think about is how I want to destroy myself.

I don't mean physically. I mean who I am, what I have cultivated, anything I have worked for. I desire to be the lowest of the low. I'd like to wound people simply for the pleasure of doing so; I often know exactly how to do this should I wish it. I want to be everything that I normally am not; I want to hurt someone else simply because I can, to do things that I know to be cruel, to act in a manner that completely ruins anyone's image of me.

Then I can gloat over what I have accomplished. Ha, I can think. They won't expect anything more of me now. This is the ruin of Chana, her decay, her ugliness exposed, a wound upon the wall. This is a pleasurable thought. There is great pleasure in destroying everything, in destroying who you are and anyone's idea of what may be expected of you.

So do I give in to this desire to be Mr. Hyde? No, I do not. But I fantasize about it. If everything has an equal and opposite reaction, it follows that one who desires to create also has a great and strong desire to destroy.

There is an ugliness that is appealing, a muck and mire that is soothing, and a kind of grime that is pleasurable rather than off-setting. There is a desire to ruin yourself simply because that provides you with a way out, a way not to have to use the talents and opportunities afforded you. There is a great and savage joy in destroying your own potential.

Imagine how everyone would react! All those people who thought they knew me, and now? Now, to cackle in their faces, to laugh at their shocked expressions, to have them cry over me; oh now I could urge them to feel, and how I should delight in returning their shocked expressions with ones of hellish glee! How confounded they would all be! But their confusion is not my true delight. My true delight would be in ruining myself.

You have no idea, any of you, how cruel I could be if I wished it, or the power I have at my disposal. Am I cruel sometimes? Perhaps, but it is certainly not intentional. But this would be a deliberate cruelty, taking pleasure in another's pain, and it is something I could do easily. I even know that I could rejoice in it, given the right circumstances. You see, if you know how to build people up it is easy to see how to tear them down. There is a great desire to coat oneself in filth and wallow in it. There is a great desire to destroy oneself.

There are times when I am very attracted to this, when I long to shatter everyone's preconceived notions of me with one well-placed comment, when all I desire is to destroy.

I do not act on it.

But it is a powerful desire.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Now, to cackle in their faces, to laugh at their shocked expressions"

I dont think it would really shock people. Several people on this blog have already noted that you’re mean-spirited and arrogant.

Many people, mistakenly believe that having beautiful, creative and kind thoughts, imply that a person is good, with a “good, kind heart”. But like I said, they are mistaken.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

have you ever considered channeling your desire for chaos and destruction into goodnatured practical joking?

Chana said...

True point, anonymous 8:43. But it depends on the people, now doesn't it?

And Steg, of course I channel it. *smiles*

G said...

...and then I have my first cup of coffee and everything seems, somehow, better.

Chana said...

Don't drink coffee. Loathe the stuff.

Now, hot chocolate, that's another matter...

Good job, you made me laugh this time. I approve of putting lighthearted spins on things.

e-kvetcher said...

Wow, "The Last Temptation of Chana"!

Actually, I am having trouble understanding - are you saying that the desire is to destroy others or is the desire to destroy yourself by misbehaving in front of others who view you as 'Good', or is it some sort of kamikaze combination of the two?

G said...

"Good job, you made me laugh this time. I approve of putting lighthearted spins on things."

Why do I feel like someone just threw me a Scooby Snack? :)

Chana said...

E-kvetcher,

Kamikaze combination sounds great, but no, that's not quite it. It's more the desire to self-destruct, and other people are simply a method one can employ to accomplish this goal. But they're not primary.

I rather like the story of The Miser of Krakow. Everyone thinks he's awful, but then they find out he's good after he dies.

I think it'd be much easier to be a good person if everyone thought you were awful to begin with. But that's not an original idea; we all learn that he who performs something he is commanded to do receives more reward. Well, you're not "commanded" but based on how you present yourself, there are certain expectations, and this all becomes unduly frustrating, hence the desire to simply self-destruct.

Oh, I doubt that I'm making sense to anyone but me.

e-kvetcher said...

"Oh, I doubt that I'm making sense to anyone but me."

On the contrary...

Here is a similar post I wrote in April, based on an animated clip based on Dostoyevsky's "Notes from the Underground". The clip is very much worth seeing...

Chana said...

Yes yes yes.

And that is why I love Notes from the Underground. I should reread that. My favorite's The Brothers Karamazov though, as I think you know.

There is something very seductive about deliberately disappointing when you have the ability to succeed.

Scraps said...

There is a certain attraction in not having to live up to people's expectations because they don't have any, in giving in to your basest nature and not expecting anything higher of yourself. I can understand the temptation, but I'm also frightened of people who give into it.

menachem said...

wow. This is your BEST post ever as far as Im converned. I have the same feelings, all the time. Dont consider it abnormal. Some people just have great potential to swing both ways, but it only remains that. potential. In reality, the goodness almost always comes out without hesitation, something im sure you realize. Its all just a yeztzer to throw off the shackles and have power and might over others. To some people, certainly myself, and i suspect for you, that thought has a nice feeling to it on some level. We wouldnt mind being dictators if we had complete and total power. Power is attractive to us.... but deep down, our goodness prevails bc we know that in the end, only the goodness is real, the lust for power is but a lust. an empty temptation which dissapates when one realizes the pain and suffering it brings upon others, a price we are unwilling to pay.

Chana said...

Scraps, I am not so much frightened of them; it is more that I understand them because I realize I am the same, but choose to channel it differently.

Menachem, you have it precisely.

As for power being attractive, I wonder whether you've finished Harry Potter 7 yet, because there's a speech there that speaks to me. :-)

I also think that one cannot have the capacity to create without the desire to destroy; one cannot do anything at all that is good without having the equal if not stronger desire to do the opposite.

Erachet said...

Okay, a few comments up when you said you'd like to self-destruct, all I could think is Inspector Gadget and "This message will self-destruct." *Boom!*

Aaaanyway, I'd also like to comment about your comment that it is easier to be good if everyone thinks you're awful. I have to disagree. Or rather, disagree to an extent. It depends WHY you are doing good things. Like the song from Wicked, "No Good Deed," some people do good things because they like the recognition, they LIKE the reputation, the attention, etc. And even if you're not like that, people don't like to be thought of as awful, generally. For a day, perhaps, but for real? For their whole lives? Someone who is good does not want to be scorned and disliked by those he is secretly doing good for. You know what I mean?

I think I shall write a post of my own on this topic, because I suddenly have a lot to say.

I know exactly what you mean, though. Somewhat.

Chana said...

Erachet,

Despite the desire for recognition, I think the desire not to fulfill anyone's expectations but your own is stronger. This is even to the point where you would find it amusing that everyone thought of you one way when you knew yourself to be another way. I have experienced this a little...not to the extent of our dear Miser, of course... and it is immensely freeing.

Daniel said...

Chana,

I too know what you are talking about. I have often wanted to descend to the lowest depths. Especially at times when I have done things I am ashamed of, or when I feel a great temptation to do so, rather than trying to improve, it is tempting to go to the opposite extreme, so that I never have to worry about failing again.

Also, I feel that on the whole it is better to use one's darker desires for good, than to surpress them totally. However, it often happens that there is no moral way of channelling these desires for a time, which is frustrating. For example, it is well-known that someone who dislikes certain aspects of his personality, but is unable to change them may project them onto other people, for whom he then develops an irrational dislike. Or a lonely person desperate for affection may become subject to passionate lust. However, in such circumstances it is worth remembering that feeling such an emotion is a good sign, as only someone who sets him or herself the highest possible ethical standards would fear falling short of them.

Incidentally, I'm sure there is a famous midrash somewhere that Moshe Rabbeinu had the potential to be a very wicked person; only a person with such potential for evil could use his potential for such good.

Erachet said...

"Despite the desire for recognition, I think the desire not to fulfill anyone's expectations but your own is stronger. This is even to the point where you would find it amusing that everyone thought of you one way when you knew yourself to be another way."

It depends. For instance, right now most people - probably all people, actually - think of me as a very good girl, when they hardly know my thoughts, my desires, etc.

In high school, I was thought of as a good students, and because of that, I was able to get away with cutting a bit of class, not doing some homework, and no one ever suspected me because I was not supposed to be one to do such things, I was good. This annoyed me immensely and there was one point at the end of my senior year when I even told one of my teachers, "everyone thinks I'm so good, but did you know I cut class sometimes?"

So it depends how you want to be viewed. I admit, I did find it amusing that everyone thought I was so good when I was really not as studious as they believed, but after a while, I was sick of my reputation for the boring, obedient student. I wanted people to know I wasn't really like that.

Chana said...

Daniel,

Yes, the question becomes how we channel our natural desires for power/ destruction/ anger, etc.

Per one of my favorite passages in the Gemara, Shabbat 156a:

"He who is born under Mars will be a shedder of blood. R. Ashi observed: Either a surgeon, a thief, a slaughterer, or a circumciser."

One who is born under the sign of Mars has a predisposition to murder. The question becomes, shall he use this for the good or for the bad? Such a man can be a murderer or a thief, but he can also be a shochet or mohel.

Such was the case with David and Goliath; they were born under the same star but David used his talents to kill for God's honor, whereas Goliath did not.

I do try to channel my desire for destruction productively (as I do my anger and most of my emotions). What becomes frustrating is when one desires to channel something toward a goal, but cannot make out what that goal should be.

I am not the one to ever advocate for uprooting or stifling one's emotions or natural desires, I believe merely in turning them to a higher purpose. That being said, this is not always easy. There must be a goal, you see, something to aim for...

e-kvetcher said...

>There must be a goal, you see, something to aim for...

Nu, have you decided what you want to be when you grow up?

Daniel said...

What becomes frustrating is when one desires to channel something toward a goal, but cannot make out what that goal should be.

Yes, I know that particular feeling very well.

Jack's Shack said...

I dont think it would really shock people. Several people on this blog have already noted that you’re mean-spirited and arrogant

That is kind of wimpy. The back handed remark in which you hide behind the veil.

David_on_the_Lake said...

I admit to entertaining similar warped fantasies.
But, it's more along the lines of staging, choreographing my own demise and death and being around to observe how everyone reacts to this tragedy.

I guess your fantasy can technically happen..while mine cannot.

eem said...

You just helped me to understand someone I know a lot better-thank you.

Ezzie said...

I'm just getting to this now?! Oysh.

Anyway, you know what I'd say (I think).

AMEN :)

As for the speech in HP7, would you believe that I thought of you while reading that? (Eh, of course you wouldn't, then rethink and realize yes, then wonder, then you'll ask me... :P )

I've decided that you're Harry. Not Hermione, Harry. :D