Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Good Master

My goodness is my vanity, my evil. It does not well up naturally out of me but is calculated and plotted as carefully as a mariner studies the approach to an unfamiliar harbor. Sometimes I will reveal this to friends so they will like me and praise my honesty, but in actuality, I am presenting them with a mariner's chart of my character.

Anyone who knows me well must understand and be sympathetic to my genuine need to be my own greatest hero. It is not a flaw of character; it is a catastrophe. I have always been for the underdog and I've pretended it was because I was sensitive and empathetic, but that's not it at all. It was because I wanted the adoration of the underdog, the blind approval that the downtrodden so gratefully bestow on their liberators. It was all paternalism, my insatiable desire to be the benevolent tyrant dispensing tawdry gifts and moldy foodstuffs to the subjects who stumbled into the spiritual famine of my sad kingdom. When I bestowed my friendship on Tradd, Mark, and Pig, I was doing them a favor, liking them when other people ignored or feared them. I was a natural to take care of Pearce, not because of my radiant humanity (although that is what I wanted to believe) but because he would be indebted to me and I could rule him and own him and even loathe him because I had made him a captive of my goodness. I had the need to be the good master, but definitely the master, no matter what the cost. I did not like it that the three unpopular boys I had honored with my friendship had thoughts and ideas that differed from my own. It both surprised and angered me that my roommates had reached a consensus of agreement against me. The way I looked at the world, enemies criticized and friends affirmed. I granted my friends freedom of expression only when I was certain that the ideas expressed would be congruent with mine. It was but one of the things that made friendship with me an ambivalent enterprise.

~The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy, 91-92

1 comment:

Aaron said...

An interesting motzei shabbat interlude.

Mazel tov on your move btw,glad you are enjoying your kitchen.