“Moronic cynic, you will become the monster you claim to fight!”

For some reason I come in and out of momus and right now I’m in a momus in phase and thanking life’s randomness for it. Not to suggest momus is easy to forget or move away from, quite contrary. He’s available, consistent and wonderful, I’m the flake. So, I’m rediscovering him these days mainly because I bumped into his online journal and have become a diligent reader. I think he’s quite clever and very earnest, I love his sincerity. And his take on Japanese culture. And the fact he works with Kahimi Karie.

Recently he posted a great piece of writing, ‘Notes towards a definition of “moronic cynicism,”‘ and I recommend taking the time to read it if the title grabs you. (I’m placing my bets it does!)

I found certain moments of this piece to be painful as I saw myself as the moronic cynic in certain scenarios – especially around themes of work and what I do for a living. I simultaneously operate in an industry towards which I have much ill will. I’ve operated with this split persona for almost a decade and only in the last few months have I taken a strong stand with myself and made very real steps towards nurturing a relationship with work that I can be proud of.

I quit my job. Simple as that… or is it? Well for me, it’s a daily task to align my values with my actions. It’s so easy to choose the path of least resistance. I try not to.

The article also touched me because it reminded me of a time when I was particularly angry with myself and the world. I was walking around with clenched fists all the time, analysing people I observed on the street, thinking the meanest and nastiest shit about them. It was really draining and very boring and of course, all about my disappointment in myself. I realised what I was doing and consciously decided to look everyone I met on the street in the eye and think a nice thought about them until eventually I just didn’t think much about anyone – balance restored.

Check out the comment thread after the piece, there’s a great discussion going on there.

“I’m a great believer in “moronic positivity”. It’s much preferable. Hello, Kitty!” – momus

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2 Responses to ““Moronic cynic, you will become the monster you claim to fight!””

  1. Michael says:

    Thank you for the tip on the great post Danielle.

    You’re right it makes for good reading, he puts his finger on something so common in our culture today, it’s easy to miss. When did a cynical response become more hip than a positive one?

    I do nitpick on one point tho, I don’t agree that negative capability are neccessarily associated with passive-aggression and self-destructiveness – it is just how it has been applied (cynicism works that way, everything ends up looking dark).

    NC as Keats meant it was simply knowing that something can be itself and its opposite at the same time, paradox in other words. And although paradox has itself come to mean cynical wordplay, it is bedrock of all great art, Michael Ventura describes all this brilliantly in a recent column, writing that Derrida’s deconstruction, based in paradox is really “old news to Buddhists and Taoists, as it would have been to Shakespeare and many another great writer, chief among them: Miguel de Cervantes.”

    By the way,congratulations on quitting your job. You’ve been working up to this for a long time – and now you’re here. I can’t wait to see where your life takes you now!


  2. lilydustbin says:

    Hi Mike,

    I agree with you that Momus’ interpretation of negative capability is not spot on – it’s not my reading either. He seems to be associating it with science/reason very literally. I think it’s about letting every idea, construct, experience you could possibly imagine wash over you in search/not in search of a new meaning or truth – comfortable with revelations when they come, happy to be a being with doubts.

    The definition: “NEGATIVE CAPABILITY, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

    Is the paradox collecting objective knowledge vs. living through feeling and intuition? Or is it the idea that a poet’s words can become static, describing a moment becomes a jail cell?

    (The Ventura article Mike mentions is here)