Friday, September 21, 2007

The Outsider

Yes, I'm not politic. I don't socialize with others. If I did have friends I suppose they would be academics and artists. I trained as a lawyer, but never practiced law. If I had practiced law, I would probably socialize with other lawyers. But that would be hell! If I were invited to lawyers' parties, I would refuse. I would just not fit in, I would not be a part of the society that lawyers form, and I would be out of place at such affairs. The society of lawyers would bore me.

I can just imagine. They would talk about their houses in the country, the schools their children go to, their trips in the summer -- all that. I wouldn't feel comfortable with them. I recognize this as an old childhood trait. I've never felt "in" anywhere -- not in school, not in college, not in law school, not working at law firms. And now I'm playing it out in relation to the world at large. I am an outsider everywhere I go.

I suppose if I have a central fantasy, mine would be that of an outsider looking into the bedroom: feeling excited and scared, getting aroused, trying to figure out what is going on, but not having to get involved, not having to risk anything. There are many ways of playing out this fantasy. I could have become a Peeping Tom, for one extreme possibility, but I became a professional outsider instead -- an observer who gets to know another person very intimately from outside but doesn't have to get involved with him. I'm very much a Jew -- another kind of outsider.

Do I want to be an "insider?" Yes and no. I have always felt a hunger for a certain kind of closeness that friends and membership in clubs, societies, and professional organizations confer, a certain kind of solidarity, for the warmth of belonging somewhere that was part of the mainstream. At the same time, even as a child, I never felt that I genuinely belonged. Growing up I felt both a certain disdain for an ordinary sense of belonging, and a hunger or nostalgia for it that has never entirely gone away.

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