On collective joy (August 2008)

So I kind of hate people. Well, that’s not strictly true. I hate about 95% of people. OK, hate’s too strong a verb. Dislike. Am impatient with. Have no time for. Not that I’m a bigot – I don’t dislike according to race, creed or sexuality. I’m an equal-opportunity misanthrope.

I like the idea of “the people”. Politically, I am of the left. I believe in high tax, in looking after those that can’t help themselves, in the principles of democracy. It’s just that in practice people suck. It’s not their fault. Nature and nurture conspired to make them mostly useless. As long as we can agree to give each other a wide berth, we can all get along just fine.

My anti-social tendencies make collective joy difficult. I love the movies but merrily I wish all kinds of cancerous misfortune on idiots that crunch their popcorn too loudly and talk through the film. Why didn’t I stay home with a DVD? I wanted to kill a couple who talked all the way through a Radiohead gig in Dublin last month. Why weren’t they standing rapt, in silent communion? (I’m allowed to sing along at the top of my voice of course, but I don’t want to hear you do it: you can’t sing in tune.) I love folk music – traditionally the music of the people – as long as it’s played by talented professionals. Amateurs in Arran sweaters keep your mouths shut.

There is one cultural form which other people can’t spoil – quite the opposite; they are essential to the whole enterprise. Dancing. At its best en masse, with acid house people learned how to dance together in a new way, each respecting each other’s space and it’s not an exaggeration to say that I learned how to love other people by going to nightclubs.

In Dortmund on Saturday I tested my love to the limit by seeing how I managed with 1.4 million of them. Cooler-than-thou friends had raised their eyebrows when I told them I was going to Love Parade, and to be honest I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to like it. But after ten minutes of watching crazy people dressed as nuns, or as gorillas or in the most appalling sportswear, dancing tirelessly, having the time of their lives, their enthusiasm undampened by the rain pummeling their heads, I had a massive grin on my face. Ridiculous but lovely. Sometimes people are great.

6 Responses to “On collective joy (August 2008)”

  1. donnacha says:

    In relation to your earlier article about hearing, there has been an interesting development.

  2. jerome says:

    i’m with you on this, i usually round that figure up at 90 %
    or the other way around at 10 % OK people…
    “I’m an equal-opportunity misanthrope.” ahah! : )

  3. dan says:

    have you read my mind (esp with the popcorn bit?). mad dancing really is the best . thanks!

  4. Eamon Harkin says:

    Wise words Mr Pearson.
    Clubs and dancing has always provided the perfect antidote to my anti-social tendencies.

  5. Apolesse says:

    There is a small section of us which are both misanthropic and still humanists to the core. We hate humanity as a whole, but LOVE humans as individuals. Still ther are small moment that we (misanthropes that is) can feel connection to a large group of human-doings.
    Moments like Love Parade or Burning Man.
    Where this obseravtion would give most people hope. . . It drives me further into the belief that humanity is on a crash course with Eschaton.
    That is. . . Until I fire up my computer to play music to get me through the hum drum of daily chores. . . The Kings of Convenience sing me through my dishes. . . Sondre Lerche croons me through my algebra homework. . . Al Usher has me DANCING while I fold my laundry.
    I may hate people for what they do against other people. . .
    But I LOVE people for what they DO for other people.
    Please always remember, that no matter how much humans may annoy you. . . YOU ARE NOTHING WITHOUT THEM.

  6. moka says:

    Oh, but you’ve never seen me dancing mr. Ewan.

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