Panglossian It Over

Have you ever been around the kind of person who has something disgustingly positive to say about everything? There are people who lose the ability to feel pain.
07/08/2015 05:36 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Have you ever been around the kind of person who has something disgustingly positive to say about everything? There are people who lose the ability to feel pain. It's actually a serious condition since however nice it might be eliminate the nerve receptors that are sensitive to discomfort, we would also be deprived of one of nature's warning systems. On the psychic level the same came be said of depression. Pharmaceutical companies make huge amounts of money producing anti-depressants that sometimes provide a dubious service. Numb and Number could be yet another sequel to Dumb and Dumber. But let's go back to the juggernaut of positive emotions expressed by our hypothetical obnoxious acquaintance. Imagine him or her getting kidnapped by terrorists and attempting to explain the good side of being held incommunicado in a coffin sized box for days. Imagine the self same person being mistakenly detained, undergoing "extraordinarily rendition" and trying to express their excitement about being waterboarded or the glamour of getting maced. Imagine someone describing the joys of a head-on car crash, a mugging or a mountain climbing accident. As far flung as it may seem, you have undoubtedly encountered people who display this kind of disconnect. Their iterations of human existence display a homogeneity and are always recounted in the same sing songy tones. "Daddy was so happy to see all of us, before he finally croaked," "Bob seems perfectly OK about the loss of his job, his wife and his house," "I was so happy to get the lousy evaluation at work since I know my boss was right." You ask one of these creatures how they're doing after their life's work has come to naught and they exclaim, "I can't complain!" Sure they can, but they can't and there's the rub. Many of these gargoyles are probably deeply traumatized individuals who might murder themselves or others if they faced their so-called feelings. Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss (a stand-in for Leibnitz) who famously said "all's for the best" in the "best of all possible worlds," was the pied piper of delusional optimism. And Voltaire's great work ends with Candide rejecting his mentor's misguided view of the world.

photo of San Francisco earthquake of l906 by H.D. Chadwick

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}