I enjoy research too much and I’m a shameless critic. Weird & Güd is the conjoining of those misanthropic qualities into something useful: recommendations and fascinations neatly packaged together for you every week, no hermeticism required.
You’re forced to explain a joke. You’re upset by something no one sympathizes with. You explain an idea but the listener never fully understands. You laugh at something and no one joins in. The familiar sense that the inside of your head is a place that no one but you will ever truly know creeps in and you feel the border between you and the world harden.
We spend most of our time trying to be understood, trying to communicate what we feel and believe to others in a way that helps them understand us. Any art, film, or music is communication; writing exists to share ideas; even business is an effort to convince others of what you believe is useful. When we succeed at being understood, the world feels welcoming; when we fail, the bonds that connect us to others shrink.
Outsider syndrome is the feeling of being weakly bonded to the world. The world becomes a hotel room that welcomes you only in the most superficial way, with generic miniature shampoo bottles that simultaneously indicate your transience.
If you ever find yourself on r/Schizoid, you’ll find one of the internet’s few in-depth discussions of outsider syndrome, a term that exists only to those who feel it. Those who’ve shrunk furthest away from the world suffer personality disorders, but all of us must live in the flux between understood and outsider.
Masatoshi Naito “Shinjuku-Genkei Chimera” (Shinjuku-Illusional landscape, Chimera)
Yet the outsider is often an outsider only to themselves, as they’ve convinced themselves of their unwelcome and unparalleled place in the world even as they discuss that feeling with hundreds of others around the world online. There is a freedom in being an outsider that can attract us towards accepting an unnecessarily isolated fate; to decide you will always be misunderstood is to cease pursuing the understanding of others. You can’t lose in a race you don’t join, but a life devoid of striving too closely resembles death.
To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.
— Bertrand Russell, Marriage and Morals
For this week’s Güd, we’re going off-script.
The concept of fear and our relationship to it can be güd or it can make us miserable and ultimately ruin our lives. The challenge of fear isn’t so much overcoming it as it is identifying Real Fear versus Brain Fear.
Real Fear is the kind of fear you feel when you narrowly avoid a car accident. It’s fear that’s serving its true purpose of keeping a dumb animal alive in an unpredictable environment. Real Fear is important; not recognizing real fear is why someone becomes a headline in a death few people can sympathize with. Without a finely tuned sense of Real Fear, you’re like a newborn animal orphaned in the world, bumping into everything and hoping the lessons aren’t fatal.
Brain Fear obscures Real Fear because they feel identical; the fear of sharing your creative work or opening up to partner can feel just as dangerous as the edge of a cliff. Distinguishing between Brain Fear and Real Fear, the physical cliff and imaginary cliff, is the only way to expand yourself, to grow into newer and better versions of you.
The Blank Signature, 1965, Rene Magritte
Brain Fear is not a blanket we simply lift off our lives. It’s like water trailing down a mountainside—it pours down some parts, trickles through others, and leaves some parts untouched. The parts of your life that fear pours through will be whatever you avoid most; relationships, new challenges, change.
Finding where your Real Fear ends and your Brain Fear begins gives you an accurate map of your world—new trails don’t feel so dangerous when you know the fear they induce only feels real, but lives entirely in your brain.
I hope this makes your week a little weirder and a little güder. Now go forth, be weird, and above all, be güd.
I sit alone at a desk biting my nails to bring you every edition of Spiritual Soap. Is it worth it? Don’t tell me, show me.