Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Nemeses and archenemies

This, from Chuck Klosterman, is brilliant. Its tone is almost Mencken-like. I'm currently trying to work out how it applies to my own life, these paragraphs are the stars but the whole thing is amusing:

"It's not what you know," they say. "It's who you know." We have all heard this sentiment, and we all reflexively agree with it. This is because "they" are hard to debate, especially since "they" never seem to be in the room whenever anyone makes reference to them. Yet they have a secret shame, and it's a shame they can't deny: They are losers. They are failures. They don't realize that life is—almost without exception—an absolute meritocracy, and everyone who succeeds completely deserves it.* The only people who disagree with this are people who will never succeed at anything. You see, "they" want you to believe the passageway to power is all about cultivating allies, so they spend all their time trying to make friends and influence people. And this is why they fail. It rarely matters who is on your side; what matters is who is against you. Unlike Gloria Loring, you don't need a friend and you don't need a lover. What you need is a) one quality nemesis, and b) one archenemy. These are the two most important characters in the life of any successful human. We measure ourselves against our nemeses, and we long to destroy our archenemies. Nemeses and archenemies are the catalysts for everything.

Now, I know that you're probably asking yourself, How do I know the difference between my nemesis and my archenemy? Here is the short answer: You kind of like your nemesis, despite the fact that you despise him. If your nemesis invited you out for cocktails, you would accept the offer. If he died, you would attend his funeral and—privately—you might shed a tear over his passing. But you would never have drinks with your archenemy, unless you were attempting to spike his gin with hemlock. If you were to perish, your archenemy would dance on your grave, and then he'd burn down your house and molest your children. You hate your archenemy so much that you try to keep your hatred secret, because you don't want your archenemy to have the satisfaction of being hated.

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