Let’s call him Bob. Bob has a superior IQ, a bit higher than mine in fact. He’s older than I am. He’s been through life experiences comparable to mine. His approach to life is very similar to what I’ve arrived at, but with far less idealism.
He is charming and friendly with people, in a practiced but superficial way. He has what the Chinese call wu-wei — the internalized, unconscious skill at something that naive people take for a kind of truth. He has achieved wu wei in the skill of superficiality. Privately — that is, with me — he expresses the same view as I. He has embraced the Dark Side.
As far as this goes, he is a more advanced version of myself. But there is a difference. I have not yet given up on making the world a better place. I have not yet given up on finding or creating some spot where truth and intelligence can take root and transform the world. This is why I dream of a Shepherd class of superior people who do what is best for humanity as a whole, instead of merely looking out for themselves.
Bob has no idealism. His goal is to have fun in life and then die. His contempt for humanity is a quantum jump beyond mine. He has decided: f**k `em all.
I look at a picture of him and me together with a bunch of yuppies. We both look happy, but with a difference. I look like there’s something nagging me in the back of my mind. Or maybe I imagine that look, because I know there is something nagging me in the back of my mind. His grin has something cynical and predatory about it, or maybe I’m imagining that because of what I know about him.
Everyone else in the picture just looks oblivious.
Bob is not a cruel man, as far as I know. He’s not a kind man, either — though he can certainly fake it. He has the persona of a warm, friendly human being. He sees average people as children, and the thing to do with children is play with them, amuse them and tell them pleasing lies about Santa Claus or whatever. I have a similar attitude and practice. But he leaves it at that, and I don’t. I look for people with both the will and the ability to make the world a better place. What I run into is a whole lot of dimwits, and the occasional Bob.
Bob and I like to kvetch about how MENSA is full of underachievers. I point out to him that he is also an underachiever in his own way. He says he doesn’t care. As long as the world doesn’t go to pieces before he dies of old age, it’s not his problem. If I were to give his philosophy a name, it would be Total Slack.
I have not yet achieved Total Slack. I’m still trying to find a way out of the caves. That’s what makes me a Wumpus, and not a Bob.