Movie of the week: The regal, indomitable arrogance of a healthy, normal human being…

[This week’s movie is concerned with the kind of behavior many people deride as being “arrogant” — behavior I consider thrillingly normal in human beings. The text quoted below comes from a post I wrote at –GSS]

Extracted from BloodhoundBlog post #1590:

This came in as a comment last night.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be competitive and wanting to win, but, reading your posts the last few weeks, you ego is a little bit too big at times. Yes, you are a heck of a writer and you have one heck of a blog and you have assembled a heck of a team of contributors, but your ego is getting a bit cocky.

This is ad hominem, so it violates our comments policy, but I’m not averse to discussing the issue it raises in a general way.


A Bloodhound’s virtues are genetic accidents, but that doesn’t make them less than perfectly admirable, whether evidenced in the dog or anthropomorphized and expressed in thoroughly conscious human behavior. Brought up right, a Bloodhound is a natural alpha, regal and indomitable. The dog will move with a lanky, un-self-conscious arrogance that is simply heart-breakingly beautiful to look upon: This what a thriving organism looks like.

I am steadfastly, philosophically opposed to the idea of humility. I think it is one of many evil ideas foisted off on us by malefactors who love us best at our absolute worst. To say to me, “You’re arrogant,” or, “you have a big ego,” is no reproach. On the one hand, it is a statement of obvious fact. But on the other, it puts me on my guard against you. A healthy, normal human being moves and acts and thinks and speaks with the lanky arrogance of a healthy, normal Bloodhound. When people don’t behave that way, I want to know why. When they affect to preach against healthy, normal human behavior, I go on defense — and not by half-measures.

The comment quoted above is nothing, just so much word salad. People repeat what they’ve been told their whole lives — monkey-see, monkey-do — for no reason they can name. They have habituated emotional reactions to behaviors they have been told since childhood are wrong without ever puzzling out what is right, what is wrong, and what their habituated emotional reactions have to do with either. None of this means anything to me. Either you can defend your position in cogent reason, or I am occupied elsewhere. I know why my lanky arrogance is better for me, in the context of my own one irreplaceable life, and there is nothing anyone can say to persuade me to hate my life in other people’s behalf.

Even so, this makes for a good lesson in weblogging. Art is social, and a secondary objective of any work of art — even a work of art as banal as a weblog post — is to elicit a response. Not simply a comment, mind you, not the enblogged equivalent of a high-five, but an authentic, heart-felt response: “Thank you so much for saying that!” “Oh, what crap!!” “I thought I was the only person who felt this way!” “Your unwillingness to kneel to the vicious trolls I affect to worship as gods leads me to unpleasant doubts about their divinity, which I am obliged to blame on you.” Oh, wait, that last was a translation of email I get all the time…

In fact, other people’s responses to your work should never be a primary consideration to you. The writing is either good or it isn’t. But if you are not eliciting emotion-laden responses from your readers, what you are doing is brochure-production, not weblogging.

But, in any case, if you feel a strong urge to tell me that I am as arrogant as a normal, healthy Bloodhound, regal and indomitable — what can I say in reply except, “Thanks!”

With all that as introduction, here is this week’s movie:

The audio-only version of this video is linked below, or you can find the podcast on iTunes.

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  • Mike Arst

    When people don’t behave that way, I want to know why. You’ve nailed “why”: …habituated emotional reactions to behaviors they have been told since childhood are wrong… I’d love to pretend that I’ve rid myself of that kind of habituation, but I’d be lying about it. Most of us can hope, at best, for Walter-Mitty-esque moments of “egotism” — imaginary ones, that is. The rest of the time, we envy or denigrate (sometimes both) the few people we encounter whose “arrogance” is the real deal.

    “Arrogate”: to claim or seize without justification.

    But what did your correspondent mean, I wonder. Perhaps: “I’m nothing like as confident of myself. I find your over-arching confidence in your beliefs intimidating and threatening.” Or “It frustrates me when people insist that they are experts, founts of wisdom, final authorities, because I don’t feel I can even have a conversation with them — no counter-argument I might make will ever get through; they’ll just sneer at me and then I’ll feel un-listened-to.” Or “When I behave ‘like that,’ people call me on it and reject me. They might even shun me, which would be terrible. So it can’t possibly be the right way to behave.” (Of course I can’t, and don’t pretend to, read your correspondent’s mind. These are guesses and perhaps completely inaccurate ones.)

    As David Riesman pointed out a long time ago; as Richard Mitchell and John Gatto have pointed out more recently: people are not “self-directed.” Those who are, and who aren’t the least apologetic about it, are serial violators of what’s right and proper. It’s pretty threatening stuff. (“Our problem today is, we don’t have enough government,” a friend of mine once said. And there it was. Translated: “There’s no end to the extent that I and other people [unstated: ‘especially other people’] must be regulated.” Likewise “egotists” — there’s something seriously wrong with the idea of regulating oneself. Children yell: “You’re not the boss of me!” Then they get older and the outrage is different: “You’re not the boss of you!“)

    • > people are not “self-directed.”

      But of course each one of was when we abstracted the idea of the self. There is no other way to become a self. Humility — like all vices — is an artifact of Fathertongue, usually by way of indoctrination.

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