We haven’t even reached the apex of Janice’s Season 2 story arc that will culminate in the most over-the-top meltdown ever televised, but I’m guessing that this character has already managed to pull at the heartstrings of the handful of stalwart readers of Notes From The Avalon oot there. Assuming this to be so, the reason that Hillside’s hopeless ootcast elicits our empathy is simple: to varying degrees, all of us have felt her desperate sense of isolation from our peers (or even our species) at one time or another.
A real-life incarnation of a similarly unpopular teen would therefore evoke natural feelings of empathy, but this doesn’t mean that she would deserve an ounce of our sympathy. Feeling sympathetic to someone’s plight, regardless of its degree or nature, implies an acceptance of that individual as a victim of circumstance, of causes and conditions beyond her control. This viewpoint is indicative of humanity’s ultimate folly: the failure to recognize the holistic nature of all phenomena, including (especially) ourselves.
When Sigmund Freud posited the Ego and the Id as the polar drivers of our individual personalities, Western culture, as usual, couldn’t follow his necessarily abstract psychological theories withoot solidifying them into something concrete. Taken together, popular Western interpretations of Freud’s described tension between man’s levels of consciousness wind up sounding an awful lot like the Christian notion of the soul, an “eternal essence” unique to the individual struggling against the temptations of nature in all its amorality. Usually, when I point oot the arrogance inherent in such a self-absorbed viewpoint, I am met with a mere shrug of the shoulders, the verbal translation of which would be along the lines of “who cares, Asshole?” In other words, we’re cool with our conceit insofar as it mirrors that of our most arrogant creation of all: God The Father (in whose image we’re made, according to scripture). Our popular ideas of god are the natural extension of our ignorant ideas aboot ourselves that grew oot of our necessarily limited perception and refusal to investigate anything more subtle that may be underlying our surface perceptions.
Janice willfully embraces her role as a victim in the hopes that it will conversely draw people to her compassionate defense. In the last episode, Arseman tried to boost Janice’s self-esteem with some kind and pragmatic words, but this backfired because Janice was too deeply submerged in delusional feelings of helplessness to recognize a simple act of humanity. Whenever we throw up our hands in defeat and declare, “I’m hopeless!”, we are similarly ignoring that quiet wisdom which knows that we are something special precisely and only because in isolation, we are nothing at all.
All human suffering is the result of this gross misapprehension of ourselves and our universe. In fact, the entire problem was laid oot in a fragment of the previous sentence: “ourselves and our universe”. This unfortunately inescapable twist of language has taken on a life of its own well beyond mere linguistics. In order to make ourselves understandable, we must refer to apparently separate things as “this and that”, “him and her”, “us and them”, “god and nature”, “god and man”, etc. Precious few of us have done anything to cultivate a meditative mindset, therefore, we take our words as true representations of the phenomena being described, and this is where all the trouble begins. The tension between man and nature has no basis apart from our own misinterpretation of ourselves as something apart from nature, even in conflict with it.
Quite literally, you cannot be apart from nature because you are a microcosm of nature itself. By extension, you cannot be apart from any segment of humanity no matter how odious or confusing you may find them by your moral and cultural standards. We hate some people and love others because we fail to recognize every single consciousness as a manifestation of the same potential emptiness from which all phenomena spring. When we delineate our tribe at the exclusion of even a single life form, we are attempting to extricate ourselves from those aspects of reality that frighten or disgust us, never understanding that we can only be afraid or disgusted by things which we have directly experienced and we are thus judging ourselves by casting others oot of our sphere of influence and empathy.
Regardless, if you go to your grave grasping at this illusorily competitive and judgmental view of reality, nothing tragic will have occurred. Billions have already expired in the midst of such wholesale delusion and most people will continue to do so, honestly expecting an indefinite extension of individual experience in some heavenly paradise. So it goes. But if you, like Janice, suffer immensely from the incompatibility of such a philosophy with the reality of mundane experience, you’d do well to take a penetrating look into yourself. Go deep, right down to the cellular level, and what you’ll find is the Universe in all of its impartial glory, swirling, changing, expanding and contracting in the perpetual dance of creation and destruction, birth and death. One cannot exist withoot the other. Those who love life would do well to embrace death, lest they fall victim to the inevitable disappointments of their own arrogant eternalism.
So keep your chin up, Janice. Not only are you just as worthy of respect as Brooke, Dylan and the rest of the Hillside A-listers, you are, quite literally, each and every one of them. Except for Deadpool, of course. There’s only one fucking Deadpool.
4 thoughts on “Janice: A Psychological Profile”
… let me wipe the beer off my chin. I’m afraid I choked on my IPA reading the first few lines of this piece.
What is this? Philosophy pulled out the arse of a vapid teen sitcom? Do mine eyes deceive me?
Yeay! Some ‘Mudge to stretch the mind and tease the sensibilities.
> we take our words as true representations of the phenomena being described
So true. Experts all.
Regarding the One, the unity: is it not true, however. that we can only truly examine anything really, by first separating ourselves from it? Self reflection is one being, first, separate and then looking back into the mirror?
If, upon inspection, we discover and acknowledge that what we see is not in anyway separate, but rather aspects of the whole, only pulled away to get a bead on it, that only by this temporary gap could we determine this?
Perhaps by declaring her self deprecation she is admitting her connection and power over the same? My failure is my own, and mine to challenge and overcome.
Oh please, oh please, oh please don’t let this be the last candle in the cave of teen-anst doom.
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Absolutely. In order to analyze anything at all, one’s mind must be oriented to a relative view, which demands a mental separation of the observer from the observed. The tricky part is to then take any knowledge acquired thusly and understand that in reality, taken in isolation, it wouldn’t hold any water. Most proponents of quantum mechanics accept the inextricable role of the experimenter in the results of any worthwhile experiment, though if pressed further on this point, they find themselves at a loss for words. Ultimate truth can only be gleaned by those who realize that what they’re investigating is beyond the purview of language.