Thursday, December 6, 2007

71; Sociopaths, Part 1

According to some the following riddle is easily answered by sociopaths. The wording is, to my knowledge, my own.

A woman is at her mother's funeral. At the service she meets this guy, and really falls for him. However she doesn't get his number, address, or even his name. A week later she kills her sister. Why?

No 'albatross' answers, please. All of the information you need to solve it is provided. I'll provide the answer in the next column.

'Anti Social Personality Disorder' is the politically correct name to replace 'sociopath'. Recently I've been reading about an amusing fellow named Diogenes of Sinope, who sounds like a sociopath to me, although he's cited as a cynic. Here's a laundry list of his exploits, courtesy another Diogenes:

"On one occasion a man was reading some long passages, and when he came to the end of the book and showed that there was nothing more written, 'Be of good cheer, my friends,' exclaimed Diogenes, 'I see land.' A man once proved to him syllogistically that he had horns, so he put his hand to his forehead and said, 'I do not see them.' And in a similar manner he replied to one who had been asserting that there was no such thing as motion, by getting up and walking away.

When Lysias, the drug-seller, asked him whether he thought that there there any Gods: 'How,' said he, 'can I help thinking so, when I consider you to be so god-forsaken?'

He was greatly beloved by the Athenians; accordingly, when a youth had broken his tub they beat him, and gave Diogenes another. (Editor - Apparently the fellow slept in a large bowl, or tub, at one of the temples. And doesn't this tell you something about the ways of Athenians?)

When a man said to him once, 'Most people laugh at you;' 'And very likely,' he replied, 'the asses laugh at them; but they do not regard the asses, neither do I regard them.' He was begging once of a very ill-tempered man, and as he said to him, 'If you can persuade me, I will give you something;' he replied, 'If I could persuade you, I would beg you to hang yourself.'

Once, while he was sitting in the sun in the Craneum, Alexander the Great came and stood by him, and said to him, 'Ask any favour you choose of me.' And he replied, 'Cease to shade me from the sun.' Alexander said, 'I am Alexander, the great king.' ' And I,' said he, 'am Diogenes the dog.' And when he was asked to what actions of his it was owing that he was called a dog, he said, 'Because I fawn upon those who give me anything, and bark at those who give me nothing, and bite the rogues.' When Alexander was once standing by him, and saying, 'Do not you fear me?' He replied, 'What are you, a good or an evil?' And as he said that he was good, 'Who, then,' said Diogenes, 'fears the good?'

They also relate that Alexander said that if he had not been Alexander, he should have liked to be Diogenes."

Plato described him as "A Socrates gone mad." And so forth. He's a fun character in the Greek world, and one of the last. Sociopath? Perhaps. He didn't care for the rights of others particularly. Once at a banquet the guests threw him bones, playing off the common derision of his being called a dog. He responded in true form by urinating upon them.

Perhaps today's culturejammers and those who subscribe to the magazine Adbusters are like Diogenes. Fed up with the useless, trite and shallow they scorn society. Yet they are dependent upon it for their scorn, their magazines, and thier counter-culture. Diogenes could not have existed were it not for Athens, after all.

End Act 1 of 2

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