Certain deep thinkers will say of the waiter at this café that he is not really a waiter. These deep thinkers will say that this waiter does not really prefer the color blue; that he is not really attracted to young boys instead of women; that he is not really a Marxist; that he does not truly fear the Chihuahua. None of this is truly him, certain thinkers will say. He is a nothing, they say, a blank slate upon which these characteristics and roles and ideas have gathered. Other ideas might have gathered there instead and he is just stuck on these. It is a lack of will, a fear of realizing his being nothing that drives him to the comfort of these roles and feelings. Or maybe bad parenting or schooling. Perhaps he is no way responsible.

To call him nothing is to strip him of a becoming particular to him--to say of his life, his job, his fears and passions that they were simply accidents to which he has grown accustomed. But man is born wanting and needing and motivated, born into triumphs and traumas that shape him as he grows; he is an inheritance of physical characteristics and the histories of those who were destined before him; he has a genetic lineage and a culture, and taken together his is a motivation unique in the world. His life is not be a series of accidents or contingencies, but the development of a particular destiny. To call him nothing is to diminish him, to equate his life with every other human life, to say of the physically strong and the smart and the weak, the master and the slave, the man and the woman, that they were equals in the world.

Man is conscious of himself as a strange consistency of choices over time. As he ages he more forcefully becomes that for which he was destined. What was strange becomes clear. The pederast, Marxist waiter who fears small dogs, does not constrain or limit himself by conceiving himself in these terms. Rather the consistency of his choices in the world and his commitment to them is his fullest expression. Each man gets exactly what he wants from life in each his own way. To say he is nothing, that there is no path of becoming particular to him, is to posit a sameness and equivalence among men that undercuts any idea of the individual. If all men are nothing, none is unique, none different than any other. It would be to say that his wants and satisfactions and the comfort and discomfort of his choices--his destiny--was all an error.

(Though the peddlers of the nothing fight hard against it, greatness and overcoming are never accidental or possible for all men.)

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