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Thread: The Outsider by Colin Wilson

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    Default The Outsider by Colin Wilson

    As an INFP i identify very much with this book, its mostly a critique of existentialist philosophy. Has anyone read this???

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    Yep. I identified with Colin Wilson's concept of an "outsider" as one who sets out to discover his relation to the world and its people, but I found the entire premise of defining these subjects as "outsiders" - as people who (as he puts it) "see too deeply but can't help it" - extremely pretentious. Unlike Wilson, I do not assume that the majority of people are incapable of thinking critically about the world and our existence. I don't accept that those who do so are necessarily seeing any "deeper" than the everyman. The divisive thinking - "us" vs. "them" - is misguided and even narcissistic, IMO. If one defines himself as an "outsider" - i.e., as "the other" in relation to other human beings - one is not thinking deeply enough.

    Also, the book is actually in support of existentialism - not a critique of it. He touts Camus and Nietzsche as examples of "outsiders" among others, and a lot of his philosophical questions aim to lead the reader into an existentialist framework.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    i find your entire premise extremely pretentious

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    Okay?
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Baby
    Yep. I identified with Colin Wilson's concept of an "outsider" as one who sets out to discover his relation to the world and its people, but I found the entire premise of defining these subjects as "outsiders" - as people who (as he puts it) "see too deeply but can't help it" - extremely pretentious. Unlike Wilson, I do not assume that the majority of people are incapable of thinking critically about the world and our existence. I don't accept that those who do so are necessarily seeing any "deeper" than the everyman. The divisive thinking - "us" vs. "them" - is misguided and even narcissistic, IMO. If one defines himself as an "outsider" - i.e., as "the other" in relation to other human beings - one is not thinking deeply enough.

    Also, the book is actually in support of existentialism - not a critique of it. He touts Camus and Nietzsche as examples of "outsiders" among others, and a lot of his philosophical questions aim to lead the reader into an existentialist framework.
    yeah...with respect to outsider status...one has only to step far enough back to see that outsiders are just on the fringe, so they are insiders in the larger scheme of things.

    ILE

    those who are easily shocked.....should be shocked more often

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaze
    yeah...with respect to outsider status...one has only to step far enough back to see that outsiders are just on the fringe, so they are insiders in the larger scheme of things.
    exactly. I tend to see all of humanity is one big fungus... er... species; "outsider" really means nothing in the big span of things. We're all part of it - even the so-called outsiders are on the "outside" in a really superficial sense.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    How about the homeless or people who have chosen to live outside the system (i.e. hermits). i mean, yeah we're all part of humanity and are connected in some way (six degrees of separation). still, some are mentally disconnected from the rest of us. i haven't read The Outsider but i think that being on the fringe can't only be viewed from an objective viewpoint. you must also take into account subjectivity. individuals might feel alone even when they are in a crowd. take a man who goes to a foreign city with a strange culture and gets lost: he will feel like an outsider and act like one as well. he won't be able to communicate with anyone. he will look at everyone and everything around him from a subjective point of view. he might not be able to figure out all the things he sees. so, he'll try to guess what's going on. Christopher Columbus in the New World for instance was undoubtedly an outsider.
    IEI - the nasty kind...

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    Quote Originally Posted by little red riding hood
    How about the homeless or people who have chosen to live outside the system (i.e. hermits). i mean, yeah we're all part of humanity and are connected in some way (six degrees of separation). still, some are mentally disconnected from the rest of us. i haven't read The Outsider but i think that being on the fringe can't only be viewed from an objective viewpoint. you must also take into account subjectivity. individuals might feel alone even when they are in a crowd. take a man who goes to a foreign city with a strange culture and gets lost: he will feel like an outsider and act like one as well. he won't be able to communicate with anyone. he will look at everyone and everything around him from a subjective point of view. he might not be able to figure out all the things he sees. so, he'll try to guess what's going on. Christopher Columbus in the New World for instance was undoubtedly an outsider.
    that's generally how I feel out in the world, unless I'm with a friend

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    The odds were a hundred to one against me
    The world thought the heights were too high to climb
    But people from Missouri never incensed me
    Oh, I wasn't a bit concerned
    For from hist'ry I had learned
    How many, many times the worm had turned
    They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round
    They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
    They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said that man could fly
    They told Marconi wireless was a phony, it's the same old cry
    They laughed at me wanting you, said I was reaching for the moon
    But oh, you came through, now they'll have to change their tune
    They all said we never could be happy, they laughed at us and how!
    But ho, ho, ho! Who's got the last laugh now?
    They all laughed at Rockefeller Center, now they're fighting to get in
    They all laughed at Whitney and his cotton gin
    They all laughed Fulton and his steamboat, Hershey and his chocolate bar
    Ford and his Lizzie, kept the laughers busy, that's how people are
    They laughed at me wanting you, said it would be, "Hello, Goodbye."
    But oh, you came through, now they're eating humble pie
    They all said we'd never get together, darling, let's take a bow
    For ho, ho, ho! Who's got the last laugh?
    Hee, hee, hee! Let's at the past laugh, Ha, ha, ha! Who's got the last laugh now?

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    hey Bionic, is Chewie copping a feel on my Leia?
    IEI - the nasty kind...

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    Quote Originally Posted by little red riding hood
    hey Bionic, is Chewie copping a feel on my Leia?

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    Quote Originally Posted by little red riding hood
    How about the homeless or people who have chosen to live outside the system (i.e. hermits). i mean, yeah we're all part of humanity and are connected in some way (six degrees of separation). still, some are mentally disconnected from the rest of us. i haven't read The Outsider but i think that being on the fringe can't only be viewed from an objective viewpoint. you must also take into account subjectivity. individuals might feel alone even when they are in a crowd. take a man who goes to a foreign city with a strange culture and gets lost: he will feel like an outsider and act like one as well. he won't be able to communicate with anyone. he will look at everyone and everything around him from a subjective point of view. he might not be able to figure out all the things he sees. so, he'll try to guess what's going on. Christopher Columbus in the New World for instance was undoubtedly an outsider.
    Sure there's communication barriers and cultural contrivances that might prevent us from connecting with people at first, but we all have more in common with each other than we have have different. I think it's short-sighted to separate yourself on the micro-level from what you're part of on the macro-level. IME, it's the same sort of thinking that leads people to consider themselves "outsiders" - prematurely without even really thinking things out - leads to more malicious patterns of thought, like racism and homophobia. It sounds heavy-handed to say that, but when you get right down to it, that is the root belief that causes these people to make such baseless divisions - "they" are "the other" or "I" am "the other."

    You'd mentioned Columbus. The indigenous American civilizations were essentially wiped out on this justification - the natives were "the other." In the case of someone who feels psychologically distant from his fellow human beings, I can understand the isolation on the personal level. A lot of us have felt that at some point. But even then "no man is an island" and we all feel sadness, anger, and bleed when pricked. Even if you have autism or are blind, deaf, ostracized, etc. - you are part of a web-work, or were at some point. To perpetuate the idea of "the outsider" is to perpetuate short-sightedness. Yes, emotions of loneliness and feeling "different" are very real, but we can at least understand these things on some level enough to assuage at least a part of the pain and to prevent further dangerously divisive activities in the future (or prevent narcissistic thinking).
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    it's nice to think that we are all connected in some way. and we are, i certainly am not against that line of thinking. like i said before, i haven't read The Outsider so i might not really dig what you're getting at. still, one may have all the best intentions in the world and still feel like a reject sometimes. the facts are simple: we are all connected on some global level.

    nevertheless, we are, at the same time, completely separated from each other. we are all outsiders to each other. i will never understand how a war veteran feels, what he went through and perhaps goes through everyday. what i mean is that we all go through individual experiences that we can't really share with others. sure, we can recount our lives or certain episodes. yet, one will never truly understand a physical and mental experience until one goes through it. and even then, that same experience which might be common to others is ultimately personal to every individual. that is why witnesses of the same event often give different accounts of what happened. it is paradoxical but think about it: if we were only connected with each other and not separated at the same time we would be just like the Borg. everybody would know what everybody else feels every single minute of every single day.

    being an outsider can even be simpler than that. you can have an outside thought which doesn't mesh with the rest of a specific community. take this forum for example. certain users are labeled as crackpots because they understand the socionics theories differently. whether they are right or wrong isn't important. it's the way they are represented that is. because of their weirdness, all of their subsequent ideas are considered to be radical, mutinous even. thus, they're almost ostracised in a sense. it doesn't matter that they're part of the community: they are on the fringe of it. they're misfits who don't submit with the views of the group. they get laughed at and barely anybody comes to their defense. they are wrong (or seem to be) and it is just to sneer at them.

    but the very existence of an outsider is crucial to society. like Tony Montana says "we need people like" him "to point the finger and say: there, there's the" weirdo. it keeps a balance. it identifies the community, its characteristics, its essence. having a live example of what that community isn't shows what happens when one doesn't comply with the essence: the outsider's thinking is wayward and ought not betreated with the same value as a full-fledged member of the community. i believe that even if and when our civilisation becomes truly united, we'll still find a "weirdo" to point at.
    IEI - the nasty kind...

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    red riding hood i see what you are saying it's one of those yin yang things i spose. we do better when we try to listen for understanding to so called outsiders. and yet we all have probably felt like an outsider at certain points.

    it's definitely safer to be an insider....think a herd of grazing sheep....if you're on the fringe you are more likely a target for a predator.

    we do need outsiders; it certainly could be seen as a brave heroic role.

    ILE

    those who are easily shocked.....should be shocked more often

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    Quote Originally Posted by little red riding hood
    nevertheless, we are, at the same time, completely separated from each other. we are all outsiders to each other. i will never understand how a war veteran feels, what he went through and perhaps goes through everyday. what i mean is that we all go through individual experiences that we can't really share with others. sure, we can recount our lives or certain episodes. yet, one will never truly understand a physical and mental experience until one goes through it. and even then, that same experience which might be common to others is ultimately personal to every individual. that is why witnesses of the same event often give different accounts of what happened. it is paradoxical but think about it: if we were only connected with each other and not separated at the same time we would be just like the Borg. everybody would know what everybody else feels every single minute of every single day.
    I can't disagree with you there. Wilson's book, however, takes it in another direction - he justifies a sort of narcissistic conception of "the outsider" that I think a lot of his subject would actually object to.

    Quote Originally Posted by little red riding hood
    being an outsider can even be simpler than that. you can have an outside thought which doesn't mesh with the rest of a specific community. take this forum for example. certain users are labeled as crackpots because they understand the socionics theories differently. whether they are right or wrong isn't important. it's the way they are represented that is. because of their weirdness, all of their subsequent ideas are considered to be radical, mutinous even. thus, they're almost ostracised in a sense. it doesn't matter that they're part of the community: they are on the fringe of it. they're misfits who don't submit with the views of the group. they get laughed at and barely anybody comes to their defense. they are wrong (or seem to be) and it is just to sneer at them.

    but the very existence of an outsider is crucial to society. like Tony Montana says "we need people like" him "to point the finger and say: there, there's the" weirdo. it keeps a balance. it identifies the community, its characteristics, its essence. having a live example of what that community isn't shows what happens when one doesn't comply with the essence: the outsider's thinking is wayward and ought not betreated with the same value as a full-fledged member of the community. i believe that even if and when our civilisation becomes truly united, we'll still find a "weirdo" to point at.
    Yeah, I think we all need to be able to step "outside the system" - there is definitely a necessity for people who can see things in new ways and stand apart from the action and just observe. I don't think one necessarily needs to define oneself as an "outsider" in order to do that, but it requires an exercise in separation to do it right.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    Great book!

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