What makes a loser? There is nothing special about him. Being dull, awkward, foolish, and feckless only makes him unlucky, and being unlucky is not enough to make a loser. What makes him a loser is not that he loses, but that he does not know why he loses.

Losers have always been with us, since Thersites at least, but of course they are rare in hierarchical societies, where everyone is born with a part to play, where every kind of failure is keyed by coordinates of folly and vice. Being a loser is idiopathic, because losers are inconsequential; they do not even have anyone to let down.

He may have abilities, even remarkable ones, but he spoils them. He stops too soon, or he goes too far, and all his good intentions, all his hard work, come to nothing. Worse, just by being the one who has them, he makes his own abilities ridiculous. For his skills, we call him a geek; for his wealth, we call him vulgar; for his commitments, we call him pretentious. He is not a loser because he never wins; he is a loser because even when he wins, he loses.

What makes him a loser are not his mistakes but how he doubles them. Defying logic, he spans the extremes without ever touching the center, impaling himself on both horns of every dilemma, robbing Scylla to pay Charybdis.

He is the one who has nothing to say, but never gets to the point; the one who can’t take a hint, and can’t take a joke; the one who never learns, and the one who never gets over it; the one who can’t talk around girls, and babbles around women; the one who can’t express himself, and the one who gives everything away; the one who never takes a chance until he throws everything away.

In short the loser is a bad actor playing himself. Nothing feels real to him unless he is playing to the balcony. In the beginning, he tries too hard; and every time someone leaves, he tries a little harder. In the end the seats are empty and there he is, alone on the stage, the singularity where tragedy and comedy meet: the clown who does not know he is a clown.


Hansel Castro said...

Were you inspired by "Loser Dog"? ;-)

Paul M. Rodriguez said...

No, but -- my God, that poor creature.

lloydmintern said...

Which of these clashing insights were gained by observation, and which by introspection?

Paul M. Rodriguez said...

Neither; all pure deduction.

lloydmintern said...

In other words, pure imagination. "Deduction" doesn't make much sense, does it? Deduction requires some data to start with, which could come from observation, or introspection, as I broke it down. Since you claim your sources are are neither of those, it must be you just make this "loser" category up from scratch. And a very expansive category it is! Keep it up and you will have described EVERYBODY.

Paul M. Rodriguez said...

That's a very strict definition of deduction; by your standards I might well be accused of having made up, say, California.

Lloyd Mintern said...

Sttrict definition of deduction? I said it was "expansive", didn't I? I think it is about as large as possible, including all experience and all introspection. Both of which you deny using, saying you deduce it? Deduce from what? is my question.

Of course this is the interesting problem with this whole essay form of yours--I think I have complained of before. It refuses to get personal, and yet its source material is original to one mind (yours).

Paul M. Rodriguez said...

The essay form is personal by definition. Belaboring the fact with with first-person boilerplate would be pointless.

lloydmintern said...

Now that is a stretch. The essay form, which is historical, is always striving for and claiming the universal, which flatlines the personal in every age, and hands down representative, generalized subject matter. Boilerplate indeed, source of all cliches. "First person boilerplate" is a contradiction in terms. Your attempt to be an essay writer is confessedly quaint. And I say it again: your CONTENT seems (to me, and this is praise) at variance with the stance of the essay writer. Hey, but I keep reading it!

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