It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”

— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

I have come past yet another self-discovery, though the revelation itself is perhaps not so strange since it has hid in the subtext of many other discoveries I have come across on my path.

Like Alice… in Wonderland.

It hit me one evening when I asked myself – for the umpteenth time – why I seem to have no life. Really. And I realized it may be because I never had a life to begin with. It has not so much to do with self-pity as it is simply an objective observation:

I have always prided myself with having an independent and original mind (obvious throughout this blog, I think), but, in reality, my independence has lived off my dependence on others, and my original personality/mind has lived off all the influences around me. (Nothing new under the sun and rather cliché. And, after all, I can never be totally without some level of uniqueness. None of us can.)

But I believe I, so far, have lived a life of a sort of parasitical child – in badly need to grow up! A child who cannot, for the life of me, express emotions maturely – hardly even objectively (I cannot seem to overcome my literal tongue-tiedness)!

In part delusional innocence and part daily-reality-phobia, I’ve fed off the experiences, feelings and stories of others – whether those people have been real-life or fictional. Thus the constant and spineless immersion in fictional narratives and music – to substitute the numb emotions within – and warding off responsibilities in real-life (mostly those to myself).

*sighs* If I indeed suffer from some sort of Peter Pan-syndrome, I’d really like to have it diagnosed for being just that. Then I have a real excuse to shed my responsibilities and go find Neverland. (Hmm. Step up from Wonderland?)… Joke aside.

I am most likely just a maladaptive dreamer.

Have I ever felt empty and aimless when the pages run out or these ‘other people’ stop talking and showing me their lives and I can no longer immerse myself in their liveliness? Yes, perhaps I have. Perhaps I repress it by immersing myself further into something else, such as my imagination (Lewis Carroll wrote it: “Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality”). Which again continues to supplant reality or what I cannot seem to have in my own daily reality. Something I am too cowardly to reach out and grasp fully myself.

Arrogantly, I have convinced myself that life is bigger than anything as ‘trivial’ as the daily, material matters of my own here and now. Bigger in a sense of metaphysics. I have a vast universe in my head that I need to discover and fill out with knowledge. Dealing with my own reality heads-on always seems so exhausting, transient and unreliable. I have no control there. I cannot predict the outcome in situations where my emotions feel most at stake but where they are often abandoned, even by myself, because I am no closer to understand them. So, of course, a subtle disappointment has run throughout every action, though I have not failed to see the benefit from most of them. Failures and flaws give life a color beyond compare, because they are what constitute you as a human; your unique you. I have learned from every action and that I have taken as a blessing, you could say.

But still the disappointment, the emptiness has rung hollow within; an undercurrent settling in my gut as I have become more and more aware of life; of all the things I have lived through compared to all the things I likely or may never will. The sense of excitement and curiosity of getting to know what lies ahead has slowly been quelled by every underlying disappointment connecting; a frightening numbness setting in. Tastes turned to ashes in my mouth.

And I immerse myself in all the constructed narratives and emotions to bar out, to hush the raging numbness, silence and solitude-turned-loneliness I live in and come home to every day.

Solitude. My once so trusted friend has been possessed by loneliness; become the Babadook of my mind; a ghost haunting for the purpose of terror rather than company. And I have been its very maker. It is the Frankenstein of my creation; a ‘safe’ theory of ‘companionship’ that my mind latched on to, settled for – anything compared to the real thing; of having no companionship at all. A theory that turned into a being of its own once the egg was hatched; a being that became a monstrosity because it was still unsatisfied with its existence and blamed me. Because life isn’t easy. It was never meant to be.

Maybe it is the strange, little but significant events that have occurred to me within the last couple of years (I may have mentioned some of them here and there, but I don’t imagine you’ll know what I’m talking about and I cannot go into them right now) and likely set off my depression. If indeed my depression has been lying in wait for this – or if it really is a depression and not just an odd restlessness or lazy down-spiraling of one defense mechanism succeeding another. And, as I said, burying myself in fiction and imaginative feelings helps me to deflect from my own lonely life as well as this perhaps/perhaps-not-depression. A sort of silly ‘coping escapism’ you are more likely to find in some (dark) children’s novel. And despite what I may have learned from these significant events, they have also left tiny, superficial scars in my heart; invisible to the naked eye; slowly accumulating over the years, forming a dark little cloud around it where the sun peeps in every now and then, desperate to emerge fully. I can empathize with others who go through something similar on a daily basis, yet I cannot begin to compare myself to what others feel on totally different levels and maybe I’m not supposed to. Maybe I’m allowed to have this, to feel this, accept it and then find a way out of the fog, somehow.

(Have I become my own therapist?)

All utter nonsense, perhaps. Or, perhaps not? How can anyone answer that but myself? And how can I when it feels like it takes several epiphanies, some life-changing experiences and a lifetime to answer that?

Again, I’m at a loss. At war in my mind. I seek immediate answers I can only gain through time. And time moves both slowly and unpredictably. And then it’s over before you know it.

And again, I haven’t dared to move and grab hold of some part of my reality and truly make it mine; claim it as mine. I have been too cowardly to do it. Perhaps because I feel, deep down, that there’s something too good about life that I do not deserve? I feel blessed and cursed at the same time, and I’m ashamed of feeling cursed; of appearing ungrateful of what I’ve been given; my inability to make better use of what I have and seize the day. I mostly just seize the day to write about life and consume others’ experiences of it, not experiencing it myself nearly as fully as I could. Imprisoned by myself or my inability to do something about it. Is that a life of a writer? I doubt it. And yet, many people imprisoned; physically, institutionally or mentally, have written all throughout history, have they not? Some of the greatest writer have been imprisoned in some way or another, perhaps not directly enabling their writing but channeling it.

Perhaps I can make do with what I have worked myself into?

My writing may be as delusional as it may be cathartic; a circle of self-serving excuses; where fear of pity and perfection mixes in a blend as sinister as the river Styx I have to pay Charon with everything precious I possess to cross.

I return time and time again to a crossroad and I wonder if there is a me in this world and another me in another world and I wonder how often they will coincide in this harsh, bright, beautiful existence I have been given. Or if one will truly emerge with the other and – in that case – which one? And I wonder how many feels the same?

I want to override the consistent self-pity and shame, knowing how silly and unproductive these feelings are, but first I must escape the gripping loneliness from within and around and it is not so easily overcome. My stubborn independence does not help. I still return to myself. I have scolded myself with every line possible and every tone of voice to see the effects, to self-motivate, and yet, it has not helped (unsurprisingly). I have written and drawn and opened up more to those around me, strangers even. Yet, I still come home to myself and myself alone; the loneliness waiting there.

How is something like that overcome? I cannot seem to allow myself to reach for twosomeness, perhaps because I am so conflicted by its very concept. Equally afraid and hopeful. My mind is always one step ahead; one foot in the positive scenario, another in the negative one. All I see is the 50/50 chances and I cannot predict my luck nor my misfortune. ‘That’s human’, ‘that’s life’; god don’t I know ‘it’s bloody life!’ and yet, it does nothing to answer what I am to do. To wait and let it run its course? Sure, I’ve done nothing else. But as Charlotte Brontë once stated: “The trouble is not that I am single and likely to stay single, but that I am lonely and likely to stay lonely.”

But what is life if not lonely and wild, fantastical and quiet?

Meanwhile, I’ll return to a segment of Carroll’s iconic story that speaks to something quintessential in me:

“She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes; and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people. ‘But it’s no use now,’ thought poor Alice, ‘to pretend to be two people! Why, there’s hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!'”

*revised 23/6/17*

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A romantic, ingenious, flawed scientist

Harry Treadaway_Victor Frankenstein1

“Man does not live only in the empirical world. We must seek the ephemeral or why live?”

— Dr. Victor Frankenstein from Penny Dreadful

Watching the TV series Penny Dreadful, I found myself falling in love with Harry Treadaway’s Dr. Victor Frankenstein (I mean, come on, you can never go wrong with the Treadaway twins!).

Strange, really, because I realized that this character – or this version of the eponymous literary character – was like myself in so many ways; an INTP.

I do not completely agree with the interpretations that this version should be an INTJ – I’d say more likely Dr. Jekyll being so – however, I consent that the Frankenstein book version verges on the edge between being an INTP and/or an INTJ. The distinction between Frankenstein being an INTP and Jekyll an INTJ in the series is very well illustrated in the conversations between them in season 3. But I digress.

I enjoyed Colin Clive’s manic rendition of the doctor in the iconic film adaptation in 1931 and I love James McAvoy and was highly entertained by his wild, eccentric portrayal of everyone’s favorite ‘mad scientist’ in the recent Victor Frankenstein movie, but I must say I favor the Penny Dreadful and Treadaway’s version more. Here, the character has been given more room and (beautifully written) material to unfold in. Aside from the absorbed, reclusive and arrogant characteristics of a scientist on the road to a new discovery, he has been given a more quiet, contemplative depth and romantic soul. He is a very bright, but also very young man who has not been through the trials of love (before series 2) and I see more of myself in this version than the others.

Am I the only one who sees his mind churning and churning behind that quiet exterior all along? Or am I merely projecting?

Victor is very much an INTP from the beginning of the series. First and foremost, he lives in his mind; distracted and preoccupied by his secretive ‘experiments’ at home and when contacted by the other main characters he seems both speculative of and intrigued by joining their mysterious mission. He never judges, though. That’s the imperative distinction from an INTJ, had he been one, in my opinion. He never seems to be totally unsympathetic towards the motives or behavior of the others, despite not quite knowing the full extent of it all; his instinct and intuition seem to tell him that they are flawed, yet good people who need his help in an extremely serious matter. He’s a loner who sees himself in them, wants to help the best he can, yet cannot bring himself to unburden his own problems or worries to them, only alluding abstractly to them now and then, and only asks for assistance once (before series 3) in an entirely mundane, but also very personal and confusingly emotional matter and thus does so in a characteristically clumsily INTP manner (any INTP will know which one if you’ve seen the series).

Of course, he also joins the company out of financial necesseties, curiousity and willingness to help as any doctor would, but even I would have instinctively done so as well, despite not being a medical doctor. He stays guarded about himself and his secrets like the others, revealing little, thus coming off as rather aloof and even coldhearted. Yet he cannot help exerting his skills, ideas and astute intelligence as well as being honest and blunt and at times passionately frustrated when others waver or become illogical. On the outside, he takes certain things less personal which the others or most people are more offended, affected or baffled by, while in return, being more affected by matters he has a direct role in or knows he can do something about but also takes the various outcomes into account meanwhile, laying his conflicted emotions bare. He does not deal easily with such emotions and thus turns to morphine and sinks into melancholy and depression, his romantic ideals clashing with his harsh logic and falling painfully short in real life.

Again, I have a way of projecting myself heavily onto certain fictional characters if I sympathize more than usually with them, but there are several scenes in the series where I feel like I would react exactly the same way as Frankenstein does. I know this is somewhat a spoiler, but at one point, Victor suddenly finds himself in love and gives a very heartfelt speech to his friend that spoke to me:

“It’s the oddest thing, Miss Ives. My whole life, I’ve thought I was… bound to live with exceptionality. I was not like my brothers. I was resolutely this… disjointed thing, freakish thing. So I came to celebrate what uniqueness I had. [Vanessa Ives: And now?] I wear a flower! I find, lo and behold… I’m just like everyone else.”*

Well, that is a matter for another time.

Anyway, Treadaway is amazing at showing these intricate layers of being an INTP; the specific strengths and weaknesses that follow each other hand in hand, when you are brilliant and want to use this brilliance, yet your analyst’s mind also inevitably makes you aware of the fallacies, responsibility and involvement such brilliance brings with it. It creates an unproductive, moral conflict that you can ruminate upon, by principle for all eternity really, but in order to make such misgivings true or not, you realize you must do something about the matter at stake and since doing nothing about it will mean you’ll never know if your misgivings were real or not, in desperation you see no other alternative than, unfortunately, pushing this moral conflict to the back of your head in order to bring the experiment forth. I find this mirroring something in myself. Out of sheer practicality and necessity, we [INTPs] need to push back this inkling feeling to concentrate on this other obsessive feeling, putting everything else on hold or letting them sort it out themselves, we don’t really care, to be honest.

Like right now, where I should be working on my thesis, but instead I suddenly had this impulse, this feeling that I needed to write about how I saw myself in Dr. Frankenstein in Penny Dreadful, so I did and thought it a little post, but now – as usual – it has ended up being a minor essay. Thus, forgive this cluttered, rambling post since I find myself in the midst of my obsession at the moment.

Where eating and sleeping are irritating and time-consuming and others’ opinions mirror this little inkling voice in the back of our [INTP] heads, but we push them away and push it back because we don’t want them to overshadow whatever little, ingenious thought or discovery that might pop up regarding our current obsession. Our minds are expanding, overriding with all these important thoughts and we need to get all the thoughts out somehow to make space for new ones. Compulsively questioning the fact that ‘it can happen’ and simultaneously knowing ‘it may not‘. Jumping from one thing to the next. Back and forth. Wavering. Always wavering in-between. Like Victor does in Penny Dreadful. One moment he is almost convinced of what he thinks and feels is right – or so he tells himself – until he realizes it is wrong or something or someone makes him realize it. Sometimes it is too late and only then he realizes his mistake. He is so very human and vulnerable in these moments, grapping his head and crying because he knew – he knew deep down something was wrong, but he didn’t listen and the guilt is unbearable!

When you feel so conflicted and yet so aware of life, so sure and yet so uncertain about its paradoxical patterns that keep changing and shifting; feeling both clever and naive, introverted and passionate, logical and emotional, keen and curious to discover life yet reluctant to throw yourself into things headlessly and facing the consequences no matter what you do.

I imagine this being Frankenstein’s mind, because I know this all too well. I feel I know him. So strange. These intimate, fictive kinships that feel so strong and close and ever-lasting, yet never materialize.

Do you see how things got so out of hand for Frankenstein? That he wasn’t ‘simply and always’ a mad, unscrupulous scientist? I’m not saying he isn’t wrong, because he is, but he also realizes this – albeit too late. Yet, better late than never, right?

If we look beyond the gory phantasm of cutting up corpses, only to sew them together and perform galvanism, which has all too many eerie parallels to the serial killers of our lifetime, you must remember Frankenstein had entirely other motives in mind than getting any sick pleasure from cutting up corpses. Well, I should not have to point this out, really, it’s obvious. But this is also an INTP speaking, speaking in a state of ecstasy I guess, and thus I cannot be entirely objective. I will try not to defend nor deny him, but treat him like I would treat myself: critically and analytically.

Instead think of the complex of Frankenstein in a broader, but no less complex spectrum, or, to start with, think INTP; how we tend to hastily, passionately and even obsessively jump over the minor details and tedious practicalities in order to get to the bigger picture and the points we are trying to make. It never excuses the faults we may unintentionally make along the way, eventhough we may be more or less aware that there may be consequences to our actions and bringing our – to the general public; outrageous – ideas to life. And that’s exactly what Shelley’s Frankenstein is: a both critical and celebratory analogy of, in my eyes; bringing our ideas to life, how far we are willing to go and that there are always consequences of our actions. Hasn’t our whole life been about this simple notion – all other matters aside?

Besides, transcending the boundary of life and death is no more grotesque and gothic than life itself – as it has shown itself again and again. In a sense, we have already transcended this ‘boundary’ long ago when we created religion and reincarnation and thought ourselves to have a spiritual life beyond death, when we discovered remedies and medicin to cure sickness and prevent premature death, when we invented machinery to resemble and magnify our skills and replace us in those trades that wore and prematurely killed our mortal bodies and so on. Shelley, along with many of her mostly male contemporaries, managed to create a literary analogy of the wondrous, expansive, unlimited, yet, in the end, also ‘self-villainous’ human mind, history, existence and future. An analogy that transcended its own slightly undermined period genre of gothic (science) fiction.

Hence, if you see my bookcase (yes, sadly I have only one, overstuffed bookcase at the moment), you’ll see a strong fascination with Victorian age literature. Well, I have a little of everything and I only intend to get more (and more bookcases, I must remember that). Maybe because this era was so full of paradoxes; the child of Enlightenment, the thunderous beginning of the industrialisation and with major scientific discoveries, clashing with a strong, religious and ignorant moralizing; repressive, hypocritical cultural values placed on man and woman alike. Well, especially women. But it was also an era steeped in unbearable tragedy and sadness because of the real-life high infant mortality rate, extreme poverty and rapid spread of sickness in the clustered cities, and so on. It is not a genre of happy endings, nor do I wish it to be, because it only illustrates how horrid living conditions our ancestors lived under at the time. I cannot ‘stay’ in this era for long. But I keep coming back to it from time to time, simply because it keeps fascinating me and has such incredible stories. But I digress once again.

In that metaphorical sense, Frankenstein becomes the living paradox of man. Not the duality of mind and being like the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, though it is another aspect along this notion, but the incessant, unstoppable force of the human mind; what mankind has sacrificed in order to create; the complexity of the intentions behind and the results after. We’ve so long sought to divide what in reality connects; what is humanity, yet it also seems so very human and right to do so in order to try and understand; to separate good from bad, death from life, religion from science, fiction from reality, God from man, man from beast. Nothing is simple.

Even if God exists, Shelley indirectly points to how His role in reverse could be seen as human, and how man also creates his life on earth as we have already witnessed, thus establishing this paradox of a parent-child-relationship that seems both deterministic and indeterministic: Frankenstein, in the end, living with the responsibility and guilt of being the godlike Creator of his most abstract thought and cannot see himself free of his creation, while the Creature lives with the pain of being the created and forever belonging to a Creator. Man becomes half-monster and monster becomes half-man.

The novel and Penny Dreadful both pose the always so fascinating, universal question, whether you believe in God or not: Has God created man or have we created God? Or rather: Has God created man and thus also become a part of our creation? That the one cannot exist without the other, because we can no longer distinguish between them; no longer think ourselves out of this mystery?

And just like man cannot escape God and vice versa, man cannot escape that he came from the animals (in a swirly mix of science and religion); he cannot escape the beast or demon(s) within, nor can the beast or demon rid itself of its humanity. This inner paradox will always seem universal and ambiguous at best. As Stephen King argues about the novel: “its classical unity is broken only by the author’s uncertainty as to where the fatal flaw lies—is it in Victor’s hubris (usurping a power that belongs only to God) or in his failure to take responsibility for his creation after endowing it with the life-spark?”*

No, it is not always easy to sympathize with or trying to understand an INTP such as this – or in any case. At least, I think it is hard to show it. Or maybe I’m projecting again? I really cannot say, can I, being an INTP myself? (Though I’ve not taken to the extremes as Frankenstein has).

Once again, I can only conclude my strange and yet so natural kinship with this character and that I think many feel split about what to think and feel about Victor Frankenstein, hence Mary Shelley’s ingenious authorship. Fascinated, yet split.

Hm, have we not heard that one before? … (*nudges*: Sherlock Holmes)

*revised 09/11/2017*

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Brilliant, but spectacularly ignorant about some things

Sherlock Holmes2

I think, by now, it’s fairly established that Sherlock Holmes is an INTP (possibly going INTJ, or being ‘a high-functioning sociopath’ as he puts it himself). An extreme, almost fantastical one at that.

Nonetheless, I see in Sherlock many subtle parallels to my own mind; its complex workings and all, and how I function and interact with the people and the world around me. It is a mirror in which I see an extreme, fantastical version of myself; everything I could be and every facet and flaw that come with the ever-so brilliant INTP mind. In celebrating and critiquing Sherlock, I, inevitably, celebrate and critique myself; all the while taking into account that he is fictional and a hyperbole of my personality. Luckily, the BBC has outdone themselves with their modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic protagonist in the Sherlock-series and done nothing to shorten the highly entertaining ways to stretch and complicate the ways of how far an INTP would or could go.

One matter in particular struck me as a clear parallel to myself when I re-watched Sherlock the other day.

Remember the scene in episode 3, season 1, where Sherlock is peeved by Watson’s description of him; “how spectactularly ignorant he is about some things” despite his brilliance to “see through everything and everyone in seconds”, alluding to Sherlock’s ignorance about who is Prime Minister and whether the Earth goes round the sun? Sherlock says he does not find such “rubbish” important enough to remember or he has simply deleted it from his hard drive/brain to make room for more important and useful information, especially regarding his work.

It is, as always, an incredibly funny interaction to witness, because, once again, we are given a peak into one of the strengths but also greater weaknesses of the INTP mind.

I have the same ‘condition’, so to speak. I do know that the Earth goes round the sun though, but I’ve been put on the spot several times because of my ignorance about equally common knowledge; of unwritten codes and laws most people know about and take for granted. For example, I more or less suck at mental arithmetic and remembering proverbs or road names, despite having lived in the same two cities for most of my life, and in general, geography is a city in China for me (pun intended). Unless, of course, I have specific knowledge I can pin on a certain city etc., I do know. And I know one can teach oneself something close to a photographic memory that rivals that of Sherlock Holmes, mind palace and all, by practicing a memorizing technique where you pin knowledge to a system of something you already know.

I could do that – but I’m just too lazy.

However, it is relative what piece of information one deems common or universal knowledge, what one finds is ‘rubbish’ and what one finds important and useful. Sherlock, after all, knows particularities that could be viewed as ‘rubbish’ and what he otherwise would have deleted from his ‘hard drive’, were they not useful and beneficial for the given case he is investigating. For example, at one point, he is given a cigarette from his brother at a morgue and asks if there isn’t a law against smoking indoors. This rather common knowledge one would presume he would know about, had it been useful to a specific case (or the writers of the show). Anyhow, it isn’t in this one, so why should he know it? It’s very INTP. Something I would do myself.

It’s ‘funny’ how the INTP mind can come off as quasi-autistic at times.

E.g. this one time in high school, in a geography class (ah, the irony!), I was the only one who had figured out how to make a graph that showed two types of complex statistics on Excel so I had to scurry around between two different computer rooms to the entire class, my teacher included, to show them how to do it. Not that difficult to figure out, to be honest, if you only bothered to look what the programme offered, so I was a bit baffled when even the IT nerds of the class asked for help!

On the other hand, I only just recently discovered that Word actually has an automatic function for making a table of contents … *sighs* All the energy I could have saved all these years instead of doing it manually.

So. There you have it.

Like Sherlock, I’m ignorant about matters I deem trivial to remember, to focus or to dwell on, if I do not find them useful or if they do not add to the bigger picture. And I get perplexed and irritated if people keep focusing on them instead of getting to the point of the matter that is truly important. Even more so, if they do not see what is more important! (Or, say, what the INTP finds important).

This is why INTPs may come off as aloof and even unfeeling to certain sensibilities and other people’s feelings etc.. I do not see myself as ‘cold’ as Sherlock, but I reckon if I had his abnormal skills (including a photographic memory) and put them to use in solving cases in the complex magnitudes as him, I too would have to close myself off to certain aspects of human interaction to make room for sheer brain power and the intricacies evolving the case I was solving. And, to some extent, I do. Out of sheer, practical necessity. Not because I/he don’t care deep down – which Sherlock proves he does, again and again – but because he has this gift and must put it to good use, inevitably distracting him from other more ‘mundane’ parts of life. He isn’t a god, after all. If he was, he would be able to do both/all of it with equal attention. It doesn’t excuse his gruff treatment of those around him in the long haul; his and the INTP’s fault is to get off on being brilliant and solving (or obsessing about) paradoxes and the, impossible, but it is simply the reality of knowing and being close to an INTP – or, at least, an extreme version of the INTP.

I find his ‘controversial’ nature and the general reaction inside and outside the Sherlock-universe rather entertaining – from an insider perspective. I know what he’s doing because I do it myself. As mentioned before, INTPs are contradictory, puzzling creatures at best and despite our principielled logic and honest and blunt rhetoric, we’re also ‘deviants’ who have learned the necessary art of seemingly adapting ourselves to the outer world and blending in when necessary in order to learn. We’ve learned how to put on the Extrovert mask, so to speak. We are impersonal analysts to the core who have a personal interest in the world and use our skills to see through people’s general behavior and tendencies when wanting to understand, deduce and conclude where our own role in all this is going to be. It is a subtle and rather affronting, manipulative skill when you learn about it. Because, in truth, we are actually deceiving people – yet, it is not for any personal and evil, scheming purposes. Not per se. I’ll try to explain: First and foremost, it is our way to operate in a world that doesn’t necessarily fit us, yet not a world that we look down upon or do not genuinely want to understand in all its complexity (which I find INTJs are more inherently prone to. No offense).

So, even when Sherlock behaves oblivious and rude, we cannot know for sure how oblivious he actually is of his own behavior. I think, like me, he can be more self-aware than he shows and play on these ‘faults’; thus, at the same time, allowing himself to be genuinely indifferent to the things he finds trivial and dismiss the people who actually act stupidly, while also using this as a cover for not only getting the wanted reactions out of people (well, I never said INTPs didn’t harbor a secret Machiavellian superiority complex), but also get to observe something entirely different at stake. If you’ve noticed, he does this on several occasions, leaving many a perplexed faces behind. Of course, we all have our moments of unthinking stupidity, as does Sherlock, but personally, my mind has about hundreds of analyzing ‘voices’ speaking all at once; I can never NOT take myself and my own position into account as well. It may be stifled by the 99 other ‘voices’ from time to time; thus, the sudden shifts and turnabouts of character, before zooming back and meta-commenting on ourselves in-between. As a result, we cannot help being self-aware and self-ironic to a fault (or, at least, I am), so much that we sometimes have trouble knowing when we are and when not. It’s all mixed up in a very fragmented, complex system where everything runs simultaneously but not necessarily in a conventional structure. To explain plainly, it is not a systematic system in the same decided way as in the INJT mind (in my understanding). INTPs hardly know the system of our thinking beforehand, only that it is there and that somehow everything is connected in complex, changeable ways that we love to discover. We understand it as we go along. This is our modus operandi and I can certainly see why this is both intriguing, irritating, baffling and exhausting to those around us who do their best to try and follow our rapid, sporadic, abstract observations. You can never rightly know where you’ve got an INTP. Is she/he actually brilliantly stupid or stupidly brilliant? The borders between genius, idiot and madman are definitely blurred. And I think this is what makes Sherlock Holmes such a popular phenomenon, still. It is also the reason why I love reading people’s deductions of him because they are very telling of this particular aspect. Especially the INTPs’ own, various analyses. We can see things about him that only we would understand, but we are also our own blind spots. We’re so good at ‘deceiving’ everyone else that we can be ‘deceived’ by ourselves. And we know that. Thus, our own, distracted bouts of self-introspection and random meta-comments. We learn while we think and think while we learn.

Though I do agree that Sherlock may not be 100% INTP but verge on INTJ and ISTP characteristics as well in his various portrayals, I do not generally agree with the notion that Sherlock isn’t at all an INTP. I do not agree that INTPs aren’t observant but rather we observe everything at once and naturally cannot regard everything with the same amount of focus, leaving out matters others normally would deem important. We see the elephant in the room that most people don’t see, and we don’t see the elephant in the room that other people usually see. Sherlock has been given the fantastical, superhuman version of the INTP skill here: He is able to observe everything in one take, focus on the smallest of details with equally concentrated analysis and deduce the most outrageously specific information based on all these things that, in my mind, could also say a thousand other things. Oh well. It’s makes for great entertainment, doesn’t it?

Sherlock, the show, gives you an idea of what an INTP is like, flaws and all – added the title character’s own unique personality and some enhanced skills. He is as fictional as he is an idealized representation of a reality. And I think people should be as celebratory and critical of his brilliance as they should keep in mind that INTPs are not merely fantastical creatures from the world of fiction one can stretch as one like; here for entertainment and problem-solving of the strangest paradoxes, but real, autonomous human beings in whatever complex, less ‘visible’ and legendary forms they take in the real world.

In fear of sounding rather bigheaded now, I can’t help wondering if the inherently astute and impressive deductive skills and reasoning of INTPs make most people (naturally or unconsciously?) harbor a sort of inferiority-superiority complex towards us and want to point to and laugh at the INTPs’ obvious flaws regarding certain social contexts? Whether people keep clinging to our ‘anti-social freak’ nature (rather pathetically, since it’s already an established fact), yet wanting the cake and eating it too by being fascinated or entertained by our ‘brilliance’ at work…?

Not to say that ‘most people’ are stupid (like Sherlock probably would), but I’m simply trying to understand why it seems INTPs (including myself), in particular, get this two-faced treatment again and again; being treated as both a wallflower and a freak; a rare specimen in a zoo. Made for laughs when people get bored, put to use because of our deductive, efficient, unsentimental brains and then cast away again with no greater care … ‘because we are, after all – weird’ and ‘is better off left alone, aye?’. Why is that? Do other types get the same treatment, just in a different way?

I may be projecting now but I sometimes have my misgivings about how people separate or compare the INTP character Sherlock Holmes from the living, breathing and – in fairness – much more complex and less utopian INTPs of this world. I’m not saying that I have personally experienced people comparing me to Sherlock or expecting me to be like him, only that Sherlock has become soooo romantized and mythologized, flaws and all, that his legend is cemented through him being an icon, an idea, only fleshed out in two-dimensional medialities; on paper, on the screen, etc.. He will forever stay as such, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t complex. Not only was he well-written by ‘birth’, but he is also an INTP; he cannot not be complex (in my perhaps rather subjective opinion). Again, other MBTI types are thus not deemed as uncomplex, but INTPs are inherently puzzles from the somewhat contradictory composition and nature of their personality. And that is just it: INTPs in real-life are not well-written from birth like Sherlock. They are complex at being complex.

The last thing INTPs (well, any of us) need is becoming romanticized and mythologized; we are not passive subjects nor active objects of entertainment – created by an outside source or author – that people can project themselves or an idealized version of INTPs onto without any consequences. We are highly autonomous subjects and main-creators and -narrators of our own lives; not medialized and idealized but living and multidimensional. Not based on any pre-conceived or after-analyzed ideas of our personality, not even MBTI. It may be easy for me to say after I’ve discovered MBTI, but it wasn’t a matter of not having a personality before, I simply didn’t have any name for it. Especially not one born of consensus and shared by others. When I did, it all just clicked; like I somehow knew it already but it was hidden behind a veil.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, right?

Sure, Sherlock still gives a mysterious aura, but his personality must add up from the beginning in order to connect his ability to solving intricate crimes to that of his brilliance. If you think about it (the crime genre as well), he cannot be entirely complex at being complex. It must somehow all add up – even what is left as mysterious must be left so for a reason that is Sherlock, the icon. Watson must somehow stick around for a reason. Moriarty must somehow stay alive for a reason. Irene Adler must somehow remain ‘the mystery’ she is; the femme fatale, ‘the Other’ or rather Sherlock’s ‘Other’, etc.. It’s all very meta if you think about it. Or anti-meta and quite literal if you like.

Anyways, Doyle certainly created a masterpiece we’ll probably never be able to get tired of investigating and reliving. Perhaps because few other stories gives such vivid and intriguing inside to the mind and life of the INTP. Or rather what the INTP could be … perhaps only realized in a fictive world.

But INTPs in real-life are not so. (And I take the liberty to talk on behalf of all INTPs, if not all types, because I believe this to be true). Or, that is not our purpose. We are – us. Humans, not characters. How can I better describe it? We may show signs and patterns of behavior like Sherlock but what we do or say or feel, we do – not because it fits with a greater scheme or because others feel like it. We do it sometimes without any reason at all. We feel for ourselves as an action in itself; not just as a causal reaction from something that has been written down or expected or projected from someone else’s action or idea (if that makes any sense?). Just like any of you would probably say about yourselves – all other existential, religious, psychological theories aside. What you know in your core. All in all, couldn’t you say the same thing about all personality types, all humans? When we see a character with our personality, we see a mirror of ourselves, however perfect, idealized and flawed it may be, it is not us. It is still a mirror of us. Polished and flat, giving the illusion of flesh and bone and three-dimensionality. And it can never be us (unless the future comes up with a ‘solution’ to that). We are all our own, all inherently autonomous and think and feel for ourselves; everything that we have so far claimed separate us from the animals and the robots.

It should be a given, but I feel I need to stress this nonetheless.

I don’t know if INTPs are in more danger of being, to some extent, idealized and made into fantastical beings because we are so … puzzling. Rare and seemingly obscure. Especially in real-life. In Sherlock, one version of this rare, obscure specimen has been discovered and the puzzle at least gets to make some sense. It is dealt with beforehand – by someone else. I get that one would be prone, more or less unconsciously, to regard and read people from pre-conceived ideas and representations (I’m sure I’ve done so as well; it seems only human) and if our [INTPs’] ‘fate’ is to be represented – in whatever enhanced form – through Sherlock Holmes, it certainly isn’t the worst comparison. It’s nice to have an ally, after all; one you can always use as your trump card and with an iconic and literary resonance such as Sherlock Holmes’, it is a character whose legitimacy few dare to question.

But, all in all, the idealized glasses just don’t do much good when we [INTPs] try to make ourselves seem less puzzling and more accessible in order for people to get to know our true selves. Of course, on the other hand, it may help people to understand us better.

I hope for the latter.

I think I’ll end it on that note. I always tend to get a bit out of hand with these posts but I hope you’ll bear with me. As usual. Now, go watch some Sherlock 😉

*revised 26/8/17*

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