| Is My Nemesis

| You see that?

That vertical line up there?

The one at the top of this post?

Yeah.  That one.

It's not an "i."

It's not even an "it."

It's a "he."

And he's my nemesis.

"Who is he?" you ask.

Come on.  Don't play dumb.  You know him.  Take another look.

Still don't recognize him?

Okay.  Imagine that this entire page is blank save him.  He's just sitting there in his spot.  And he's blinking at you... at regular intervals.

He's quiet, I know... but believe me... he's taunting you.

Got it yet?

Yes!  That's him.

Cursor (though his name is spelled |).

See how "curse" is even in his name?  He's the Cursor!

Every day... often multiple times a day... I sit at my computer, open a new document, and he's there.  He's always there.  So patient.  So persistent.  Waiting.  Blinking.  Mocking me and my lack of creativity, talent or inspiration.  If he had a voice, I think he would sound like Steve Buscemi, and he'd chatter to me non-stop while I tried to think of a good idea to write about.

He's my nemesis for sure.

But he's not my archenemy.  Not at all.

Chuck Klosterman wrote an essay for Esquire that was then republished in his book IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas that was entitled "The Importance of Being Hated" (in IV it's called "Nemesis").  You can read the whole thing here.  In it he argues that what ever human needs to succeed in life isn't really a bunch of friends and lovers, but rather one nemesis and one archenemy.  "What's the difference?" you ask.  Well in Klosterman's own words:

We measure ourselves against our nemeses, and we long to destroy our archenemies.

He says, "Nemeses and archenemies are the catalysts for everything."

Basically... you don't really like your nemesis.  You don't get along.  But he pushes you on.  Your effort to overcome and conquer him drives a lot of what you do.  However, in all of this competition and disdain is a certain level of respect and even fondness.  After all, your nemesis makes you a better person.  Your archenmy on the other hand has no redeeming qualities and should be eliminated at all costs.

Here are some of the examples Klosterman gives.

Person                   Nemesis                  Archenemy Larry Bird               Magic Johnson         Isaiah Thomas Bill Gates               Steve Jobs               David Boies Jack White             Jason Stollsteimer    Ryan Adams George W. Bush      John McCain             Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton        Barack Obama          Paris Hilton*

Klosterman sums it up pretty nicely like this, "The Joker was Batman's nemesis, but--ironically--his archenemy was Superman, since Superman made Batman seem entirely mortal and generally nonessential. Nobody likes to admit this, but Batman hated Superman; Superman is the reason Batman became an alcoholic."  (He admits this last statement is speculative)

So, you see?  | is most certainly my nemesis, though I have to personify him in order for him to be so.  But I'm a writer.  That's part of what I do.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering how you can identify and distinguish between your own nemesis and archenemy so that you might live a more fulfilling life.  Well, thankfully, Klosterman helps us out again...

RECOGNIZING YOUR NEMESIS

  • At some point in the past, this person was (arguably) your best friend.
  • You have punched this person in the face.
  • If invited, you would go to this person's wedding and give him a spice rack, but you would secretly hope that his marriage ends in a bitter, public divorce.
  • People who barely know both of you assume you are close friends; people who know both of you intimately suspect that you profoundly dislike each other.
  • If your archenemy tried to kill you, this person would attempt to stop him.

RECOGNIZING YOUR ARCHENEMY

  • Every time you talk to this person, you lie.
  • If you meet someone who has the same first name as this person, you immediately like him less.
  • The satisfaction you feel from your own success pales in comparison to the despair you feel at this person's triumphs, even if those triumphs are completely unrelated to your life.
  • If this person slept with your girlfriend, she would never be attractive to you again.
  • Even if this person's girlfriend was a hateful @#$%&, you would sleep with her out of spite. (I'll admit this is a bit strong.)

I hope this post has been both insightful and helpful.

As far as who is my archenemy... well, wouldn't you like to know.

Nope.  I'm not telling.

Okay, okay.  You wore me down.

It's Oprah.

*This one is my own and might require some thought.