The lonely, dull life of the caricaturist

Photo: Hannibal Poenaru

Have you met the caricaturist? You’ve probably met more than a few, and you might have even, like me, played the part at some point. He’s the one who views most everything around him, including himself, as a caricature. The caricaturist comes from every political stripe, every age, every profession, greatly exaggerating good and bad attributes (as he sees them) for his own purposes.

The caricaturist almost exclusively shares one part of herself with the world: dogmatic, boorish, rude. Why is that? Surely there is more to her character than nastiness? Why doesn’t she share it?

The answer might be because caricature is how she reacts to the world, so that is all she is capable of sharing. “If I think XYZ person, place, or thing is bad, then I will make sure to be the opposite of XYZ,” soon becoming a shallow, grotesque caricature.

Little learning, sharing, vulnerability, understanding, compromise, enlightenment.

If who or what the caricaturist sees is “bad” in his view, then nearly everything the “bad” person says or does is twisted and squeezed into “evil.” And the evil person or thing can only say evil things, have evil motives and do evil deeds. Same goes if the person or thing he sees is “good.” All virtues and strong points of that person or thing are magnified so intensely they wash out any possible defects.

What a dull way to see the world. No complexity, no nuance, no color, no subtlety. Just black and white. Good or bad. Scan left, scan right, good person, bad person, good thing, bad thing, good, bad, good, bad.

The caricaturist works quickly, efficiently categorizing people and things. Good, bad, good, bad. Can’t question, can’t discover, can’t interact in any meaningful way, because then the caricaturist might have to rethink, backtrack, adjust, apologize, stretch, change. And that’s not OK, because she’s secure in her insecurity.

Seeing others as caricatures, treating them as caricatures, being treated as a caricature in return, fully justified in the caricaturist’s worldview.  What a lonely world. Caricaturists are incredibly predictable, incredibly boring, and often alone.