“Disgust is a survival trait…”
—Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun.
I think often of this Kurt Vonnegut piece that ran in the first issue of Backwards City Review:
Where do I get my ideas from? You might as well have asked that of Beethoven. He was goofing around in Germany like everybody else, and all of a sudden this stuff came gushing out of him.
It was music.
I was goofing around like everybody else in Indiana, and all of a sudden stuff came gushing out.
It was disgust with civilization.
What disgusts you is important information. It tells you something is wrong. What to avoid. It gives you a path.
I feel like my readers see me as a fairly positive person, but I doubt they know how much I am driven by my disgust.
The trick is: I take the thing I’m disgusted with, imagine the opposite, and push that out into the world.
Identifying poison, privately, but sharing nourishment, publicly.
After all, aggravation is my muse.
* * *
After posting this, I realized today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I will be celebrating by re-reading “Transformed Nonconformist,” from his collection of sermons, Strength To Love, which contains the oft-quoted line, “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” (You can read the interesting background behind the book at Stanford’s King Institute.)