Outbursts of a Supercilious Renouncer is the fourth installment in Baethan Balor’s series documenting his life and thoughts.
Balor offers a daily record of his activities and thoughts from November 20, 2019, to November 20, 2020, the prevailing theme of which is his “pity and contempt for humanity.” During the year, the 28-year-old author moves from Arkansas to New York, pursues low-wage jobs between bouts of unemployment, and assiduously withdraws from all personal relationships, cutting off ties with his father and, repeatedly, with various lovers, rejecting overtures of friendship and antagonizing anyone who expresses care for him.
This self-imposed seclusion leaves the content of his journals to cover meals and workout sessions, what he’s reading and listening to, reiterations of his revulsion for people, and sexual release mixed with the occasional violent fantasy.
When COVID forces Balor into actual isolation, he approaches people to question them on their “self-assigned meaning in life.” While these conversations provide relief from Balor’s acidic thoughts, he seemingly transcribes these interviews largely to exercise his disdain and his vocabulary (broad, but not always accurately applied). Mixed in are jejune reflections on life, love, ethics, his possible DSM-V diagnoses, and bursts of self-pity for the “vacuity of existence.”
The relentless self-invigilation leads to awareness, but not insight. Balor doesn’t explore how his avowed wish for solitude conflicts with his desire to be seen and seems more interested in condemning others, including readers; he emphasizes throughout that his readers are fools. Repeatedly, his recorded interactions show Balor flinching at moments of possible maturation or growth. The abortive attempts at fiction show a similar lack of understanding of, or interest in, character.
His keen ability to observe detail and the sheer persistence he applies to his endeavor is impressive. However, the result, lacking humor and empathy, leaves little but the stream of consciousness of a starved, agonized mind. Balor’s work might interest the determinedly curious or similarly misanthropic, but for most, the limited emotional register—mockery, misery, and monotony—will make for challenging reading.
Also available as an ebook.