Becoming what you oppose

I used to tease Frank about the way he opposed the state while becoming obsessed with it. He thought of nothing else, day or night. It had even greater power over him than he thought it was trying to get. Once one defines oneself primarily by opposition to one other thing, the essential surrender is made. One resembles those Christians who defined themselves in terms of opposition to the devil. The devil himself became their operative god, the thing that filled their thoughts and limited their actions. The obsessed person longs for some Ahab showdown with his own white whale. He grows to resemble the cruel thing he opposes, becomes its antitype or photographic negative[…]

— Garry Wills, Confessions of a Conservative, pg. 59.

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: