A little while ago I read a great interview with Bob Odenkirk. When asked if he thought of himself as a cynical person, this is what he said:
Most people who are described as cynical are truly not. They’re idealists, and the cynical points of view that they espouse are literally their idealistic mentalities reacting to a world that is disappointing them every single day. Real cynicism is a person who holds dark, selfish views but doesn’t feel any emotion about them.
I’m probably still an idealist—a hopeful person. And it’s weird to say that, because I feel like there’s no hope at all. [Laughs] More than ever, I feel like human beings have a genetic malfunction that will doom them. And I’m just a goddamn actor, so what right do I have to that? But the older I get, the more I feel there’s no way around it. We have to destroy ourselves. It’s built in. But I’m gonna keep trying to make everything OK—to make things better for everyone. I’m gonna keep hoping.
I read that once, and then read it again, suddenly realizing the second time that I’m the person he was talking about in the first paragraph, and his description of himself in the second paragraph, that’s me, too. I’m a little blown away by how vividly and eloquently he described that picture. (Actually, I had that feeling throughout the interview; I hadn’t expected Bob Odenkirk to be so insightful.) I feel like there’s no hope at all, and yet I must also have hope—because if I didn’t, why would I feel such despair? I despair because I know how far things are from how they should be. That “should,” right there, that’s idealism. True cynicism doesn’t have the “should.” Interesting thought, isn’t it?