A man. All men. He will pass up a hundred chances to do good for one chance to meddle where meddling is not wanted. He will overlook and fail to see chances, opportunities, for riches and fame and welldoing, and even sometimes for evil. But he won’t fail to see a chance to meddle.
– Faulkner, Light in August
The meddler has nothing to do, and an infinite amount of time to do it. When he is not acting he is waiting. He never gets bored or resorts to playing games with himself. He is vigilant and preternaturally patient. You don’t see him but he sees you.
The meddler occupies the silent periphery, awaiting an unintended invitation. Your business is his business; he may prove helpful or harmful, but he will never act in order to help or harm. He acts to act; his one desire is to be the cause of action.
The meddler is morally neutral. He is completely indifferent to the categories of good and evil; he receives no gratification from aiding the good, feels no compunction for violence he might inflict. He’s heard of good and evil but doesn’t know them. Outside of any moral economy, he offers gifts without recompense, curses without guilt.
The meddler doesn’t heed his reputation. His only measure is the measure of the project into which he throws himself; he turns away from the false transcendence of praise and blame. He uses language if he must, but doesn’t much care for it.
The meddler is a zero-degree agent. He lives to give himself projects, though he has no personal investment in them. His cause is always impersonal; he has an object, but a purely contingent and provisional one. He lives to change the course, to be the cause of this change.
The meddler is embodied deviation.
The meddler comes in many guises. The meddler, in fact, never appears as such, for his presence always covers over the void that he is. He may arrive on the scene as a friendly samaritan or a dangerous predator, but he is neither. The meddler slips into a hole in someone else’s plan, and does nothing but perpetually refill that hole.
The meddler has no identity. He is human being stripped to bare will, the will to carry out an action. He is deprived of history and futurity, memory and anticipation, yet he doesn’t feel deprivation. He only functions immanently in a specific situation.
The meddler is nature’s anomaly; he confounds the categories of life and death. He is not a fallen angel, but rather, an unprovoked presence, leaping from the outer edge to the middle and back again. Heaven, earth and hell mean nothing to him, for he is a horizontal being.
The meddler wants everything and nothing from you.
You never register his presence, but he haunts the world.
William Faulkner, Light in August
Walter Benjamin, “The Destructive Character” (from Reflections)
Michel Serres, The Parasite