The Misunderstood Cynic

“A cynic is just a disappointed idealist.” –Carlos Yu

No, I’m not talking about an angsty emo teenager who puts on too much eyeshadow to make them look like a raccoon. You laugh, but I know somebody who looks like that. True story. No, I’m talking about that guy who wears that jade-colored glasses; the one who threw down their pair of rose-colored glasses and stomped on them to see more clearly in the world.

Back in the 40s and 50s, there was a fascination with PIs, especially ones written in 1st person. But what kind of association do we make with those hard guys? Cynicism. It’s a trend that’s trying to grow back, but sadly, the closest people have come to it nowadays is in the genre of Urban Fantasy. And no, UF does not have a cynical main character, no matter how much Jim Butcher wants you to believe him.

A cynic is one who sees the bad part of life. Not necessarily a pessimist, but I haven’t found one to prove that rule. The MC in an UF novel is what TV Tropes likes to call a 1st Person Smart-Ass. Their thoughts on life deal (moan) with “Why does the orphan always have to save the day?” or “Why can’t I go one day without meeting an insane blood mage?” That is not a cynic.

You may be asking, how would I, the all-knowing writer, go about writing a cynic’s internal monologue. My first reply would be not to stroke my ego; it’s too big as it is. My second reply would be that I’m not going to tell you, I’m going to show you.

I headed downstairs to open the front door, namely because I heard the dogs barking at night. Never a good thing. Standing before my feet on the front porch was a letter. My first question was “Who had snuck out to send me this?” I knew it hadn’t been the mail man. Because the Post Office is run by the government.

I added a little humor to show you what a good balance between cynicism and snarky behavior can do. Now, I’m not the expert, so don’t go quoting me on this. But I hope this helps differentiate the definition of what a cynic is and isn’t. But the comman person is an idiot, so I doubt you gained anything from this brief experience.

Suffice to say, the moral of this story is Don’t give a hobo money when they ask. They’re just going to spend it on drugs.

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One thought on “The Misunderstood Cynic

  1. Fine example. : ) I think the main character of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim can be considered a bit of a cynic. After all, he doesn’t necessarily save the world for the good of mankind, per se. He does it because it means he can take his revenge. It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, though, so I may be wrong. Looking forward to more of your posts.

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