I find it hard to distinguish between my self-disgust and my disgust with others,” wrote Edward Albee in his 1983 play The Man Who Had Three Arms. The sentiment, or confession, is delivered by the title character as he reflects on his curious, but temporary, life as a celebrated freak. Years ago, he suddenly discovered an arm growing out of his back, then used it to launch himself to fame and riches before the arm gradually subsided and disappeared, leaving him a miserable and ordinary ex-freak. The character, identified only as “Himself” in the text, continues

. . . and I worry about that; I really, truly do. I mean, I’m a nice person or at least I used to be. It occurs to me: look here, old man, you really ought to be able to distinguish between self-disgust and your disgust with others. Give it a good try! Don’t mix...

 

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