An Introspection of David Madore

[Une version française de cette page est également disponible.]

Important note: more than anywhere else, the general warning on my web site applies here. I believe that what follows is a fairly accurate description of (some aspects of) my character, but the impression it may cause may not be the same as the impression that my character would cause. If you do not know me and have to deal with me, use the following material as a guide of what to watch out for, but do not pas judgment based on it alone! (Surprisingly?), I am also a human being. Truly.

Way of thinking


I am frequently described as a rational person, but I do not think this is accurate. My words and my thoughts are logical, my actions are less so, and my goals are not in the least. In making a decision, I only consult my whims; and then, a posteriori, I justify my choice on logical bases, but this is essentially hypocrisy. I am full of contradictions, but then, who isn't?

I hanker after order and systematism, but I never achieve it. This is mostly about mental order: in many ways, I am a taxonomist, but I know there is much more chaos in the world than I could possibly deal with (witness the pitiful attempt to bring some kind of order to this very web page). My room is a mess; my desk, even more so; but my computer files are all nicely arranged and classified.

Sometimes my lust for order borders on mania. I try to be much more tolerant with others than with myself in this respect; however, I don't think I am very successful there.

I am a perfectionist in many of its unpleasant aspects; for one thing, I often give up on trying something before it is even started because I know I cannot achieve the degree of perfection I would like.

I like nice orderly things that follow simple rules. However, I also have a (somewhat perverse) fondness for irrelevant details and illogical exceptions; or for remembering large quantities of meaningless facts that follow no kind of order.

(Lack of) organization

I am completely disorganized. I hate planning things in advance, because I see this as a limitation of my freedom. I rarely know what I will do tomorrow, let alone next week. I always leave things to the last possible moment, perhaps even the first impossible moment.

I alternate between being pressed for time and being bored and too lazy to do anything. Sometimes I am even both at once. I hate having to run. I hate having to hurry. And I find myself running and hurrying far too often for my comfort.

I often start grand enterprises, and rarely finish them. Mostly because I get bored, and move to something else; and/or because I realize what I have endeavored is beyond what I can do. I quickly loose interest for things, especially when they become difficult and I get stuck. (My web page is a good repository of quarter-finished grand enterprises which I started and never got around to revisiting.)

I waste much time in intellectual pursuits of little avail. Giving me a math problem to solve can be a way to make me forget everything else for hours or days, until I solve the problem or I decide it is of no interest (which may, or may not, be a hypocritical way of saying that I can't solve it). The simpler and more elegant the problem, the more likely I am to think about it for great times. After that, I will be furious with myself for having wasted all this effort for naught (even if I did solve the problem).


I have very strong opinions about what is the Right Thing in various domains, notably computer science. I can get in terrible arguments over them.

When I argue, I rarely concede anything. But sometimes it will happen that I surrender completely (especially when the discussion is about Right and Wrong rather than about True and False), and then I will make (sincere) excuses. However, these moments make me highly vulnerable, and I should then be treated with care. Conversely, if the person I am arguing with gives in, I tend to avoid pressing the point.

Despite this, I strongly dislike arguments. To disagree with someone makes me unhappy. So, without conceding anything, I tend to try to find some common ground for agreement. When two persons are arguing in front of me, I rarely intervene, because I prefer a “neutral” position in most cases; and also because I can't make up my mind as to which one I would rather agree with.

I have strong opinions as to what is the Right Thing, but they are not very precise in general. And sometimes they are even contradictory. I can get myself into defending this or that idea, depending on the circumstances, and I often (unhappily) realize that the opinion isn't really mine, but just happened to fit me at a particular point. This annoys me to great ends.

Human relations


I am quite introvert. This is because I am very timid. During a discussion, when I do not know the participants well, or if the subject is unfamiliar, I will normally keep quiet until I am more sure of what to say. Sometimes people conclude that I am bored, but this is wrong: I enjoy listening to people chat (on mostly any subject), and I keep my ears wide open.

Sometimes I have a less than likeable attitude when a group of people are talking. I listen carefully and pounce on small mistakes in logic, or even in language, on the participants' part. Someone has compared me, in this respect, with a vulture, eagerly waiting for a piece of carrion to dive on it. Now that I've been pointed this out, I try to avoid said attitude. But not always successfully.

I like to observe things from a distance. I like to be outside of things, as a kind of beholder and arbiter. I rarely decide to fight battles. I avoid excessive contact with the material world.

I am easily made to feel out of place. I do not like coming uninvited. I am constantly afraid to intrude. On the other hand, I am good at slipping unnoticed, at being a “fly on the wall” so I can observe things.


I observe, but I do not notice things. I am a strange kind of “blind beholder”. In particular, I remember words fairly well, but I often do not understand them. That does not bother me too much. I enjoy watching and listening all the same.

I am something of a control freak. I feel an urge to know what other people are doing. I like to be, so to speak, “behind the scenes”: to observe, if not to manipulate.

I tend to be grossly unobservant of other people's feelings. More precisely, I notice certain things, I make deductions, but I do not trust them in the least. If you do not tell me you are depressed, I will probably never guess, for example; or maybe I will, but I will not believe my guess unless you tell me.

However, if I am told of others' feelings, then I am normally deeply moved by them. I certainly can't resist someone crying on my shoulder: I feel it absolutely necessary to console whomsoever it is. (But in fact, the situation rarely turns up, because people don't like to cry on my shoulder.)

I am inherently trustful (of others) and gullible. Partly because I choose to be: I find it simpler to accept what people say as the absolute truth. Just as for inferences made about what others feel, I might have my doubts, but I will keep them to myself.


I don't tell lies, at least not outright lies. Not so much because I find them unethical (I think a lie which serves a good cause is not to be blamed), but simply because I am terribly bad at it. For one, I can't keep a straight face while lying. And for another, I can't remember what I may have told whom.

However, on occasion, I might exaggerate the truth, or bluff. For example, I can often make people believe that I know (or understand) more than I do. To tell the truth, much of the material on this web site is a terrible bluff.

I suppose I must be very easy to fool, and even more easy to manipulate. Again, this is, to some extent, because I choose to be.


I am a very egoistical person, or, at any rate, self-centered. My own (irrational) lusts come foremost when I make a decision; and I almost only care for causes which affect me.

Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out that I do not overmuch enjoy talking about myself. I am too shy for that. Nor do I particularly enjoy it when others speak of me with me around, because that's embarrassing. But I like to learn that others spoke about me. I also certainly like to write about myself: the point is that you are reading this page because you chose to, whereas if I start speaking about myself, it is a bit more difficult for you to interrupt me (so I avoid it).

I know my faults (all too well!), but I do little to correct them. This also I see as a fault, but we have a little bootstrap problem here.


I am extremely arrogant: people tell me I am, so it must be true. I often brag about my successes. Actually, there is much of a misunderstanding here, so I should probably try to dispel it.

In fact, I have a very low opinion of myself. In some ways, I truly despise myself, as for my character, which, set out in this page, is pretty much devoid of redeeming qualities (and I think the character is the most important aspect of a person's worth).

How can one be arrogant while thinking little of oneself? Well, if one is egocentric enough, it's not that hard. If I succeed at a task, then the task must have been extremely easy indeed, and I point that out (if I could do it, then certainly anyone could do it). But it means pointing out my success (hey, it was easy!), hence the misunderstanding. When I point out that I was able to fool someone into thinking me smarter than I am, I see it as a combination of luck and carelessness (on the other's part), but this is not how people will understand it. Essentially, any honors bestowed upon me ipso facto loose value in my eyes, so I don't hesitate to flaunt them, and this is a form of arrogance.


I am easily jealous. Not so much of material possessions (though that can happen) or of happiness (I am a happy person in general) as of success or attention (fame, if you will). I have, to some extent, learned to control my envy and dispell it, but it takes some effort and it is not a natural reaction.

However, there are some (few) people I admire. These I admire completely and in every respect. I know no half-measures in this: I do not admire an achievement or a quality, but a person altogether. When I do, I can no longer be jealous of that person, for I mentally acknowledge that (s)he completely surpasses me. In some cases, this admiration goes as far as near hero-worship. But in general I am not too vocal about it: even when I know the individual in question personally, I tend to keep quiet about that admiration.

Ambition does not drive me. I have no desire for power (only control, as I mentioned earlier, and this is something different). Fame and glory have some appeal to me, but not enormously. (This is very perverse: I don't much crave them for myself but I am jealous when others get them.)


I am not rancorous in the least: that is, I do not hold grudges for any length of time. I will forgive just about anything, especially if asked for forgiveness (but even when not).

As I already remarked, I like listening, and I am easily moved by other people's feelings. So I can make a good confidant. While I am not “mute as a tomb” when it comes to keeping secrets (something I don't like), because I happen to forget that something was supposed to be a secret, yet my shyness is often effective enough to keep me from spreading information I shouldn't. I never gossip.

I tend to be nonjudgmental when dealing with people. When I decide I like someone, I only see what is good in that person. But only up to a certain point: because after that my patience can run out and I saturate. That is, while I tend to like almost everyone for a short time, there are only certain people (and not necessarily those I like best) with whom I will never quarrel even if I remain in their company for an extended period.


While I am easily angered, or, more accurately, irritated, I also drop the matter very easily. When I give up on a battle, I am sometimes saddened, but never resentful.

I have little or no patience with inanimate things, and hardly any more with people. I tolerate deliberate slowness (such as, taking one's time), but not inefficiency.

On the other hand, I am extremely lazy: I severely lack impetus. Quite often, even when I wish a thing were otherwise, I am content to let it follow its course because I do not have the energy to take action.


I value freedom immensely. I sometimes do absurd things on purpose, just to remind myself that I am free to do them, and that I am accountable to no-one. I cannot bear any trespassing on my liberty, from whomsoever (even myself). I dislike responsabilities; I flee promises and oaths (the surest way to keep them is not to make any).

I despise secrecy. I hate locked doors and barriers. I respect privacy, however, insofar as people shouldn't have to answer personal questions (and I avoid asking such). As for myself, I don't mind them, but I won't stand any question which seems to make me accountable for something.


I enjoy the company and conversation of others; mostly friends, because I am too timid to try to meet other people. I like those who will talk easily on any subject, but avoid all nonsense. On the whole, there are very few people I really find unpleasant.

But I also delight in solitude at times. Sometimes I go out to walk alone at night in the deserted streets of Paris, and I enjoy the feeling of freedom it gives me.

I can also appreciate company in silence, but I do not get to experience it often. (The problem is that two persons can enjoy each other's company in silence only if each is assured that the silence does not make the other uncomfortable.)

I also thirst for physical contact (e.g. hugging), but perhaps I seem too aloof for others to offer it. There are times when I desperately want to be cuddled, and all I can do is go to bed and sleep it off.


I do not trust myself or my abilities. I rather trust my luck, sometimes with ill consequences. There is very little that I can do with confidence.

I am rather given to worrying, but it is mostly about small, material, problems (something I have a hard time dealing with), not about major existential questions. I am frequently able to cast my worries aside temporarily. On a day-to-day basis, I am pretty happy on the whole (not usually subject to depression).

It would be wrong to describe me either as an optimist or as a pessimist. In a nutshell, I tend to think that things will go sour in the long term, but that in the short term we should not think about them too much.