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.
Since Aristotle, philosophers have opposed the concepts of action and passion. Action designates what we do; passion refers to what happens to us, what we undergo. For Aristotle the distinction is purely logical: the proposition “X does Y” indicates X as the actor; “Y is done to X” implies, on the other hand, that X is strictly passive. Simple opposition, at least on the hard grounds of logic. But once we try to imagine concrete situations through the lens of these categories, things get messy.