When I was young, I was a Nietzschean wearing steel armor. I have been reading Msr. Reasoner's post with some bittersweet memories; he almost precisely strikes the notes of what I used to feel, walking in a world where human beings were blank, dead, thick husks with energy-draining wraiths for souls, best avoided, best warded against... and one had best no how to defend oneself, just in case.
But one thing I've been very surprised at is that when you don't go around with visible armor and allow people to let down their guard, people as individuals are far, far better then they are in groups. The same person who is some tight-assed Republican, stiff in denial of their own happiness and those of others, can suddenly become a wonderful, touching, sensitive person when they have nothing to be afraid of, and no need for social pretense. Similarly, in San Francisco as a trannygirl among the fruits, nuts, and flakes, I've found that liberals, when they are among a baseline equality where they are accepted as human beings, suddenly don't fear to speak their minds and judge, and adjusted for their own experiences and insights can be just as courageously and insightfully discerning as the most fearsome individualist.
Introversion is easily linked with a noble elitism of the heights, but one thing that was difficult for myself to learn was that it is very easy to move from the correct observation that others lack ambition for the heights one knows oneself to the false claim that others lack any feeling for any heights and as such have no interest in excellence. I find myself constantly bowled over with shame at the complexity and vital ambition of lives I once dismissed which I didn't recognize excellence in... a blindness I acquired precisely from the love of excellence!
Extroverts do the same thing, of course. Many people here have complained about the 'friendly' "please let me help you get away from that book and become social" maneuver... and I remember once wanting to answer something like "Why? This book is better society than you are, gully dwarf!". But the truth is that the social person has likely experienced passions of which the introvert is unaware and is doing the same annoying thing, in their way, as the introvert who walks into a crowd and mutters just-loudly-enough-to-be-heard (or with just enough allusion to be understood), something like "why don't these mindless yapping masses get a book and find something worthwhile?"
The problem is that there is a sad arrogance both ways. This is a phenomena I see so many places. I see conservatives, leftists, and libertarians fighting one another bloodily, spilling ink and hateful denunciations in rivers from very sharp quills, but when you get down to what motivates each one in their ownness, it is always a real passion, an insight that once seen one cannot allow to be lost, and much of the rest is a superstructure of preservation about this one experience. Whether it's a conservative feeling a deep reverence for the textured beauty and rhythms of an embedded life, a libertarian defending the bright integrity of ego and its own, or the leftist who has seen an unjust world's ignorant and haughty standards steamroll over every different feeling and fire, the resulting uglinesses of intolerant traditionalism, callous atomism, or nihilistic egalitarianism are often an ugly shell protecting fruit of genuine sweetness. I think all sides spend far too much energy trying to smash those other horrid things into pulp, and seldom realise either that they themselves are imprisoned in their own kinds of confining shells, or that the very conditions that have made the same humanity into different species have inadvertantly produced those unique wonders that are many that are man.
Excellence is not a heirarchical scale built in the image of an intrinsicist's scala naturae. It is a circle of colors, grey in its vegetative center, ever brighter in its outer expressions, but no one color denotes the hue of the beatific vision. Rather the ambition of the heights and the stature of just scorn belongs to those who press ever outward; those who share their nature are not the duller colors behind them of the same hue, but the equal brightnesses along the rim of a full circle of chromaticism.
These is a unity of heirarchy and pluralism.
I know you're different
and you know I'm the same.
We're far too busy to be taking the blame
I've got some changes but you don't have the time;
we can't go on thinking it's a victimless crime
No one is blameless...
But we're all without shame
We fight the fire...
...while we're feeding the flame.
[Rush, "Second Nature"]