Saturday, November 28, 2009

Be Respectabibble!

People! Respect the idea!

I find the notion that people should run around with the attitude of disrespect towards ideas/propositions to be appalling. This attitude, sadly, is widespread. It is here, it is now, and I think it's because the wee-punks who run around thinking it's terribly deep to FLY IN THE FACE OF X simply have never opened themselves in such a way as to be formed by things that are terribly beautiful, deep, and true. Ironically, they're not the radical free thinkers that they think they are. They are caaaayyyyeeeeged in their own 'eads.

For example, one gentleman (who I met once - don't run around thinking I'm a terrible, horrible gossip!) and I had a discussion about "Wuthering Heights." I made some general, interpretive remark, and the gentleman forcefully asserted that the reason the woman married the man she did was because she was obsessed with power! Not a word I could say, not a textual basis I could provide to the contrary, would budge this man from his firm conviction that the woman in Wuthering Heights was a power-hungry wench. Eventually, he simply said "look, I KNOW I'm right." Next, this gentleman (well, perhaps I should say "barbarian") told me that MUCH of literature is about power-hungry women.

Perhaps he'd been reading M. Bovary earlier that day? Anyway, the gentleman was very happy with his neatly reasoned argument, and left satisfied that he'd, er, convinced me (I'd given up trying to speak with him and reverted to mundane pleasantries).


You see, a thing should be allowed to be the thing that it is. Love, oddly enough, entails letting the people whom you love be who they are. When you force something onto them (say, making them take a calligraphy class with you because you think it is so t'eh awesome - which it is, but some people prefer to keep their admiration for art at a distance from the actual practice of that art), you're not letting them be.

Take this poem from Dorothy Parker's for example:
They hail you as their morning star
Because you are the way you are.
If you return the sentiment,
They'll try to make you different;
And once they have you, safe and sound,
They want to change you all around.
Your moods and ways they put a curse on;
They'd make of you another person.
They cannot let you go your gait;
They influence and educate.
They'd alter all that they admired.
They make me sick, they make me tired.
While I am not quite in accord with D.P. here, on the subject of men in general, I must say that she has put her finger on an attitude - many people do not immerse themselves into an idea but impose themselves onto that idea. One finds many screeds on the internet regarding Catholicism: "doohoooooo," people chortle, "dey believe dat Noah built dis huuuuuge ship-thing with many dem animals! hurrr! hurrr! How stoooopid! Religion! Stooopid!" What a marvelously articulated argument! It amounts to someone thinking something couldn't possibly be true and, of course, if that's your 'tude, you WILL NOT actually arrive at an idea itself because you cannot get past YOUR OWN HEAD.

Consider conspiracy-theorists - nothing you can say will make them change their minds. They have decided to interpret the world through some specs that they have fashioned. They are not encountering reality or ideas. They cannot LET a thing BE ITSELF. And why not? Because they don't want to.

Disrespecting ideas is appalling not because there is, necessarily, anything respectable about an idea. There are some really terrible ideas. Disrespecting ideas/propositions is appalling because it does not permit a man to act freely within the world. I wouldn't consider a man to be acting freely when he is operating off of false information! But we're operating off of false - or, at best, limited - information if we do not permit things to be what they are. If you're so stuck in a world of your own making, you're never going to be a free thinker. To be a free thinker entails the respect of ideas or propositions because, otherwise, you would never be GET anywhere IN thinking because you would always be thinking about things within the enclosure of your OWN HEAD: you will always arrive at the conclusions that you had in the first place, you will never experience true curiosity, you will never, ever, be free.

So DUDES. CHILLAX already! Let ens be.

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