Sunday, March 12, 2017

Let It Be / Do No Violence

I find the notion that people should run around with an overt attitude of disrespect/dismissal towards ideas/propositions that they assume, prima facie, to be false...somewhat gauche. This attitude is widespread, and I think it's because the wee-punks who run around believing it's terribly deep to be contrary on dicey issues but have never opened themselves in such a way as to be formed by things that are 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. Do no violence to a work of fiction, to an idea, to others. Love, oddly enough, entails letting the people whom you love be who they are, and helping them flourish and grow to be more themselves. When you force something onto them (say, making a friend 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 Sayers 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.S. 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 that amount to someone thinking something couldn't possibly be true and then reasoning backwards, twisting dogmas or arguments to fit the conclusion. Of course, if that's your 'tude, you WILL NOT actually arrive at an idea itself because you cannot get past our 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. And you, trying to convince them otherwise, are simply a cog caught up in the mechanism of some diabolical propaganda machine.

Disrespecting ideas as a held-attitude is appalling not because there is, necessarily, anything respectable about some particular idea. There are some really terrible ideas. Dismissing ideas/propositions without due examination 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 are 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 liberal thinker. To be a liberal thinker entails an attitude of respect towards ideas or propositions in some way - even those you reject vehemently as false  - because, otherwise, you would never be GET anywhere IN thinking. You would not be reasoning but assuming, dismissing without basis: you will always arrive at the conclusions that you had in the first place (or what those conclusions entail), you will never experience true curiosity, you will never, ever, be free.

Let ens be. Don't be violent. #SpreadTheTruth

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