Sunday, July 4, 2010
This is thought that has been swirling around in my head for a while and today it coalesced into relative certainty, so, as it is pertinent to a lot of things I actively do and even more I am passively involved in, here. It has to do with the concept of 'thinking too much' and some assorted accusations of pretension. The brave click onwards.
It's not a complicated argument but it seems it's one worth putting out there publicly once or twice: Don't disparage thinkers for thinking, don't mock wordy types for being wordy, don't disapprove of worriers for worrying.
There seems to be this idea going around (for as long as I have been paying attention at least) that it's some sort of choice to be engaged in intellectual pursuits. As if it's cut and separate from more visceral needs and desires for which, while there is no shortage of social critique, there seems more of an awareness of the critique's futility. Intellectualism is widely loathed as if it's a frivolous hobby, at odds with everything natural in life.
While I find the attempts at substantiating this strange thinking/feeling dualism to be fascinating sometimes, I grow tired of them when leveled against me as weapons. Please accept one empirical observation, that the tendency for intellectual examination and for assorted wordy exposition is not a voluntarily one. It is an emotional reflex and much like most reflexes it can be fought against only to an extent and even then the sufferer has to wonder why they're fighting against themselves to begin with.
If the reader has offered the advice to others that they should "think about things less", even if they meant it out of kindness for having spotted the Gordian knot the overthinker has entangled themselves into, they should be aware that what the overthinker is hearing is disapproving critique of foundations of their personality they have little free will to alter. What they're getting from it, basically is "I disapprove of you and I have the unrealistic expectation that you will change at my behest for having shaped my disapproval in socially unassailable passive-aggression". Yes yes, I know, that's unfair, but people don't really know what you meant because what you said was precisely antithetical to further examination. In silent victory, the words have ended.
Likewise, Overationalizators (I count myself included) are reflexive. The whys and hows of that behavior pattern can be deconstructed endlessly (and this is also a favorite pastime of navel gazers the world around) but rest assured they are not a stance, not an act, not a pretense. I see things happen around me and they, like lightning, touch on three-dimensional inner constructs of causality, they interface with presuppositions and inform my world-view subconsciously. This is instant. The quasi-rational deliberation afterwards is not instant but that doesn't mean it's much more controlled. Nor should you assume that the rationales spewed forth are considered truthful or accurate representations of world workings. They are a debugger buffer for the program of consciousness.
I have met people that, at the time, I was convinced they were pretending to be intellectuals and were trying too hard to impress me. Their most significant characteristic was not they they were thinking about things too hard but that they were implicitly asking me to acknowledge and agree with their line of thinking, nearly at the end of every value judgment. Some of them were also overthinkers, yes, but the two situations are not necessarily causally related. I have certainly also met blunt and base men who also pressured me for endorsement at every turn. The ones who value the conversation (and let's not kid ourselves, the exposition also) more than the agreement are mostly harmless.
And as a final note on wordiness. We cannot all be Nietzsche. It's a matter of mental acuity and talent. Some of us need to take the long way around an argument until we've circled it completely and on many planes and then only can start cutting towards the center. Bear with us for our philosophy is not meant as entertainment for you nor as a hobby for us, it is a practical necessity for our survival.
In an effort to accept others I'm slowly trying to treat a lot of their personality I find displeasing as prima facie instinctual behavior and not begrudge them for their nature, I'd be wonderful if they would do the same. That doesn't mean I have to hang out with all of them and neither should it mean you should read every word I have to say on whatever strikes me as significant every Monday, but please, easy on the judgments.