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Friday, 1 March 2019

Filosophy on Friday: Learning to be Rational

This will be a wee bit more 'stream of consciousness' than my usual posts, so apologies for that. And additional apologies if you thought that's how I write normally, but I'm actually trying quite hard to sound reasonable in my posts, even when I'm in fierce opposition to something I will try to give it a 'fair shake'.

Talking with pdb on my recent 'sensitive' topic post made me think some more about how people are treated in society, but it also made me think about why I'm trying so hard to be rational about things. Especially when everyone about me is acting so... irrational. Some it seems are just too willing to be led by their emotions, others are led by a desire to control or dominate others, or at least, to exploit them for financial gain or for social power. Still others have equally ill-thought-out reasons for their behaviour, like why would you support a politician like it's a fitba team? Makes no sense to me.

It's fair to say that I've a bad temper, but this isn't to make me sound like a hard man. No, what I mean is, that once I lose my temper I'm utterly useless, mostly if I need to communicate something. I can remember this being a problem when I was little. Like my parents would think that I'd done something wrong and (if I hadn't) it would make me so cross that I'd been falsely accused I'd just go mental; crying, laughing hysterically etc. Which, of course, just made me look guilty as anything and I'd then get unfairly punished for it. Conversely, when I had done something bad, I was able to play it off really cool and they wouldn't suspect a thing. In this manner I was able to get away with all sorts. I think that this might sound like the beginning of the diary of a psycho, but I didn't do anything really bad. Not really.

Sadly, something like this has continued until adulthood and even now at the 'mature' age of 40 I still go 'dumb' with rage. This has been particularly harmful in relationships. However, the difference from being a lad is that now I can put a hold to my anger if I get there soon enough. In this manner I've been able to remain reasonable in the face of quite extreme provocation (like talking with a Tory).

I suppose then that this abstraction led me to appreciate philosophy's attempt at objectivity, flawed as that might be in actuality, still it's the attempt at something like neutrality that is appealing. Most likely it's just that I'm easily overwhelmed by my own emotions and that the lack of control is frightening to me, or something like that. Except, that can't be it, because I don't really worry about control. I'm well aware of how little actual control we have over our lives. Also, as someone who was extremely interested in art and the lives of artists, this led to various attempts to get 'out of my head' in one way of another. Hallucinogens were really helpful in this regard and not something that someone with an overly developed need for 'control' would experiment with, I would suggest. An attraction to surrealist dream and sub-conscious automatic works and the inter-relation with the mystical experience would be another example of my interests that I could cite as evidence of my lack of fear about being in control.

Know thyself, is really quite tricky when you start looking at it. Because there's nothing there, or because we're always making stories about it all? Both perhaps.

Something else that occurs to me is the type of masculinity I was exposed to as a child in 80's Scotland. It's a style of manliness that is rather old-fashioned nowadays, but still lingers about like a bad smell. I assume that this smell is tobacco, alcohol, and B.O. Anyway, the main thrust of 'being a man' when I was younger was not to show your emotions, and certainly don't get 'carried away' by anything, unless it's fitba of course. At that point screaming, crying, hugging strangers, fighting, everything was allowed. But, as a rule, men didn't get emotional, they got angry and when they were angry it was righteous male anger, not bawling and greeting about being treated badly. And they got their way, they got revenge, they were always in the right (somehow, this was always the case even when two men disagreed, normally you could tell who was right because he knocked the other guy out).

Perhaps I could tell that this was nonsense. It doesn't take a genius to figure it out after all. Perhaps because I wasn't willing to be that sort of man. There were plenty (well, several and not all of them 'real') of male role models who didn't fit into this archetype and I latched onto them. Still, it took me some time to figure out that I could be something other than whatever was expected of me, because those expectations weren't coming from my parents.

The main problem, as I see it, is that everyone thinks that they are rational and it's the other guy that's being unreasonable, if only they'd just agree with me... It's not so much that, although I certainly feel that that's one way of taking it, but that people won't give someone who starts as 'different' a fair hearing. The fact is, most people don't even try to understand the other person's perspective and some times you'd have to say that that's the best course of action. Why am I going to try and analyse why some random kid thought it was alright to shout abuse at me, a total stranger, let's not waste our life with considering that rubbish. Still, it bothers me, that we willingly blind ourselves to HOW they got to think the way they do, which is more insightful than WHAT they are thinking. Perhaps it's because we all feel this pressure of time, like I don't have the time to find out about why this person feels this way, it's easier to just write it off as something that X group of people think and move on.

Ah well, I'm rambling now. I'll just end this chat by trying to describe it once more in as simple a way as I can, the reason I try and treat people they way I do, is because it's how I'd like to be treated. I guess I took that Bible lesson to heart. Shame it isn't true then. Still, it's worth trying to be decent even if the world doesn't care.

Remedios Varo (1955) 'Transmudo'