Saturday, February 2, 2013

On arrogance.

Today's thoughts:

This is being written at 3am, and will as such be written at the corresponding level of intellectuality. Apparently that's actually a word.

As I compiled my last post (just now) I re-read it and thought "well, it would be only too easy to construe this - and, from there, everything else on this blog - as incredibly arrogant and unreadably self-satisfied". Oh, so "unreadably" isn't a word?

I wanted to acknowledge that, indicate that I was aware of it and hopefully show that it isn't actually the case. First of all, I like to write with florid prose. Almost all of my writing, whether it's this blog or university assignments, is created with myself as the primary audience member. Not so much for the content, but for the pleasure of what is being said - and believe me, I do enjoy being that audience member. Jimmy Carr quips that when people ask him who his favourite comedian is, he says "me... I know it sounds arrogant but on the other hand, it is exactly my sense of humour". I'm hardly my favourite writer, but I take huge pleasure in developing and honing the ways I communicate, and I find writing is the best way to do that.

Second, and this is probably more important - as time has progressed I have become more jaded and more cynical with intellectual debate. Whilst in the past I bent over backwards to acknowledge opposing viewpoints and different interpretations, which I still think is a necessity when writing polemic (for exactly the reason that this post is about), I have found my beliefs and assertions calcifying as I've tired of fruitless and unproductive back-and-forth. Time for a long-winded tangent.

Take, if you would, the allegory of the blind men and the elephant: three blind men encounter an elephant; each one tries to comprehend the creature based on the limited data they have available (one feels the trunk, one the legs, one the tail). This is often presented as an explanation for the overabundance of religions in the world today - many minds all experiencing different facets of the divine. However, this allegory falls apart when one points out that the blind men could simply pool their data and by working together comprehend the elephant. That's obviously an corollary for science, not the ecumenical movement.

The reason I brought it up, though, was to provide an example of the kind of people who have taken the wind out of my fair-minded sails. Assuming that we are all blind and groping at the elephant of existence (I've danced around myriad opportunities for crass humour ever since I brought the bloody animal up) the people I've run out of time for are those who won't participate in the collaborative process. Who aren't willing to shift their position, who aren't willing to even question it. Please believe me when I say no one judges my beliefs more harshly than myself, and that by abandoning the convention of politeness - it makes for a good editor - I know that I've removed a potential barrier against this kind of regressive certainty.

I'm working on it, but in the meantime and in my own space, I'm not going to stop calling things as I see them , just like Christopher Hitchens taught me.

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