Among the different kinds and species of individuals with which this good Earth is filled to the brim, the rational-minded one is perhaps the most curious of them all. Proudly dwelling atop their ivory tower (built upon “cold reason” and sheer intellect and decorated with the latest of fashions of the World of Ideas), the brightest among the bright delight themselves in instructing the commoners on the ways of life and in pontificating about every subject at hand. The basis for such annoying and pedantic behavior can be found in the premise that a mind entirely devoted to pursuing logic until its ultimate consequences possesses clairvoyance in its highest degree. This premise, if truth be told, is most of the time acceptable, if not absolutely correct. I find it close to a miracle that a thing such as logic exists at all and that it has the far reaching consequences that we observe. But I digress, for that discussion is for another time.
In any case, our arrogant people (from now on we shall call them by their scientific name (for nothing would make them happier), Homo sapiens intolerabilis) tend to polarize public opinion into two bitter enemies which, facing each other on the plains of the Realm of Arguing, are prone to fight with singular enthusiasm to the slightest of provocations, much in the like of Don Quixote’s sheep, in that memorable episode before he puked all over his (and Sancho’s) beard.
On the one hand we have the followers, which support the use of reason in every situation in life and look up to the intolerabilis as guides and mentors; and on the other their bitter enemies, the sentimentalists, those that hold feelings as superior in virtue, opposing the doctrine of Sola Ratio. The later believe that indulging in the passions that sprout from the experiences of daily life is the only true way to live fully; the first declare that the only passion worth pursuing is that of the love of logic and syllogisms. Someone might argue that there’s a third party in this game and that it is composed of those who don’t care to choose between the two lifestyles and those who work with a lukewarm mixture of both, and that someone would be right. But as it is often the case with non-radicals, the impact of this third group on the destinies of nations and on the philosophy that characterizes a given age is minimal, even if its numbers are significantly larger than those of the other two. Thus we’re not concerned with said group: its effects can be safely assumed to be negligible. Uncommitted people seldom need to think about commitment to this or that school of thought. Background noise is just that: noise.
The battles, then, between said opposing factions (which could be re-branded as Objectivity and Subjectivity) are always heated and often bloody. Families are torn apart, friendships come undone, relationships sink and nations fall. Hatred is not uncommon, even though the intolerabilis and their followers ought to avoid falling prey to such baseness. Both armies suffer considerable casualties, sometimes due to friendly fire. And this is precisely why I started my post declaring that I find the logic-driven individuals to be the most interesting of all: because invariably, and regardless of their degree of commitment to the Most Noble Cause of Reason, they screw up.
Indeed, it is a well known fact (or at least a reasonable extrapolation from particular, well documented cases) that whenever reason is the sole guide in decision making processes the outcomes tend, on average, to maximize profits for those involved in said processes. The degree of success is of course dependent on a plethora of variables (even individuals that always consciously follow reason can make mistakes, for example due to misinformation or ignorance). Anyway, that is why it’s not surprising that sentimentalists fail. Hell, they even value failure, as part of the human experience. Pain and Pleasure, Joy and Grief are for them parts of a whole, pieces of that gigantic puzzle that we call Life. The sentimentalists draw their breath, their existence itself from a paradox: that even when they fail, they succeed. Even when evil is born as a consequence of their actions, they rise triumphant, for they’re actually living according to their guidelines. But the intolerabilis and their minions, those neat and tidy Champions of Reason, end up sunk to their knees in the earthly mud of emotionally-addressed dilemmas. Voluntarily.
It is as if our nature were but a cruel joke: though capable of aspiring to pristine ideals such as Reason it is doomed to bring those aspirations to a bitter end. There always comes the day when the mind that until then had lived a purely rational life finds itself unwillingly willing to fail; when it chooses irrationality over rationality. Happiness, for the intolerabilis, is but a mirage: it appears to be almost there, only to unexpectedly vanish into nothing but heat, sweat and and infinite, barren land.
The existence of such an apparently useless, doomed aspiration -the Need for Truth, is a particular case of a very interesting metaphysical subject I have not the energy to deal with (Argument from Desire, anyone?). This is not the point of my monologue. What I intend is to Confess.
Far from me the pretension of being a member of the select race of the intolerabilis: I don’t posses neither the strength nor the genius to be a such a hero, leader and teacher. I’ve always been a follower, someone that has consciously tried to align his life according to the premise that logic alone must guide him. I’ve always been proud of that vein that drains warm blood from my heart and pours it cold into my brain. I’ve always wanted to be a mathematical entity, a perfect machine, an efficient device, a problem-solver.
But my day came. I’ve found myself for the first time at a crossroads where the road I’ve chosen is not the intelligent one. I’ve plunged myself into madness, the madness that an irrational decision means, one with very plausible and painful consequences. I’ve chosen to screw up.
All that is left is to stubbornly go on forward, to live the adventure of stupidity, the joy of passion, the pain of fire.
All that is left is to keep screwing up, and to do it with a smile.