Walking into walls (I've given up dancing)
Posted by Helen on January 29, 1998 at 11:31:22:
In response to If she did, she would no longer be dancing, only moving formulaically..., written by PAtrick on January 26, 1998 at 16:37:06
] Not the domain of measurement alone, but the procedure was created for measurement. For me, the difference of opinion centres on the issue of the role of rational thought and analysis. Is that role to be the cornerstone of mental life, to have a causal role in artistic creation, and to make interpersonal relations possible, for example? Or is rational thought a kind of running commentary on our mental life, happening on the surface, and apparent to us all, but of little consequence (in that it has no role in producing that mental life, and is of questionable reliability even as a running commentary)?
I think it's a running commentary (nice phrase) but one which has the power to influence the mental life on which it comments - becuase once you've thought of something, it becomes part of your mental life, and you are therefore influenced by it. I don't see any clear line of division in the mental life between rational analysis and emotions - both are part of the consiousness, surely?
] And my background in Renaissance thought leads me to value a reasoned response to a text. You argue, and I agree with you, that emotional and/or unarticulate responses to texts/life can be a good thing, and I agree with you. But what happens when they are not? How, for instance, do we overcome prejudices, or instinctive responses eg. violence?
] How do we overcome inappropriate or destructive emotions? With positive, constructive emotions. I think it is helpful to distinguish between the idea that people are guided primarily by their emotions and the idea that people behave dangerously, violently, or destructively. One does not imply the other.
I never said it did, Patrick (I hope that doesn't sound querulous). To be guided by the emotions implies neither that one will behave constructively nor destructively - but presumably, unless you have a limited spectrum of emotions, you will have the potential to follow either path. Does it really not matter which one you choose, as long as you are following your heart? And if it does, what happens when you feel a negative emotion? How do you produce the positive emotion to counter it? How do you recognise it as negative? I can't think of any way of doing this without involving consious mental processes at some stage... which is what I mean by "rational thought".
] Don't you think that thought-processes can be helpful in such endeavours? Analysing what we read - calling attention to its contents - is surely a good thing, in that it shows us whether we have read correctly, and how the effects we admire are achieved.
] Does it? Is there, then, some external standard of "correctness" to which we can appeal to settle disputes about readings... [snip]
See my post below. No, there isn't. No, there is no real concept of objective reality. But I think it's necessary for meaningful debate to take place. Otherwise, we will always founder on the question of "But what do we mean by real"...
] No. I don't need to. Do you need to? (I don't say that dismissively or derisively, but as a serious question, since part of my point is that the "rational" self is an outgrowth of the emotional self.)
"I think one side without the other leads to distortion, and hence has bad consequences - you need to balance the two": Let me explicate myself: the "you need to balance the two" is subordinate to "I think". So this is all my opinion. You may not need to balance anything. But when I feel like taking a hammer to someone's head, I need to use all my powers of rational argument to tell myself that this would not be a good idea. When angry passion has me in its grip, I am incapable of automatically generating positive emotions. Perhaps you could tell me the secret of how to do it.
] and more importantly, to synthesize them, not oppose them.
] Why? An alternative view is that consciousness doesn't do much other than keep us from walking into walls. It isn't important for artistic creation, or for managing your life. It just keeps the muscles from getting gummed up with competing commands. Nothing to synthesize there.
IMO, not walking into walls is a very important part of life management... an essential background for the fun stuff, like writing novels. If you haven't learnt the mechanics of writing/composing/painting, you will find it difficult to create. And if you investigate the backgrounds of people you think create effortlessly, you will find that they often have some form of training behind them, enhancing their natural talents, although it may be unorthodox.
] ] One minor question, re. Lizzy, Darcy and marriage: do you think that JA herself really didn't think marriage necessary? Or do you think that she was limited by her historical moment to construct relationships in that way?
] Depends upon what you mean by necessary, of course. Necessary to get the book published, so that her ideas would have some audience? Sure. Necessary as an integral part of the relationship between a woman and a man, absent external observers? No.
] I think that the person who could write Persuasion and P&P - two novels about love winning over everything else, in my view - would not think formal marriage could add very much. No real harm in the ceremony, of course, and you might as well do it to save yourselves aggravation - but not something necessary in any but the most practical sense.
Again, see my post below. I really agree with Caroline: knowledge of JA from outside her books does suggest to me that the marriage ceremony mattered to her - for religious reasons as much as for social. If you can find any evidence for a contrary opinion external to the novels, I will be grateful to see it. If you don't think that's necessary, please explain to me why the characters who achieve successful relationships in her novels all get married, and the notably unsuccessful (William Elliott and Mrs Clay, Willoughby, Henry Crawford and Maria Rushworth (tell me I have the right sister), Lydia and Wickham) are the ones who contract extra-marital relationships?
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