• Why are some people made more human by the ‘humanities’ and others less human?

Sometimes I come across people whose humanity is both deepened and broadened by engagement with “culture.”

Other times I meet the ivory towered, misanthropic, nihilist, who’ve “consumed” culture and are less human for it. They are so much smarter than you are and have read way more then you. They are made less human by the humanities.

Why is it?

Is it ego? Internalized objectivity? I think it may be because they sought to use these texts and art, to fill a hole in life. It’s a category error to think that these alone nourish the soul. We require friends, recognition, community, to move and breath fresh air, sunlight — not just books and paintings.

I’ve noticed that those made humane by the humanities often see the normal, the mundane with reverence. Since it is truly magical (and in many could’ve been much worse) that the way unfolded as it did. The misanthropic idealist often see the mundane with a bitter contempt.

  • What’s your type?

(Romantic) relationship are often come up in conversations. In them this question is often asked. We are expected to give a physical profile and list a few personality traits humorously. Every failed relationship gets us closer to our knowing our “type” until … happily ever after (of course!). Plus who doesn’t love a good typology.

The honest answer: I don’t know.

However, underlying this question is an assumption I want to challenge. Namely, that my “true” personality exists distinctly from theirs. It posits two distinct selves. That’s a useful concept to use in most day to day life, but as the Buddhist point out, causes suffering when it comes to important things. Because it locates the force attraction entirely in someone else. It ignores obvious reality that I am so different with different people.

My cheeky response right now inverts this. My type are people when who when I am around, I turn into a version of myself that I am most attracted to. Sounds pretty narcissistic I know. But I’d argue its less narcissistic than the thought that you are not influenced by the person you are with and the environment you are in.

My type: the person who elicits the version of me I most like — at the time ;)

  • What makes some a ”mystic“?

Walter Benjamin, Simone Weil, philosophers, thinkers, and writers I love who are often labeled as “mystics.”? How? Can I become one? I’m so far from being mystical, though! Is it because the ideas they are expressing are inexpressible (which is to say require direct experience)?

If that’s the case, then underlying our unease with the term is the assumption that:

  1. Language is sufficient to capture and convey all experiences (!)
  2. Therefore we think we can “read” ourselves to Enlightenment (!)

What terribly stultifying and wrong assumptions. If only the solution were to just hook ourselves up to an IV drip of information. There are too many examples of smart people whose intelligence has only made their wickedness a more potent evilness. What about wordless wisdom? Experiences that transcend words and underly action? A loving embrace and feeling of connection to other people and nature. Its the kind of thing you see people embody through action and life. Its not their “words”. It’s the ultimate confusion of the map with the territory. Words are map. Life is territory.