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... when you go out of your way to suggest that people should be thinking less — that not using one’s capacity for reason is an admirable position to take, and one that should be actively advocated — you are not saying anything particularly intelligent. And unless you live on a parallel version of Earth where too many people are thinking too deeply and critically about the world around them and what’s going on in their own heads, you’re not helping anything; on the contrary, you’re acting as an advocate for entropy.
Someone finally came out and put into words what's been swimming around in my head for a good long time now. Attaboy.
I always had the suspicion that people automatically assumed "criticism" means "slagging", not "analysis", and have been reacting appropriately. The whole Why Can't You Just Relax And Enjoy It stance stems from that. Oh, you don't like it because you're just jealous is another common knee-jerk I've seen people get hit with a lot. (Clearly some people don't understand that others of us would not want a movie like The Phantom Menance on our résumé.)
When I look at something critically, all I'm trying to do is put answers to a few questions:
There's really nothing more beyond that; the rest is just some corollary of those five things. And #3 isn't even the first in the list.
There's a lot of room for variance here. I don't know that I ever want to see Salò again, but I know that it accomplished what it set out to do with merciless efficiency. I'll watch Machine Girl any day of the week, knowing full well it is about as deep as a cookie sheet. And many people are not likely to seek out Away with Words on their own, but that's exactly why I try to get them to look for it; it'll be worth the effort.
The other thing is, none of this is my way of insisting that other people must do these things too. They're welcome to try, but I'm not going to lose respect for people for just being an audience. They have the freedom to be bored, to seek out the material that interests them and avoid the stuff that doesn't. I'm just one of the signposts on the road, pointing the way — an invitation, not a commandment, as I put it.
I'll point the way. I do it because it's fun, and because you learn as much from others as they learn from you when you do it. Just don't tell me that I should put my arm down because it must be getting mighty tired, and that I need to switch my brain off and stop thinking so much, because odds are you have no idea how insulting that is.
Or maybe you do know. In which case — door's that way.
Previous: More Dept.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind