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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Once, I Thought I Was an Intellectual... didn't last long.

Nowadays, I'm sure that I'm not an intellectual. A thinker. Someone who enjoys wrestling with, and perhaps even creating, problems, existential questions, crises of the heart and of the head, engaging in spirited debates with like or different-minded others about politics or philosophy or psychology or other issues of portent that begin with the letter "p". I, once upon a time, thought that I was someone who would spend much of his life grasping onto the issues of today, yesterday, and tomorrow and steadfastly refuse to let go until I had methodically explored the hows and the whys and the wherefores of these matters.

I was eighteen or so when I realized that this, really, wasn't me.

For one thing, I was masturbating too much to be a real intellectual. Intellectuals masturbate when they are intellectualizing-- it's not literal masturbation, it's just talking. An intellectual engaged in the process of hearing him or herself talk is basically masturbating, and can actually achieve a surreptitious, tangible orgasm while so doing. This is why so many intellectuals wear tweed trousers, because stains don't show.

I noticed, too, that I get restless, frustrated and, sometimes even angry when I try to engage in an intellectual conversation or argument with somebody. Sometimes the anger and frustration is pointed at the other person, but, oftentimes it is self-directed. I know a little about a lot of topics, but I only know a lot about precious few topics, and so I get annoyed with myself at being bereft of facts and/or background knowledge that would otherwise make me a keen and cogent debater on, say, the subject of Syria's place in the Middle East or the ethics of mandatory decanoate shots for severely, chronically psychotic patients.

Of course, I know that you can't rationally expect yourself know everything, but, when you hold yourself to impossibly high standards, rationality doesn't enter into it. And, if it does, you just masturbate until it goes away.

The other thing is-- I find I lack the attentional capabilities required for sustained bouts of intellectualism. When talking to someone about a thick, meaty, marbelized matter, after only several minutes, I find my attention wandering. I am easily distracted/distractable. I'd love to blame it on ADHD, but I don't have that. I think it's more that my brain is filled with things to worry about, obsess over, become horny about, perseverate on that I just can't engage in an intellectual debate about something. I can be in a two-hour play, but that's because all that other shit turns off because I'm a character, and the character isn't distracted and focus must be maintained because there's a paying audience who will boo and stone me if I start thinking about my mortgage payment and begin wandering around the stage aimlessly looking for a cheesestick in the middle of a Chekhov short.

When I was fourteen, I wrote a letter to Prime Minister John Major (Queen Elizabeth II was cc'd out of consideration) about the arming of British police officers. This event, which garnered a reply from both sources, marked my last official recorded act of intellectualism.

When we're young, delusions of grandeur are fanciful and often remarked brought up at the dinner table when reunited with our parents. When you get older, delusions get you committed to psychiatric facilities until they (the delusions) are medicated out of you. I'm glad that, today, I no longer suffer from the delusion that I am an intellectual. I'm pretty much a realist about who and what I am.

I'm an amateur performer, I'm not an actor.

I'm a blogger, I'm not a writer.

I'm a husband, I'm not Dick Van Dyke.

I can play six chords on the banjo, I'm not a musician.

I'm a relatively okay person, I'm not perfect.

And I'm certainly not an intellectual.

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