Monday Aphorism: The Polemicist

Not knowing just exactly what I was for, I found it more direct early in my scholarly life, to be against some ideas, some thinkers…to sense and test who I was not, what I would not do, and where the edges of my ideas or focus reside.

I argued vehemently, strongly, perhaps harshly against what I thought was wrong, was untruthful. I was a critic writing polemics; trying as well to explore new paths which had no particular history, no negatives.

Now, I occasionally discover that much of the thinking I call my own, is directed… against, opposed. So much so, I sometimes think (and am told), that I do not say what I think is correct, except in the terms of some opposition, some polemic.

I wonder if I am anyone, in these times, except some enemy’s enemy, defined less by  personal integrity or by my friends with whom I think, but more by the ideas which I oppose. Where is truth located within these forms of disagreement and battles?

Who am I, positively, on the side of some ideas or thoughts; more than the armored battler always arguing against ideas or thoughts of others?

  • C. Rosewater

    While wandering the philosophy section of Barnes and Noble, I ran into a man in his late 20s or early 30s. We started a conversation over who was opposed to Foucault, which then turned into an hour plus of him explaining–almost lecturing me– his life philosophy and it was very thought provoking. He said that humanity is always opposed to something and that we seem to be in a constant battle–there is no way to exist without having a force to combat with–physically or ideologically. This led me to wonder: have I always created myself in what I am not or against something? This “philosopher” had clearly read many, many great minds and I kept up despite the fact he was far more well-read in the concepts of metaphysics and was slightly intimidating. He asked me what schools I felt more inline with and what would I describe myself as. I told him that I ascribed to no one school and that I was far too young to have any concrete ideologies. This made me wonder: is a lack of concrete ideology, apathy and nihilism? Without standing opposed or with a certain school, have I just become part of the silent majority that wishes nothing more than to get through this life with the least amount of pain–whether that is ignorance or blissful lies? We discussed the death and life drives–and I told him that I have felt the life drive–and death drive–but have found the life drive to be the most enriching and have lead to the most positive results. I told him the issue today is not what to be opposed to and not, but what can inspire the life drive. The media saturated world has created in humanity an “anti-life”–which I have taken from one of my most inspired writer’s, Grant Morrison–and has created slaves out of humanity because it allows them to sit and forget that death could come at any moment. Without a constant awareness that death is always present, not in a ‘dark’ or ‘love of death’ way, but more in an awareness that it is part of life, we will seek nothing more then to trudge through life and accept what is and not what can be envisioned. So, if I must oppose something, I will let it be the death drive and “anti-life” that populates the screens and minds of the masses, who wish not to experience the highs, lows, joys, and pains of life because it is ‘easier’ not to.

    -This sort of got off course, but I feel it is interesting none the less. Peace.

  • C. Rosewater

    While wandering the philosophy section of Barnes and Noble, I ran into a man in his late 20s or early 30s. We started a conversation over who was opposed to Foucault, which then turned into an hour plus of him explaining–almost lecturing me– his life philosophy and it was very thought provoking. He said that humanity is always opposed to something and that we seem to be in a constant battle–there is no way to exist without having a force to combat with–physically or ideologically. This led me to wonder: have I always created myself in what I am not or against something? This “philosopher” had clearly read many, many great minds and I kept up despite the fact he was far more well-read in the concepts of metaphysics and was slightly intimidating. He asked me what schools I felt more inline with and what would I describe myself as. I told him that I ascribed to no one school and that I was far too young to have any concrete ideologies. This made me wonder: is a lack of concrete ideology, apathy and nihilism? Without standing opposed or with a certain school, have I just become part of the silent majority that wishes nothing more than to get through this life with the least amount of pain–whether that is ignorance or blissful lies? We discussed the death and life drives–and I told him that I have felt the life drive–and death drive–but have found the life drive to be the most enriching and have lead to the most positive results. I told him the issue today is not what to be opposed to and not, but what can inspire the life drive. The media saturated world has created in humanity an “anti-life”–which I have taken from one of my most inspired writer’s, Grant Morrison–and has created slaves out of humanity because it allows them to sit and forget that death could come at any moment. Without a constant awareness that death is always present, not in a ‘dark’ or ‘love of death’ way, but more in an awareness that it is part of life, we will seek nothing more then to trudge through life and accept what is and not what can be envisioned. So, if I must oppose something, I will let it be the death drive and “anti-life” that populates the screens and minds of the masses, who wish not to experience the highs, lows, joys, and pains of life because it is ‘easier’ not to.

    -This sort of got off course, but I feel it is interesting none the less. Peace.

  • Dear C. Rosewater,

    Very thoughtful and provocative comment. Thanks.

    My aphorisms – you obviously responded to last week’s post about the “polemicist” – are “thought pieces” which meditate on the various issues and thoughts which “wander-in” or sometimes even “attack” our thinking.

    The aphorisms which reflect my experiencings during my much “longer” life, attempt to explore the thinking which “sit” within most person’s thinking at various moments of reflecting, agitating, contemplating what we think. I’ve tried to characterize these in as “general” or inclusive ways as I can. There are some 400 aphorisms which i wrote during a time of rethinking who I was: a kind of mid-life crisis, a moment of considering what I know and am.

    To live life engaged full-time in polemics? It is narrow – but also admits to the “politics” of life’s experiences. Yes! – but I don’t want to live my entire life in opposition. Rather – from a youth in which I changed my life-directions several times, I surely got caught up in opposings. But…the problems of “moving-on” in life is to explore all of this, perhaps “transcend” is a good term, as part of examining who I am or was at any given developmental moment.

    As far as being in “love” with Foucault – or any sage (including spouse, Janis) – I attempt to explore the thinking of “all” the great thinkers. Rather than honing-in on what they said (or were said to have said), i work at locating them in their life contexts, and try to “wander” with them in the present and toward our common futures.

    I think I am more a teacher – “still” teaching most days – trying to “inspire” the futures of my students in terms both of my knowing and “presence.” Trying to get them to “expand” their thinking…and continue to expand my own, trying not to get captivated by these “interesting times” but directing my thinking toward…

  • Dear C. Rosewater,

    Very thoughtful and provocative comment. Thanks.

    My aphorisms – you obviously responded to last week’s post about the “polemicist” – are “thought pieces” which meditate on the various issues and thoughts which “wander-in” or sometimes even “attack” our thinking.

    The aphorisms which reflect my experiencings during my much “longer” life, attempt to explore the thinking which “sit” within most person’s thinking at various moments of reflecting, agitating, contemplating what we think. I’ve tried to characterize these in as “general” or inclusive ways as I can. There are some 400 aphorisms which i wrote during a time of rethinking who I was: a kind of mid-life crisis, a moment of considering what I know and am.

    To live life engaged full-time in polemics? It is narrow – but also admits to the “politics” of life’s experiences. Yes! – but I don’t want to live my entire life in opposition. Rather – from a youth in which I changed my life-directions several times, I surely got caught up in opposings. But…the problems of “moving-on” in life is to explore all of this, perhaps “transcend” is a good term, as part of examining who I am or was at any given developmental moment.

    As far as being in “love” with Foucault – or any sage (including spouse, Janis) – I attempt to explore the thinking of “all” the great thinkers. Rather than honing-in on what they said (or were said to have said), i work at locating them in their life contexts, and try to “wander” with them in the present and toward our common futures.

    I think I am more a teacher – “still” teaching most days – trying to “inspire” the futures of my students in terms both of my knowing and “presence.” Trying to get them to “expand” their thinking…and continue to expand my own, trying not to get captivated by these “interesting times” but directing my thinking toward…