For the Love of Thought

Confusion in contemporary discourse about thinking: we ‘think too much’. Inclination to turn off the mind, escape. Importance of distinguishing distraction from meditation, annihilation of mind from clarification of mind. Krishnamurti: cessation of imagistic thought leads to awakening of intelligence. Not exactly ‘wisdom’. Definitely not in the style of soundbite, meme leading to cliché. Though perhaps all this useable for living a life, getting on. But not necessarily a life that thinks; thus not what it potentially could be.

Spontaneous reaction against intellectualism, abstraction, conceptualization, and so on. But the latter confused with expert discourse, specialists working for university or industry, ‘big word’ people talking down to ‘ordinary’ people. Fault of intellectuals is their inability to listen and speak the other’s language. Also fault of education, teaching to tests and ‘right answers’, less to critical, emotional, creative thinking and development of powers of expression.

In fact, a general prohibition on thinking reigns. Primarily in the mode of distraction, divertissement, idle talk. Desires produced to divert. Satisfaction of those desires become imperative. But no desire for truth. However, everyone has that desire, as is clear whenever there’s an opening for thoughtful conversation. The opening often closes quickly, due to discomfort, unless there’s trust and spaciousness. Unclear what to ‘do’ with thought, since it often asks question for which no ready-made answer exists. And perhaps no ready-made question.

Questioning often stops, or is satisfied, by prevailing interpretation. Often one that is endorsed by establishment, institution, party, Church. This produces homogeneity in thought, staleness. Expression takes on a mechanical nature. It becomes predictable and steady, which is what the anxious mind seeks. However, it is only a temporary respite. Anxiety returns wherever the clear action of thought has not pierced it. Anxiety, sometimes manifest as boredom, is the sign of what must be pushed through. Badiou:

All courage amounts to passing through there where previously it was not visible that anyone could find a passage… Ethical courage amounts to the force to traverse anxiety, since this means nothing else but the capacity to consider oneself null.

Desire for ‘truth’, when it exists today, however, usually orients around wish to know the facts. Less common: truth as active production of knowledges that did not formerly exist and that do not reach closure. Such production takes place in a “void,” can be unbearable. Thought bears with the strength of questions no authority can satisfactorily answer. Thus its anguish of ‘no answer’. Also is freedom, possibility. Facts are important, but the love of thought cannot content itself with them. Thinking exceeds the sphere of what is. Thought “means” nothing yet. It reaches into the Not-Yet and “learns to live.”

December 4, 2018

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