Saturday, March 24, 2007

All About My Feelings and Why They’re Important

I slept for fourteen hours last night.

Yes, true, I was very tired -- only a few hours sleep the night before. Took my son to the airport at five in the morning. Back to Iraq. And I had a full day racing around or something ... whatever it is that I think I need to do. But throughout the day I was profoundly depressed.

Indeed, you might think my depression was somehow, in some way, connected to my son’s departure, and with my subsequent excessive sleep. I, however, am a surpassingly subtle thinker, very deep, very wise, and I look to causes other than such mere and superficial psychodrivel. What would the true and correct cause be? I haven’t figured that out yet. My usual mental celerity eludes me. Still a little logy from all that sleep, I guess. Maybe something about Global Warming?

Profoundly depressed. Profoundly. Profoundly. Hopeless black despairing useless.

I won’t go into the details. Too personal. Too intimate. Too vulnerable and revealing. I only pretend to be an honest person.

You may have noticed that you too have an emotional life. You may have noticed that these pages display a fair degree of passion. What’s up with that? What’s up with all this emotion all over the place, yours and mine?

Consider the beasts of the field. They whimper and whine. They pine and mourn. They caper and frolic. They snarl and growl. They howl in the night. What is this, but emotion? Sometimes people like to forget the fact that people are animals. Not just animals, but animals nonetheless. It is the nature of the mammalian and the avian, of the warm-blooded brain to evince emotion. As for the other vertebrates I do not know.

What’s that you say? Such behaviours are merely instinctive? How, my dear friend, would this negate my thesis? What is emotion but the way instinct is experienced? Please call back to that Introduction to Psychology class you took all those years ago. Recall the definition of emotion? It is some cognitive process tied to an autonomic physiological response. If it’s just a disembodied ideation, no matter the topic, it is not an emotion. There must be a physical aspect -- accelerated heartrate, changed breathing, pupil dilation, redirected bloodflow, etc. Which then comes first? -- the physiology or the perception? I’m sure the answer has been discovered, but I’m too lazy to look it up. Irrelevant for my purposes in any event. I care only that there is a connection, not about which has precedence. Whether she is beautiful, therefore we desire her, or whether our bodies crave to reproduce, therefore we impose beauty -- I like to think I’ve outgrown the adolescent urge to mere philosophy.

What are the pragmatics of the matter? Regardless of their origin or their purpose, emotions have power. Indeed that is their function -- to empower action. Why bother do anything? The motive is almost always found in emotion. I say "almost" only to hedge my bets. I want wish desire fear crave yearn dread hate love to do a thing. They are, all, emotional words. Even duty is emotional.

What of the ichthyous logician? I can’t even say that their emotions are controlled. Maybe they are, or maybe they are just suppressed. A sublimated emotion is no less an emotion than one that is ejaculated out as some primal passion. As it were. If we interpret the data through the useful creation myth of evolutionism, we see that the animal brain lies under the cerebral cortex. The animal nature comes first. This is of course as much as to say that babies crawl before they walk, and cry before they speak. Rationality is learned.

So I was depressed. Inexpressibly so. Then I slept a really long time, and don’t feel so bad. Funny, isn’t it. Where did it go, all that emotion? All that fear and dread and blackness and despair? What has it gone to empower? A poem? A nightmare? A tumor? I don’t know, as I don’t know which comes first, the mental or the physical aspect of emotion. But I know what emotions do. They make me run. I put my body through mighty exertions on a daily basis for a reason. I wonder if that’s a good thing.

Ah well. Emotions. Have I explained it all? It would be so much easier to not have them. Like ants. Like machines. Do you see now why they’re important? It’s not that they make us human. They make us animals. But it’s important to be an animal. To run, to fight, to reproduce -- to frolic and whine and mourn. To be loyal and honest and generous. These are emotional. To be emotional is to be like God.

Do you suppose God gets depressed?

Isn’t it this way with you?


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