Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Metaphysical Club, Testicularity, Clarity

After having read only the first two pages of The Metaphysical Club, I can tell Menand has it. Menand has it, and so does Proust, and (to a lesser extent), so do Oscar Wilde and Milan Kundera. My history teacher has it. What I am speaking of, here, is something fuzzy and undefinable (probably because I do not possess this thing), but words such as "insight" and "clarity of mind" do it some justice.

If you know what to look for, the people with these traits are not hard to identify. They always seem like they're assessing whatever's happening. They say things with a measured tone. And most importantly, they make, without the slightest bit of self-awe, statements that have the unmistakeable stench of Truth. Basically, these men turn their steady eye upon events, upon people, upon their surroundings, and it all makes sense to them.

I am so, so jealous*.

Despite uneasy self-assurances to the contrary, I feel as if I'll never possess this, this steadyness of perception, this depth of intellect. For it's more than mere intelligence (although "smartness" is a prerequisite) - David Foster Wallace, who seems much smarter than my history teacher, doesn't seem to have it. In fact, many of the postmodernists don't. For this clarity requires a firm system of beliefs for the person to stand on - from which he can study things and pass judgment. The problem being that most people either don't have this system, or if they do, become close-minded as a result of it. To be able to stand from this dias and not succumb to masturbation, that is what these men have done. They are still able to look critically at things that may perhaps go against their belief system and modify it (their belief-system) if necessary.

I am everything they are not - young, with the queer combination of hope and cynicism that comes with adolescence, ethnic, female. Which, after long brain-wracking, I still can't think of any females that have this. Is the feminine mind, through genetics or some other strange twist of nature, necessarily a roiling, muddled thing, fluid and insubstantial, able to be swayed by every new thought that passes its way? I want my brain to be the firm polygonal clay of those men, malleable only by practiced hands, able to easily ignore ideas and arguments that don't matter.

Because how am I supposed to express myself clearly if I don't think clearly first?

* All of a sudden, this has turned into a rather personal journal entry. Sorry, sorry - I'll try not to let it happen again too often.