Friday, July 31, 2009

* THOUGHT PROCESS : Middlebury Magazine, Letters to the Editor, Spring 2009


Letter to the Editor
Middlebury Magazine

Dear Editor:

Gary Johnson's question at the end of "When Worlds Collide" (Spring 2009 issue) raises another question: Does cerebration itself separate us from our ideation? In other words--Do we use the metaphorical complexity of the liberal arts to obfuscate rather than confront our own primitive murderous instincts? And do we need to engage in such obfuscation in order not to commit suicide? One famous psychiatrist began all his initial encounters with patients by asking this question: "Why don't you kill yourself?" The liberal arts offers a Jack Benny kind of answer: "I'm busy thinking."

Hemingway said his "typewriter" was his "psychiatrist". His prose purges every act of cerebration in favor of ideation---look at the description of what is in front of Nick Adams's eyeballs not behind them for example. But then we all know what happened to Hemingway when he stopped writing.

We may need metaphors (and the liberal arts is loaded with them) simply to survive. And what is the most persistent and omnipresent metaphor the human species creates : religion.

Paul D. Keane, M.A. English '97