18 January 2008

Intellectual Culture.

For once and for all, I declare wholeheartedly that it is a good thing to be an intellectual.

How wonderful it is that one may spend all of his or her time thinking about the nature of truth and how we know what we know, dedicate his or her life to unlocking the clues of the universe, or embark on his or her never ending search for an equal in thought and philosophy as a partner in life.

I declare that the sheer act of being an intellectual or even wanting to be an intellectual, my friends, is a good thing.

There are things that I want to know and things that I want to understand and these things are myriad and tenfold.

I write this after a couple of days of trying to piece information together to make a whole, and I have learned that there are people who are much better at this than I. (I apologize for being obtuse, it is a necessity for this post.)

But intellectuals are gorgeous in their own way. They can certainly be handsome or beautiful, but there is something else about a person who wants to know things and argue about them and who revels in the large and small victories of being correct, or wanting to be correct, knowing the best answer to a question, or knowing how to look for that best answer.

There's this innate confidence in many intellectuals, and sometimes it plays out more on the page than in person, but I think that this confidence has to be more developed in women. Men seem to be more comfortable with their 'rightness.' But I am writing this from a woman's perspective unaware of my own seeming comfort with being right.

This is a scattered post at best, but what it boils down do is these questions:

1. Are smart people more attractive? 2. Do men corner the market on confidence mixed with intellectuality? 3. Will I ever learn how to write a coherent post again?


Dexter Colt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dexter Colt said...

1. Intelligence is an attractive attribute.

2. Men are raised in a society that encourages their confidence [more so than women]. This probably has something to do with expectations. But, there are loud intellectuals and quiet intellectuals. And, quiet confidence almost always trumps loud braggadocio. That being said, I think men are better at being big-mouths.

3. I don’t suspect you ever unlearned the art of writing coherently.

a little of this, a little of that... said...

1. Well, they are to me.

2. Some of most confident men that I've encountered in academia have been extremely insecure. Confidence became a facade for their own self-doubts of how intellectually competent they were (if they were at all).

3. Are you stuck in a pomo phase?

I appreciate another point you make in your post - knowing something and understanding something are two different things. I contend that pure intellectuals are more concerned with understanding how things or ideas work and what they mean, rather than merely knowing that things or ideas are out there.

cuff said...

We live in an extremely anti-intellectual society, so I'm glad you're so positive about being an intellectual. As for your questions, 1) no, sometimes they're just assholes 2) men certainly get more leeway for being smart and cocky, and 3) don't be so disingenuous.

m.a. said...

Dexter, darling. I agree. And yes, men are really excellent at being big mouths.

Alot, Of course they are to you. You must be some sort of academic then. And pomo's a dirty word around these parts. Well, most of the time.

I guess both you and I need to think about a definition of what it means to know something, right?


Disingenuous? Well, I never! ;)

suicide_blond said...

1) smart is super sexy...
that said non-intellectuals dont have exclusive rights to douchebag behavior...

2)i really believe that the playing fields are leveling out - not quite level yet..but it seems to be moving in the right direction at a slow but steady pace..

third..nope ...:-)

Megarita said...

HA! Cuff made me laugh.

I wonder about "intellectual" as a term. Academics? Sometimes intellectuals, sometimes not. Smart folks? Well-read folks? Or is it a value system, something against which the "nerd" factor plays? The life of the mind, so to speak? Contemplative versus active? Makes the discussion feel old, doesn't it? Yet this alleged binary still plagues us.

And there are beautiful minds, but there are not always beautiful people associated with them, at least in my experience.

a little of this, a little of that... said...

On the 'intellectual' issue, perhaps an intellectual is someone who wants (needs, can't stand not) to keep learning, keep finding out about things, keep understanding things, keep seeing things in different ways. The love of learning?

On the 'knowing' issue, one sense of 'knowing' is the existence of something. I guess my use of 'understanding' is also a form of knowing, but extends beyond recognizing the existence of something to thinking, distilling, processing. For example, we know that Marx was all about critiquing capitalism, but does that mean we all understand Marx and his take on capitalism?

m.a. said...

SB, You are right. Intellectuals can sometimes be the worst douchebags of all. And yes, being smart is supersexy. Look at you!

Megarita, You know that I love old discussions and dichotomies. I think that there are so many types of intellectuals on the planet, but I really dislike it when people can't seem to summon up an interest in anything.

ALOT, Once you started in with Marx and Capitalism, I had a flashback to a Marxism/post Marxism class that I took, and I had to read the Grudrisse(sp), and all I remember knowing is that I will never really understand his take on big C Capital or little c captial. ;)

Airam said...

Smart people are hot BY FAR.

m.a. said...

Too true, Airam.