A Reasonable Defense of Unreasonableness

It is a sad, modern era when a man cannot fight to the death over his favorite eye color. Whenever he sees, say, bright blue eyes in a beauty in the bar, he should rise up above all the men in the room and challenge them to deny the intense beauty resting within the pretty girls face – rattle sabers at the devil should Old Scratch dare choose green or, even worse, grey eyes over his own choice.

Now, the reasonable modern man has come out and declared this somehow unreasonable, even close-minded. It is, he says, simply preference. Of course, he is right. It is hard to make a reason-grounded assessment as to the qualities in blue which elevate it higher then black or brown. Perhaps hearkening to the goodness of the sky will get you somewhere, but the fact that all the fun in the world is found in or on the ground will eventually derail your fanciful argument.

Still, the romance of the unshakeable and unreasonable worldview has something to be said for it. To declare yourself so devoted to hazel eyes that you will duel the world, one on all, simply because you believe it true, is breathtakingly no longer even seen as romantic. No, the reasonable man has declared it wrong. The irony of that seems, as usual, to have escaped modernity, but that is a different discussion.
It is instead my intent here to focus on reasonable unreasonableness – to put it simpler, to defend the right of a man to believe. And by that, to declare it unromantic, even inhuman, to shutter that belief.

By far the most important part of a man is what he believes. Any man can be rich, but one must believe something to spend the money fruitfully. Any man can be poor, but one must believe something to still enjoy himself. Any man can think, but one must believe something to feel.

Unfortunately it is now the tendency of humanity to declare beliefs untenable. It, of course, started with modernism and the death of belief. The rise of the 19th century pessimist and atheist brought forth such a torrent of reason that it washed away all thought. Oscar Wilde killed art when he removed belief from art – the beat generation killed literature when they removed thought from literature. Incidentally, both believed so intently in what they were doing that they infested their own creations with belief, but the dying croaks of their protégées left nothing notable in their wakes.

When a flood destroys a home, its owner, if sane, does not lie down in the mud and pretend it his new abode. To call the ruins of a house a house is to besmirch the good name of houses everywhere. To rebuild is natural – to capitulate to misfortune is suicide.
So it goes with thought. When the modern era of science and thought destroyed philosophy, when Nietzsche ravaged morality, which their genius certainly accomplished, nature dictates to rebuild. To start at the bottom and build a new world view that Nietzsche can no longer touch, that Wilde and Burroughs could never understand.

Ah, to be reasonable. Unfortunately, the modern era instead decided it right to kill belief and stick to the mud, called the dirt our home, and learned to enjoy it. The belief in unbelief, keystone of 21st century thought.

Now, knowing that declaring brown eyes superior to all is the extreme of romance, even the smallest declaration is no longer bearable to the ears of the academic. Not only can I not say I believe bright purple a hideous color to behold, but I am just as ridiculed when I steadfastly declare it impossible for, say, socialized medicine to work. And to mention either belief in public is to ask for banishment from social circles all around!

I may have found the root of this problem. Or, at least, one root connected to an abnormally large tree that will take bulldozers and dynamite to remove. I have no doubt tugging this root will only tire me out, but since I will happily bore myself bragging of the incomparable beauty of red heads and brunettes, I’ve no trouble wasting your time with such inconsequential talk.

Which, as it turns out, is the problem I have stumbled onto. Talk has become so inconsequential, so passé, if you will. To return to the reasonable man who declares anyone with a belief close-minded, I believe he seems to have put his pants on backwards and is trying to walk heels first. To him, holding a thought to be true is to dismiss all other ideas as false, and this is insulting to the intelligence of the others in the room.

And, to be fair, this is in one sense true. In order to believe something, you must pick it over all other beliefs, and this necessarily warrants your acceptance of their falsity. Yet how this action demands a judgment of intelligence is beyond me. To declare a man stupid for his belief may or may not be warranted, but it is never a necessity. Believing that Germany won WWI would be a belief I would label as stupid; believing that there is no God I would simply label wrong.

Loving your wife and declaring her better then Helen of Troy is in no way insular when you have chosen her over all other women in the world. It is romantic. Holding to your religion and declaring all others false is in no way narrow when you have compared it to all other religions and found it triumphant. It is courageous. To listen to the academic is the way for all to keep their mouths shut and allow thought to die – how exactly is one to find a wife if you cannot compare one woman to the rest? How exactly is one to find a belief if you cannot choose between them?

For choose you should – you must. Art dies without belief; literature is nothing but paper and ink without conviction; to talk of the weather and leave principles at the doorstep is to let life dribble out of your mouth, lukewarm. It isn’t even granting it the courtesy of a spit. To say religion, politics, and sex are taboo is to say that being a man is immoral. When a rabbit converses over sex with his friends, then perhaps talking of it will no longer be man’s domain – for the action itself certainly is wider than humanity, but crude jokes about it are reserved for men who know how to distinguish themselves from mammals.

Choice is the inevitability when dialogue is allowed to flourish. Tell me, what great philosophical breakthrough has the last 50 years provided? We have the failed Gnosticism that culminated in a silly book and movie with Tom Hanks – a history lesson and a glass of whiskey later and the fad died on its own. We have the new school of Atheism that breaks everything in its path, but is run by men whose hearts are so black they bleed oil. It is anarchism of thought, and we can all reread the history of how anarchy led to Mussolini. Hawkins and Hitchens will not be remembered for their fiery words, but for the tide of fascist backlash that will inevitably follow. And we have the remnants of New Age that is slowly seeping its way into Eastern philosophies, and giving us Feng Shui; which while traditionally was used as a means to find a burial place for kings, is now used to find a burial place for personal taste. The modern American Daoist knows as much about the Zhuangzi and the Daodejing as the modern highschool student knows of metaphysics and 17th century literature.

No, the reasonable man has not asked to be ‘open-minded’ for the sake of learning; that is asking to be poisoned for the sake of medicine. He has asked for open-mindedness to kill dialogue. And by killing dialogue, he has killed reason. Reason suffocated a slow, painful death since the first day reason told a man that declaring green eyes the most beautiful is silly, as it is all just a matter of opinion.

For it is a matter of opinion, but opinions can change only when they are thrown into the arena with the lions. A man might very well declare blue eyes superior. But suppose one day he is on the street and meets a beauty with purple eyes – his heart will stop in his throat, his vision will blur, and his world will crumble around him. And the next time you meet him he is shouting that blue eyes are of the demons for the angels have Alexandria’s eyes.

You can hide everyone’s eyes, you can cover everyone’s ears, and call this being open minded. Surely you will be un-offended. Perhaps even somewhat content. But you will certainly not be romantic. And assuredly you will not be courageous. I will risk running into the purple eyed beauty and having my world shattered. Still, until that day, I will crusade for my green eyed beauties as loud as I may, my red headed angels till the skies collapse under the weight of the clouds, and my unwanted opinions until the history books are long past dusty. I will be reasonably unreasonable till I have run out of breath, and never will I regret it.

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