Saturday, May 11, 2013

overuse I love you

Disclaimer/Warning: this post is a bohemian paean to Idea Crushes, Bacon's Idols of the Marketplace, and Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas Est.
Make of that what you will.

The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder."
--G. K. Chesterton

My current Idea Crush:
Idols of the Marketplace.

[Idea Crush, definition: an idea that you are enamored with, because you find that it is applicable in every. single. situation. 
In every conversation, you find that you simply have to talk about it, because it's just so delightfully applicable, and everything anyone says can be tied into this idea, because this idea is so Universal and True, Enlightening and Fundamental to Human Nature, that it serves as the perfect lens through which to view the world.
Until the next Idea Crush comes along.
This phenomenon is endemic in a liberal arts education, where students are exposed to Great Thinkers. Because Great Thinkers spent their entire lives promoting the beauty, goodness and truth (and sometimes the utility and/or applicability) of their pet Idea Crushes.]

(Idea Crushes may become my newest Idea Crush. 

I remember (fondly and vividly) my first meeting with the Idea of Idols of the Marketplace.
It was in our second PLS seminar meeting of this past semester, reading Bacon's New Organon.
There are two reasons to love Francis Bacon: one, the most obvious, his name alludes to one of the most perfect breakfast foods known to man; secondly, he came up with the idea of Idols of the Marketplace.

To quote, in his own words:
"But the Idols of the Marketplace are the most troublesome of all--idols which have crept int othe understanding through the alliances of words and names. For men believe that their reason governs words, but it is also true that words react on the understanding."

This was a moment I knew I had no chance of escape; this enchanting idea had already entrapped me.
Words are far more powerful than we may even dream, for words are the very coinage through which we enter the economy of the world.
We cannot do trade with reason without words.
Words are not only impacted by our reason, but they are the very stuff out of which our reason grasps reality.

"What do you read? Polonius asks Hamlet.
"Words, Words, Words," replies the mad prince.

But Bacon continues: "When it comes to pass that in the high and formal discussions of learned men end oftentimes in disputes about words and names, with which (according to the use and wisdom of the mathematicians) it would be more prudent to begin, and so by means of definitions reduce them to order. Yet even definitions cannot cure this evil in dealing with natural and material things since the definitions themselves consist of words." 

How tragic that the very method of communication is often the road-block in the attempt at actual communication of thought.

It is a magnificent idea that Francis Bacon has articulated--the Idols of the Marketplace, how words are tangly, complicated phenomena that make up our everyday lives and conversations, but over which we have such slight control.
We are at the mercy of words, it seems.

Benedict XVI begins Deus Caritas Est addressing that very problem:
"We immediately find ourselves hampered by a problem of language. Today the term "love" has become one of the most frequently used and misused words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings."

And so I picked up my pencil, and underlined Benedict's phrase "problem of language" and serenely wrote my first note in the white, blank margins of the slim volume:
'Idols of the Marketplace.'

I realized, in talking to my little sister, we often confuse sentiments with love.
Sugar-rushes, my brother calls them.
That moment where you find your world gets all sparkly and bubbly like champagne in the rush of discovering something new.
Exploration has always incited intoxication in the human race. 
We enjoy finding new worlds; whether that new world is an idea, a place, or a person.
And while those may be crushes, they're not really related at all to love.
They're related quite a lot to "like" which means the ability to find people pleasing and not irrevocably irritating, and it's one of God's greatest gifts, which makes people much easier to love.
I thank him for "like" everyday. 
Without it, I'm afraid, there would be appallingly few people I would have grown to love.

Love is something altogether different.
Love is a movement of intellect, will, soul, and heart to give yourself away; it's that thing they always say about losing your life to save it.
It's what causes Juliet and Romeo to follow each other into death; and what causes God, not to be outdone by two starry-eyed Shakespearean heroes, follow his beloved human race into death.
Love follows the beloved into death.
Love arrives in the midst of death so that the beloved might find life, in all its glorious abundance.

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