Monday, August 28, 2006

On Emotions and Reason

Sean: You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.

Will: Why thank you.

Sean: It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.

Will: Nope.

Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.

You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you.

You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you're a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my fucking life apart. You're an orphan right?

[Will nods]

Sean: You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are, because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally... I don't give a shit about all that, because you know what, I can't learn anything from you, I can't read in some fuckin' book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't want to do that do you sport? You're terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.

[Psychologist Sean and troubled wunderkind Will, in Good Will Hunting.]


I wanted to blog about the difference between practice and theory in life and love, but I think the above exchange pretty much captures it. I'm no Will Hunting, but I can relate to the gulf between book-knowledge and experience. Reason works great when it comes to computer programming or arguing on the internet, but when it comes to certain aspects of real life, my above-average ability to reason is insufficient.

I've learned that when real life is concerned, I have to trust my heart. My powers of reason which serve me so well in other arenas are no match for my heart when it comes to real life. My brain can rationalize almost anything, but my heart is rarely fooled. I've followed my brain over my heart's objections in the past and all I got in the end was a quiet "I told you so" from within my chest.

What does the heart know that my brain doesn't? I can't figure it out, exactly, but I've learned I have to trust it. I'm a logical person and it's kind of scary to let my heart lead me running blind through the wilderness, but it's a lot more fun and, generally, a lot more successful.

12 Comments:

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Marina Grace said...

That speach gives me the chills every time I hear it.

In what way do we really contribute to life? What constitutes participating in life, and what constitutes standing on the sidelines?

How we fool ourselves into thinking that we're really living...

 
At 9:04 PM, Anonymous skcorefil said...

Following heart without reason is fun. But it doesn't make things real, true, and deep. Best when both agree cause it sucks when they argue with eachother.

Sappiness is icky.

 
At 3:48 AM, Anonymous Benjamin said...

*nods*
Ditto with skcorefil

 
At 5:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> What does the heart know that my brain doesn't? I can't figure it out, exactly, but I've learned I have to trust it. I'm a logical person and it's kind of scary to let my heart lead me running blind through the wilderness, but it's a lot more fun and, generally, a lot more successful.

So if my heart tells me that God exists then I should believe it?

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I agree too with skcorefil and Benjamin. I didn't mean to say I now ignore my brain if it objects. I just let my heart take the lead sometimes.


Anonymous:

So if my heart tells me that God exists then I should believe it?

My heart is better at telling me what my heart wants and will want in the future. There's no indication that it's reliable on questions of fact. And the brain must of course have veto power as well -- if a woman's heart tells her that her abusive boyfriend who's married to someone else is her soulmate, she'd be well-advised to pay more attention to her brain.

 
At 4:38 PM, Blogger CyberKitten said...

I quite like reason... I also try not to make important decisions based on my emotional response... they have a tendency to get rather... messy... [grin].

 
At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haven't felt romantic since August, eh?

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Heh.. turns out I may not have a lot to say on this blog. We'll see.

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

It's not really the heart though. Makes me think your heart doesn't want your reason to understand what makes it tick.

 
At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Before Sunrise said...

I like what you wrote. I have always been one to rely more on life and what my heart tells me, than in theory and books. It has gotten me into trouble and it has also caused me quite a few arguments with people who only use their minds. It's refreshing to see that someone who is very logical and rational is open minded enough to realize the importance of setting that aside in certain situations. I hope you write more on this portion of your blog :-)

 
At 1:53 AM, Anonymous michael vassar said...

I think that you must be misusing "reason". I couldn't *stand* "Good Will Hunting" because what it showed absolutely didn't ring true.
Sorry, but reason actually does always work, if you use it. It's irrationally forcing yourself to use the assumptions that other people assert that they are using when they actually aren't which causes reason to sometimes appear to fail.
I've seen lots of relationships, and never have I seen one that I would really call successful or happy that was grounded in what you are calling the "romantic mode".

 
At 3:19 AM, Blogger Ibrahimblogs said...

I love Good Will Hunting. It is intriguing!!
I can relate with your post so much!!

This is Ibrahim from Israeli Uncensored News

 

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