Friday, August 6, 2010

Think It Through

If the power of reason is what defines man then it's feeling that guides him.

Jean Jacques Rousseau
(Thank you Bruce)
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One of the silliest things in the world of crossword puzzles is to come across a clue for a five letter word meaning "to act." The chances are good that the answer is "emote" as if actors go out on the stage and "emote". Try going around emoting here and there for no reason. You will soon twist yourself into a knot of tension and get very little emoting done.

Some inexperienced actors try to begin by establishing the emotional life of the character. They make a lot of mistakes doing that and also make it difficult for the actors they are working with to deal with them. I think that tactic comes out of some faulty training. An actor is one who jumps in the water to save a drowning man not one who stands on the shore in a state of shock.

If you check your dictionary I think you will find among other things that an actor is one who does something. Emotions don't come out of nowhere, they are the result of actions and actions are the pursuit of objectives, great or small. I used to tell young actors to start with the story, learn how your character fits into the story and then determine what that character wants to accomplish and why. Once those things are clearly in mind the physical life begins to unfold and the emotions follow. I also frequently said that a character should take charge of whatever scene he is in. That requires thought. If there is nothing for him to do, fine, but he is therefore always ready to do something if necessary.

So when are emotions a guide as Rousseau claims? How does feeling guide us? The answer is in the quote, "If the power of reason defines" us we will act according to it and the "feeling" will follow. In life, just as on the stage, sometimes the reasoning is faulty. My life would be so much better if so and so was dead, so I'll kill him. So thought Shakespeare's Richard the Third and so think some Third World potentates about their opponents. I have no job and yet I need money so I'll steal it. That kind of thinking makes sense to a desperate man. He insulted me so I'll smash his face in. It sounds reasonable to the insulted party, but to be guided by those feelings is anything but rational and reasonable. He might find his own face smashed in.

On the stage we shoot blanks, have dulled knives and swords and rehearse all the fights every day so that no one gets hurt. We think it through before the emotions take over. But in real life those safe guards are not in place. People get hurt, and hurt themselves.

Another way of stating the Rousseau idea is: If you allow yourself to be defined by reason and careful thought then the feelings that guide you will be positive ones.

DB - The Vagabond
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WEEKEND CONTEST
Hitch up the teams.

What teams do the following letters represent?

1. A & C
2. B & B
3. G & S
4. GB & GE
5. L & H
6. LR & T
7. M & L
8. P & T
9. PP & M
10. RR & DE
11. R & M
12. W & F

good luck
DB

6 comments:

Big Mark 243 said...

I do agree with the sentiment of this post. And I would think that your adjusted take on Rosseau's quote is not far from what he intended his words to mean. But like art, words, are often subject to the reader or the listener and what they themselves take from them.

Nietzsche I don't think, really thought to give ballast to the German Socialists? I don't think anything in the Bible was meant to enslave a people. I think that it goes back to who and how the words are interpreted.

Some folks say acting is frivolous and 'not work'. Some folks say basketball is only a 'game'. I won't get into what some people say about boxing! But my point is, whatever guides someone, eventually it becomes the power of his reason and they give definition to the word and subsquently, themselves.

(clink,clink) That is my two cents going in the cup!

Liz said...

‘If’ is a conjunctive that introduces a conditional clause.

When the ‘wise wind of reason’ blows through the arrogant ignorance that truly defines man any house he built following false feelings will fall.

FrankandMary said...

I don't always have positive feelings guiding me but I do recognize their value. I could definitely use some more desirable attributes.

I think your meaning is as correct as R's. ~Mary

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I agree with the reason and thought philosophy, it has always been one of my guiding ones.

krissy knox said...

I'm glad I'm reasonable and very positive! :)

krissy knox said...

DB, I noticed you posted this entry more than once in Twitter, so I thought I'd post you two comments, LOL. Let me just leave you w the last line of your post, itself, bc that was the most meaningful part of the whole thing!

"Another way of stating the Rousseau idea is: If you allow yourself to be defined by reason and careful thought then the feelings that guide you will be positive ones." ;)