Monday, December 2, 2013


I've been thinking a lot about thinking. Mostly about intellectualism. 

I was sitting in my American Literary History class talking about modernism. I found myself getting way too excited about our discussions, and left wanting to spend the rest of my life reading Pound, Eliot, and Hemingway in a room full of Mondrian's "New York" collection. 

I came to a realization. Was this starting me on the path to intellectualism? Was I already an intellectual? Did I even want to be an intellectual? 

In my studious 30 second search on Merriam-Webster, I discovered this: 


: of or relating to the ability to think in a logical way
: involving serious study and thought
:of a person : smart and enjoying serious study and thought
1. a.  of or relating to the intellect or its use
    b.  developed or chiefly guided by the intellect rather than by emotion or experience :  rational
2. a. given to study, reflection, and speculation
    b. engaged in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect

I like thinking logically, and I'm all for serious study and thought. I study, reflect, and speculate, and like to at least pretend like I engage in activity requiring the creative use of the intellect. 

Wait, Marina. You skipped the one about being guided by intellect rather than by emotion or experience. 
I know, third-person blog reincarnation. I'll explain. 

Being in an English major, I read a lot of literature. I participate in a lot of discussions about said literature. I analyze and write a lot of papers about said literature. I enjoy it. Maybe even love it.  

I love talking with other people and seeing why they love literature. I love thinking about what Golding was trying to say about human nature in Lord of the Flies, and what Eliot meant by "Hollow Men." Does this definition of intellectualism define who I am? I would venture to say that it's quite possible.

Except for definition 1. b. 

I really don't think that to be an intellectual requires one to be driven purely by rational thought, omitting all emotion and experience. 

To me, at least, to be intellectual is to analyze emotion and experience through one's own emotion and experience. All literature is grown from these things, and to be an intellectual is to acquire the ability to analyze and  understand someone else's representation of emotion and experience.

Just for fun, I'm going to say emotion and experience one more time. 

In the words of the ever-so-interesting Albert Camus, 
"An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself." 

Control. And the ability to know enough to understand what the control of ourselves in our quest of knowledge is.  

Till next time.  

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