High brow stuff and real life

It is really amazing… The level of abstraction that some minds have achieved. In those times when I feel quite down about my own mental capacities, my mind shifts to this question, drifting away from duty, as it is doing right now. I mean, how could all those theorists, essayists and scholars reach that level of abstraction if not for having their basic needs fulfilled?

In one of my previous posts I mentioned Einstein and the rules he designed for his wife, which included being spared the children presence, having any obligation towards his wife or having to clean, iron or cook at all. Sometimes I wonder, is it possible to mix daily stuff and high brow thinking in just one mind? Or, does one influence the other? What happens when one has to deal with thugs, traumatized people, bullies, cheats, busybodies, hand-to-mouths and spiritual destitutes -who are just part of REAL life – in a daily basis, make ends meet, take care of others, cook, clean, wash, put up with weird bosses and then one has to write an essay on, let’s say…, the importance of Freud’s psychoanalytic theories applied to the way an author’s identity conditions the meaning of a literary product from a diachronic perspective? Can you do that while you are thinking in your children’s timetables, your workplace deed in lieu of foreclosure, the shopping list, sexual harassment or bullying at work? How could Derrida or Lacan write those nearly indecipherable texts about whatever they are talking about?

Spleen and ideal (copy)The point is that there are innumerable societies within our society and our world and it is so different for people depending on their background… How can I feel identified with someone who seeks to be indecipherable in order to exclude the non-elite niche dwelling people? How can they get so far away from reality into their own world of concepts with no visible results in the improvement of their fellow men/women’s lives? Can we really afford to spend so much time in theoretical masturbation while there are so many things to improve at a practical level? Is it really better to spend our time enclosed in our ivory tower?

I marvel at Frederick Douglass, who learnt to read and write and became someone out of his own will power in the worst scenario possible. He, who interchanged bits of bread for literacy with poor white boys, who had to work like a mule, and was shunned, enslaved and oppressed. He certainly was not in an ivory tower and he made it and manage to help others in the process. He dealt with real life and its real issues.

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Why worshiping other humans?

Yesterday, as I drove back home from the airport listening to the radio, I learned that The Genius Albert Einstein wrote a draft with directions for Mileva Maric to follow if she was to keep on living with him when they moved to Berlin. I could not but marvel at the content of that list, even bearing in mind that it happened a hundred years ago (to be compared with Wollstonecraft’s writings!). Peculiar!

Amongst the points that he made, we can find some pearls of love and companionship towards one’s own wife, that describe a servant-master relationship. Mileva, who had to forget about her own career when she became a mother, had to keep the house clean, with special care when it came to his dominions – bedroom and office – , serve three meals that he would eat in his quarters, renounce to any kind of personal relationship with him, except when social occasions made it inevitable. She should not sit next to him, go for walks , or travel with him. They should not have sex, or argue. She should agree to stop talking if he asked her to and should leave on his command. She should not despise him in their children’s presence – although he does not say if it worked the other way round as well -.

I started wondering why we highlight intelligent remarks and interpret antisocial behaviour as something to be admired as a sign of their excellence. We set it in the shrine as well, next to our heroes, as something to be in awe of . Well, I guess we look for some signs of genius in anything and everything they do. Their importance makes everything about them mythic. That slippery quality, genius, allows well-known artists (painters, film makers, actors) scientists, such as Einstein or some politicians, to abuse people, have sex with girls under age, or cheat the tax office. Together with their assumed godliness people around them seem to accept these unacceptable privileges without a blink.