Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Listen to your heart, or maybe don't

I am rather curious about the contrast of a very strong "listen to your heart"-message in popular culture, and "emotion" being essentially a dirty word in any social or political discourse. Even more interesting is the fact that while calling the other party emotional and oneself logical is very widely practiced, purposeful public displays of emotion also have their place in such discourse.

The proponents of measures that are considered somewhat less humanitarian usually directly accuse their more-humanitarian opponents of a) basing their views on emotion, and not on reason and logic (like us) and b) being women, regardless of whether or not they actually are. The proponents of more humanitarian measures tend to avoid using the very words "emotion" and "feelings" as a swear word, resorting instead to listing the emotions that in their opinion drive the adversary: fear, hatred, etc. (they themselves are of course perfectly logical and reasonable), and also often accuse the opponents of being male and sexually deprived, regardless of their actual gender and sex life.

What do people actually mean when they call somebody else emotional? An intricate emotional life and wide range of emotion? Strong emotion? Tendency to express emotion in public? Tendency to act on emotion without running every new idea through the reasoning facilities? Do they even know themselves?

The funniest moments come when people discuss emotions as a natural and irresistible force: if it's the other people who can't control their emotions to our satisfaction, this means that they are not fit to make decisions, vote, etc. If it's ourselves - why, then we'll call those emotions "human nature" and declare that you can't really go against the human nature, now can you?

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