Posted on the Myspace of a friend of mine :
Monday, April 10, 2006
I want to say a little something regarding that recently published book ("Manliness" by Harvey Mansfield) I told you about. It may sound unduly harsh at first (but it isn't, once a person gives a full hearing to Mansfield's various arguments), however, the guy really -- I mean REALLY -- drives home just how utterly indifferent a truly manly man is toward what women could think of him.
And this is just like you've often said: act like you "don't have a CARE IN THE WORLD" what women think of you, you're there just to have a good time and get to know other people. Nothing Mansfield says is of any greater immediate help or applicability than what I or anyone else stand to learn from you. But what he says really does -- at least for me, and possibly for other guys out there who are really cerebral and who, oddly enough, need a frickin' cerebral book to assist in breaking out of the prison of their own minds -- accentuate, or compliment, in some rather surprising ways things I've learned from you.
It may sound ridiculously obvious to say something like "manly men are pretty much totally oblivious to what women think of them," etc. But it's a WHOLE DIFFERENT THING to actually experience what that means --- what that means in a way that really can't be captured in words. A guy can get that experiential knowledge after "marinating" in a book like his; which, again, is much like what you teach: it's not only teaching by example but, moreover, by actual lived experience. Being, not becoming.
Many of the valuable lessons I've learned from you -- and which I've been employing in my life these last several months -- are things I've learned by actually, personally, being on the receiving-end of the way you treat/interact with others in general. Those certainly aren't always the easiest lessons to learn or to accept. (It's in that sense your other client's blog statement about "Brent's teaching being hard to wrap your mind around at first" really hit home). But they're the most long-lasting.
It's one thing to think you know something because you have it down just by rote, like it's a TECHNIQUE, known through abstraction or through mere words or repetition. (Like RSD's "method acting"). It's a whole other thing to really know something on a phenomenological level. (I hate using such a pompous sounding word, but there's no term that more aptly captures what I'm getting at). And "technique" is precisely what you try to deemphasize.
About that "experiential" thing -- I'll hazard throwing this in here -- the following is something written by an incredibly bright/insightful friend of mine.
This really hits the point home; may seem dark and too existential, but this really illuminates "knowing something on a deep phenomenological level" like nothing else I've ever read; the mere act of reading it itself is probably an example of my whole point:
In Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych, the dying Ivan remembers a syllogism he once learned- which is the traditional first syllogism anyone learns: "All men are mortal, Caius is a man, therefore Caius is mortal". Because he is confronted with his own death, Ivan becomes haunted by the syllogism- what was once a mere logical tool, said and forgotten, now has a new property that haunts Ivan.
What was new in that syllogism? It is not that Ivan once thought it false, and now sees it as true. He knew that it was true from the first minute he heard it- as we all do. But before he was himself dying the truth of the thing seemed unimportant and did not affect him. Ivan never meditated on the truth of his own mortality, and so he had to learn about it in the harsh school of experience.
This sort of meditation is necessary for man concerning all the basic truths of our existence. The intellectual light in man is so dim that we can hear discourses about ourselves for years without even realizing that the discussion is about us. We talk about "a combination of spirit and body" or "a child of God" or "an animal" or "a being that acts for an end" as though we were discussing theories.