Thursday, September 01, 2005

All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions (W. B. Yeats)

Something occurred to me as I was having a conversation with a friend today, (she’s definitely one of the Outcast by the way), when she mentioned that I wasn’t very “open-minded.” The phrase “open-minded” is perhaps the most aggravating and deceptive American axioms ever invented. Why? Because it’s a trap. The only reason people see others as not “open-minded” is because they are not in agreement about a particular subject. If someone says, “I don’t think the U.S. ever put a man on the moon,” I’d disagree, because there’s tons of evidence to the contrary. But then I’d be met with the dreaded “you need to be more open-minded!” Well, shouldn’t they have the same level of open-mindedness? Of course not. Because in their lexicon, “open-minded” means “believing any old bit of nonsense as long as it goes against tradition.” Cold, hard facts scare these people, so they hide behind the gilded shield of “opinions.”

To be honest, I don’t believe there are any such things as opinions. There are facts – things that are universally true, and then there are falsehoods – things that are universally false. My apologizes to the fence-sitters and politically correct crowd (but not big apologies), but there is nothing that can ever be “both” if you “put it in perspective”. What perspective? People must be kidding when they use that phrase as well, because from whose perspective could they possibly be seeing an issue, if not that of an intelligent human being? My divinity aside, the only thing that affects my perspective is the amount of logic and clear thought I put into pondering a situation.

I happen to have pretty strong opinions about, well, everything, and for that I receive the label, “opinionated” or “judgmental”. I can live with that, because where I come from, if you have no opinion about a topic, it simply means that you’re a bloody moron. My opinions are based solely on an examination of the facts, followed by a logical assessment of how those facts interrelate. For example, if someone asked me my opinion about whom I thought the greatest author of all time was, I’d be able to say “William Shakespeare” and have plenty of pertinent facts and data to back up my opinion.

Sitting on my bookshelf is a book with the dubious title of “Shakespeare: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory, 1945-2000”. When I first purchased the book, I thought, “Gee, 55 years of Shakespeare criticism. I bet there’s no dead horses being beaten there!” Let’s face it, there haven’t been any works of fictional literature more discussed throughout history than Shakespeare’s writings, (except maybe the Christian bible) and I’m pretty sure that everything significant that needed to be said has been said, and probably in a dozen different languages. So do we need more modern criticisms? Apparently, someone thought we do, for there stands the book. However, the pages in between don’t offer any insight into the socio-political atmosphere that existed during Elizabethan England, nor do they question the playwright’s intent or motives behind writing. No, instead, the book is partitioned into Parts, and each Part is further divided into essays that give a voice to different “perspectives” one should have while reading Shakespeare. For example, one chapter is entitled, “Egyptian Queens and Male Reviewers, Sexism in Antony and Cleopatra”. Another offering is the “homosexual perspective,” in “The Homoerotics of Shakespeare’s Comedies.” My favorite is the piece examining Shakespeare from the “African-American perspective” in the essay, “Sexuality and Racial Difference”. This is “open-mindedness” at its extreme. Each of these groups is desperately seeking an identity, and in doing so they must insist that we re-examine the greatest works of literature from their “unique” perspectives.

Well, why? Sure there are a smattering of homosexuals throughout Shakespeare’s canon. Indeed there are a great many characters that may fit the model of a feminist. I think there’s only a handful of black people, though, certainly not enough however to warrant a re-exploration of every word penned by the Bard. There doesn’t seem to be any purpose in such an exercise other than for the writers and the poor Ivy League students subjected to their “intellectual investigations” to parade around and tell everyone how “open-minded” they are.

Or are they? I wonder what would happen if someone published a book called “Modern Criticisms of Saul Bellows – The Nazi Perspective.” Perhaps a manuscript entitled, “Maya Angelou – What the KKK has to Say.” Or a volume called, “Virginia Woolf Through the Eyes of a Big Fat Redneck Who Sits on the Couch and Orders His Wife to Bring Him Another Pabst Blue Ribbon.” The authors of these seminal works, in addition to being dragged out of their houses and shot in the middle of the street, would most likely be labeled “Judgmental.”

And it gets worse. Recently, “The Honeymooners”, a classic American TV show was remade into a movie with an all black cast. Open-minded. How about an all-white “The Jeffersons?” Racist. A version of the Odd Couple in which Felix and Oscar turn out to be homosexual lovers? Open-minded. A made-for-TV movie that depicted Adolf Hitler in his carefree youth in Linz, Austria? Anti-Semitic.

So I’ve decided that the next time someone, friend or not, tells me that I’m not being open-minded, I’m going to tell him, “I’m open-minded to the truth, but stupidity is going to need a locksmith.”

Or something equally as opinionated.

Hypocritical Mortals.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello ! I came upon your blog on searching for this quote of W B Yeats which happens to be the heading of your post. I loved your article .

Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:31:00 AM  
Blogger lambchowder said...

"Because in their lexicon, “open-minded” means “believing any old bit of nonsense as long as it goes against tradition.”"

opinion

"To be honest, I don’t believe there are any such things as opinions."

opinion

"My divinity aside, the only thing that affects my perspective is the amount of logic and clear thought I put into pondering a situation."

perspective

"because where I come from, if you have no opinion about a topic, it simply means that you’re a bloody moron."

opinion, incredibly stupid one at that, but just my opinion

"My opinions are based solely on an examination of the facts,"

horse shit

"For example, if someone asked me my opinion about whom I thought the greatest author of all time was, I’d be able to say “William Shakespeare” and have plenty of pertinent facts and data to back up my opinion."

...good fucking god

Saturday, April 09, 2011 1:50:00 AM  
Blogger Valannin said...

Of course they are opinions; this is a blog, not a news site. I clicked through to your profile, eager to read your various musings, but alas, you don't seem to have published anything. A quick Google search shows you haven't contributed anything much to the online world, (with the exception of a really pathetic online dating profile). Do you suffer from a lack of opinions so severe that you must denigrate those who eruditely express theirs?

By the way, you might want to consider a new online handle - urban dictionary has a distinctly à propos definition of your current one.

Saturday, April 09, 2011 7:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow.

The responses you received were shining examples of your point. People love to throw out their opinions, even the ignorant as shit ones.

I came upon your blog by searching a Yeats quote, which ironically was proven by your responses.

I liked the blog. That's all.

Monday, February 25, 2013 4:46:00 PM  

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