August 3, 2006

Which is the "real" person?

Here's a piece I liked on Mel Gibson, Braveheart's Tequila Sunset, by Clinton W. Taylor...

....Yet let's assume that Mel Gibson really does, on some level, think some of the things he said. There's a larger question underneath this controversy: let's assume there does exist an "inhibited" version of us, and also a chemically uninhibited version. Which one is the "real" person, and which is the artifice? Most of us are proud of our victories over our inner childishness; if I am in my heart a glutton with a lust for fried okra, but I manage to curb that impulse, enjoy okra in moderation, and drop ten pounds, that might give me a small sense of accomplishment. But whose was the victory? Am I the glutton, or am I the rational person who saw and acted upon the need to control my gluttony?

As both a Christian and a conservative, I believe all men are fallen and flawed. The institutions of civilization -- Church, family, the law, civil society -- help us steer away from our hearts' jagged shoals. Each of us struggle with our own foibles, and our much more sinister demons -- the impulses or attitudes we know to be wrong but cannot exorcise. But out of self-interested careerism, out of love for our families, out of religious obligation, or simply out of a fear of looking at ourselves in the mirror if we fail, we learn, most of the time, to work around the baser angels of our nature.

Then there is the alternative view of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, perhaps the ultimate progenitor of modern leftism....

(Thanks to Dawn)

Do read it. And the bit I quoted raises an important question. One that cuts deep into our world. If what you think, secretly, occasionally, deep down, is what you really are, than it makes sense to march you off to the re-education camp for a bit of a brain-scrub. Or to the current equivalent, "sensitivity training." I despise utterly that sort of totalitarian leftist malarky.

It's also good to keep in mind that great art is often created by twisted tormented halfway-to-sociopathic wretches. Who probably would stop creating if they were "well-adjusted." It's as common as can be to read the biography of some writer or musician you love and discover that he or she was a jerk in private life. I read a very interesting biography of Norman Rockwell, and was rather appalled to learn that, while he was in no sense a "bad" person, he was so consumed with his art that he was only peripherally aware of his family and friends. His sons commented that about the only time he played with them was when he was posing for some photographer, acting the part of a "regular all-American small-town dad."

Posted by John Weidner at August 3, 2006 1:58 PM
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