An illustration of the sublime aesthetic

Here is another dimension of human action with two extremes: there are those who act according to instinct, without a second thought, and there are those who feel a need to have reasons for doing things.


To illustrate, imagine that two friends representing these extremes are walking down the street past a man in a trenchcoat and sunglasses who is talking on a phone. After hanging up, the man jumps into the sky faster than a V2 rocket. He doesn’t come back down.

Both men are shocked. After a minute, they look at each other for confirmation. “Did you see that?” One points to the pavement where Mr. Trenchcoat-Glasses had been standing, which is ruined by an intricate spiderweb of cracks.

The friends separate and go home. One of them goes about his business with a surreal feeling that goes away after a couple of hours. The other is plunged into deep depression.

Three days later, the practical friend checks up on the ideological friend and finds him emaciated and sporting dark circles around his eyes. Upon questioning, the depressed man reveals that he hasn’t eaten or slept, and has been fired from his job for missing three days of work.

“How can I possibly sleep?” he asks. “All I can think about is how that man could possibly have flown like that. I’ve wracked my brain for possible explanations: some sort of secret government technology? Impossible, the acceleration alone would have crushed a human. Maybe he wasn’t human? What would that mean? I can’t believe it was an illusion, because every time I start to think that I go to the same spot and look at the cracks. Here, I took a picture in case they repair it.”

The practical friend ignores the photograph.

“Why are you overthinking this? You need to eat, and get some sleep. I’ll bring you some job leads so we can start to get your life back together.” (As you can see, a true friend who is practical is a very good sort of friend to have.) “But you really need to pull yourself out of this slump. So what if a man flew? It was some sort of miracle, like in the Bible or something. It doesn’t change anything.”

The ideological friend stares back with disbelief.

“How can you say that? This changes everything! No matter how you try to explain it, it is an inescapable fact that the world I thought I knew is, in actuality, much larger and much stranger and (yes, I’ll admit it) much more frightening than I could have possibly imagined. There is something going on out there. Something else. Some other thing. How can I put this…”

The practical friend is becoming frustrated at this point.

“You don’t need to put it in any way, anyway. What you need to do is act. What can you possibly do about flying cyborgs or demigods or rocket-propelled mass illusions?”

“I…I don’t know. For once, we’re in complete agreement. I certainly feel a need to do something. It’s the uncertainty that’s killing me. What should I do? How can I possibly know? I suppose I’ll eat something, because if I starve I’ll never find out…”


Some due credit for inspiring this little parable:

Apropos nothing, claiming that the Problem of Evil disproves Christianity is about as intelligent as saying the Matrix I is unrealistic because people can’t actually fly.

-Koanic

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About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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One Response to An illustration of the sublime aesthetic

  1. Pingback: Nice to have some company | Aeoli Pera

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