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Re: Adam: inspiration

Posted by Adam on November 18, 1999, at 2:50:49

In reply to Adam: inspiration, posted by Elizabeth on November 18, 1999, at 0:25:27

> Why should *anything* tell people how they "ought" to feel?
I think you may be reading more into that than I intended it to mean. I never meant to imply
that anything "should" tell people how they ought to feel. But I know some people do yearn for
something that will, and I don't think they'll find such answers in science, beyond learning
that we may have an innate sense of "morality" that was shaped by evolutionary forces, and thus
have some cause to be optimistic about humanity. For some this doesn't seem to be enough. Far
be it from me or anyone else to tell them they are silly for feeling this way.

> Hmm...the same claim has been made of depression. (e.g., what if Dostoevsky, Salinger, Mozart, etc., had been on Prozac?). Does that make depression a good thing that shouldn't be eliminated? (And how do we know that depression, or religion, is required for inspiration?)

Are you implying that religion should be eliminated? I guess as far as depression goes, (don't hold
me to textbook definitions, here) I don't think it should be eliminated completely. The relentless
despair that ruins lives and drives people to self-destruction, sure. But nobody wants a Brave New World,
either. The idea of life without affect is what made Huxley's vision so frightening, and I think some
amount of depression is necessary to appreciate joy. I'm not at all implying that you thus need religion
to appreciate science, just that faith has not been entirely without value.

> (For that matter, speaking of Dostoevsky, it's been hypothesized that his apparent mood disorder may have been related to temporal lobe epilepsy. Does that make epilepsy a good thing?)

Who would suggest such a thing? Of course not. I love Dostoevsky's work, but I would gladly give it up
if it meant he didn't have to suffer. I think the closest I ever got to true love was with a woman who
had TLE. She was brilliant, beautiful, could draw a perfect likeness of me in about three seconds, and had
an extremely impressive creative talent. (No harsh speculation about how I let her's complicated).
Anywhow, I don't know in what way TLE influenced her talents, controlled by Tegretol as it was, but I would
hazard a guess that Dostoyevsky might still have been dark and brilliant without it.
> I wrote a "little mass" as my final project for a music composition course in college. It's not Bach (actually Palestrina was the inspiration), but it shows something I think: it doesn't require faith to write a mass or to be moved by it. (A lot of Catholic-style masses have been written by Protestants, and Brahms reinvented the requiem.)
> I don't think faith is required to be inspired, either. I've found at least two of the classes I've taken deeply inspiring (Allan Hobson's sleep class, and a course of my dad's that I sat in on).
I think these things are wonderful, and I envy your talents and a father who must be quite an intellectual.
(what does he teach?) Again, the intent was not to rule out the possibility of inspiration in the absence
of faith. Isn't a little nostalgic hyperbole OK once in a while? It may very well be that faith just isn't
worth the trouble it's caused, but I'm not prepared to make that judgement. If and when it finally vanishes,
I think there will be cause for some sadness, because it hasn't been all bad, and has inspired a lot of

> For that matter I've sometimes experienced brief spontaneous episodes of "inspiration" or ecstasy (sort of like being moved by a beautiful piece of music or a sad story, only more so). (This seems to be predictive of panic attacks, interestingly enough.)

I hope that all transcendant experiences aren't the product or precursor of complex partial seizures, hallucinogens, or
extreme states of agitation.




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