|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
There are certain typically human responses, common in myself and others, that make me crazy. Most of them can be categorized as being emotional, illogical, irrational, silly, and entirely grounded in nonsense. When I find myself behaving in such a way, I generally want to slap myself. My personal life-long quest has been the pursuit of sense in all things. I am not always successful at this, but I keep trying. When things don't make sense they irritate me.
When I was a kid one of my favorite television heroes was the character of Mr. Spock on the original Star Trek. I didn't just admire Mr. Spock, I aspired to be Mr. Spock. It seemed to me that Spock embodied all sorts of traits I secretly admired. He was brilliant, even-tempered, unflappable, calm under pressure, oblivious to insults, and really cool. I liked the consistency of Mr. Spock; you never had to worry about him being over dramatic or flying off the handle. He didn't get frustrated, temperamental, or sulky and he never had incomprehensible mood swings. He never raised his voice or carried on with a lot of heat or hyperbole. He knew lots of stuff and never pretended to know anything that he didn't. Spock didn't suffer from any of those pesky human failings because he was only half human, an affliction that he bore stoically. He was loyal, devoted, honorable, and even had a kind of dry sense of humor. Spock was great.
I can remember watching Star Trek with my brothers and thinking that it was the coolest show on television. It seems really chintzy and corny now, and was admittedly pretty chintzy and corny even back then, but it was so completely different from anything that cam before it that it seemed totally unique to us. There were some pretty awful episodes, a great many of which involved Spock getting all gooey and emotional due to either alien plants that worked like LSD, or hormones, or something equally silly. We absolutely hated those episodes because we felt mortified for poor Spock when he lost his cool. The cringe factor was unbearably high and we would groan and hide our heads under blankets or pillows to spare ourselves having to watch Spock's humiliation. For some reason, we really took it personally. We just could not stand seeing him being less than Spock.
Naturally, I failed miserably in my ambitions to be just like Spock. I dare anyone going through puberty to pull that off. I did, however, retain my lust for logic and my discomfort with nonsense. Not Monty Python type nonsense, but the kind of nonsense that people spout with grave seriousness as if sobriety will somehow manage to make it anything but completely ridiculous. I took several logic classes in college, beginning with the basic, "if A equals B and B equals C than A equals C" formula. I loved that stuff. I felt that there was a kind of perfect beauty in irrefutable logic that was worthy of being called art. It was so clean and neat with all the corners perfectly squared and all the lines straight as an arrow. When I was a teenager I began to read about Socrates and Socratic Logic and decided that if I couldn't be Spockish, I'd shoot for Socratic instead. Sadly, I think I flunked on both counts.
On the upside, I learned a whole lot that helped me in debates and persuasive arguments. I'm hard to beat one-on-one in a discussion or difference of opinion, much to the annoyance of my kids. Today they readily admit that it helped them to become pretty good at it themselves, which has come in handy as they have become older. I continue to demand that things make sense and when anyone expects me to believe something I always insist that they need to make it make sense before I can possibly accept it as truth. Chuck made some wild statement the other day and I told him that it made no sense. His reply was that if didn't "get it" he couldn't explain it. I hate this kind of backwards logic. If it cannot be explained, how am I supposed to "get it" in the first place? And that things that make sense can always be explained. He rolled his teenage eyes and told me that I was worse than Mr. Spock. I took it as a compliment.