Table of Reasoning: Why Intellectual Conversations Matter

BY OGABA AGBESE||

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These words are the torch to carry on the discuss at CreativityTurf today. Why do people shy away from discussions that feed the mind? Why would they settle for the couch and the picture box? Comfort!

Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. Sigmund Freud

We’ve all settled into a pattern whereby anything above the pay grade of our intellectuality screams major discomfort. Our minds react by walling itself off from such endeavours under the guise that it is protecting us from intellectual embarrassment when it finds we do not measure to our intellectual opponent. The table of intellect is a judgemental one. People measure themselves not by how many ideas they’ve been able to extract from the materials they’ve consumed but by how many materials they’ve consumed. It becomes a game of numbers. A game of I’ve read this many books, memoirs and reports.

Another reason for such avoidance is vulnerability. One must be truly vulnerable to have their ideas laid on the table and dissected and still learn from it. Ego plays a big part here. We all hate criticism be it constructive or otherwise but it takes a mind willing to make itself vulnerable to want to take the path less trodden. We immediately think our intellectual alley is trying to destroy us and we let the pain of his / her criticism stop us from the true experience of learning. Another factor is society. Society has drilled in us a penchant for wanting to be right to make ourselves feel superior to the man who has acquired fewer papers than we have in school or taken fewer beatings in the streets of life. One has to be truly modest to let themselves be taught by anyone who walks this earth. A favourite quote of mine comes from the master of the Renaissance movement, Leonardo Da Vinci

                                                          “I am still learning.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

The phrase embodies what it means to be an artist in the game of intellects. A willingness to accept whatever idea you come across as valid, peel them apart, and consume the very essence of they have within them. This can only happen with a hunger for more; a voracious consumption of knowledge out and about. Why don’t the youths of today partake in such discussions? Lethargy for any subject outside their area of study. This usually results in narrow mindedness but how can you know you are narrow minded when your friends are narrow minded as well? A quote from the infamous Oscar Wilde sheds some light on this;

My dear boy, the people who only love once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellect—simply a confession of failures” – Oscar Wilde

There were times in the golden age where people ran intellectual salons. People went to consume knowledge from the discussions of the intellectual stars of their day. The entrance fee was possession of diverse intellectual interests. You had to talk about more than chemistry if you wanted to join this group, you had to have a bit of a fancy for religion, psychology, dance, etc. Ever wondered why modern men are referred to as “Renaissance”? Eclecticism was a way of life then and it has proven that masters of their worlds where not specialists but jacks of a number of trades. In today’s world, specializing is the norm. People have been constantly reminded to stick to one line of thought or profession.

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently – Frederick Nietzsche

 An import ingredient in this piece is conversation. As people become buried in their electronic devices more and more these days, the art of physical conversation is dying. Not necessarily catastrophic but the red flag is in the fact that we’re becoming a generation of consumers. People hunger for content to be fed to them through social pipelines and offer thought provoking one-liners such as “YOLO”. How can you be the best if you don’t have people that constantly ask you hard questions? How can you create something to change the course of mankind if no one attempts to soak ideas in, peel them apart and feast on their juicy centres? With this I leave you with this quote;

“Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live–that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values

–that all work is creative work if done by a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others-

-that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human-

-that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear-corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind’s full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay-

-that your work is the process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live-

-that your body is a machine, but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road-

-that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up-

-that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love, can be only travellers you choose to share your journey and must be travellers going on their own power in the same direction.” 

― Ayn RandAtlas Shrugged

Get ready for the CreativityTurf Conference 2013 Nigeria’s Next Chapter: Innovation | Creativity | Business December 17th 2013 | Eko Hotel & Suite Lagos, Nigeria.

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Ogaba Agbese|| is an architect in training, a poet. Founder and CEO of TreeJump, a nostalgia engine currently in the works.

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