The Bullshit Of The Heart

Mystics and their banal echoers are fond of talking about this or that “springing directly from the heart”, but no one ever asks what exactly this is supposed to mean. For something to mean something, its opposite has to mean something too, so what would it mean for a thing not to spring directly from the heart? From the head, perhaps? So what they are actually saying is that we should do things without thinking? Certainly there is such a thing as overthinking it, but otherwise the advice seems tantamount to advocating infantile grasping at whatever takes the fancy: and of course, there is no shortage of people telling us to “be as little children”. That lowers sales resistance.

Apart from the literal cardiac organ, I never know what people mean by ‘heart’ or even whether I have one. Being told that I have a clean heart means that I act ethically, and that is clear enough. Sometimes “heart” seems to mean “core values” and that is also comprehensible; I have some of those. In both cases, however, I wonder why we need the metaphor at all. One could just say that a person is ethical, or that his core value is hatred of lying, or that he possesses integrity, and leave it at that. To me, the meaning of ‘heart’ appears to slide between three different things: the core-values business, the not-thinking business, and the manufacture of emotional display and drama. I suspect that the purpose of using it instead of the underlying concepts is precisely this, to confuse positive things like integrity with other qualities like not-thinking and emotional showiness whose virtue should be questioned.

Posted on January 3, 2011 at 09:42 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, What Is This Thing Called Love?

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