Our intelligence quotient (IQ) has traditionally been considered the mark and measure of a person. Especially in our Western cultures where rationality reigns supreme. And yet is there not an entirely unique and other half to our whole? Are there not crackling bundles of feelings and instincts and intuitions at work as well? Motivating, shaping and driving our behaviors in ways somewhere outside and considerably beyond intelligence? Neuro-scientists are starting to call these bundles our emotion quotient (EQ).
IQ’s have the advantage of being quantifiable. EQ’s much less so. And yet have there been any seriously important decisions in your life — in the lives of nations — that have been entirely rational? We feel as well as think our way through life. Sometimes to our disadvantage, but often to our extraordinary benefit. Perhaps this is why psychiatrists and clergy and directors are continually asking “what do you feel?” as much as “what do you think?”
Psychiatry aside, our Western cultures tend more to preserve and praise the products of the mind than of the heart. Our secular histories meticulously record what our collective intelligences have wrought (great governments, laws, inventions, machines, art, architecture, things we can see and touch). These same histories rarely devote as much attention to what our collective emotions have wrought (great dreams, visions, prophecies, premonitions, matters of the mystical, imaginary eve hallucinatory).
Oh, humanity’s EQ is recorded, but not in secular histories or museums as much as in off-beat writings and late-night cable documentaries about the peculiar realms of ancient seers, mystics, Coptic writers, and Inca calendars. Interesting stuff. Strange and peculiar stuff. But more to be considered as the raw materials from which Hollywood blockbusters and Dan Brown novels are crafted.
Still….we read horoscopes, study peculiar cloud formations, discover Marian signs, buy Ouija boards, thrill to the mesmerizing lyrics of concert balladeers, seek out unauthorized medical cures, invest enormous amounts of attention to vampires, zombies and ET’s. What’s going on here…?
Is it not humanity’s ancient yearning to make some sense out of this enormously problematic and dangerous universe which our textbooks and teachers alone seem unable to do? Religions? Yes, of course, but even they have grown increasingly more rational over the centuries. Behold the rise of the fundamentalist religions, the prophets, the doomsayers, the apocalyptic voices who speak in tongues.
Academia sniffs in contempt — our species has struggled to leave behind the primitive and pagan. And yet…..
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