Enthusiasm is a curious thing. On the Internet, one dictionary defines "enthusiasm" this way:
I have to say that the first reference caught me off guard a bit, seeming, as it does, to pose more questions than it answers ("the Holy Spirit" ??? "religious fanaticism"???) but I will trust that someone has done more research than I have. The second reference seems more in keeping with a general, feet-on-the-ground understanding... woo-hoo!
As a personal matter, as distinct from something that is applied to others, enthusiasm puts gas in the tank, encourages further investigation or enjoyment. But it can also provide a place to hide out: An enthusiast can just be a featherweight -- all talk and no understanding. Is a "philosophy teacher" a "philosopher?" Has a "theologian" done more than skim the enthusiastic surface of his discipline? Has an enthusiastic supporter of "democracy" or "justice" or "freedom" or "love" done the work that would make his enthusiasm less notable and his understanding more grounded?
I'm not trying to criticize or assume some high and distanced posture. I am interested and curious for myself: How much of my enthusiasm for any given topic or pastime is based in a lack of understanding and a lack of experience? And if anyone gained that understanding or experience, would the deliciousness of enthusiasm be utterly set aside? Would its energies be rerouted? How depressing would it be? How enjoyable?
On a guess, I think I'd say that enthusiasm bears fruit in the curiosity and effort and originality the enthusiast activates. Enthusiasm switches gears as experience gains a foothold. Belief and hope take a back seat to what is utterly intimate. The willingness to rely on what others express ... well, what's the point of that? Agreement is possible; disagreement is possible ... but the one who was formerly hell-bent-for-leather enthusiastic is free to agree or disagree or neither or both. Philosophy teachers may teach ... but do not rely on teaching; theologians can parse, but the parsing is not an enthusiastic imperative. Your life, your choice ... and it is enough.
I'm just noodling here. No conclusions. Just wondering about enthusiasm's nourishing and debilitating properties. I'll leave the enthusiasm to others. :)
"And if anyone gained that understanding or experience, would the deliciousness of enthusiasm be utterly set aside? Would its energies be rerouted? How depressing would it be? How enjoyable?"ReplyDelete
In my own experience, pretty damn depressing. I could even cry.