Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris

Imagine there is a man without eyes; his world is a very strange world.  Though he cannot see it, the landscape is spanned by a very green floor, and a purple sky.  The clouds rain on things which offend his sense of touch, and the ground is littered by broken glass which grow into broken-glass trees.  Far off in a distant corner of this volatile world is a garden of sanctifying beauty; the blind man never reaches it, yet he knows it is there.  He is the emotional man and reason does not inhabit him.  There is another man in another world, who has no mouth, whose arms and hands are absent.  His world is irradiated by a brilliant blue hue, around him grow emeralds on diamonds and above him, only a few feet away, are magnificent murals with beautiful geometry which antagonize his visual tastes.  He longs to reach up, yet he never is able to.  He has a constant burning in his throat, but he cannot open any channel of relief.  He is mouthless.  This man is the man without emotion, he is the purely intellectual man.  I do not know why I chose these illustrations, but the images were caught in my mind, and they seemed to correspond in a fitting enough manner to these two concepts of the intellectual man, and the emotional man.  At the very end of this essay we shall explore the world of another man, who is called the integrated man, or the “artist of soul”.  He is a man who possesses both rationality and emotion and he is the humane man, not merely the human man.

The scientific interpretation of emotion is beyond my conjecturing; in this essay-study I wish instead to establish an interpretive model of emotion and reason which is rooted only in theoretical philosophy.  There is a single difference between emotion and reason, a difference which is chasmic and which I, in this essay, wish to explore.  Emotion is meant to root the individual in me reality; reason is meant to uproot the individual from the me reality and transplant it to the te reality, which is the reality in which “I” am not the initial reference for interpretation.  Now, emotion, as I perceive it, is divided into two classes: organic emotions, and then learnt emotions, or discovered emotions(the term which I prefer).   Now it seems that there is a great deal of scientific evidence to suggest that emotion relies, to say it crudely, on nerve manipulation and brain interpretation.

Music, for an example, is perceived through the auditory nerve (nerve manipulation) and interpreted by the frontal lobe of the brain (cerebral interpretation).  Music also almost always excites emotional memory and image recall (by which, incidentally, ideas are conveyed to the self).  Now organic emotion arises primarily from the natural progression of living experience.  A child who is born may cry when it feels the pains of hunger, and indeed, the cry from the child is often a necessary signal to the mother in order for the mother to initiate breast-feeding, or some other form of nourishment.  The theoretical psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan once argued an idea identical to this one (see The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry).  Apart from its, may I say, transcendent purposes, I hold to the hypothesis that emotion is a powerful communicative device, which is able to be used both organically and inorganically.  It is important to understand that psychological maturation invokes the gradual domination of discovered emotions over organic emotions in the adult human species.  Organic emotions never, ever recede, but they are subjugated to a sufficient extent so as to allow for complex psychological intimations, such as love-relationships, to be carried on.

Before I set off to discuss discovered emotions, necessarily a distinction must be made between mature psychological relationships and immature psychological relationships.  The movie Last Tango in Paris is an apt example of an immature psychological relationship; Marlon Brando’s character and Maria Schneider’s characters engage in a purely physical and sexual relationship initiated through mutual sexual attraction.  Sexual attraction is organic, it is very rarely discovered; therefore, purely sexual relationships are never mature psychologically because they are never discovered.  The dilemma that so often people slip into, the idea that organic physical reactions to a phenomenon are emotions, will also be explored later.  But l will now revert to discovered emotions, which are admittedly much harder to exemplify.  In fact, to exemplify discovered emotions, we must establish an anatomy of discovered emotion.  The anatomy is rather simple: discovered emotions are the fusion of organic emotion with reason, or the me reality fused with the te reality.  In other words, third degree consciousness (reason, that is) is applied to first degree consciousness; it might be said that the result of this is fourth degree consciousness, the nos reality.  The nos reality is not merely the comprehension of my reality, nor is it merely the comprehension of another’s reality, rather it is the fusing of the two realities so that I might understand the inextricability of my reality together with another’s reality.  In a phrase, shared human experience.

There are several discovered emotions which could be explored here, but for the sake of paper-space, my primary occupation will be empathy, which I consider to be the highest of all discovered emotions.  A simple example should be established; a man is sitting with his friend in the parlor of his large apartment.  His friend’s wife has committed suicide two days before and he is looking for psychological support and emotional confidence in his friend.  It is the only way he sees of ‘making it through’; he needs to share his pain.  Of course, this man whose friend’s wife has recently committed suicide faces an initial dilemma, which is translated into a self-inflicted obligation: how is he to show empathy and thereby fulfill his friend’s psychological insecurities?  He can show sympathy for his friend, that is certain, but sympathy maintains itself in separation from the lived experience of the other.  Sympathy is generally only cognitive, but never the fusion of emotion and reason.  This man may say comforting things to his friend, but human psychology is unbelievably sensitive to proximate conscious experience.  That is to say, when one is separated from another in experience, then relationship is impossible between the two in that necessary moment if the experience of the one ( in this case for the friend, the suicide of his wife) becomes his identity.  This is so because relationship is the mutual participation of two or more individuals in the others’ identities.

I have already written that victim experience almost always naturally progresses into an at-least temporal identity for the victim himself (see previous articles).  Therefore, this friend whose wife has just committed suicide identifies primarily as a victim of emotional trauma, a trauma to which the other man is not able to identify.  Because their identities are non-congruent, relationship, which is to say empathy, is impossible between the two.  The only way to bridge this emotional rift is for the man (who is not the victim of emotional trauma) to enter into the emotional experience of his friend, or to take on his friend’s victim-identity.  He must enter into empathy.  His reason, his third degree consciousness, is able to uproot him from his own reality and transplant him in his friend’s reality, or the te reality.  However, his comprehension of his friend’s reality does not allow him to experience his friend’s reality; he must abandon himself as his initial reference to reality, else he will always be rooted in his own experience, which will prevent his empathizing.  He begins with his friend as his initial frame of reference by simply asking this question: “What has he experienced, and what emotion tends to correspond to such an experience.”  His friend’s experience can be broadly defined as a tragedy; with this being understood, the man is ready now to correlate, or fuse, me reality with te reality.  He looks within his own experience, using his friend’s experience as his reference.  He himself has experienced tragedy, though not on the level of his friend.  So he must exploit, or magnify, the emotional memory, the lived emotional experience, of his own tragedy to that proportion of his friend’s.  This means that empathy is merely equalizing the proportion of emotional experience between two or more people.  He has started with te reality, inculcated me reality, and now inhabits nos reality.  He has empathized; he has entered into the living victim-identity of his friend.

Briefly, I wish to dichotomize emotion between the essence of emotions and the trappings of emotions.  As to the essence of emotions, I find the concept so complexly abstract so as to make it difficult to say anything concrete about it.  I might say the essence of emotion is the soul.  As to the trappings, this means merely the external manifestation of internal emotional states of being.  The trappings of sadness are tears; the trappings of happiness are laughter; the trappings of anger may be physical violence or heightened verbal volume.  The trappings of emotion are able to be manipulated distinctly from the essence of emotion.  In effect, one may cry but not be sad; one may laugh even though unhappy.  It is not even uncommon for humans to manipulate the trappings of emotion in order to suggest internal realities which are false realities.  For an example, imagine a young woman laughing at a joke only to please the joke-teller, who is her boyfriend.  And at last, it can be seen that it was unnecessary to explore reason as a separate entity (though it is) as it relates to discovered emotion.  The nos reality is the reality of the third world, the world of the integrated man, or the artist of soul.  Its visualization might be something like this: vastness on all sides.  On two sides are oceans, one is blue and one is pink.  In this world, as in the world of the rational man, are beautiful murals suspended only feet above his head.  On two sides are mountains, strangely geometric and almost pillar like.  The sky beyond those suspended murals is a swirl of color; it is shaped precisely like a dome.  And as to that, if one looks closely enough, this man’s world seems shaped rather similarly to a Cathedral.  For even above in the dome of that wonderful sky is reflected the image of a man; this man is a man who has eyes, and arms, and a mouth, and all the instruments of the human person.  Arms with which to reach, a mouth with which to relieve that burning in his throat, eyes with which to see, feet with which to embark upon a journey.  This man is complete.

Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider in Last Tango in Paris