"If you talk all the time about something, you stop knowing anything about it" - the poet Kazim Ali, in February's Poetry magazine.
I loved the counter-intuitive nature of this quote. When people complain about not having enough time, or of being overwhelmed by one email after another, they're having a perfectly rational response to an always-on world that more than ever seems to demand a performance. What they're saying is that they can't feel. The irony is that science is rapidly converging on the idea that what we feel is supremely important to intelligence, or at least the kind of creative far-sightedness that is so valuable today to art and business alike.
Very early in an otherwise forgettable book, The Social Animal, David Brooks writes:
The research being done today reminds us of the relative importance of emotion over pure reason, social connections over individual choice, character over IQ, emergent, organic systems over linear, mechanistic ones, and the idea that we have multiple selves over the idea that we have a single self. If you want to put the philosophic implications in simple terms, the French Enlightenment, which emphasized reason, loses; the British Enlightenment, which emphasized sentiments, wins.
Sentiment doesn't subvert reason. Sentiment makes human reason possible - the kind of reason able to hold out possible worlds for examination, to think deeply about the next move in a competitive market or a game of chess, to extend mercy when none may be merited.
I don't think it's a coincidence that The Onion, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart offer more grown up insight than some putative news sources. Like Ali, they intuitively know that given a way to communicate with everyone on the planet and unable to stop talking, the joke, sadly, is on us. There is value in being able to stop long enough to know what we're saying, to feel something toward the object of our thinking.