I lament that “intellectual” has come to connote disembodied, irrelevant to real physical and emotional life, and that careful thought and precise speech is considered at once excessive, or “intellectual”, and fake, arrogant, haughty, or “pseudo”.

Necessarily precise choices of words, such as “lament” over “regret”, or “connote” instead of “mean”, are thought overly formal, out of place, as if a lawyer and an English professor had shown up in business suits at the family picnic.

The uniquely human trait of curiosity, the compulsive drive to understanding with ever more precise mental models, is somehow considered irrelevant mental masturbation, as if the very act of seeking an accurate mental model hides the truth that it seeks.

We can get hypnotized by ideas, and neglect to inhabit our other domains, the physical, emotional, sexual, social, and spiritual. But it doesn’t follow that there is a danger of being too intellectual, when it is ideas that are being exchanged. I would hate to be accused of being too emotional when embracing my child, or too sexual during sex, or too self absorbed during contemplative meditation, or too awe struck during a nature reverie, or too devotional during a spiritual reverie, or too unfocused during deep dreamless sleep. The time of words is not an insult to our other seasons, and does not stand insulated and apart from them.

So in order to subvert the negative connotations popularly given to the word intellectual, I will take up the term “mental masturbation” with pride instead of sin. Doesn’t the image illuminate the bodily pleasures of thought? And when two or more people engage in mutual mental masturbation, I think the Lewinsky episode made clear that that is considered sex.

So here is a toast to good uninhibited mind-sex. Even pseudo-sex is preferable to being celibate

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