On the Interpretive and Critical Issues of Eggs

Dear Ernest,

These days, man seems to inhabit two worlds.  In one, his choice of literature is restricted only by what he can find on the shelf, but in the other, he finds that the greatest criticism for his favourite authors and philosophers is that they are too difficult to read.  In one, he is limited only by the capacity of his imagination and his intellect, but in the other, he is confined by every pragmatic constraint, from the paucity of time to the stringent demands of utility.  Man on his own is free to contemplate the human condition, to spend however long he chooses considering the nature of the Absolute Truth, but as soon as he leaves the locus amoenus of his study, as soon as he enters into what most of us call ‘the real world’, he realises that all these fancies of his, all these suppositions that he may have dreamed up and wrought to withstand the most brutal kind of intellectual scrutiny—all these are attacked in the real world not for possessing any kind of logical fallacy but merely for being too abstract and metaphysical.  Anyone who spends an hour or so reading and thinking in a private study is likely to feel afterward that the time would have been better spent figuring out what to eat for dinner or how to make more money or what kind of clothes to wear tomorrow—these after all are the sort of decisions that have actual bearing on real life.

Ernest, it is strange that these two worlds are so dissociated from one another.  One would expect them to coincide.  To illustrate this, let us imagine a conversation between two people who each live in a different world respectively.  There is a realistically hefty woman living in the real world, and she is married to a phantasmagorically emaciated man living in the other world.

Woman: We’re out of eggs.

Man: It is my categorical Duty to sustain you.

Woman: What does that mean?

Man: I’ll go get eggs.

Now, our woman might think the emaciated man is a little strange, but at the end of the day, there is no real disagreement between them.  Somehow or other, they can each grok what the other is thinking, since ultimately, they both want eggs.  The only difference is how they get to the eggs.  The woman wants eggs so that she can use them, and the man wants eggs so that he can be the sort of person who gets eggs.

When these two do disagree about something, however, that discrepancy is greatly inflamed by the difference in their worlds.

Woman: We’re out of eggs.

Man: Mankind is not entitled to luxury.

Woman: What does that mean?

Man: Let’s see what kind of people we might become if we went without eggs for a little while.  Perhaps we’d be better for it.

Woman: But I need eggs now!  You lazy, phantasmagorically emaciated man!

Clearly this will not end well.  One or each of them is wrong, but it’s almost certain that they’ll never figure out how or why.  In the real world, the man will never have enough time to explain his esoteric reasoning fully.  If he were able to do so, perhaps the woman could point out the precise matter about which she disagrees with him.  On the other hand, the woman will never be fully able to express her passionate feelings about eggs.  If she could, perhaps the man could demonstrate where his own feelings differ.  All this would be much simpler if they both looked at eggs through the same lens.

Your servant,


P.S. I challenge you to use the word ‘apotheosis’ in your next letter.