Requirements for an intellectual soul

In the same way that veganism makes its dietary demands – there will be no turkey for Thanksgiving – or that being a fervent Muslim implies five pious glances at Mecca every day, being an intellectual has its requirements.

To be an intellectual, first of all, you have to get some cool glasses. It doesn’t matter if you don’t need them, by consensus it is known that horn-rimmed glasses –now they are also metallic and round– are always the perfect complement. If, even so, the intellectual resists, the lack of lenses could be alleviated with the phenomenology of spirit of Hegel under his arm. If you are not for cumbersome reasoning, The book of hallucinations of José Hierro will also take effect. He is not the true intellectual who despises philosophy and poetry at the same time.

That said, the outfit is essential. And here everyone can carry their variations. Shrill lipstick, shabby beard or the odd lyrical manuscript. The intellectual will have to find what makes him unique and individual.

But the intellectual, who knows how to transcend the material, is aware that it is not worth it just with an empty imposture, that is if hipster. The intellectual will test the veracity of his clothing through an epic conversation accompanied by a gin and tonic, also epic: what if Gadamerian prejudices, what if Borgesian sonnets, what if Schrödinger’s cat. An intellectual has to be at the level of any conversation, it doesn’t matter if he deals with arithmetic, the new historicisms or the New Age as a spirituality without God and without religion. And if the terrain is totally unknown, the intellectual should not worry, it is at that moment that his ability to redirect the dialectical pulse to more traveled waters will be put to the test.

It is necessary to recognize that, in the same way that the being is said in many ways, the intelligentsia – fortunately – is also predicated in a different way. And for this reason, it should not surprise us that there are nostalgics who prefer to collect themselves among fossils and relics of the ancient world. Others, on the other hand, camp in the laboratories or in the libraries, and there is no one to take them out, not even for a couple of beers.

Be careful also with those who call themselves intellectuals because they are studying or holding a doctorate. Which may coincide, but is not the same. Being intellectual, in any case, is a vital attitude, an intelligent gaze –for sensitivity we have artists and poets– at reality.

Let’s not forget, if before we talked about the intellectual clinging to the past, the hipster also subsists, in a different way. The one who, yes or yes, has to defend Rosalía to the death (thank God, finally someone plants a song for these post-millennials), the one who is only seduced by the art that is performancethe one that is completely postmodern with scholastic aspirations.

Fortunately, the intelligentsia does not know about corseting, and horn-rimmed glasses, fiery conversations in the glow of gin or unmasked nostalgia are of no use. Nor is the ecstasy of knowledge learned in the dust of books useless. Today, you have to want to be intellectual. Like the artists, the intellectuals without golden gooses under the mantelpiece, which are generally the majority, live with what they wear, they survive the onslaught of the pragmatist technocracy.

For this reason, if the intellectual is going to live from sapiential jouissance, it is better for him to know how to listen. It is difficult to learn something new from the arrogance of those who are satisfied with their own knowledge. If the intellectual needs something, an essential much more important than the outfit, a condition sine qua nonis to know that the other, whether it is Augustine of Hippo, Friedrich Nietzsche, the wealthy friend or the bus driver of the twentieth, whether in the durability of the writings or in the intensity of the living, is a gift, an opportunity to meet, an opportunity to narrow the internal horizons.

Being an intellectual –with or without glasses, with nostalgia or from the most passionate postmodernism– is to accept the word of others, to live in debt to those who without pretensions or delusions of grandeur sowed the earth.

Requirements for an intellectual soul