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November 04, 2006

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Gail Renard

Sentimentality Revisited

Your entry on sentimentality intrigued me and I’d like to present another point of view. “The person who is absolutely overwhelmed with emotion at the cuteness of a kitten, or who idealises a lover to the point of nausea is guilty of sentimentality...” Wasn’t it Wittgenstein who wrote that a baby (in this case, say, a kitten) is cute to ensure its survival? A kitten/ baby depends on others to stay alive and its very cuteness (counter-balancing its frequent ear-splitting crying and other ASBO-inspiring habits) is nature’s way of ensuring that Junior or Kitty isn’t thrown down a deep well whilst Mother goes off to the mall.

In addressing the issue of “the kitten has worms, or the lover bad breath…”; yes, it’s an irrefutable truth that a rose has thorns. But one can admire said rose’s vibrant colours and bask in its sweet scent without fixating on the thorns… or one misses out on its blossom, perfume and so much more. This has nothing to do with an unwillingness to face facts, wishful thinking or sentimental blindness, but admirable vision. Perhaps a more appropriate quote from Oscar Wilde would be, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Since most of us don’t have recourse to genetic modification, then the odd thorn is the price willingly paid for the rose experience. So when it’s mooted that the kitten has worms, or the lover bad breath, I’d say give the kitten a worm pill and the lover a mint… then cherish them both, and the charge of sentimentality be hanged.

Matt L

I think you are spot on, but I am curious that maybe there is such a thing as appropriate and inappropriate sentimentality. Liking a song more than you would otherwise because it reminds you of the day you met your wife is not necessarily a bad thing, but being unable to reconcile that your wife is cheating on you in spite of overwheming evidence because of the pedistal you have put her on certainly is. (for you anyway)

I am intrigued by your observation and I see how sentimentality can be cited as the rot in so many bad decisions, but yet it might also provide the quirks in the world that can give life its texture. If humans were entirely without sentimentalilty, we'd be like Finnish archeticture- sensible, yet dull as tapioca.

Then again, maybe I am just getting sentimental for sentimentality.

Geri Greene

Your example of a child being a bully, however impossible in his mother's eyes, is a parallel of those who cannot possibly believe their child is an addict. The delay and disblief serve neither of them in a highly critical time when action and awareness are not only beneficial, but critical

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