I wonder if humans have a propensity that cannot be explained by reason to derive pleasure from the misfortune of others. (There is a German expression for the inclination: schadenfreude.) I wonder how deep within us our humaneness prevails.
I wonder why we rarely, if ever, see a lady driving a motorcycle with her husband or boy friend hanging on behind. I wonder why some newlywed couples divulge to the public in considerable print the details of their wedding vows and sometimes a lengthy, rocky courtship that preceded their marriage, saying such things as "I wasn't quite sure if she wanted to run away from me, or just wanted to feel chased...A chase is what she got."
I wonder whether there is any basis for claiming that the happiness/joy experienced by three people who have just attended an exhilarating symphonic performance is superior in quantity/quality to the happiness/ joy experienced by three people who have just had a successful deer hunt. I wonder why our instincts evolve or mutate as we age and what once were manifested no longer are. (It is highly unlikely that a teen through reasoning can convince her grandfather that he should enjoy her music, and vice versa.) Have I over my lifetime been perceived as different persons by those who have known me?
I wonder whether Gilbert and Sullivan got it mostly right when they said that every boy and gal born into the world is a little Liberal or else a little Conservative, and whether there exist a clustering of shared beliefs on each side of this Left-Right axis.
I wonder why our rational minds seem designed to support our instincts rather than to develop our attitudes and beliefs.
I wonder why reasoning appears to be better suited to scientific inquiry than to the development of our convictions.
I wonder whether acquisition of difficult and inaccessible works of culture (say elite art), and the wearing of expensive trend-setting women's fashions (even if they detract from the looks of the wearer), serve primarily as a membership badge in society's upper strata, rather than as a source of joy in the owner's viewing thereof.
I wonder why so many people are fascinated about celebrities, especially the Hollywood type. (e.g., An Entertainment Headline: "Lindsay Lohan Goes Shopping During Rehab.") I wonder if our expressions of tolerance of the beliefs and actions of others are more pretentious than real.
I wonder if my disparagement of the beliefs of others renders me defenseless to claim my own as superior.
I wonder why I seem to have no genuine free will, but rather live my life as it unfolds from day-to-day by the subtle dictates of mind and body.
I wonder if I am not revealing more about myself than I should care to. (My wife thinks so.)
McElwee is a lawyer in Charleston.