Rebirth of Reason


Drama Queen versus Ice Queen
by Luke Setzer

Ayn Rand argued that no necessary conflict exists between reason and emotion.  Since the inception of this site's content some years ago, writers of its articles and forum posts have sought to integrate reason and passion toward human flourishing.  This has led many people here to argue that a true Objectivist needs to get hot, to charge forward with "total passion for the total height."  This passion, they argue, must sometimes manifest itself in the form of rage, a vociferous condemnation of all evil in the world as searing as the bowels of the deepest and most active volcano on Earth.

This attitude begs the question:

Must passion blast as hotly as the molten core of Mount Vesuvius, or can it also blast as coldly as the blizzards of Mount Everest?

I contend that passion can exist across a wide spectrum of "emotional temperatures."   My contention respects the context of an individual's unique character and situation to dictate what temperature proves "just right" to cause flourishing for that person.  To illustrate this principle, I introduce two polarized archetypes of passion: the Drama Queen and the Ice Queen.

Consider how each handles herself in a range of situations:

* * *

When surveying philosophers, the Drama Queen admires Nietzsche.  The Ice Queen masters Machiavelli.

When reading Dilbert, the Drama Queen identifies with Alice.  The Ice Queen role models Dogbert.

When expressing herself, the Drama Queen employs a wide range of colorful language to paint a picture in the minds of her audience.  The Ice Queen feels no need to express herself, living intensely in a world of her own creation and choice.

When an acquaintance asks the Queen what she thinks of him, the Drama Queen reads him the riot act, recounts a litany of offenses large and small, and concludes with how she basically despises him as an immoral human being.  The Ice Queen serenely replies, "But I don't think of you."

When a clash arises on a public discussion forum, the Drama Queen grandstands how much she has enjoyed the company of the people she likes on the list, how her integrity demands that she now part company, and how she might consider staying if the list owner caves to her demands.  The Ice Queen quietly leaves the list and creates her own forum.

When others discover and challenge her planned course of action, the Drama Queen loudly justifies her choices, engages in lengthy arguments with those who disapprove, and allows the disapproval of others to sway her from her chosen path.  The Ice Queen listens quietly as opponents blow steam in disapproval, calmly asks, "Are you finished talking yet?", smiles confidently and nods, "Good, good," when they have finished talking, then proceeds down her chosen path as if they had said nothing at all.

When selecting a lover, the Drama Queen looks at superficial qualities such as how well he dances, how stylishly he dresses, what kind of wine he drinks, and how often he buys her flowers.  The Ice Queen looks at character qualities such as his degree of rationality, productiveness and pride, understanding such profound virtues can let them both connect at the deepest level.

Upon deciding to leave her adulterous husband, the Drama Queen tells all her friends and family about how wicked he is, how he neglected her and abused her emotionally, how she intends to take him for everything he has, and thus gives him ample time to prepare for the worst.  The Ice Queen tells all her friends and family how wonderful he is, persuades him to title all assets to her so she can better manage the household finances, then liquidates those assets and moves to another state with no forwarding address while he is "away on business" with his mistress.

When a rapist attacks, the Drama Queen makes a failed attempt at flailing in self-defense, wallows in misery at her status as victim for the rest of her life, and eventually gets fifteen seconds of fame on Oprah.  The Ice Queen caresses the attacker's temples to sooth him, punctures his eyeballs with her thumbnails, then leaves him to suffer and die of shock in the alley.

* * *

As you can see, both forms of royalty have their benefits and drawbacks.  Some occasions will demand that you play the part of Drama Queen to flourish while others call for you to become an Ice Queen.  In the end, you must make that call -- and prepare for others to condemn you for allegedly making the wrong choice.
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