After a certain age, or when receiving certain kinds of medical treatment, a condition known as ‘brain fog’ is likely to manifest itself. It is not the same as that which occurs after drinking too much good wine or watching too much cricket in the sun. It is rather less pleasurable to the sufferer and much less amusing to the onlooker, but it has this one good effect. It simplifies life. When one can no longer remember the detail, let alone bother about it, one ceases to be paralysed by the infinite number of possibilities and choices before one. One acts; one does; and one learns not to worry unduly about the consequences.
Now there is a downside to this. If one has not cultivated some sort of moral sense, has no values by which to judge the rightness or otherwise of a course of action, brain fog can be very dangerous indeed. It can result in our accepting that which is false out of intellectual or moral laziness. I have just finished reading Herbert McCabe’s God Matters and have been struck by his insistence, over and over again, that when we question, it is the right answer that we must seek, not just any answer. In other words, we must want what is true, not what is false. If we use our brain fog as an excuse to opt out of this important but often fatiguing demand, we are opting out of being fully human. I am learning to live with my own particular brand of brain fog, but I certainly don’t want to opt out of the painful business of being human. Do you?