Passion and reason, the editorial by Franco Michienzi Passion and reason, the editorial by Franco Michienzi
 Will, passion andreasondrive all of our everyday actions. And in our world of boats and engines, sometimes these three elements throw up contradictions, or... Passion and reason, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

 Will, passion andreasondrive all of our everyday actions. And in our world of boats and engines, sometimes these three elements throw up contradictions, or at least things that appear contradictory. 

by Francesco Michienzi

“Will is the key principle for man and every other entity, to the extent that it forces reason to become secondary to passion”. My mind turned to the French philosopher Maurice Blondel when I found myself on board a 15-metre Cigarette with six 450 HP outboard Mercury Racing engines and an incredible 24 JL speakers. Passions always have rationality at their core, and equally attitudes we consider to be rational are often driven by our emotions. Passion undoubtedly comes with its own intrinsic rationality.

And building a boat like the Cigarette is the result of completely rational thought, while the desire to own and skipper an incredible boat that shot across the lake near Nashville at almost 100 mph stems from a great passion. Therefore, I wondered, why does it all seem so over-the-top? Is it just me that is unable to fathom why an American boater needs stratospheric levels of horsepower and decibels to satisfy his passion?

Perhaps the engines and the music on full blast are a sort of propitiatory rite, to exorcise having to live in a society as complex as ours. Or perhaps it’s the sense of freedom, which we envy so much, that leads them not to set themselves any limits.

Their cars are, on average, double the size of European ones, and even their sandwiches have three or four layers and are stuffed with whatever comes into their head. I’m not trying to establish which cultural and social model is better; I’m simply trying to understand what leads a population to always live to the max, even beyond any reasonable limits.

The signals that come from contemporary life are often contrasting. One sometimes gets the impression that shared passions are weakening, and that apathy is leading to us becoming ever more hermit-like. I’ve also imagined two visions that clash every day, the proactive view, always looking for new challenges to overcome and new milestones to reach, and the obtuse view, where everything is prohibited, too complex and too difficult to achieve. In reality, reason and emotions form part of a single sphere that is impossible to divide up.

These two visions are also two different ways of interpreting society and its most basic needs. On the one hand you can have a state that allows you to do anything you like so long as you don’t infringe the rights of others, and on the other hand a state that prevents you from doing anything, and only allows you to do certain things under its protection.

Thinking about the embarrassing affair concerning two-speed 40 HP engines that was meant to have been resolved in January with a specific decree from the Italian government makes me feel extremely despondent. The need to regulate everything, committing huge errors along the way, puts thousands of boat owners, who legally cannot currently use their engines, in great difficulty, and tells us that our political class is certainly not capable of leading the seventh biggest industrial nation in the world.

We worry about two-speed 40 HP engines, which do not have any negative impact on safety at sea, while leaving entire areas of the law to the whim of local inhabitants. Without wanting to generalise, I hired a dinghy with a 150 HP outboard motor, and, leaving aside the terrible service, I was amazed to discover that the ship’s owner did not have a boating license.

They are two sides of the same coin: the unpunished chancers on the one hand and the incapable and incompetent public officials on the other, causing the suffering of poor, honest boaters.

(Passion and reason, the editorial by Franco Michienzi – Barchemagazine.com – Agosto 2019)