Friday, June 10, 2011

Between us

The more social an event becomes, typically the more commercial. You can go to a party and expect certain patterns of conversation which may be traced back to purchases or modes of purchasing power. Even politics in the way it is discussed can have more to do with how we receive information as a product -- whether it is delivered by Twitter or The New York Times -- than any initiative we might undertake in response.

Given the choice I am less concerned by what is frivolous about normal social intercourse than what is earth-shakingly important. Things that are deeply important to me are actually very difficult to articulate in social settings, because there is little in the way of a shared language for it. We have language for power, and language for commerce; but not because we established them ourselves. We just receive them from the same, shared source -- making me wary of the "urgency" that always attends things nobody knows nearly enough about.

It follows from this that in large groups of people you can sometimes feel the most alone. Conversely, it is in quieter settings that you may have the best opportunity to consolidate some sense of who you are. This for me has always been the paradox of being in relationships with other people, since it is something I can't do without orienting myself away from them at the same time.


Hattie said...

That's perfectly normal. I think just about everyone who thinks about things feels this way.

Anonymous said...

A friend suggested to me this afternoon that this phenomenon is due to the majority of humans in America being highly emotional creatures who react emotionally and ignore logical/factual points. Cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy therefore aren't issues for the emotional reactor, who isn't reacting because of facts or because of logical persuasion/consistency. There isn't a walk vs talk issue for them.

I think it would be easier to deal with if so many of those reactors didn't pretend to be more concerned with factual things like competence and effectiveness and merit.

I tend to think that my own values are well out of step with most Americans' values, and it often seems they're not just out of step, but 180 deg opposite.

Randal Graves said...

Precisely why I tend to not talk to people unless absolutely necessary. Invariably becomes exactly that generic, and it's exhausting.

drip said...

There you go.

Anonymous said...

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C├╝neyt said...

Oh, Mr. Boyd. You speak to me perfectly; I don't know if I know how you feel, but you sure seem to know how I do.

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Anonymous said...

i'd like to make a quick tangential point about "cognitive dissonance". i'm not sure there is such a thing as i've never experienced it, and i'm quite the expert at holding two contradictory thoughts in my head at once. in my experience, it is an accusation hurled out (usually on the internet) when one party is unable or unwilling to construct a coherent argument. (in the same way, you'll see a lot of people being called out for their lack of "reading comprehension" when a simple disagreement is at hand.)

thought-provoking post as always, JR

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I find it irritating how strictly mediated conversations generally are by what is going in pop culture nonsense. Its hard for me to even pretend to care or feign interest, which makes me feel like I am being rude, or rather, I feel pressured to pretend like I do care in order to have casual conversation. That is what I read in your Jersey Shore series, anyway.

As for the kind of conversations you are alluding to here, honestly, I've never had a problem talking about that stuff if it comes up in conversation. Its tough to relate, as my premises are generally all inverted compared to the dominant thought, but generally, most people respond with interest in those kinds of conversations. Like I was in a bar when on the television the first reports about that Al Qaeda big whig we the U.S. just killed last week came on. And the TVs going on about how it was so great we got this guy, and I was involuntarily skeptical about the whole thing. This spurned a conversation with someone else there who questioned me, and it was pretty easy for me to explain that we are killing thousands of people to hold up the occasional victory trophy like this and it seemed to me like a bunch of shit. He saw my point without too much trouble.

Anonymous said...

Nonny Nay-Sayer:

I am passing the phrase along because of its use and totemic status among "progressive" identifying people.

I tend to think of it more simply as hypocrisy, as in:

1) "I believe ABC is the best way to do things and that XYZ is the worst way because only Evil Rethuglicans do XYZ."

2) Later, ABC is implemented by a Donkeycrat Admin, with the end result being the same as if XYZ were implemented.

3) The "progressive" is confronted on ABC's inability to improve over XYZ, and cannot explain the confusion he/she feels over his/her admired Agenda being identical in practice to the hated Evil Rethug Agenda.

It's not about being able to see different sides of an issue. That experience is simply called "vision" or "imagination."

I can hold a shit-ton of competing ideas in my head, all at once, and can argue for almost any of them no matter whether I truly admire, support or validate any of them. That's not "cognitive dissonance."

"Cognitive dissonance" is about the irony of saying you don't want something, but your chosen path will take you there anyway.

Anonymous said...

"cognitive dissonance" is the irony of hypocrisy? that's odd

Anonymous said...

it is if you don't know what cognitive dissonance is, or how pwoggies and libwools and other "intellectuals" use the phrase.