August 30, 2005

Besides the intense and casual discussions common among my social circle, I belong to a dedicated discussion group which regularly meets to talk about abstract things. At least, other people seem to think them abstract: but such topics hold my interest only insofar as they have expression or relevance within the everyday. At some point I seem to have decided that for myself at least, questions about whether dinosaurs dragged their tails or held them up as a counterbalance, or whether Shakespeare dedicated a particular sonnet to an "M" or a "W", while perhaps of some abstract interest, are less than relevant to the here and now.

We met last night. Not one person mentioned Katrina. I suppose I could have predicted that:
The general attitude of the people I was around was that 'We don't like to talk about the serious stuff.'
Generalisations were made, and countered with other generalisations. Absolute answers were sought by some, and rebutted absolutely by others working within their own respective absolute paradigms. At one point one person continued arguing with me over my own sheer disbelief and the laughter evoked in another person physically between the two of us, wondering and amazed at how argument could continue even when the active arguer and I were completely in agreement. The topic was a variant on love (the changing? structures and relevance of dating, relationships, and marriage): so inevitably it became one of the most heated discussions yet.

Midway through the discussion an odd thing happened. The discussion moderator (interesting word, that) had been in the process of dressing me down, part of which involved explaining how not one of my examples tied together or supported my argument or was even relevant. Only problem was, not only had I not raised even one of those examples: but every last one of them had been initially raised by the discussion moderator. (I had been attempting to show how they not only did not support, but actually undermined the discussion modifier's argument. Apparently I had succeeded.)

Any given person's perceptions are skewed by their expectations of the world. (I frequently wonder how my own perceptions and consequent inductions are altered by my own, unseen set of filtres). One sees what one expects to see. For the same reasons one also sees the mirror of oneself in others, especially those traits one is not prepared to accept within oneself. What we do not wish to acknowledge in ourselves must necessarily be another's fault: external factors always, lest we accidentally take responsibility for something we have ourselves brought about. Still, all of that is only a slanting, a slight shift in perspective, in "colour", sometimes semi-conscious and sometimes completely unconscious, in how we choose to interpret and thus filtre our perceptions; and consequently to edit our memories to match.

What is still startlingly new to me is the instant, unconscious projecting of the action itself upon the other.

Certainly I had been seeing variations on the theme for some time previously, but never before quite so blattantly expressed. Dilbert and other business humour is famous for it: the boss not only taking credit for the praised idea of the underling but also firmly believing he had come up with it himself -- but in those cases the shift still remains something intangible, relegated to the abstract realm of ideas and creativity. What I am seeing now is that I am frequently challenged over having done or not having done a clearly definable action (and sometimes I even initially believed the claim, knowing that particular action to be in my nature): but when I am asked to look into it further by way of further hammering into me that the other is Right and I Wrong, I discover that the opposite was in fact true.

Memory has always been malleable and creative, and certainly it has always been dependent on initial perception ... but has it always re-created and inverted tangibles at the point of the now?

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