Thursday, 12 January 2012

I'm not entirely sure what I'm saying but I think you should read it

OK, so on tuesday Hazyshade was encouraging Buttercup to blog more, and I was backing him up on this, while she was all like "But I blog about pointless, boring stuff! I don't understand why anyone would want to read it." Or something like that. Anyway, obviously I disagree, because I find her blogs interesting, but it set me thinking about two things:
1. Why do people find certain things interesting?
2. Why are some people so down on themselves sometimes?

The second question (Which I will be tackling first - I'll get to the first question in a second) is not exclusively related to the anecdote above, though obviously it is related, vis-a-vis why does Buttercup not think her blogs are interesting when they are? It's a common thing on GitP forums, that people will post photos of themselves, and everyone will say they look cute/pretty/adorable/hot/beautiful/gorgeous/[insert other positive adjectives here]... except them. They always think they look terrible. Well, not always, it's not a universal thing, but it's a very common one. And similarly, there are people who will sometimes deny their other good qualities. And these include some of the best people I know. (Oh yes you are. There is a reason I call you a Goddess)

OK, scratch what I said about the order I'm tackling the questionns, because I don't want to spoil the end of this one by continuing onto a second question afterwards.
Why do we find certain things interesting? In the context of Buttercup and her blogging about pointless things, I think I finally have an answer, which should have been obvious really, but anyway. Hazyshade said that she uses interesting sentences to describe boring things (Or something along those lines) and that finally made it click for me (Admittedly it clicked a couple of hours later, but it still clicked). There are (at least) two important elements to blogging: Content and personality. Now Buttercup's real complaint as I see it is that her blogging lacks content, which may be the case. But it has personality. To be precise, it has her personality, and that's what we like, because, well, we like her. Why else do you think we're friends? (Inb4 she comments saying something like "I thought it was because I have awesome boobs =P"? (Though you do also have awesome boobs))

Back to the general point, what is and is not interesting is excessively subjective, so it's quite difficult to be sure if something you make will be interesting to other people until after you've done it and they've told you. I suppose this is why comments and stuff can be so exciting for bloggers, or equally for youtubers, because they serve as an affirmation that there is a point to you doing this other than simple narcissism. And it's obviously good to have that sort of affirmation for something you kind of want to be doing (Which we obviously do, otherwise we wouldn't have put these boxes on our heads and declared that we are now dinosaurs bloggers and not spaceships ...non-bloggers? Whatever I think you get my point).

 And of course really the issue of thinking your blogs (or whatever) are not interesting is just a matter of confidence in that particular area. Which I guess I can understand. Well, I don't guess, I can understand it. I have not always been the most confident of people. In fact I'm still nowhere near the most confident of people. The process of me becoming more confident has been a mostly pretty gradual one, through years of singing and acting and trying to socialise and being awkward, and one lovely conversation at an after-show party which pretty much amounted to me getting a pep-talk (My Josephine, I love and miss you).
And so again this is why getting that affirmation is important, to give us the confidence to do the things that we really want to do. Even though sometimes it seems like that affirmation doesn't work, as I neatly segue back into my second question.

So, yeah, enough of my good friends will on occasion deny their own good qualities for it to become a bit of a pattern and I have to ask: why? I mean, OK, being someone gives you a much closer view than just knowing someone (That sentence was weirdly phrased, but whatever). So you have a much clearer conception of your own flaws than other people do. Well, sometimes anyway. But, I don't think that can fully account for it, because if someone I like says to me "No, I'm so terrible, I have x, y and z flaws," I can generally see where they're coming from on that, but on the other hand, why should I care? They're awesome people anyway, and generally, being aware of their flaws means they're also working towards getting rid of them. Surely having a better view of yourself than other people should give you a clearer conception of your positive qualities as well as your negative ones?

There isn't really going to be a conclusion on this, because I don't understand it. And that bothers me, partly for the simple fact of not understanding, but much more for the thing itself. Important as my own knowledge and understanding is to me, my life carries far less meaning without the people I love. As I see it, I'm surrounded by awesome people, but many of them don't seem to recognise their own awesomeness, and I don't know how to make them realise how wonderful they are.
One of the worst things is to know that something so important is wrong in your world, and you don't know how to fix it. Until I figure out a better way, I'm just going to keep reiterating that you're amazing and I love you all. And I love with good reason.

And you should always remember this.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Looking through me-tinted glasses

OK, I originally had this noted down as 'localisation of perception', but on further thought, that's only a part of it, so this title is more apt. What am I talking about, you ask? I'm talking about superimposing our own views on things in a search for more accesible context. Too many long words? OK, easy example, I'm talking about what is probably the reason why the traditional depiction of Jesus is white despite the fact he lived in Israel and was in fact more likely black. The reason? The depictions were created by white people.

Now, that sounds obvious, and it kind of is. There's a stereotype of stupid American fundamentalists who think Jesus was American, even. But while such people may exist, in general the cause of the image is more likely that the people envisioning it are white, and have never thought it through that clearly. Even the stereotype people (If they do exist, which they may not) are just an extension of this.
Come to think of it, this is also the reason why God is envisioned as looking human - in fact I think I read something someone else wrote about this once. That once humans came to the idea that some entity made the world, well that must have been complicated and taken a lot of thought. And what did those humans know of that could think through complicated designs and make things? Well, them. Humans. And nothing else, really. So they imagine God must be like them, only on a larger scale.

Anyway, I digress. The point is that we naturally view things from our own point of view (tautological but still meaningful), and in our own known context. Returning to Jesus, his appearance isn't described in the Bible, so what do we know of him? Well, we know he's a man. So, imagine a man. Without any other input, by default I think we will imagine a man of our own race at that juncture, because that's just what we're used to. It's the closest point of reference we have.

Enough of religion. This originally occurred to me when I was reading a book, and suddenly realised that all the characters had English accents in my head, despite the fact most of them were actually American. This was where the 'localisation of perception' thing came from. I never really thought about their accents, so I just defaulted to the accent most familiar to me. Even after realising I was doing this, I found it difficult to stop, because American accents just don't come naturally to mind. In fact in general, accents don't come naturally to me in and of themselves - to think of an accent, I have to think of someone who has that accent. I can recall specific voices, but not generic accents independent of those voices.

This actually feeds into something I tend to say about film/TV adaptations of books - one of their best features is that if they're well cast, they give us mental images and whatever the auditory equivalent of images are for the characters - we know what they look and sound like, making it that much easier to imagine the events of the book when we read it. This is also a good reason for why I will sometimes idly try to think up hypothetical film/TV casts for books - to assist in envisioning the events of the book, and thereby increase my level of immersion.

Back to my main point. By the same token, say a story involves a character wandering around his house. The furniture may well be different, but the layout of rooms? It's my house. If this occurs to me, I'll think "No, the house probably wouldn't be laid out exactly like mine," and try to imagine it differently, but it won't really work. At best, I'll imagine it being laid out like someone else's house that I know. Really, why bother? It's just an additional strain on my imagination, and while these details may be unrealistic, they allow me an easy gateway into the story.

It has come to my attention in the course of my writing this post that I'm not entirely certain what the purpose of it is. I suppose the simple observation may be considered purpose enough, but it robs the post of a  coherent and satisfying conclusion if I leave it at that. So what else can I say? Well, I suppose the question is do I think this is a bad thing, that we should try to avoid? I think I kind of already answered that question at the end of the last paragraph, but I could be a bit more precise. No, I don't think it's a bad thing. We need context and points of reference to understand and engage with things properly. It's part of being human. Indeed, one can take advantage of this tendency to more easily explain things to people by example/contrast, by giving them a point of reference for it. Or allowing them to contextualise it. something like that. So, no, we shouldn't stop ourselves doing this. But I think it's useful to be aware we're doing it. If you weren't before, you are now. Enjoy this newly acquired knowledge!

...still doesn't feel properly finished. Do I have to include some sort of farewell? I guess I do. See you around, peoples.