Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.


Revisiting an Ever Present Theme (and More Synthesizing)

Reading the editorial section of the paper today finally pushed my exasperation over the edge with all sides of the political spectrum overusing the claim to represent the "will of the people." Not that me going over the edge means a whole lot. I updated my Facebook status to read: Thinks the phrases “will of the people” and “will of God” should be excised from debates, because both the people and God are too big and complex to be captured so absolutely, confidently, or simply. If you've forgotten what it says, reread the metaphor in the heading at the top of the page.

I've been holding onto a link for a few days, waiting for inspiration for how to share it. Waiting for the right context. Because it's all about context. It's all about expectations. Everything is relative. It's a post from the Sociological Images blog titled Context: What Makes Music Great? It shares a two-and-a-half minute video of a concert violinist--someone people would pay big money for the privilege of seeing in a concert hall--playing in a Metro station for free and getting almost entirely ignored. So is his music a valuable and rare thing worth paying for or just more background noise to tune out? Depends on the context.

Now for the synthesizing if you feel reading all this is worth your time since it's free in the Metro--select past thoughts that connect and reinforce:

Readers' Digest Irrationality - Thoughts about Dan Ariely's book Predictably Irrational. Sample: Much like goslings are imprinted by their first encounter with another creature, our expectations about base prices for everything are determined by our first encounters with them. The same item/experience can be completely undesirable or nearly unattainable depending on how it’s presented.

2 x 2 = 5 - Thoughts about Ori and Ram Brafman's similar book Sway. Sample: I’ve long been a proponent of the power of expectations, but each time I come across new illustrations and data I’m still blown away. Consider one (of many) from this book, describing the results of a commander training program in the Israeli military. The trainers were told the trainees had been pretested and had either “high,” “regular,” or “unknown” potential. This was a fabrication and the labels were randomly assigned. Still, when the trainees were tested at the end of the program, the average score for the “high” group was 79.89, the “unknown” 72.43, and the “regular” 65.18. The only variable was the expectations of the trainers, yet those expectations determined reality.

Fiction Is As Essential As Nonfiction - A meditation on the idea of "story," using a variety of quotes from disparate sources. Samples: This isn't about what is . . . it's about what people think is. It's all imaginary anyway. That's why it's important. People only fight over imaginary things. | If they think it's the truth, then they believe it, and if they believe it long enough, then it becomes the truth. | In short, some of the same neural structure in the brain that is used when we live out a narrative is also used when we see someone else living out that narrative, in real life or on TV, or if we imagine it as when we are reading a novel. This is what makes literature and art meaningful. It is also what makes crossovers between reality, TV, and the Internet work. It is why Second Life can flourish on the Internet, with thousands of people finding real meaning in their second life that is not in their first. . . .

Dueling Novels - Interwoven reviews of two young adult books that both include as themes a consideration of the way stories inform identity and perspective. Sample: Having seen what a good swimmer Gwyna is, Myrddin decides to adapt one of his schemes around her. Within a day or two, after the dust has settled from the raid and Arthur seeks to gain the allegiance of the area, Myrddin is leading Gwyna away from the group with a special task. He hides her behind a waterfall at the back of a pool of water with a glamorous sword and some instructions: when Arthur makes a spectacle of wading into the pool to ask for the blessing of the Lady of the Lake, she is to take off her clothes, swim under the waterfall, and thrust the sword into the air for him to take, then return to the cave unseen.


At 12/16/2010 11:45 AM, Blogger CDL said...

One of the things I learned, or am trying to learn, from the mindfulness books is that we do react from habit, that the first way we react or learn about something is how we react when faced with similar circumstances. But every situation is different and we need to take the time to see the subtle differences and react uniquely to each thing that comes up. It's not possible, of course, who has the time, but it' s a thought that has stuck with me and I try to watch for those unthinking reactions more now.


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