All entries for Monday 20 October 2008
October 20, 2008
How well do you know your friends? Really? Actually think about this, as it is a difficult problem. No-one knows enough about a person to predict their every action in detail, but it would not be true to say that we would have no idea how they would react in a given situation. Somewhere in between these two extremes there exists a value where we would be comfortable to say that we could definitely and definitively predict how a friendly person would act in a given situation.
This rather banal point comes from the very recent realisation I've had that I am absolutely abysmal at reading people. I can read people's words, that's fine. I can see their dancing lines around sensitive topics, their conspicous abscences of key phrases, their odd choice of careful and neutral language. Since language is incredibly varied, it's fantastically telling. George Bush once said of Putin that he could tell he was a good man due to the fact that he looked deep into his eyes, and the fact that he was wearing his Grandmother's crucifix. I unfortunately admit to being equal to Bush in this regard, without talking to someone, it's impossible for me to tell who they are.
This was never really a problem before, because anyone remotely interesting always has swathes to say, swathes which I can unpick something of a character from. There are Canadians, though, that act somewhat differently. When confronted, instead of excusing themselves thinly and making unfeasible distractions; they simply clam up. They are actors who follow a script. They know what they are going to say in advance, and deliver it coldly and dumbly. I can't react to that. I can't tell if this is a situation whereby their father has died, or a situation where I accidentally said something mildly offencive towards gerbils and they had one as a child.
As typical a male complaint as this may be, it's a worthwhile one. There are real drawbacks to not being able to judge social situations in this way. When someone says 'Go Away' and adds nothing to it I cannot tell the real motive behind the command. I'm aware enough of the situation to be able to judge that this does not in every case mean the imperative stated, but unfortunately not enough to know what my direct course of action should be.
There are people that, in distress, need people -- and as Babara Streisand said "people who need people are the luckiest people in the world". There's a type of nursing, wonderful, knowing person that exist in every corner of the globe with love so omnipresent that they could spend hours with strangers hugging them to happiness; and there exists equally people who need this type of understanding. More often than not, they're the same people -- anyone in need of comfort is generally willing to dispense it in equal amounts. These groups congregate around gravital centres in a dispersion of ultimate warmth; and are always easy to find. The difficulty is in having friends like this, I'm often called upon to be the one dispensing the understanding glow; which is fine except I never know when I'm being called upon.
I'd love to be able to be the one to know exactly when a friend needs a reassuring hug. Why would I not? I love my friends. The difficulty is that in some cases people try to communicate this need to me by means of a glance. This glance is more confusing to me than the head of Michael Palin sellotaped to the handle of a broom being balanced on the nose of a Skunk. I know it's liable to mean something, I just have no idea what.
I'm becoming increasingly and unfortunately close to the people I only experience in writing, hence the title of this post. Everything becomes easier when all I have to deal with is words on a page; which is why I really rather feel that I know some of the people I read about. For instance, for all you philosophy buffs out there, I think Immanuel Kant was an Atheist. I know he says he wasn't; I think he was. I can't see any reason Kant would put God in his philosophy (and don't try the 'moral' backroute because once you've accepted the existence of an absolute there's no reason to assume that it can't stop at the laws themselves) and Kant does not seem the person who would believe in something without real evidence.
So there you go, if I meet you in real life then be wary that I'm not as empathic as I'd like to me. If all you have to know of me is this blog, then fantastic! There's not more to know of me anyway; all I am I try to communicate through words. I am considering the benefits of wearing a crucifix, however, it may let me get away with the instigation of global terrorism.
Today's album is 'Panoramica' by 5th Garden. I lied when I said I was done with the Japanese lounge-pop, watcha gonna do?