Sunday, June 01, 2008

METASIGNIFICANCES 2

#2: I think - I believe - I feel

There are things that we know, and there are things that we know that we don't know - this is about the things that we don't know that we don't know. We are all surely aware of people who always have something to say about every single thing there is.

And what I'm going to say most certainly isn't an opinion, nor is it even necessarily the truth or something I believe in or am right about - it's a free invitation through words to take my hand and join me up on a ledge where there's an interesting view. Once you're up here, you can even push me off, or do anything else you like - and I say that to relieve you of all responsibility of response.

We often talk about superstitions like black cats, and broken mirrors, lucky charms - or even refer to religion as being based upon superstitions. Actually, as soon as we begin to refer to something as a superstition, it already implies that it's a belief that's lost its force because, using the word (as I like to do) in the wider meaning of 'a belief that's harmful or not useful', it's clear that a superstition is most harmful when it just is (e.g. 'sinners will go to hell'), and not merely a superstition ('it's a superstition that sinners will go to hell').

We love to rationalise outcomes. A friend recently said that he didn't think he could get a girlfriend because his cock wasn't big enough, another woman friend mentioned that she felt she was too old and not attractive enough to get the job she wanted, and of course the list is just endless. They are essentially carrying around superstitions, but as we see, worse because they are not identified as such.

If you try to stop thinking about anything, what happens? You carry on thinking - in fact you can't not think because it's not really you thinking at all, it's an it (referred to as the you in several songs of mine) and it's what gives us all the illusion of identity. Neither will you stop believing or feeling.

So let me finally haul you up here onto this precarious ledge. I think - I believe - I feel are superstitions, always.

6 comments:

dystonia ek said...

There's an increasing amount of evidence building up in cognitive neuroscience circles that what we experience as 'self' is not 'us' at all, merely a model for interacting with an equally spurious model of our environment. If you haven't read it, try Thomas Metzinger's 'Being No-One: The Self-Model Theory of Subjectivity' (although he does more or less run screaming from the more disturbing implications of his own theory in the last few pages of the book).

On a lighter note, your first paragraph is reminiscent of Donald Rumsfeld's little poem, 'The Unknown' (perhaps this was deliberate?):

"As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know."

flora_mundi said...

in the business world, it's common practice to train people out of using phrases like "i believe" or "i think" because they are automatically suspect; saying you believe that you are the best candidate for the job is akin to saying you believe in the easter bunny. while i don't normally think of business as being a bastion of progressive modes of thought, it seems here that they've clued into the implicit message in these common phrases.

and tell your friend that cock size really isn't as much of a factor as men believe it is...

Luke McElroy said...

When I do part-time teaching I get myself out of the bad habit of using "I think" when talking to students, because it seems to imply doubt in what I'm saying and so sounds unimpressive. I suppose that impression in itself is harmful or not useful :-)

William Bennett said...

dystonia...
thanks a lot for your great recommendation, will look into the Metzinger; quoting Rumsfeld? lol - not knowingly! but also it's likely Rumsfeld's words are themselves from elsewhere (the ideas themselves are pretty old...)

flora...
too late I'm afraid, the damage is done - I already told him that it was really important to be satisfyingly well-endowed

n-rich said...

I think it takes considerable courage to admit to a lack of certainty. Not having a pop at Luke in any way (I've done exactly the same myself!), but it's a sad indictment of our educational and political systems that the de facto approach is a dogmatic authoritarian one, which can never admit to uncertainty and gives scant regard to alternative viewpoints. To say "I think..." to our students gives them the opportunity to think differently.

It's trivial and obvious to say (but what the hell, I'll say it anyway) that our mental image of the world can only ever be entirely subjective; filtered, extrapolated, guessed, delayed and embellished through a complex series of electrochemical processes. There may well be an objective reality out there somewhere, but - one thing I am certain of - there will never be a 100% accurate and immediate apprehension of 'it' by anyone, ever.

Meanwhile, on the subject of cock length, I knew a guy once whose chat-up routine consisted of admitting to being under-endowed, and it appeared to work very well for him.

Miss Kerry said...

tell your friend, some of the best sex I've ever had involved getting near ANYONES cock. while they still had one. I'm supposing they had one.
in fact supposing they are male, as well.
does it matter?Im supposing it doesn't.while supposing it indeed does.
surely his cock fits somewhere between the scale of this theory
-'don't even try, the last one has ruined me for all men, and he's still doing it'- to ' hello, passing you in the corridor-oh, lord. that will do me.love your work. thanks so much. bye.

its not even what you do with it at the other end. its what you might....