Learn to think front on!

It is a very unfortunate tendency of contemporary (post-industrial) cultural thinking that the subject-object relationship of proper cause and effect is generally seen in reverse. This tendency to read reality ‘backwards’ has all sorts of dire consequences which undermine efficient communication and reception.

Let me put is clearly in this way: The subject (me or you) creates meaning in the process of living a life. During an average lifetime, most people will experience all sorts of things, and although there may be a tendency to experience one particular kind of thing more than others (depending on one’s personality and socio-economic status), most people will experience such a range of things that you will not be able to categorise either them or their experiences in a few easy words.

That is the reality. The subject experiences life. And that is meaningful. The interpretation of the experience is not as meaningful as the experience itself, however, since interpretation is a process one step removed from the actual experience of life — from actual meaning.

Now, let us talk about the object of experience. The object of experience is the person who is seen by someone else to be doing something. This object of experience is two steps away from the generation of actual meaning about life. Let me reiterate: The subject experiencing life is the most meaningful form of reality. Next, the subject interpreting their own experiences of life is rather meaningful (although this mode of representation is a diluted form of meaning.) Finally, some looker on watching the subject experience life and/or interpret their own experiences is three or four steps away from ascertaining the real meaning of the subject’s experience of life.

We get it back to front, however, more than often. For instance, we (as spectators) see the subject doing something or being something — and then the interpretation we make from a position three or four steps away from the point where meaning is generated becomes the point from which all meaning is proposed to emanate.

Thus we see that some poor person has fallen into a trap set for them, and has become a victim of some sort. It was an event that was just part of the subject’s myriad dimensions of experience in life. However, we conclude (in our detachment) that this is a defining event from which the subject’s character and identity emanates. Wrong!

Identity does not emanate either from a subject’s experience of any particular event. Rather, identity is always in the process of being made and reinvented — primarily be the subject herself, but then secondly by you in the position of the spectator (where you are standing, three or four spaces removed from her actual reality.)

So, to put this in more formulaic terms: If a person claims to have experienced a state of anger, or a state of happiness, or victimhood, that does not make them fixed in that position evermore, as a) an angry person, (b) a happy person, or (c) an eternal victim. No! Those are just passing phases of life, which we all go through.

You cannot turn a person’s experiences (or even your or their interpretations thereof) into an identity, expecting someone to wear your interpretation henceforth. That is very wrong.

You really have it backwards, when you do that.

Exploding your illusions

Hollywood has a lot to answer for. In particular, the idea that persistence always pays gives the kind of “moral lesson” to the audience which is simply immoral — not only that, it is anti-intellectual to the extreme. We need to learn to think in a way that takes into account the concrete realities of difference and change, rather than applying a blanket principle to situations. Only then will western culture start to lift itself.