Take a look

I’ve said before that if you look, I mean really look, for the meaning in ads, political speeches, or anything else, you often come up short because there isn’t any, or it may be a clever deception, or purely an appeal to emotion.  Often it works so well that people will attribute words to a message that weren’t there, and different people will attribute completely different meanings to the same message.

Look at how much of media (movies, books, music, all of it, even news) is an attempt to arouse emotions, and how little of it is aimed at calm awareness or true interest in a subject.  That statement all by itself might even make you uncomfortable.  Aroused emotions drive out calm awareness, don’t they?  And yet we seek the emotional stimuli, and try to keep them going in other people.  So what are we trying to drive out? 

This post is aimed at reinforcing Rolf’s post below.

I watched a newish movie the other day. It came highly recommended.  “Battleground LA” or something like that, it was called.  There was so much emotional appeal, the story had to take several time-outs just so all the characters could emote at each other, even in the heat of battle with an RPG in midair, they took time out to emote.  Get blown over a wall by that RPG, take more time out to emote, etc.  I’ve complained for years now that every time I look to some program or other for information of interest, it turns out to be another damned, stinking soap opera.  Soap operas with guns, soap operas in a machine shop, soap operas about nature, politics, you name it– emote emote emote.

Our culture has become one of buzzing emotions, looking for more buzz, reinforcing the buzz, getting buzz from others while trying to get a buzz going in someone else.  It happens in our homes, at school, on the job, everywhere.  Police (the little girls) love to emote, both at each other and at their prey, and they get us emoting back at them.  Our local cops got all the kids at school at each other’s throats last week and this.  It happens on both sides of the political divide, too, and it ain’t good.  I don’t need to site any examples, because you can think of dozens without even trying.  You’re probably emoting at your spouse or roommate right now.  Most of us with an agenda spend most of our time preaching to the choir, rousing their emotions, while at the same time rousing the emotions of our opposition against us.  What are we trying drive out of other people with our appeals to emotion?

So we have a problem.  Is a good solution more likely to come from buzzing emotions or calm awareness?  I don’t know; sometimes I have something “all figured out” because I wasn’t able to stop thinking about it, because it was knawing at me, only to find later that I had the much better answer come spontaneously after I’d quit fretting over it.

If your house is on fire, you have an immediate problem that needs an immediate response.  If you’ve ever been in any kind of similar situation, and you ended up doing exactly the right thing against poor odds, and you still have a hard time explaining it, you will remember that what did the trick was focused awareness taking control.  You know of what I speak.  If you ended up handling it very poorly, you will probably remember that an emotional state took control, preventing you from focusing properly on the task at hand.  I’ve gone both ways, so I can speak with some experience.

1 thought on “Take a look

  1. The first several years of my marriage I kept getting into arguments with my wife, who would tell me her problems, only to get upset with me when I responded with possible actions for her to perform to resolve those problems. After a while, with her able assistance and understanding, I learned that she did not want help with her problems, she wanted me to listen and nod.

    She did not really want sympathy. She did not want me to suggest solutions or actions to take. She just wanted to vent, like an over-pressurized steam boiler. Talking about the things that caused her to feel upset removed, in some mystical or magical way totally alien to me, the upset she felt. When I finally understood this, and she understood that before then I had no idea that she told me things without wanting a rational response, our marriage improved considerably. We stopped about 90% of the misunderstandings between us, leaving only minor issues like how one squeezes a toothpaste tube and whether to rinse and reuse one drinking glass all day or use new ones periodically.

    Emotions can cause powerful responses in people, but living with emotions flying around all the time is indeed possible. Just discard all response to them, and they become powerless.

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