Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sensitivity Training

Still mulling over last Saturday's slapstick comedy in the parking lot.

Because human evolution has been physically invisible for longer than we've even had a name for it, we have to think about what we're doing and why we're doing it instead of just doing it. Not only do we have lots of instinctual behavior, we have philosophies attached to it and reflexive behavior taught to us to further complicate the candor of our reactions. And we haven't even figured out where our instinctive promptings reside. Some of us have mental and emotional images that don't match their physical bodies. Even the big fat blob in the middle of most bell curves has its own curves that make up that very average average. How much of what feels instinctive now is attached to physical brain and neural structures, and genetic coding, that could in time disappear? I don't mean a lifetime. I mean thousands of years, if we don't manage to annihilate our species well before then.

Say, on the other hand, that we have stalled physically, and all further evolution will have to continue to be philosophical. That makes all of it optional, especially as it pertains to personal freedom and interpersonal respect.

For behavior to be deemed improper, society must have standards of propriety. As we fumble our way toward a genuine respect for women, we come up against instinctive promptings that are a source of both outrage and comedy. We could always laugh at our instincts. The outrage is much newer, even if it is long, long overdue. Right now we've begun overthinking it as we begin to compensate for thousands of years of underthinking it.

"Trust your instincts" is some of the worst advice imaginable.

Question normality. You may affirm it, but make it justify itself. To tangle you up even more, never forget that it's your own brain analyzing your own brain. It's enough to make you say "screw it," and do what feels like it comes naturally. Let the audience decide.

While I joke that my recoil was prompted by the admonition to avoid uninvited physical contact with someone of the opposite sex, I also don't particularly like to grab onto people at all. I'll take it from my huggy friends, but it's not my first impulse. And I'm so accustomed to falling in various contexts without anyone there to catch me or help squeegee me up afterwards, I actually forget what it's like to be in a mutually dependent group. I vaguely recall that it could be nice. But it went away. It's too easy to fall into habits of isolation. Even when I'm with people I have this weird sense of looking at them from a distance, or through a screen. Oh wait, this is real? Oops.

Even at work, I spend most of my time working individually on the gratuitous complexities of machines that their own inventors don't even seem to understand. The longest conversations I have except on the day when I have another mechanic in the backshop are with my cats. It has its good points, but certainly a down side as well.

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