Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hands Across And Down The Middle

A man doesn't know what he knows, until he knows what he doesn't know.

Thomas Carlyle
There hae been several times in my life when I was with a group of people who were having a conversation that was so far from what I thought was my broad intellectual realm that i felt like an alien, a stranger and an ignorant boob. It wasn't that the topics were highly technical or philosophically deep. It was that the people talking were thinking in a manner that was foreign to me.

I was never a good student. The rigors of the classroom were uncomfortable to me. I was an "accidental scholar." The knowledge I had was picked up along the way as facts and ideas were drawn like a magnet to my particular mentality. And then I would find myself in a discussion in which my mentality didn't function. So I sat there quietly listening and trying to understand why I couldn't understand.

It's similar to an intricate folk dance. "Hands across and down the middle." If you don't know the steps you'll get tangled up and bump into people. Best to get out of it, stand to one side and watch.

There are books by linguists such as Noam Chomsky and philosophers such as Martin Heidegger who speak of patterns of thought as it relates to other issues of the mind. But for me it was getting off the bus in the wrong city when I was actually surrounded by thought patterns that were unknown to me. It wasn't that I couldn't follow the subject of the discussions, it was that I couldn't follow the steps. Hands Across And Down The Middle. Connections were made between one idea and another that I found unexpected and unexplainable.

Part of a psychiatrist's job is to determine how people think. And so is an actor's evidentially. Soon I began to use my observations to understand how the characters thought in the roles I was playing. What is his thought process, his mental pattern, is it different from mine and how can I discipline my own mind to think they way he does?

I found a way "down the middle" by understanding how much we judge people without realizing it. It is not usual or tactical to take into consideration the fact that another person sees the world differently than we do. Assumptions are made about people and we don't listen or observe them properly. We should begin with the understanding that one may not be thinking about things with the same set of habitual thought patterns that we have. It doesn't mean that person is unreasonable or illogical. It means that person has a way of processing thoughts, facts and ideas which is different from ours and therefore they have a knowledge of things we don't. And there is something we don't know.

DB - The Vagabond

(This is not a contest)

What was the most significant event that happened in 2010?


Only 3 responses so far

I await your answer.


krissy knox said...

Very interesting and thoughtful post, db. BTW, I think you are an excellent student, quite a lot of the time, and have a lot of knowledge. Many times you are that person that others are learning from. Perhaps both persons have things to teach each other, sometimes at the same time, and sometimes at different times. I am sure that is the truth. Anyway, I have learned a spectacular lot from you! :)

Ally Lifewithally said...

Thankyou DB for a very interesting entry ~ Ally x

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

2010, most significant event... I would say the Haiti earthquake, followed closely by the BP Oil Spill and November elections.