Anyone who comes back here now and again will come to realize that this is a mixture of mission and message… 🙂
I love to share my knowledge, I sometimes watch my contemporaries and feel that they suffer from similar worries as I did – or do at times.
So, I write about it. Which does not mean I ‘go through it’ myself. Necessarily. People, writers and myself – we, they – write or create a lot of writing that reflects thoughts, ideas or realizations.
A little like Woody Allen movies, actually: It’s a sublimation of thoughts, ideas and observation as well as reading…. with a few biographical aspects thrown in for ‘taste’… so it appears.
It may seem incongruous but I feel it’s part of the same thing: In these modern times, with working weeks reduced to less than the classical 40 hours of half a century ago, and considerably less than those 12-16 hour shifts people had to work in the course of the 19th century – I say, the weekends often are considered to be like a list of ‘must-haves’:
‘Must’ have fun. Lots.
‘Must’ have – physical encounters… Lots.
‘Must’ do amazing or awesome things… Lots.
And if you would not – you might doubt yourself. Feel inferior, and hide that too. Pretend. There’s a lot of pretension around, has been as long as I can remember, which is some time now…
In reality, if you really listen to what is inside, less is more. I have found this to be true for anyone who’s still able to connect with their human side: Sorrow or joy, they have the most chance to spread, if we listen to our innermost needs. Which can be:
The prince and princess, the lovers, the heroes, the white stallion, the knight and the lady in distress, they are images, similar in many countries’ folk stories and fairy tales.
“Moving” – it’s a word that in the English language has several rather distinct meanings. One of them is about emotion, basic human feelings. They move us. Deeply, in some cases. Sometimes it’s words, connected to ideas.
Or the simple or more complex images that recall a happy moment, peaceful nights full of light – or sad moments.
Movies, the moving images originally, have become a forceful way of telling stories, just as plays, their ‘predecessors’. To tell stories is a pastime that is as old as mankind itself. Among the most famous artists always were storytellers, the craftsmen and craftswomen of words, phrases and sentences invoking images in the mind of the audience – and thus emotions.
And just as fairy tales they sometimes barely represent the real world, the truth. Instead, they tell us about the wonderful combinations of dreams and wishes people have – and create new stories from to entertain – and for a few hours take us to fairyland.
It is a fine way to spend the time, at times. This world some people force us to see can be cruel and dangerous. I consider myself lucky in spite of quite some hardships I’ve seen and experienced in the course of my life.
I have read through towers of books, a mid-sized library at least. Countless movies and TV-serials that did help me laugh at the world and the hardships, sometimes. And that also managed to be a sort of friend, patient, non-judicial in some cases, boosting self-confidence and understand about hardship in other parts of the world.
Indeed, documentaries, too, these days have reached a high level of expertise, combining entertainment with facts.
I closely studied the literature and culture of three distinct countries covering a time span of two thousand years. I’ve read about many more. And heard about still more.
I can safely say that I know a thing or two about history and mankind.
I want to encourage all who read this: If you haven’t already, check your values – and then read books, or articles, or posts, or – watch movies, but always remember: To confuse writing or other pictorial arts with reality can be a problem, at least.
There is a person or persons behind it – and sometimes it’s only a thin veil between yourself and reality, yet – not reality itself.
Life can be full of surprises. Especially when you expect a certain degree of ‘sameness’, that is people to be the same as yourself, or at least very similar.
Common assumptions are based on a few, sometimes almost crude, differentiations and types, such as the types of the title: the nerd, the partygoer and the bookish type, the bookworm. Interestingly enough, as soon as you use these terms, people start coming up with images in their minds:
The bookish type like the proverbial church mouse, grey all over, always buried in some book or other and perhaps even a little other-worldly. Not well-versed in the ways of the world.
The nerd, to my mind to some extent the modern version of the bookworm: Always having something or other to do with a digital device, the laptop these days, a smart phone, a computer or any other digital device you can think of. Buried too, in a way in their work.
The partygoer, a colourful appearance, rather talkative and even loud, attracting attention wherever they go, with pleasure, sometimes overdoing it a little, perhaps.
But these are the stereotypes. I am not saying they do not help. But if we use the stereotypes alone to judge people or to make sense of them, we may be mistaken.
There are not only ‘sub-types’. There’s usually more to human life and needs or wishes or dreams than just the external signs or the typical behaviour you may conclude because that’s all you are looking for.
In other words: Human beings and life are rather more colourful than a party dress.
‘There is more to it than meets the eye’: One might think of icebergs, the bulk of their mass is below the surface.
Try the kaleidoscope, it’s a favourite image I use to make my point. There’s black, white, green and red. But there are so many more colours to it, to life that is. There’s grey, gold and silver and heaps of others. And each comes in so many shades, too. (Not just shades of grey. 😉 )
I am a person who always has loved books, for me reading is like talking in my head. I hear language I write practically the same way, too, the same way I hear spoken words: With melody to it.
I know not everyone is the same; some people just do not like books or reading that much and avoid it if they don’t have to. I respect that.
I think it is vital for a peaceful existence to accept diversity, the truly colourful existence on this Earth, of humans as well as any other living or breathing entity.
Alfred Hitchcock in movies is called the master of suspense. He is unique that way – in this comparatively young art, existing for a little over a hundred years and having started basically with slapstick and vaudeville comedy – he has made unforgettable classics, such as The Man Who Knew too Much, North by Northwest, Birds, To Catch a Thief or Rear Window.
In all of the above a recurring theme is the immaculate, enticing and tall, beautiful blonde, characterized by a definitive ‘come-hither’ look and graceful and stylish appearance, made up to swooning point, into that quality Hollywood always sells best:
The larger-than-life heroes and heroines.
A memorable exchange between the two main characters takes place in a few scattered scenes in North by Northwest:
After a brief, passionate encounter that these days would be called a ‘one-night-stand’, the two main characters are hurdled and chased through a story of mystery, spies, agents, government secrets and espionage at its most polished and at the same time elegant suspense including mysterious strangers and hidden ‘looks’.
Yet, the looks of men towards women are not that hidden, especially on camera…
I am driving at the underlying principle of patriarchal society where men are supposed to judge a woman and her attractiveness by looks, three-fold:
Look-at-her: Gaze, look, pay attention, by using the visual capabilities nature has provided – and, more importantly, culture has instilled…
Looks: Is she dressed nicely, to signal she is ready to attract attention – at least – and has an even and nicely shaped face, in turn considered to be bautiful?
Looking-back: Are the eyes expressive of preparedness, the ‘come-hither’ look?
This way, the term ‘looks’ gets an almost completely changed meaning, which encompasses all the aspects and often unconscious implications:
Women are looking a certain way, ‘at’ a guy – and ‘to’ a guy – and are judged – thus:
Either interesting in the role of fleeting and perhaps even exciting adventure – not to be taken seriously and easily passed over.
Or, on the other hand, rather plain, less ‘enticing’ looks and thus ready to be made into a (house)-wife…
I add an edit of the scenes in North by Northwest here.
I find them almost revolutionary on Alfred Hitchcock’s part, to whom one cannot help take off one’s hat, any time!
They make abundantly clear if you care to listen closely, how easily the above stereotypes cause misunderstanding, at least.
Hitchcock shows female lead characters who are almost completely out of tune in the mid-nineteen-fifties:
Self-dependent, courageous and ready to take a stand – underneath all that polish… But perhaps these qualities are still far too much overlooked in women, even these days…
Let’s ‘look’ past the image(s) that make up our idea of the world – or our idea of women.
But then of course, there are always those who do not know about or realize the above – and may stay in a comparatively adolescent approach, what I like to call ‘the giggle state’ regardless of their true age, on these subjects. Usually a smaller percentage of any population, I am happy to note.
Author’s note: It might appear as if I was solely drawing on my own ideas or observations for this. But quite simply, the whole of social sciences (recently also: behavioral sciences) have been describing these patterns for centuries. “social science, any branch of academic study or science that deals with human behaviour in its social and cultural aspects.” (Britannica)
I love to find out about people, humans and the real causes and effects, looking past images and traditions or customs that hamper knowledge rather than help it along.
In life as well as in art (storytelling, poetry, movie scripting, etc.) events that occur – real or fictional – usually are ordered into some kind of consecutive whole that is supposed to make sense.
This is also often called a ‘chain of events’.
But what if this chain has a missing link in there? What if we ‘connect the dots’ in the wrong order? What if we are simply not aware of all the events, the facts, and connect the visible ones into a chain, that eventually may be tied to another person’s ‘neck’…
In law, alas, this is known to be a tragic occurrence when people are being convicted for things they did not do. Innocent.
‘Miscarriage of justice’.
In countries where the death penalty still exists that’s particularly cruel: Hanged, or these days usually killed with some kind of poison in a syringe.
The human being, a whole small universe of thoughts, ideas and feelings, emotions and learning, experience, kindness and laughter – eradicated.
In everyday life such ‘interpretations’, the ‘connecting of dots’ into some kind of whole, still too often also can go wrong.
Opinion veers to one side – or another. Unnecessary pain and suffering can be caused by insufficient reasoning, the ‘interpretation of facts’, if not done with care.
If any of my readers at any time in the course of their lives have been subjected to such ‘reasoning’ – that is really unreasonable – they know what I mean.
Therefore: Let’s judge with care and keep an open mind. We may be wrong…
Judging your peers, your neighbours or your near and dear can be tricky, if you take it seriously – and would want to do them ‘justice’.
Imagine the case before a court, where all the evidence seems to point in one direction; only, this time you would be convicted.
Although you know that you are innocent. It would be an emotional torture, to say the least.
An image is ‘born’? Yes, in the mind, by using words and going on from there. Of course, generally you would say it is created. But the ‘born’ simile makes it clearer:
The ideas and the underlying images we as humans have and sometimes create based on simple and insufficient impressions are ‘born’ in the mind at some point.
So, judging someone can be a tricky process:
Again, imagine a timeline and then try and mark the occasions on it you really meet another person. And how much time and work and your own thoughts and ideas and tasks pass by on that timeline mark as well.
You may come to realize that in between all the hustle and bustle of everyday work there are actually very few impressions you could judge by…
In philosophy for ages it has been a whole topic of research, how humans do know / understand: the epistemeology.
In criminology I used as an example up there this knowledge has been refined since the 18th century, especially.
It’s been an age old saying too, that on any ‘case’ of doubt, you should hear at least two people’s accounts.
So, let’s try to remember that any fleeting impression or occasional encounter can only provide very limited ideas of what the whole person means – in every sense – and is.
If in doubt, try putting yourself in their place, as regards being judged – with care and precision.
The bible has it too, more ancient yet to the point (quoted from Wikipedia):
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
The ‘peeping Tom’ for generations has described aptly what I am about to deal with here: the secretly watching male, who’s too dumb for a vivid imagination and too cheap for spending money on the ‘real thing’:
the male (and female?) person who watches others using any kind of device, in the analogue days telescopes to catch at least glimpses of those others in ‘private states’:
any stage of undress, close encounters of the private and loving kind they miss out on themselves so sadly…
It is sometimes sad, sometimes frustrating, when you feel them about – and often just plain ridiculous and proof of very small minds.
They are not using the – especially these days – ample means and opportunities that often are even sold cheap online; not using the human imagination based perhaps on tales or books or even movies to make their own ‘reality’…
Woody Allen let one of his characters put it nicely in his comedy “Bullets over Broadway”: ‘reality is for those who cannot make their own.’
These days I presume, with so-called – in this respect – equality of the sexes around – women might be ‘peeping’ too; but that is a guess.
Just as in former centuries (married) men used to boast about their ‘adventures’, the nice term ‘swaggering’ makes it even clearer; while women were the ‘true gentlemen’, who relished in silence, even though from necessity rather than want…
To this day, the statistics in these matters especially are hard to determine and not easily published. Not all that is loudest is the most of any kind – or right….
The right to privacy is a human right and apart from an invasion into the privacy of those that are watched, it’s a punishable offence…
Still, all those who read this and start thinking: perhaps new ways can be found, anyway: there are those that seem to be the natural counterpart of peeping Toms or Marys: the exhibitionists…