Chronicles in Ordinary Time 50: More Oddness

I was sitting in one of those ever-present coffee shops, where I can now actually enjoy the coffee since they’ve added less-burnt beans to their offerings. My client was ‘waxing eloquent’ about a drawing I had hastily finished a few hours before. Knowing that I wanted this particular image to be completed for this particular meeting, I scanned the uncompleted drawing, removed the background and then adjusted the contrast with the computer until it was similar to another drawing in the set. So, it was a darkened semi-finished drawing:

scan0013My client was thrilled with the outcome, and was telling me about all of the emotion I had been able to include in the drawing… I sat there wondering what he sees– meaning and emotion that I can’t see.

I’m pleased with the drawing; it’s one of my better images…but I don’t see the emotion he sees in the drawing. I just copied the photo; a still from an old movie. I don’t see the emotion he sees in the photo, either. For my client, the image is perfect; for me it’s another drawing; created in a very similar manner to the one he described as “ugly as sin” a few weeks ago…

Images create stories in our minds. And, for the most part, we  are not aware that this is happening. Neurologists can explain some of the mechanics, but they really don’t understand how our brains work. Light comes in through the lens of our eyes; electro-chemical signals are transmitted to our brains through the optic nerve; and somehow those signals create an image in our brains.

Grady's Brain“Grady’s Brain”
Adapted from a character I created a few years ago; combined with a logo image I created. I like the mechanical images, even though they aren’t accurate; but, I have an understanding of mechanical things…

We don’t have flat-screen televisions imbedded in our brains; the fact that we see the world as if we have a flat-screen inside our head is an illusion created by our brains. When we read a book [remember books?], we ‘see’ a story in our minds; we picture the characters, we picture the situations. We sometimes see those stories replayed in our minds, as if we had seen the story in a movie or television show.

So what happens when we interact with people? Probably something similar. The words we speak–the stories we tell–create stories in the minds of our audience; and frequently their responses come from the stories in their lives, the stories in their minds and in their memories. It is it any wonder that we have trouble communicating with each other? Have you ever talked with someone about a movie you’ve both seen, and you wonder if the other person really did see the same movie you saw?

How do we get through the clutter in our minds, so that we can actually live our own stories rather than someone else’s? In today’s world visual clutter–someone else’s story–is everywhere we look. While I own a cell phone, I rarely use it. I bought it so that I could report that my land line was down. I consider cell phones to be a lot like commercials, junk mail and calls from solicitors. Stuff that interferes with the story of my life. When I worked for the City, I trained my customers to send me a FAX [dinosaur age–pre-internet] with their questions written out. When my phone rang, I mostly ignored it; and a couple times a day I listened to my messages. Every day I heard inspectors talking on their cell phones while in the rest rooms. The background noises could be interesting as it is; but if there was one part of the day when privacy could be expected, it seemed as if the bathroom would be it. The aforementioned client asked me recently for my cell phone number; I politely refused. “Well how can I reach you when you can’t be reached?” “You can’t. When I can’t be reached, I can’t be reached. It’s not your time. That time is reserved for someone else.”

There was a point to all of this rambling, which started a few days ago.At the time, it seemed really significant. Should have made some notes. Too many other stories in the last few days, crowding out my own… Obviously, I don’t know the answer as to how we keep clutter out of our minds…




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