May 19th, 2011 10:10 pm
shadesofmauve: (Default)
While I walked home from the Quebecois session, I was thinking about something [livejournal.com profile] westrider just wrote, about having thoughts that didn't want to fit in a linear two-dimensional page.

And I was thinking about community webs, and how people connect to each other in different ways. In this case, someone I met through my mother's work walked into the session, and knew everyone there -- she was a member of the music/dance community before I moved to Olympia, and had dropped off the radar for awhile. So we all knew her, and now I know her two ways. I feel great satisfaction at adding people to this social web, and knowing how the web fits together, and how many ties are based on more than one bond.

And I was thinking about talking with Kiyoko last night about education, and how I am bad at rote memorization, which is the way Japanese school systems are run. I tried to describe how, with rote memorization, you have two discreet data points attached by one line... but if you tell a story, or you talk about complex cause and effect, or you solve a puzzle, all the pieces fit together in multiple complex relationships. Even if you forget one connection, you can extrapolate it from the rest. It's another web, stronger than a straight line.

And then I thought, wow, everything in the last two days has highlighted the primacy of the web, the multi-entangled structure underlying intellect, personality, and interaction.

And then I thought, damn, apparently it only takes two glasses of wine and the equivalent of four shots of espresso to get me thinking like an art student again. ;P
shadesofmauve: (clarence)
WARNING! Following is a high-energy, disorganised meander-rant, written to get these things out of my head. This is first-draft quality barely-edited brain-spew. If I've offended or appalled you, please ask me about it -- it's possible I didn't communicate well. Or maybe I'm genuinely appalling. I can live with that, but I'd rather people be annoyed at me for the right reasons.

I read some stuff I'd written in college and marked as memories. Had to think about whether or not I still felt like I did here, because I don't like much of the tone of that post now. I've pretty much concluded that I still agree with the 'meat' of what I said, but I'm much more willing to claim the label feminist now, because damnit, it shouldn't be a dirty word. I believe in gender equality, period. I'm still not fond of overarching labels, but I have to aknowledge that our brains seem to be stuck on 'em. I will still distance myself from anyone claiming that one gender has mystical power or different spheres of excellence or any other separate-but-equal crap.

"if men demonstrate behavior x, they are assertive. If women demonstrate it, they're called bitches."
I'm curious about another perspective on this: is it possible that since many women have internalized the "be nice, don't fight/stand up for yourself" role, they don't know how to be assertive without being a bitch? It's possible that in many instances it's not just perception that is biased; it's a failing in how people were raised. I'm sure you've all met someone who honestly thought they were being 'assertive' when they were just being an asshole.

Thought: Clear, assertive (not domineering) communication is a learned behavior
I've had women at work scream at me; men who use every passive-aggressive trick in the book. Both genders seem to behave equally badly! This leads me to think that we ALL need more training in assertive communcation -- I certainly don't see it demonstrated often. Workplaces hire trainers to teach this, but let's start it earlier. I was taught methods of assertively dealing with conflict when I was a teenager (by my father). These are lessons I try to internalize and apply to this day, but it didn't come naturally -- communicating through conflict is hard. Let's not expect people to magically become good at it, male or female. We can teach ourselves to behave in a more productive way.

While we're at it, can we please clarify the meaning of 'confrontation'?* "An open conflict of opposing ideas or forces" works for me. I don't think it's a bad thing. I want people to be open in their conflict. It's way easier to deal with productively than sneaky-passive-aggression. What I don't want to be is nasty or disrespectful. I know people who are totally non-confrontational; it causes problems. So does spoiling for a fight.

Dealing with differences in a forthright manner is a good thing. Is there another word we can use for 'dealing with differences in an argumentative and bastardly manner'?

So, I'm an atheist.**
If we didn't have a predominantly religious society, I'd be an apatheist (there's probably not a God, but I don't really care, let's play in the garden/make music etc.). However, since there's such stigma attached to atheism, religious people who don't believe atheists are even human***, so many ways religion tries to get into government, it seems nessecary to stand out and be counted. Hardly a new problem. The ideal is that everyone is quietly accepted and no one has to yell, but getting there from here requires making noise. Many people who would probably rather their sex life stayed private have instead stepped up to be loudly Here and Queer. I don't know of any rights-type movements that didn't involve this, and yet everytime a new one comes along people act all surprised about it. "I just wish the atheists wouldn't be so loud." "I just wish the black people wouldn't whine." "I just wish the homosexuals would keep to themselves." Bull.

Just don't use the word 'just' like that
Newsflash: including the word 'just' before your desire does not actually make your request any simpler/easier/more rational. It does not make the project you want me to do take any less time. It does not make you sound like less of a bigot. 'Just' is not a magic word that makes problems go away. Let's leave the word 'just' in conversations about fairness, and remove it in all those other places.

*gasps for air*

Okay, I think I'm done for now. Hopefully my brain will stop being all spinny and I'll be able to panic about house projects and website issues again instead.

*Btw, dictionary.com? Your first two definitions used forms of the verb 'confront.' Definition FAIL.

**Except for my rock-steady belief in Clarence, of course.

***Don't believe me? Ask about how my conversation with Erik's mom went...
shadesofmauve: (can we fix it?)
I'd been meaning to write about this subject since I found Newsweek's seven-part expose on the internal workings of the presidential campaigns. Major campaigns granted special access to reporters on the condition that the not report until after the election. As it happens, there's been a lot of potentially important, damaging information from these reports, particularly about Palin and her rocky relationship with both honesty and McCain.

I've read people suggesting that these issues were intentionally covered up by the press to aid McCain or create a closer race; but since the same agreement was in place with every candidate, I think it's less an issue of favoritism/manipulation and more an opportunity to discuss journalistic ethics.

1. Is it better to enter into a limiting agreement like this, on the premise that it's better to have information eventually (even too late) than not at all? I think most journalists would say yes.

2. Is there a point where what you learn is so potentially critical to the well-being of the nation that you have an obligation to break your promise and report early? What is that point?

In this case, it seems moot, so it's a decent test-discussion. Not only has McCain lost, but (as far as I can see) the things that were 'hidden' about Palin are actually just further examples of things that were already public - that she can be wildly unethical about spending other people's money and that she could be vicious and willfully ignorant. This inside scoop provides more examples of that, but examples were already there for those paying attention. (We didn't know that she overspent her clothing budget, but we did know that she took state per diem while staying at home and feeding her family; we didn't know about the conflict within the McCain camp, but we did know about her record of using her position to personally punish people, etc).

So, when is it too much? When should the journalist break their promise and spill?

BTW, this focuses on McCain/Palin at the moment because that's what's been the biggest news, but it applies to ANY campaign. Should we have known about the Hillary/Bill/Management conflicts in that campaign? How about that Obama had to be pressured into visiting the staff at his campaign HQ?
shadesofmauve: (baby)
...as a busker.

Pearls Before Breakfast

It's a long and occasionally over-dramatic read, but well worth it.

I'm not inclined to draw such dismal opinions as the article writers, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the morning commute is really this side of people at it's worst. Secondly, what goes for a busy transit stop in DC does not go for the world, the U.S., or even the whole east coast. Thirdly, and with a note of smug pride, busking, as we buskers well know, is a different art than performance. A mediocre musician who is a great entertainer stands a better chance on the streets than a virtuoso classical musician. For one thing, the type of music requires intense concentration, which means you aren't interacting with the crowds, and stage performers aren't accustomed to noticing their crowds anyway.

Most importantly, I suppose, is that everyone's idea of the truest beauty is entirely and totally subjective. I love music. I describe myself, on occasion, as a musician by nature, an artist by profession. But on the morning commute, while I might appreciate running into music (granted, unlikely on the south end of capitol way, but still), I wouldn't say that it is the ultimate in beauty, that it defines or measures my capacity for appreciation. No, what proves that are the new leaves that line capitol way glowing in early light, the shine of sun on lowlying cloud, and the view that stretches clear to the brightening Olympics. That takes my breath away - Every. Damn. Time.

So the music is beautiful, but don't judge us too harshly if we need to focus before we realise it. It takes an inhuman occurence to break through to us when we're not expecting it.
shadesofmauve: (Default)
Also titled: A continuation of the over-intellectualization of my current space in life brought on by over exposure to art history.

When I described myself as a student object, I was referencing my prof's quote:

"You are brilliant, but because I'm a stupid teacher object, I might not understand that. To me, you are a bad student object, so you get a C."

The idea here is that to each subject, the objects surrounding them are acting within their role. They can be good or bad according to their role, but they are always judged to that standard. You fit within your environment and situation, which other people give to you, and you are judged by it's rules.

In being a bad student object, I mean that my work is frequently too last minute compared to what I want (currently even behind), and I don't nicely fit the media/major guidelines. In being a bad student object, I nicely follow along, make myself follow along, the 'ideal' path of the student that is given me. Graduate highschool, middling to good grades. Attend University, fair to good grades. Apply for scholarships. Apply for jobs. Cram, work, sleep, but not enough. Play perky in class. Apply to grad school.

Get rejected.

Wait - BAD student object! No more 'student' label for you!

Like anything unplanned, this brings about some choices, and some opportunities. Primarily, a decision about whether to try to be subject or object. I suppose my last push to be my own subject was traveling to Europe, and it was successful, amazing, life changing - except that I came back feeling not much changed. Well, I tend to think you never think outside the box, the box just gets bigger, so even if I wasn't 'freed' I at least added some windows to my box. My travel, though, was neatly planned around school, and being, again, the student object.

Next year - and by that I mean end of this school year to beginning of the one after next, which shows you how used to the education system I am - I have a choice. I can go back home and become the object of one of my parents' sentences, looking at interim life while I wait to try to redeem myself as student object, or I can go back home, attempt to make myself the subject of my own sentence, and search for the best experiences I can have while keeping an open mind about the future and awareness of what I will eventually have to do to get where I want.

Assuming I know what I want.

See, that's the other bit - As an object, subjects direct where you're going. I'm frequently my own object AND subject, in that I've directed where I'm going, and occasionally forget to stop and question myself. I have a tendency, especially when denied something I thought I wanted (in this case grad school), to what my father accuratly termed 'Target Fixation.' For those not interested in aerospace, 'Target Fixation' would be a serious problem pilots occasionally have, frequently just before suffering a 'controlled impact with terrain.' Never be so fixated on your target that you forget to keep an eye out for where the ground is.

I've been wondering what I *really* want a lot lately. I have goals, lots of goals, but what do I want, what would I want, say, if the superego weren't involved? This applies to a lot of things - career, home, relationships, etc. Over the past week and a half the last category has seemed pretty worrying, but the first one's always in the back of my mind. What I decided just now is that I don't need to answer the question of 'what I want' definitivley at this moment. I have before, as a way to seek clarity, but hence, target fixation. What I've found is the resolution to be aware of the question and to continue trying new possibilities on for size. Example - if I can find a great job, I might hang onto it for two years, not one, before looking at grad school. If I find a foreign travel opportunity, I should consider it a chance, not a missed chance. I should attempt things that don't fit the plan, because the plan won't always work, and can almost always be pushed back into shape later, anyway. Without realising it I made the first start on this the day I received the first rejection letter, when I cold called 15 different design firms just so I'd be doing something proactive. Proactive? subject. Bingo.

There - anyone who made it through my second self-reflexive spurt of the day deserves a gold star and a hershey's double-dip milk & dark chocolate kiss (collectable if you get to my appartment before Friday).

Y'know, that felt good. I'm even feeling some other psychological-sociological philosophising coming on. Perhaps something on my trip to Europe, and learning about pleasure - all of it, and specifically taking it, and joy, where and when given. We'll see.
shadesofmauve: (Default)
Okay, here goes - I'm tearing the lid off of the can of worms. Specifically one particular societal idea that seems to be entrenched in the collective imagination, one of those niggling little battles of the supposed 'war between the sexes' where you can't figure out quite what caused the damn thing. If you read on, please also follow the link the Questionable Content comic, it hits the nail on the head.

Warning: If you are not interested in the nature of love, lots of Uncle Bonsai lyrics, or the chemical makeup of blue jello, do not enter here )

Very well, there might be later installments, and I realise I'm at least in part preaching to the choir and going over old ground, but I'm going to go back to the little home I built in my soapbox now.
shadesofmauve: (Default)
I've recognised the importance of companionship and general social contact for a long time. The importance of normal daily interaction and conversation to my moods (most people's moods) really became apparent when I was about sixteen. before that I had my loner streak - now I still sometimes have the impulse, but I know that no matter what my first impulse, I will probably feel better if I choose the more social route, even if it is initially more uncomfortable. People in isolation spiral into themselves, and it's a twisted path.

It is only in the last year or two that I've come to realise the value in actual physical human contact. Oh, I always intellectually realised it as it applied to, say, small children and infants. I hate it when parents carry little bubba junior in the plastic baby-bucket. Hug your widget, dammit! But it was only more recently that I recognised the importance of physical contact as it applies to people in general and me in particular. "Have you had a hug today?" just sounds sooo doofy - but it really does make a great deal of mood difference. I suppose I've noticed it more recently - I've been comparatively clingy (for me, and physically rather than psychologically) - I think Kat and [livejournal.com profile] ribbitkisser can attest to that. We are social creatures and being touched (not THAT way, stop snickering) improves our mood.

So imagine contra dancing, with our wonderfully eclectic mix (any age or body type accepted here). We're lining up for the next dance, way at the end of the room by the big fan. It's right after the break, and I sat the last one out, so instead of breaking a sweat I'm standing in front of the fan and freezing. Virginia (WWU slide librarian, contra organiser, all-round sweetheart) comes by, noticing my shivering and zombie fingers, and exclaims "This girl needs a hug!" and proceeds to put that into effect. In a second Paul (partner for that dance, also a fiddler) is on the other side, so we're a Paul-Sarah-Virginia sandwhich...until Virginia yells 'Sarah Sandwich!' at which point Tom (I think it's Tom...the guy with the santa hat and the black skirt) and the cute little old British-Canadian lady pile in too.

Okay, so I was quickly in dire need of oxygen, but talk about feelin' loved. :) And then there was dancing, so there was also feeling dizzy - I danced some in my stocking-feet, which meant having to deal with the whole oddly-sized-legs thing more, but gave me excellent spin on the floor (which is the very reason I don't usually do it...if you want to know, ask me for the story about stocking feet and fiddle tunes contra). Also, we all know my favorite move is a 'gypsy', and tonight I heard it described as the "Grand Leer." Figures.
shadesofmauve: (Default)
Okay, okay, we all should keep thinking. But I've been reading a bunch of pages and posts from people of a divided mind about thanksgiving, and I'm sure that within a week or two I'll be reading the same about christmas. Chanuka, for those who don't know, starts at sunset next tuesday, but it doesn't tend to bother people.

A diatribe of good wishes! )

I hope everyone who reads this will spend their free time enjoying themselves, having fun with friends and family, and generaly making merry for whatever reason they choose at the time.

Just don't analyze the joy out of things - after all, if nothing else I think we can all be wholeheartedly thankful for the existance of newts.
shadesofmauve: (Default)
I've been thinking a lot recently about the differences between liberals and conservatives. The differences that go beyond stated aims, values, and priorities, and into the way we act - specifically, the way we speak about our beliefs, and the different ways we function (or fail to) as groups. Of course I make some generalisations here. I am aware that there are always exceptions to every rule.

I was tense during the election. No, let me rephrase that - I was a nervous wreck. Tuesday and the days following several people who I respect preached patience, coolness, intellect over emotionality, philosophical fatalism. These were called the 'reasonable voices', the words of maturity. The counsel? Live your life - remember, the election doesn't affect you in particular right now. Don't get worked up - it will change again in four years. There's nothing we can do now - sit back and wait. Don't be childish. Don't be overly emotional. It's bad, but nothing to get depressed over.

I disagree.

It's time we admit to our intellectual selves that this is more than a matter of theory and logic. It is important, so important that it is not an over reaction to weep with grief or sing with joy. People live or die based on what this nation does. Whether my life is directly affected or not is not the point, or I would be no better than the rich who cut welfare, the safe who deny protection to others. I want to see the passion and depth of feeling that we decry as immature. If I'm not going to get worked up over this, what is worth getting worked up over? Grades? Broken dishes? When I walked through Western's campus on wednesday, the aura of depression was almost visible. At my mother's state office employees were sobbing on wednesday. That gives me hope, because it means people care. We have to care to make a change, care at a deep visceral level, care with a strength and intensity that matches the fear and religious fervor we are faced with.

Most of my friends and family, myself included, belong to what NPR termed the 'educated secular sophisticates' - a group which tends to be liberal, middle class, and a-religious. In our educated way, we attempt to consider arguments from all angles, to be guided by reason rather than gut feeling, and be stoic when things don't go our way. But human beings are above all emotional creatures. Our counterparts in the conservative camp use that emotion, especially the most manipulable of all - fear.

Liberals are at an idealogical disadvantage. We try to see all sides of an argument, but the people on the other side of the argument are NOT going to extend the same courtesy to us. We value dissent - rebellious voices need to be heard, are nessecary to true dialog. We are a fractured group, while the right rallies around solidarity. We will ALWAYS be at a disadvantage, because of our strengths - because we support the rebelious voices, because we consider the other side, BECAUSE we consider it deeply wrong to manipulate the emotions of the less informed. These are some of our values. I don't suggest we change them - but we have to face them. We could learn to stop stifling each other, to let ourselves show how much we care.

Being passionate doesn't have to mean leaping to conclusions or ignoring new information. You don't have to turn your brain off when you turn your heart on (except in matters of romanc - please don't confuse THAT with politics!). By all means, spend time in logical thought. Push away the emotion, examen the facts, and reach a decision. But once you've reached that decision, stand up for it. Re-evaluate it when new information comes around, but if you really think you're right - well, go ahead and act like it.

Before the accusations' made
Before the charges have been laid
Before your best friend is betrayed
Before your last card has been played
Be right.

And if you think that you've really got the answer
You've got to move with all your heart
And if it feels like it's taken you a lifetime
It's just the start - It's just the start.

So, whats it mean? I'm going to sob, I'm going to weep for the plight of our country and the world. And then I'm damn well going to get up and do something about it. I'm going to talk about issues I avoid, to people who disagree with me, people who awe me with the strength of their unshakable faith, their religious convictions. And I'm going to show them some faith and convictions of my own.
shadesofmauve: (travel)
I've decided to treat you to the conversation in my head as I walked home from class today.

It should come as no suprise that, what with recent personal travel and a lot of experience with AUAP students, I've been doing a lot of thinking about cultural differences, the what-how-why of them. I'm not thinking about the obvious things, like mcdonalds, sushi, and red wine, and I'm not going to try to draw conclusions about other cultures, because I have only the vaguest idea of everything they might entail. But I can take the perspective gained from traveling and apply it to my own culture, which I theoretically know a thing or two about.

Now, I'd be among the first to say that I'm not particularly 'with it' as regards mainstream US culture. But pop culture is by definition a transient thing, and what I'm far more interested in is the underlying psychology - and that is something which is very much a part of me, whether I want it or not.

The international stereotypes about Americans are personality ideas - loud, brash, unrefined, movers & shakers, especially when someone doesn't want to be moved and/or shook. They all seem like pretty nasty things - on the other hand, why are we a super power economy? Because we're loud, brash, movers & shakers. Not sure how unrefined fits in, though in my experience that is one of the least true stereotypes (I could go on about how certain sectors of US society take pride in being unrefined, which is in contrast to, say, France and Japan...but later).

The 'why' (or possibly 'how') question to ask is "Why did the US develop such a different, bold approach as a nation, considering that at the begginning immigrants came primarily from western Europe?" Yes, easter/southern Europeans, and later Asians, also immigrated, but those were later phases. More and more, I'm thinking the asnwer is another question - why did *those* particular Europeans come all the way across a disgustingly big peice of water to a place with no civilized ammenities, leaving behind everything they'd ever known? Because of who they were - Criminals. Fortune Seekers. People who had a hard time fitting in with old world order, because of being too lax or even too strict (Puritans). Face it, we were NOT exactly the cream of the crop. There's even been a published theory (Oliver Sacs, perhaps...?)that part of the reason ADD is more commonly diagnosed in the US than elsewhere is that as a population we have a genetic predisposition, because ADD type personalities might be the first to want to immigrate. Dude, new continent, lets check it out! Let me off this boat, I'm bored...

speaking of bored, I'm tired of typing, and I need to bathe my mouse. Heh...lookut all that writin' I doned.


shadesofmauve: (Default)

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