In the midst of reading Jeff Jones' autobiography, it has passed through my head that maybe a portion of my human empathy was learned from mass media. Or sympathy? Maybe both. I believe that, perhaps I have learned emotions from characters in TV shows, from the body language and voice qualities of actors, and from the staged reactions in many stories: on TV, in the movies, and in comics. Were those emotions real things depicted, or simulacra? I rarely seem to get close enough to anyone to see them, but maybe they don't exist. I usually lament never having "real" conversations. There are the utilitarian ones - "Where do you want to eat today?" - and there's the stoner talk. I usually bring it up stone cold sober. "Do you think it'd be cool if..." and that thought could end with anything from Communism to a prehensile penis. (I can't remember some of the cooler thoughts and conversations along those lines. There was a girl that thought almost the same way half the time, but I'm forgetting already.) Sometimes I slipped a slightly more philosophical question under the radar, like "Where do you think you'll party when you're old?" Not really, I guess. It's depressing, but not all that philosophical. It helped me to know people a little better, and that's what I was really going for. But I've digressed.
Years ago I felt things I didn't have a name for. And I wonder now if I feel nothing and give it a name. No, that's not quite right. It sounds pithy and poetic, but it isn't accurate. I notice that in "real life" we don't really depict our thoughts as clearly as actors do. Even I don't. (To any readers who'd question this: I have large eyebrows and full of manic energy when I'm bored in public.) Does that mean they aren't there? No. Dialogue in stories has a bit of thought behind it. It's premeditated with more time than is possible in daily life. Those scenes where a character says something important as dramatically and poetically as possible don't happen, because it's extremely difficult, and also because you might look like a tool for trying. Even though I can't think of any specific examples, I'm sure body language must be subtler in real life, too. Voice quality? It seems like it has to be learned to put that much range in the expression of your voice, but I'm not sure. Well, whatever. I'm sorry diary, but I'm talking out my ass. I know you're used to it, my friend, but I have to apologize now and then.
Still, Jeff Jones, I do not think detachment from others is a necessity for all men. At some point there must be enough knowledge of human interaction, reason, and so, wherever it may be derived from, for us to live in harmony. Or at least peaceful indifference, if those things aren't the same.
Dammit, this is still bothering me. The suspicion that I forgot something vital to my understanding. I swear I've learned. I've learned everything. It's all in here, but I haven't processed it yet. I'm remembering something from the other day. If someone talks about a hand, it isn't really a hand. I mean, I refer to a hand, and that's really a symbol. The referent is actually the concept of a hand. It could be any or all of the actions it represents, like pulling a rope or throwing a ball or whatever your dirty mind might be thinking. Or it could be the concept of this round mass with five skinny things sticking out of it. When kids (and people that don't know what they're doing) draw, they depict the symbol of a hand, rather than what's truly there. If we divorce it from all of this meaning, then a hand itself is really very abstract. Since we need light to see and make out the forms of things, we can't separate a hand from the light that's cast on it. It's just a mass of colors and shades sitting in space. You could also try to say that a hand in actuality is the system of muscles and bones and cartilage that make it up, and the flesh and nails that cover those, and the cells that make up each, and the molecules that make up each cell, and so on until you have gone insane. But that makes it more and more abstract, except that it's more real that way, because there's sort of substance involved. I don't know. It seems sturdier to think of it that way, like it's built of something solid, and also that it's more understood. We have deconstructed it into complete knowledge. I keep feeling like this is a metaphor, diary, but I can't quite connect the dots yet. The things we see are substituted with symbols so we don't have to understand them properly. We exaggerate in media so people know what we're thinking, but maybe also to make ourselves look better, smarter, more sensitive. If aliens saw fine cinema, they might not destroy us. Maybe if we beam them The Twilight Zone and Stargate and select Peter Sellers movies and Doctor Who and whatever else they will think all humans are nice and can see the error of their ways. But hopefully they would also get the sense that we could totally kill them if we wanted to, we just don't want to. We are not sitting ducks, aliens.
I suppose the answer to the original problem is that what I feel is real, and what others feel is real, but we rarely see others acting it out in everyday interactions, because no one really wants to. Why would you? That's stupid - putting yourself on the spot like that. Is that detachment? What did you mean? There are levels of severity, I suppose. This doesn't seem like the same level of detachment she spoke of. There's a difference between avoiding unnecessary vulnerability, and avoiding people. One is a trait geared for survival, the other for destruction. Respectively, if you couldn't tell. I don't know. I have only begun. One day the wisdom I possess will make this seem simple. The answer will be an axiom, and it will form the basis of everything.
I started reading the rest of the autobiography, but I could only get so far. It seems a bit negative; I feel kind of sorry for that. C'est la vie.