Sunday, August 31, 2008

Self-Context and Received Texts

I am currently taking a writing class, and I am proud enough of this assigned journal to post it. Let me know what you think. (Sorry if it seems a little... off. I relied heavily on terms that came up in class.)

In many ways, self-context functions as a limiting agent in all texts we encounter (I should specify that while we established the many possible meanings of 'text' in class, I hear refer primarily to written text). No one can truly understand that which is outside one's own realm of experience, and the effect is even worse if one has an experience which seems similar to the text, but which is in fact quite different. When one knows nothing of the topic being written, the context is lacking, but if personal context leads us down a false trail, we not only fail to understand the author, we fail to understand our failure.

In other ways, this same self-context serves as an invaluable helper. This is most apparent when we share experience with the author because it shows us something we can relate to, but may say it better than we have, or vary just enough that it expands our experience by building onto our existing context. This building of context is a primary means of making ourselves bigger people—people more worth knowing—who may in turn share their experiences with others and help those others to become bigger people themselves. Through this gradual widening of experience, any member of the human race who interacts with others is advanced. This, as I see it, is the primary mode of operation for self-context and any text we receive.

There is, however, yet one more contextual effect that is as much greater than shared experience as a false similarity is worse than a lack of connection. This highest effect of context is when the recipient of a text has an experience wholly unlike that on which the author drew when communicating, but which still has a real connection to the text. Whether the recipient and author shared the author's intended experience no longer seems necessary, because the text begins to take on a life of its own. The recipient can then have a burst of truly original thought—this may, in fact, be the only time this can ever happen in real life—because the idea came neither from the reader nor the writer, but was formed through their exchange. This process is in many ways like the bearing of children, with the author siring an idea, but the new concept being carried to term and birthed by the recipient of the text.

It could be there are other ways that a context could function than these I have listed, but these seem the most primal. Either the context helps or hinders understanding. Hindering could be as little as a full stop or as much as a wrong-mindedness, and helping could be so small as to understand or so great as to conceive of something truly new. In my context, these forms exhaust all possible options.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Three years ago today I met the girl who would become my first real girlfriend (Second if you count Sammy). Two years ago yesterday she broke up with me. If the two dates weren't so close together, I doubt I would remember either of them now.

Three years ago, today fell on a Wednesday, and it was the first day of Freshman Orientation. Today is a Sunday, and I missed church because I was working on a project for one of my extracurriculars. I don't plan to make a habit of this, it just happened to work out that way today.

I got the last of my things moved in yesterday, thanks to my parents, and now I only need 5 books to have all of my materials for the semester. Three years ago today, I was a scared little freshman meeting my first roommate other than my brother for the first time. Two years ago today, I had already gotten over my relationship of ten months and was comforting the very girl who had just broken up with me the day before. One year ago today, I was having fun and eagerly anticipating "the Main Event" (which, this year, was yesterday--I didn't attend).

Every now and then, I like to think of anniversaries like this. Not the ones people really celebrate, but those that we sort of gloss over. Some people even try to avoid them. But I find that they give a greater perspective to my life.

Eight years ago today, I was silently celebrating the birthday of the girl I had a crush on, but didn't ever talk to.

When I think of anniversaries, I feel connected to the world as a whole. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, live isolated in the present tense. At all times I feel the twin pulls of destiny and heritage, of future and past.

One year from today, Lord willing, I'll be in Los Angeles.

When I think of people always living in the present, I feel sad for them. It isn't pity, but genuine sadness. No matter how happy they are, their lives are so small, because they refuse to acknowledge the past and the future as part of themselves. Already, my ancestors define who I am. Should I be so lucky as to have descendants, they will continue to redefine me for so long as my line perseveres. This is, in large part, why I am an optimist. In the perspective of so much time, what can my small problems mean? And with God guiding all of eternity, for what wondrous achievements might my small goods lay the groundwork?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Seeking Conspirators

I really want to take out a want ad along the lines of "Genius Seeking Conspirators to Take Over Government From Within." It would be sort of a social experiment. First of all, would the paper even run it? Then there's the question of whether you'd be arrested for posting such an ad. I would of course wonder how many people would respond, and what types of people would do it too.

For the record, I don't have a conspiracy to take over the government. I just wonder how people would react if I said I did.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


So, I'm trying this Vlogging thing. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How My Mind Works: Part III

So, this isn't as interesting as the first two posts about my mind, and I'm not entirely sure I can call it part of my mind. However, I want to blog about it and it transitions nicely from the previous entry.

I sometimes randomly slip into these... moods. But that's not really the right word. It's a lot more than that. It affects my perceptions, both sensory and emotional. All of my senses seem heightened. Everything seems to happen faster, but also more clearly than it does otherwise. I feel the resistance of anything I touch or move much more keenly, but seem to have the same strength as I otherwise would. And things are timed strangely. I have, in the past, described it in terms of rhythm. What I do not know is whether everything is happening in time with this unheard beat or syncopated to it. Judging by how unsettling the experience is, I'm inclined to call it syncopation.
The emotional effect is sort of an enhanced form of irritation. I'm not "angry," everything just somehow manages to get under my skin a lot more than it should. And I mean everything. The sound a fan makes as its blades are spinning, the footsteps of anyone passing by, the sound and feel of my fingers on the keyboard. Typically, it's so bad that I can't do anything effectively (certainly nothing that requires rational thought) until it passes, so I just sit and wait.
Here is where it was connected with my previous post: I haven't had one of these moods for a couple years, until two days ago. Just as I was about to start writing, I slipped into this state and was nearly furious with just about everything. I had thought to post something along these lines then, but I had wanted to do the other topic for a while. Besides as I learned in my poetry class, it is never wise to write about your feelings while you're still going through them. Undoubtedly, such an irregular emotional state would have an even worse effect, particularly with its inflammatory nature.
Has anyone else ever experienced something like this?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How My Mind Works: Part II

One thing about which I have informed a few of my friends is that I literally do not always know what I am thinking. That is to say, there are cases in which I know I am thinking, know my thought has a very specific object, but do not know what that object is. The most interesting effect of this is that I cannot always answer the question: "What are you thinking about?"
One interesting side effect of this (at least, I think these two things are related) is that I can picture something, describe it in vivid detail, and yet not be affected by the image. For example, many people like to test their ability to gross out their friends. When I am really trying, I can always succeed because I can describe the most disgusting images without the faintest effect on myself (I sometimes, but not always, manage to avoid the effects of others' descriptions). It also allows me to fully comprehend the scope of horrific news without emotional reaction, though I cannot say if this is good or bad.
The downside of this is that even though I don't always know what I'm thinking, my mind is still working, sometimes to a tiring degree. And I can't just "Think of something else" because all that does is add to my mental burden. It's possible I'm thinking of two things at once when I do this, but since I don't consciously process my unknown thoughts, I feel it would be unfair to claim this talent.
It's actually possible, I just realized, that this is a side effect (or cause) of my largely intuitive grasp of life. It could be that my intuition functions so well because I sort of pre-process my thoughts on the subject without knowing it. Of course, I have no evidence of this correlation. It's just a thought.