The Binary Mind

I've been meaning to write about a short list of people.  And I have a list of blog ideas to follow up on.  But this morning I'm thinking about something else that is holding me back.

Johnstone's discussion of status in the last post can be seen from a different angle.  I seem to have developed the ability to decide whether to have a positive or a negative outlook.  I can choose whether to frame the world by its positives or by its negatives.  I'm not sure if the split in my mind is becoming stronger or if I'm just becoming more aware of it.  

This applies to people too.  I can choose whether to view someone with respect or contempt.  If I view everyone with respect I become a happy, low status, bumbling idiot.  If I view everyone with contempt I become a dower fashion model.

This applies to objects in the world and events too.  I can treat the chair I'm sitting on with contempt or respect.  It changes the way I sit, and feel.  I can treat everything in your house with contempt, or everything in San Francisco with contempt.  Or, I can treat everything on a mountain path with respect or everything on someone elses blog with respect.  

The norm however is to mix and match, to respect the weather and have contempt for a particular person.  Or even to have contempt for a person's clothing choices but respect for their opinions on food.  

I can respect how cool a chair looks but have contempt for the lack of thought that went into making it comfortable to sit in.  

I would posit that this (0,1) or (+,–) is fundament to thinking.  An idea or a complex opinion is really a long chain of pluses and minuses or perhaps a series of ( 0 )boxes inside of ( 1 )boxes, inside of (0) boxes (n+1, n+2...)(n–1, n–2...).  

Perhaps, to my readers, this seems too robotic, or too enlightened, or too obvious.  If this is the case then you have either consciously or unconsciously put this post in the negative box.  On the other hand if you are feeling that this post could very well improve your driving skills (do you treat stop signs with contempt?), or get you a promotion at work, or make you a better meditator, or mediator, then you have consciously or unconsciously put this post in a positive box.  

Someone might like me because I'm a jerk. Or think I'm a jerk, but love my ideas. But still, I'm not seeing any nuance in the world, only layers of pluses and minuses, respect and contempt, pity and purchase.  

The decision, up or down, is, I think, faster than the conscious mind.  The conscious mind is always playing catch-up.  In other words, our mind chooses to prefer certain musical notes, in certain combinations, to other tones, and only after the decision has been made can we explain it to ourselves.  If we don't explain it to ourselves, it remains unconscious, but it is still happening all the time.  These preferences are imprinting on us all day long, and at night during our dreams.  

So how is it possible that I am claiming to be able to choose?  I suspect that, for instance, I look at a baby and I think that is a baby, it is a beautiful unique human life, I must respect it, and it has such cute eyes, but it has a pretty ugly face, and that scream is really annoying!  Well, I think it is possible to just look at the baby and erase all of those pluses and minuses.  After a moment or two of looking at this baby as a zero, no doubt another preference will come up.  But I can just erase that preference too.  At that point I have a choice.  I can choose respect or contempt.  Once I've chosen contempt (for instance), the justifications and explanations just flow out like hot water from the Old Faithful geyser at Yellow Springs National Park.  One of the more boring and predictable geysers at Yellow Stone.