Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ask A Question Get An Answer #8: Other Than Death and Taxes (Naturally), On What Do You Rely?

Well, simplest answer: I rely on the Other. I capitalize the Other here, because it looks cool.

I rely on the Other as a corrective! Between you and any Other you know well, you will usually find means to fruitfully evaluate the reality that lies between you. But it goes so far beyond that: there are so many of the Other! Taken together, all the Others in your regular experience form a huge resource pool. Where their observations and opinions conflict, you will find broad basis within which to compare, and from which to gauge the relative worth of any individual Other's input.

Between you and any Other, you have reality, and a reality check that cuts each way: each of you has the reality between you to work from, as observed by you each. Each of you can use the other to compare observations and potentially, offer any perceived inaccuracies for correction. Each of you serves the other as a check! In dealing with any particular Other, you will very soon get a sense of how reliable their observations are and/or how much their opinion is worth, making it easy for you to adjust the relative weight you assign to that Other's take "on the fly." With only a small amount of practice, you will find yourself doing this automatically!

So in sum: I rely on each and every Other, to the degree they come into my experience, and in proportion to the proven worth of their observations and/or opinion, in order that my own observations and opinions can be corrected and refined as desired.

If you care to give it a try, you'll find that when you start this process, your desire will be huge! You won't be able to get enough correction and refinement to how you've been viewing reality. It will quickly become almost addictive, the giddy thrill as opinions proven bad and useless drop away in favor of views better suited to reality as observed, and consequently, more useful for negotiating it. You will feel like some kind of superhero after about a year of this! Temper your enthusiasm, though: as your opinions grow in utility, as they become better and better descriptions of reality, as they become more refined and finely-adjusted and as your observations become more astute, you will probably find less and less to correct. This is only natural, and no cause for sadness. For in place of the initial thrill and rush, you'll find that each increasingly-rare correction you can wrest from any given Other will become a cherished prize.

Shorter answer: I rely on reality. Same thing. I'm just dropping hints as to how you or anybody else can get to it.

8 comments:

dogimo said...

I wasn't able to capitalize a couple instances of the word "other," as it didn't seem to me that I was talking about the Other. It was more an each of you and the other of you setup.

I justify it.

dogimo said...

How could I forget!

Fond thanks are due to Stephanie for posing this question using the Ask A Question Get An Answer button!

A question indeed. It threatened to sweep us into deep waters, but I hope you'll agree I was able to keep it right there on the surface!

Thanks Stephanie!

Too many exclamation points, here.

Stephanie Artley said...

And thank you in turn for such a prompt answer!

I have to confess, though, at first I took the Other to refer to the Uncanny, and then I thought it'd be an entertaining exercise to think of it in a Game of Thrones-ey sort of way.

While capitalising the Other does look cool, you do run the risk of your reader's imaginations getting carried away with themselves.

dogimo said...

I did think there was some chance of confusion. I took pains to define it up front, but once a distractingly amusing interpretation creeps in, it's hard to dislodge! Still, amusing is good too.

I usually associate the Other (or even The Other, but that's a bit excessive) with the whole sociological or would it be anthropological (or socioanthropological?) idea of the one who is Not Us, who is alien and therefore, not lightly to be trusted. In oldest times we (the in-tribe) would demonize the Other, blaming the nearby Other and its alien cultural practices for whatever bad may have been happening (the gods no doubt affronted by these Otherly ways, which aren't like our ways and gods always hate that!), and turning the distant Other into an object for horror and mythologization.

I believe "Uncanny" is used in just the same way! It would certainly be a near synonym (or especially the German "Unheimliche"), but I prefer "the Other" as more familiar in English. We are Us just as sure as the Other is Them.

To Europeans in the grand old days of Empire and Enlightenment, so-called, the Other in all its forms (aboriginal American or Australasian, African or the highly-developed but still alien cultures of India and Asia) was a particular puzzle. Emerging Humanitarian ideas argued the Westerner had an obligation to understand the Other, but such aims were compromised by continuing imperial mandates: the first duty of "advanced" Western culture was surely to civilize and elevate the Other "to our level!" How magnanimous of them.

The tribal instinct runs blood deep within us yet, and humanity continues to class Us and Them on any lines where distinction can be drawn: religious, ethnic/racial, cultural, economic or eugenic. In modern times, the Other is busy stealing our jobs, using up our budget, threatening our homelands, and attacking our beliefs and our right to speak them and hold them. The only solution is to find that bastard and kill him or something!!

Stephanie Artley said...

FUCK THE OTHER.

He's shifty and he smells funny.

dogimo said...

It's because of his traditional and disgusting diet and atrocious culturally-inculcated hygiene rituals. But I'm not sure those are reasons to fuck him though.

Still, I guess if it's a choice between Self and the Other...

Stephanie Artley said...

Sometimes you just need to find a good reason to fuck the Other.

Anything will do.

dogimo said...

In some cases, in my own case, I have occasionally redefined Self as the Other. Only where it was defensible! Only where it was justified.