Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Finding Humor in Absurdity

"Have no fear of perfection. You'll never reach it."  -Salvador Dali

There are millions and millions of bits of information coming at you every instant. From time to time you are going to do something different than what you intended. You have to. The trick is how you deal with it. I think the first part of this is reconciling the fact that you are taking in and processing a fantastic amount of information and the way you are dealing with the majority of it is just fine. The problem is that since we take those automatic functions for granted the focus then falls on the things we see as anomalies. Remember there is a chaotic (random) quality to the information our brain is trying to reconcile. Compound this with the fact that 'normal' is 'fluid' and we have the ingredients for being self critical all the time. The other part is not necessarily looking at what you perceive as a misstep as an error that cannot be erased but rather something that can be added on to. Yes and and all that.  

In a philosophical sense "absurd" refers to the conflict between our attempt to find inherent value and meaning in life and our inability to find said properties. Absurdity is a human construct. I see it as less of a judgement and more as a recognition. I think it is important to notice and learn to laugh at ourselves. Objective reality (not perceived) (which might not even exist) and the human mind (perceived) do not each separately cause things to appear absurd. It is in the relationship between the two. As a philosophy, absurdism just says that our attempts to find meaning and logic will ultimately fail because of the sheer amount of information and the amazing amount of things we aren't even aware of thus making total certainty impossible. So basically we exist in a universe without meaning or purpose. Depressing. But wait. Is it? If we go back to the idea of an "objective reality" and add the notion that each of us is experiencing reality in a different way, we come to the idea that we are really dealing with a multiverse of subjective perceptions. Crap. That doesn't make it better. Or does it? I think that if we rid ourselves of the ideas of an ultimate truth and that we are imperfect beings we get to a point where we see that everyone's "normal" or experience is fluid. One of the definitions of absurd is  "impossible to take seriously, silly". We laugh at silly stuff. Keep that in the back of your mind and see how it changes your reality.

I think if we learn to laugh at ourselves we start to deal with our judgement of ourselves. Then it all comes down to intention. Since what we experience is random and our perception is subjective and influenced by experience the only way to reach common ground with another person is to strip away the result of the action and look at the intention behind it. Think of getting a gift. You open the box and when you see it you aren't totally happy because it is a wrong color. The disappointment is natural. Acknowledge and embrace it. If you strip away the action and look at the intention however you see that the person was expressing their positive feelings for you. Now think of a car accident. Of course our initial reaction is that of heighten self-awareness. Fight or flight. Do you think the other person, no matter how much you dislike them in the moment, really meant to hit you? Conversely stripping away action lets us see if the intention was malicious and we can be more prepared to deal with it accordingly. This also allows us to be less judgmental of ourselves. Truthfully we are usually our own harshest critical, or at least I am. If we strip away action and look at intention I think it allows us to assess how to more clearly express our intention the next time.

In the immortal words of Miles Davis "Do not fear mistakes, there are none." Of course he is talking about music and probably jazz improvisation more specifically. As I said in an earlier post though life is an improvisation. If we keep "yes, and" as our intention and not fear an illusive and non-existent perfection we lose at least some fear of mistakes. For me that goes a long way to not always feeling like you fell short. A judgment. Oh and reserve apologies for when intention and action were way off. In another wise Miles Davis quote "If you understood everything I say, you'd be me!"

No comments:

Post a Comment