It’s interesting (but obvious, once you pause for even a moment) how the way you perceive something is influenced by the context of your perception. For instance, if a respected (even revered) friend recommends something to you, you’ll encounter it with a positive bias and typically return from the encounter with a positive bias. Likewise, if someone you think is an idiot recommends something to you, you’ll easily find a way to loathe that thing, even though you’re simply using the thing as a proxy for your hatred of the person who directed you to it. The thing never had a chance. Poor thing. Or poor you?
It’s not that this is an impoverished inclination. We can’t help it. But what have you missed out on seeing value in by virtue of who led you there? What beauty has passed you by? In the same vein, what have you wasted your time on by virtue of who led you there? What ugliness have you misperceived?
Fuller, the respected (even revered) friend to whom I was referring up top, wrote me an e-mail with the header, “dude, write about this.” This was yet another brilliant strip from the web comic, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. I’m not sure what he was hoping I would write about it. The thing pretty much covers its own tracks and invites any reader to re-evaluate their relationship with Ghostbusters, art, and popular culture. I’m perpetually in the midst of such re-evaluation, but I will admit that I had never questioned my nostalgic fondness for Ghostbusters in the way SMBC suggested. I used to dress up as Egon by wearing Mr. Potato Head glasses and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles turtle shell for a proton pack (pre proton pack acquisition, of course). I’m cool with that untarnished memory. It remains. Seeing Ghostbusters anew – as the American film, thanks to its curious-but-ultimately-no-duh capitalistic encoding – doesn’t diminish my love of it. It gives me another way of thinking about it.
Which is why learning is so damn fun. Just when you think you’ve developed an absolute perspective on something – BOOM! (Science, in Fuller’s worldview) – someone comes in and dismantles your mental architecture. But then you rebuild it, and you realize you’re more robust and resilient, ready and eager for the next re-vision.
When there’s something strange in my neighborhood, I run after it.