Perspective: As they see each other

by talkbackty on Aug 23, 2011

"Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is." -William James

I will divide these thoughts into three blogs and link each here as they become completed.

Part One: Himself
Part Two: Others
Part Three: Truth

There are six people present.

There is each man as the other person sees him.

This is really where our personal perspectives come into play quite heavily. We create the world we see through a complex system of incoming stimuli. When you receive similar stimuli to others around you, you are deemed healthy. If you perceive anything other than what those around you understand, you are outcasted and deemed ill.

Part of this stimuli regards people. How we see one another. How I see you. How you see me. As I wrote about last time, neither of these images is "correct."

I've created hundreds of people this way. Maybe thousands. Maybe hundreds of thousands.

Apologies, I just liked the word play of that last sentence.

I know my family quite well. I know my friends. I know my girlfriends (past and present, not concurrent). I know acquaintances. I know strangers.

I've created an image of them in my mind. I am able to recall that image at will or when they suddenly are back in my life.

In reality, I know next to nothing about any of those people. What makes us think that by passing encounters with an individual that we know them?

A sad poem from Watchmen
I heard a joke once: Man goes to doctor.
Says he's depressed.
Says life is harsh and cruel.
Says he feels all alone in a threatening world.
Doctor says, "Treatment is simple.
The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight.
Go see him.
That should pick you up."
Man bursts into tears.
Says, "But doctor... I am Pagliacci."
Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.

I'm sure the doctor knew Pagliacci.

In a stunning act of creation, we create everyone we know. We update them, and file them, and shade in the edges, and sometimes erase and start all over.

I'm sure most have seen Inception. Remember at the end of the movie when Cob (Leonardo DiCaprio) tells fake-Mal that there is no way he could have re-created her from his memories. All her complexities, all her imperfections, all her perfections. There was just too much for him to ever get it right.

Embedding was disabled by request, but here is the scene. 

That's us. We are all Cobs. Building our own world's and filling it not with people but with projections. How could we ever truly grasp the complexities, the imperfections, or the perfections of another human being?

Yet, that is exactly what we try to do. It scares me. Even those I feel closest to can never be the "real" thing. What does my best friend think of when he is alone? Does he cry at night? Does he dance when no one is looking? What are his struggles and his strengths? Do I really know any of these things?

How could I?

And so -to simplify- our brain creates images of others. Shadows of the true self. It makes our lives easier.

It is a distortion we must be aware of. We can not fool ourselves into thinking we know anyone else for who they really are.

We must be humble when dealing with others.

"The great challenge of being a human is comprehending that everyone else is human and is stuck inside of their own brains just as you are stuck inside of yours, and that all of them are also frightened and excited and desperately searching for friends and lovers and everything." -John Green

Six people are present.

How do you see others?

That was Part II, continue on...

Part Three: Truth