Thursday, November 25, 2010

Did Escher Draw Rolled-Up Socks?

In so many ways, the process of recovery from a massive event is more dramatic than the slow process of regular life. My own continuing evolution into a life as a balanced Slow Hare life has hit some bumps, along with a plateau in the weight loss campaign. The book feels like I’m stuck somewhere in an Escher drawing, though what keeps coming to mind is a pair of badly tangled rolled up socks, which you know have a beginning and end, but cannot find. Mostly, it’s an organization problem: what comes first? does something else have to be explained before it, so it all makes sense? how does each piece fit in the big picture? Experience and common sense both say that the only way to get through this bit is to keep at it. That is tedious and there’s not great progress to write about. Once you omit all the ways I spend time on which it isn’t appropriate to write, like students, the main things left to write about are those that feel utterly, totally self-absorbed, even at a time when life isn’t living or feeling that way. Hence, silence in this forum.

Here’s an interesting phenomenon that is puzzling and I’d welcome thoughts about it and what it means. Several of you know about the short ethical dilemmas I used in professional responsibility and ethics classes. Recently, we used some of them for interview questions and also for extra credit problems. The dilemmas are always presented as “you are (and then the dilemma).” In both the recent interviews and in the extra credit papers I read yesterday, most people take on the situation as a personal one, as intended. A small subset, though, distance themselves from it and either talk or write about some other person in the dilemma--and almost always it’s a man. Since I didn’t catch on to this early enough to make an accurate count, or to notice if there’s a pattern in who adopts this approach, I don’t have a good base from which to analyze what’s going on. That leaves rank speculation. It seems to be more than just a writing reflex using “he;” it feels like more than that. Michael asked me what percentage do this, and since it only belatedly occurred to me that it had been happening, I truly don’t have an accurate count. Maybe 10 or 15 percent? Have any insights or ideas about what’s going on?

In whatever setting and form you celebrate Thanksgiving, may you have a relaxing and personally satisfying day. Our love and thanks to all who make our lives what they are.

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