telling me…part II

Well, Li decided he needed to get on the action. 🙂 My intended quick half-hour visit to hold the baby (!) evolved into six hours as I became the beneficiary of his informal counseling. We spent some time on the whole introversion/extroversion question and my joy at being a member of groups….how much easier I feel in groups (such as a class) where the role is clear (being a learner, what fun!) than in a social setting where other norms are at play. I had to confess that I want to be more of an extrovert, and in certain circumstances accomplish this (although still too rarely to satisfy my desire). 😉
I lobbied hard to become the case study of Li’s current paper on desire, tragedy, and satisfaction of desire. (To no avail, sigh!) 🙂 This came up as Li engaged me around my attention-seeking behaviors…


He agreed with me that I don’t usually get loud in order to gain attention, but when I tried to pump him for details on the attention-getting strategies that I DO use (which ones are successful, which fail – at least for him) all I got was a general tease, “I think you always succeed.” 🙂 I was fishing for more info on what it is that I do that people perceive as attention-seeking…
But that’s not even the real point, eh? What I realized last night, in very simple terms, is that I do need a lot of attention. My friends know that about me, and most colleagues probably do too. But, I don’t need a lot of attention all the time, I just need full attention for a concentrated burst of time. And the attention doesn’t have to be personal, per se, it could be intellectual or creative or simply mutual attention to the same task.
Getting back to Li’s paper and his triad of desire, tragedy, and satisfaction (and the psychoanalysis I was treated with that I *still* think makes me a candidate for case-study immortality – grin):
If my original desire was for attention that I didn’t get (either in enough quantity or quality or during the time/place when it was desired), then a major task in my life (possibly archetypal, although I’m still iffy on this whole a priori bit) is to find a suitable substitute source for the missed attention. Obviously, I’ve got a raft of failures and the latest one has thrust me over Niagara Falls! So, since the original desire remains unsatisfied for lack of a satisficer, the next best thing is to find a substitute desire – enter tragedy.
Truth is, I don’t want to be a tragic figure but I do find myself falling into grief more often than I wish. And it’s been one hell of a hard climb out, especially since I keep having to repeat it. (Slow learner syndrome.) %-)
Which brings us to the next insightful theme of the evening, that maybe I’m much more of a “low-context” than “high-context” kind of person. In simplified form, this notion refers to a range of communication modes from the explicitly verbal (what is said is what is meant, what is meant is what is said) to the largely unstated (meaning is guessed, intuited, assumed, coded?). This got us into a discussion of faith – because in a high context communication situation one acts on a great deal of faith in what one assumes things mean, whereas in a low context interaction not much faith is needed (at least, not of the same type. One must still have “faith” in the precepts and assumptions of low-contextness, that things said can actually mean what one intends, etc.)
The entirety of this range (it seems to me) is present in all communication to varying degrees and in different combinations. It may be at the crux of my relational problems. Damn. I hate figuring things out so late and at such cost!
ps – this book, Painless Civilization: A Philosophical Critique of Desire, looks fascinating.

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