Some more clarity

It might look like by doing the IQ test I loaded myself with more problems than I already had. But this is not the case. I was merely stirring up the shit I was already in (I know, thanks fo the visual!). That was the entire point of the whole matter. And if it feels like I´m flogging this issue to death – well, that is the point of this blog, in a way. Laying things to rest. So what I want to deal with is a couple of questions raised by yesterday´s ramblings.

1) Where and when did I learn that “just having skills” or “being talented” is worth more than acquiring skills and reaching goals through effort?

2) Where and when did I learn that trying to do something I´m not “talented” for is presumptuous and arrogant?

Thinking about these (because sometimes I actually think before I write^^) I noticed that for a long time I believed logics and math were something that involved magic. Something that was completely out of my reach whatsoever. I did not possess the magical skills that allowed others to see what was and what wasn´t logical. I wouldn´t have dared to even try and solve a freaking sudoku! Until recently when I was so bored and simply did it anyway and, to my surprise, noticed there was no magic needed. My profane little mind could do that! I could explain to myself and everybody else why only one specific number fit each respective space! Maybe the greatest revelation of all, ironically, was that logic actually makes sense. If something is logical, it means that people can understand it. It is no secret knowledge. Which led me to a third question:

3) Why do I lack all self-confidence when it comes to logic? Why do I feel so insecure about what does and what doesn´t make sense? Why do I feel like I cannot judge that?

Psychological experiments came to my mind. There have been studies showing how social pressure warps peoples´ perception. They set one proband into a class full of actors and asked him to answer a question. The correct answer was obvious, but if everybody else gave the wrong answer (on purpose, of course), most probands changed their mind and went along with the group.

Then I thought about my father´s discussion style. Random changes of topic, random redefining of words however it suits him best, filibustering, introducing topics which have nothing to do with the point I´m trying to make, leaving me to try and prove they really don´t. My father is not the type of person who gives you a good idea of common sense. Or any trust in your peception of what is and what isn´t logical. He uses the intellect and education he undoubtedly possesses in order to spread confusion. He´s acting like a pettifogger, not like someone who really tries to understand his opponent. I´m not sure he´s doing it on purpose; maybe his own sense of logic is just incredibly warped.

Either way, though, I wonder if growing up with a person like my father is so different in its effects from the social pressure tested in these experiments. His confusion-inducing behaviors undermine my jugdment of what does and what doesn´t make sense, my trust in my judgment. If I say someone is lazy, and my father says: “Yes, you are right, he´s aggressive!”, then I´m confused. Is laziness a fom of aggression? Did I say he´s aggressive without even realizing it? How can I interpret his statement in a meaningful way?

Here, I think, lies the problem. I´ve spent all my life trying to make sense out of nonsense. I kept on looking for ways in which my father´s statements might somehow be true and logical, or why he might be thinking the way he does. Not just my father, I did that all the time. I was using my intellectual abilities on trying to understand people who didn´t make any sense. I was training my mind in discovering (or inventing) unlikely explanations, irrational connections; in understanding illogical thoughts.

I´m starting to understand why I fell so hard for psychoanalysis. I was simply predisposed for that. An interpretation of dreams, of our stream of consciousness, of madness – isn´t that, too, an attempt at making sense out of nonsense? I´m not saying that dreams and madness are meaningless or cannot be understood. I´m not saying that psychology as a whole is a useless endeavor. I´m just getting now why my first encounter with Freud´s theories resonated with me so strongly and why I find it so hard to let go of them even though their scientific and logical flaws are obvious. I´m simply used to that kind of thinking.

But I´m drifting away from my original topic. Why am I so unsure of my own logical abilities? Because I grew up in an environment designed to confuse them and because I readily believed that it had to make sense somehow and I was going to figure it out.

Irene took a very different path. Irene despises everything irrational. She goes as far as to not have any understanding for “madness” such as a phobia. She despises psychology. She is equally authoritative as our father, and, in a way, she doesn´t try to understand her opponents, either. She knows what is logical and what isn´t, and it stops there. It isn´t possible to talk about emotions with her because she will invalidate them left and right with her “reasoning”.

It might not be a coincidence that I´m thinking of Irene now. Because I believe that her cold-as-ice logic might have contributed to me feeling like I´m hopeless at anything logical. She is even more authoritative than my father; her judgments and verdicts have an annihilating effect. It shuts down my mind; I don´t even dare think, all alone and by myself, that she might be wrong. She can make cruel statements which are spot on, in a derisive fashion that sounds like she considers it below her to even have to make them. My mother´s favorite remedy for improving my math performance was making me learn with my sister. I already entered that situation rigid with dread. I felt like I had to signal complete willingness to listen and learn, to an extent that this need overruled my ability to focus on the math, which prompted my sister to say: “I want you to think, not look like you´re trying to think!”, in a tone as if I was the dumbest piece of crap she had ever encountered. My sister regularly made me feel stupid. Like: Seriously stupid. As if simple math was above my ability to grasp. Everybody knows how high levels of emotional stress can deteriorate performances and block the mind. It shouldn´t have surprised me that I didn´t understand the simplest things. Nowadays, if I take a look at a math textbook often I don´t get why it seemed so difficult to me when I was younger. Well. Maybe I´m just not that scared anymore.

If logic seems like magic to me, the reason might be that my own logical abilities were brutally crushed and that my trust in my own judgment and the meaning of words was being confused. I could only rarely experience the joy and the boost of self-confidence that comes with knowing I myself have solved a problem merely with my mind. I did not grow up being able to freely expand and develop my abilities, no matter how much importance my parents place on education and how many books I had.

Without any trust in my logical abilities I do not trust that I can say anything true. Anything that makes sense. I´m giving my perspective on things, but I´m never sure if I´m really right or if I´m just skillfully juggling with words. The blog entries I´m most proud of are the ones where I felt that I could explain why my conclusions are correct.

I wonder if one meaning attached to the IQ score is that if I score 130+ my logical abilities must surpass those of Irene and most other people (like I knew!) and therefore I´m probably right, so I may go on blogging even though I disagree with them. It would have been something like a license to have my own opinion.*

*This only goes for me, of course. I don´t walk around asking people for their IQ score before listening to them.








2 Responses to “Some more clarity”

  1. vicariousrising Says:

    I t

    • vicariousrising Says:

      I totally get this, trying to make logic out of nonsense. Compounding it was my mother’s claim that she was utterly logical and a big proponent for logic. It set me up to think I must be the lost one and I spent too much time retracing memories to try to keep nonsense straight.

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