Monday, August 3, 2009

Slow Motion Heartache

I've been investigating something about myself. Not sure if when I've explored it that I will actually share it with you, Dear Reader... --What am I talking about? you're reading it now!

While "Heartache" isn't a word I like to throw around, it's also not the end of the world. I guess I should find a word that isn't so widely abused by pop musicians and high school poets, but I'd rather just give you my definition before we proceed.

When I say Heartache I don't mean tears and suicidal thoughts, or anything like that.
It's actually very simple: Heart + ache. Perhaps a little more abstract than simply descriptive, since it is (for me at least) a physical symptom of a mental process, but at least it's not a misnomer like "Heartburn".

Again, I just want to be thorough here. I had an idea of what I wanted to say before I even began this post. I hadn't come up with a title for it, and the one I used wasn't exactly thought out, so everything up to this point has been just that.

Guess I'm rambling, avoiding my own topic. I hope you understand what I mean. I'm sure you can relate. It's an ache in my chest, and it usually accompanies a feeling of loss-- I suppose it is the physical "feeling" of loss. So it follows a realization. It's the purest example of emotion. If I were a computer, the realization would be the end product of my calculative process. It would either flash this "answer" across my screen. Or, if this "answer" was only one part of an equation, then it would remain as code until the end answer had been calculated. I suppose this end answer would be the calculated "meaning of life". but then again, I'd be a computer... And I'm rambling again. But I do want to explore this later.

So, about this title... why didn't I just leave it blank until I had said my piece? Instead, I've started myself on a couple of little tangents and side trails instead of starting this hike. this "Chautauqua", if you will*.

An alternative title occurred to me as I've written "breakdown of a breakdown" but that isn't what I want to talk about, it just sounds witty (to me).

I've given up on exploring my original topic, this title thing has gone too far, and I realize you have better things to do. Pity though, I would have liked to maintain this same lighthearted tone in my original topic.

I suppose I'll go on with the computer concept, and add a subtitle to this post "what is emotion and why?" :)

Wow. I suddenly need to start a new analogy. Simply because I added a sub-title. This title-prior-to-completion-of-discourse thing is a good way to derail any sort of orderly train of thought. But this blather has a certain therapeutic value-- an analgesic effect on the very heartache I was about to write of-- so I'll continue. you may leave now, if you'd had enough, I don't quite have my fix.

What is emotion? Like I said, it is a physical feeling that accompanies a mental function. this definition is my own, and I may have to expand it later and riddle it with exceptions and such, but I think that pretty much sums it up. It is the difference between a study-hall calculator and a the teenager using it: they are both receiving quite an abundance of information, buttons are being pushed, sometimes they are abused or misused... they have a lot in common**. But the calculator doesn't have emotions. In this regard suppose it's in the air which has it better.

So why? this is where it gets tricky. Calculators were invented as a tool of efficiency. The calculators cut out all the many reasons we mess up; audio/visual distractions (conflicting sensory input, etc.) concentration (aside from external stimuli: thoughts of "this mortgage high school experience is going to be the death of me!" and such) forgetfulness ("formulas" and crap) and, last but not least (at least in my case), emotion. I'm not saying that math is an emotional trial for me in the sense that it ends in tears or heartache... I'm just referring to that damp forehead sort of frustration, the kind that builds on itself as you get more and more vexed with the problem.

Calculators have it made. They don't have to worry about anything but input, essentially "hardwired" processing, and output. Then again, if there were no more to a life than to make calculations, life would get pretty meaningless pretty quick. So, if you think about it, Calculators have it pretty rough.

I don't suppose there's much else to say, than that we are how we are because without emotions, we would be calculators. Every word, act and thought would be executed only in response to stimuli, but without consideration of the stimulant itself. We get the human experience, in all its splendor and gloom, ecstasy and pain.

Emotions are meaning. And not the type of meaning that words have, emotion is true meaning. Emotions are signifieds, something words and symbols cannot ever completely capture.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

* - I'm currently reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again, and with new eyes. I didn't realize that it was going to show through in this writing, and I definitely wasn't trying for that... But you tell me: are there less commas in this post than average?

** - It occurred to me that neither is capable of finding answers without the other. difference (aside from emotion) being that where a calculator is usually sleek, smooth (aside from the pizza-grease fingerprints) and systematic, the teenager using it is usually pizza-faced, bumbling and erratic.

No comments: