Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Word of the Week - DICHOTOMETRIC

Life is an amazingly complex thing. I’m not referring to the biological, electro-physical, machine that is our physical housing. Nor do I intend to enter a debate (with myself or others) regarding whether or not there is a spiritual being contained within. No, it’s much less philosophical than all that. I have again been faced with the unsettling realization that what I perceive, though perhaps real and true, is not universally so.

Last night, I found myself in a situation in which I saw and heard certain “realities.” I believed the evidence of what I witnessed to be universal – if I had a videotape to show you, you would see what I saw. At least in theory, it would be so. But as any cop will tell you, witnesses to an identical crime will often recount details so starkly different as to make the officer wonder if they were describing the same event.

I was treated to a tale of struggle and perseverance… of failure and triumph, of adventures so grand that surely it couldn’t be true. And it wasn’t. There were other factors as well. I happen to know this gentleman and some of his history. But my prior knowledge was not what sent me over the edge… I’ve sat through his story before. There was more to the display and I thought it was obvious. At least I was not alone… although all did not share my perception, at least some did. So I’m not crazy… not yet.

And, no his name is not James Frye, but it’s a good guess!

This is not the first time this dichotometric reality has reared its ugly head. Indeed, it is present all around us. From the innocent “he said/she said” lover’s tiffs to the huge chasms apparent in the body politic, it is no surprise when contradictory statements are made under the guise of truth, but both can’t be. However, and this is the hard part for me, both parties often believe their version is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.

The problem is not that there are bald-faced liars – there are and they know it. I believe I witnessed one in all his glory last night. I can deal with that. What is at issue is simply what is reality? Is it real or perception? For me, I saw a sham and a charlatan last night. I don’t believe he was after my money; it was not that sort of setting… he had nothing to gain but the solicitation of kudos from an audience that was largely taken in by his BS. And he got that.

Nor do I believe that I was in any way jealous or envious – and those who shared my experience weren’t either. Maybe it’s just the shock that I knew it was so obviously false and it was taken at full face value – plus interest – by others, some of whom I know to be of at least average intelligence. Were they taken in by the hype? Maybe it was an infectious phenomenon – a bandwagon effect of sorts. It’s almost eerie.

I didn’t say anything, not for fear of retribution… those who know me know that wouldn’t have stopped me. It was due to an open-mindedness of a type I didn’t know even existed. It’s not because I think my perception may be off in the ozone… oh no, I’m dead on in my assessment. Rather, it’s due to the fact that whatever that 2/3s of the audience saw and heard (about 15 all tolled), it did something for them.

Their perception was that they saw some kind of hope. I didn’t see it, but who am I to tell them they didn’t. There was no foul, no scam, and no crime. Nobody was being taken for anything other than their trust. There is nothing I can do to rectify that. If there were a clear and present danger, sure, I’d be compelled to do something. As it was, all I could do was bite my tongue.


Lee Ann said...

I am not sure what you witnessed, but it sounds like it made an impression.
Hope you are doing well!

Anonymous said...

Very intriguing post (not because I am woindering who the heck the speaker was, although I admit to being curious).

I find it very interesting that so many people "see" things differently. I've experienced the same thing you are talking about here and it made me shake my head in wonder.

Question - were the others in your audience your peers? I think that if they are it's even more interesting.

(I read J. Frey's book LONG before the "scandal" happened and knew from page one that the guy was not going to be honest in the book. Sometimes you just KNOW these things.)

Belizegial said...

DICHOTOMETRIC. This is the result of a belief that everything must have at least TWO sides to exist--that there must be equal and opposite forces ...

Mike, sometimes keeping silent is the best and easiest thing to do. I'm intrigued, though, by the why's and wherefore's of your reaction. Part deux, perhaps?

awareness said...

Your post hit me personally as I too was involved in a dichotometric interaction just the other day. 2 sides to a story......... but I didn't keep quiet! I should have.

I actually find this happens often in a counselling situation too, and when I'm in the counsellor role, I try to remain "open" to viewing the situation from another angle......or in other words, the clients "reality."

But when it comes to interactions on a non-professional level? Gotta learn to be more receptive to seeing and hearing the other side.

Snaggle Tooth said...

Sounds like you were amazed at the phenomenon...
I often bite my tongue to avoid hostile conflict-
Some people like a good story...

I was wondering if vote day had something to do with this experience...