Saturday, June 28, 2008

the varied nature of questions, (with regards to life, work, and intimacy [both small and capital i)

Where shall I begin.
Hm. The OED, methinks, where I always begin.

Says the OED about questions:
Interrogative statement of some point to be investigated or discussed; problem; ; subject for discussion in meeting etc...; the~, the precise matter receiving or requiring discussion or deliberation; beg the ~, under consideration; it is a ~ of , what is required or involved is;... out of the ~, foreign to the subject; not to be considered or thought of.

of "questionable" there is this:
Doubtfully true; not clearly consistent with honesty, honour, or wisdom.

Asking questions.
When I used to be in university (wow, i used to be in university) I was that person that always asked too many questions. It was a good self-check (I feel/felt at the time); when I was asking questions it was because i was interested, and sometimes when they reached the "excessive" point, i was just checking in that I was still engaged with what was going on, a part of the dialogue.
Which, although annoying to others, was well intentioned, I assure you. To this day I have trouble understanding how the silent sorts can feel (capital I)Involved sitting on the outskirts of a conversation, questioning nothing, not clarifying details for themselves, not positioning themselves inside the continuum of what's going on.
When I stopped asking questions in class, it was a matter of not even a month or so before I stopped doing work, lost interest in academia, and traded in my year-two-course registration for a plane ticket to Sweden.

As one does.

In contrast though, with work these days, questions take on a different colour. At one of my jobs I ask the same questions repeatedly, 'coz i'm there so rarely that I can't get up the confidence to assure myself that I really have a firm hold of the job, of what I'm supposed to do.
BUT. It's also a way for me to manufacture engagement, since I find the environment deeply depersonalized and I feel like an ant there. If i'm still asking things, at least I still feel present. And being answered also helps with that; creates some sort of bond, however tenuous. Which, for whatever reason, is a big deal to me.

Moving right along.

The OED (1980 edition) defines "intimate" thusly:
adj Close in acquaintance, familiar; essential, intrinsic; closely personal intimately adv intimacy n State of being intimate; intimate act; (euphem.) sexual intercourse. intimate n Intimate friend.

For the sake of my ponderings I'm going to take the sex part out of it.
(Which is perhaps telling in and of itself?)

What of questions and their relationship to intimacy? This is what I'm pondering.
Discussions I have with intimate friends are a back and forth, a dialogue, much in the form of question/answers/re-questions, with happy digressions and meandering reactions to what one or the other has to say. I LOVE this. I can tell almost immediately when I'm not loving a discussion (or when i've retreated into self-absorbed tedium) when nothing other people say makes me react or question.

I've been with people before who seem to have very little intimacy (small i OR capital I) in their lives, but manage to fake this very well by asking questions. Creating a sense of interest by trying to get in on the people around them, how they do things, what makes them tick. Astoundingly, the "fake it 'til you make it" tactic can be very efficient in this way.* I have had times in my life where I've been disinterested in things until Precisely the moments I begin to investigate them, and suddenly find myself swept up. And the thing is, you can't fake the asking of a question. You ask a question, or you don't ask it. If you ask a question without interest, that much is very obvious from the get-go. If you don't ask, the same applies.

(* This tactic is also a very good one for getting laid. Who doesn't find someone attractive in some capacity, when they are being asked at length about their own navel-gazing self?)

There is, of course, a time and place for questions, I admit. There are moments where Intimacy is beyond questions.
Looking at artwork: beyond questions.
Reading: beyond questions.
Sex: you get my drift.

BUT, very frequently, it is AFTER all the questions, that the above examples are born.
I mean, what books, art, or half decent sex worth having didn't start with the question of how to procure themselves, make themselves better, arrive in a timely fashion, etc.

(an aside: I think fast food and one-night stands and the like have their place of importance in the world. That is a different importance from what I am talking about here. That sort of place demands the building up of a tolerance, a thick skin, a surly constitution; once you've accustomed your body to fast food (or fast anything) the habit is so strong your innards would revolt at the sight of anything else. ... Perhaps the same holds true of intimacy?)

This wonderful quote was at the bottom of an email i once got: The Dalai Lama always likes to say... that when you give birth in your mind to the idea of compassion, it's because you realize that you yourself and your pains and pleasures are finally too small a theater for your intelligence; it's really too boring. ~ Bob Thurman ~


North said...

Here's the video transcript where the quote was taken from. Quite the idea to ponder on...

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