Archive for March 14th, 2010


The concept and consequence of reservation

Sometimes I think I was born at the wrong time, perhaps the wrong country. Americans, particularly Americans in the technology era, love to talk, love to bullshit, and they love their little devices, i.e. IPODS, IPHONES, Cell phones, Blackberries, PSP’s, etc. We are a web-surfing, internet browsing, i.m.-img, texting, tweeting, facebooking, group of people. And in all this communication, mass communication at its zenith, what exactly do we say? In short, nothing…

I can’t say my opinions, or my random musings on this blog or any other are more valid than other peoples opinions. And I realize there is a great big world out there filled with bright minds and stunning conversationalists, but lately I just haven’t seen it.

In Japan and other eastern cultures it is not polite to talk to people you don’t  know, or make eye contact with them. Throughout world history, class stratification encouraged people to socialize within their own economic and intellectual peer groups. And many people, our own founding fathers, did not waste any breath, or quill ink, comensurating with people whose ideas and opinions were not worthy of consumption.

I don’t consider myself arrogant, I give everyone a fair shake, but I don’t like to waste my time on ignorant people, or ignorant opinions, and although other peoples gossip may be interesting to them, it is hardly of importance to me. The way in which we choose to communicate, and this is a principal summed up in How to Win Friends and Influence People, is to listen to other people’s bullshit, in order that they listen to ours. (Dale Carnegie didn’t use these words exactly, but you get the point.) But what is the point of listening to bullshit if it only leads to more bullshit?

I have my own anecdotes that I could tell. I have stories about times I got high, or fought with my wife, or made out with some hot chick, but do you really care? Of course not, and neither do I. Just lately I have discovered that I really don’t enjoy talking to the average person all that much. I try, really I do, but sometimes I feel like a lonely woman who keeps getting set up on bad dates. I keep going out there, but it never leads to anything.

Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because my nature is to be shy, I have become more reserved in my older age. I listen to people, I am polite, but I don’t make much effort to engage them unless I think they have something to say. I consider myself a broad thinker. I like politics, philosophy, literature, movies. I’d love to tell people about a good book I just finished or hear about one that you have read. But I don’t care how many times you fucked Ashley, what’s-her-name, before she cheated on you with John. what-his-name. And I don’t care how many beers you can drink, or how much pot you smoked, or that your boyfriend dumped you. Start off by displaying some taste, some discernment, and then, if I am your friend, I will listen to some of your bullshit. I will let you tell me about how quickly you beat Halo 2, or how many fights you won, and I may tell my own stories about how quickly I beat Drake’s Fortune; Uncharted 2, or how drunk I got over the weekend. I can tolerate some of it, but please, have something more to say.

We live in a culture that does not respect reservation or wisdom. If you want to learn something you have to be willing to listen, but all too often those who listen, such as myself are seen as withdrawn, and not interesting. But how does conversation lead anywhere, if everyone is just talking right past one another?

There is a quality to reservation, to patience, and to listening, that needs to be emphasized. The technology we have today combined with the crude culture that accomodates it has lead to a coursening of the language, a crudity of the spirit, and a generation that speaks on impulsive thoughts, emotions; raw thought process, replacing consideration, contemplation, and adaptivity. We should think about what we say, and try to speak from a place of authority. We should not merely babble our mindless stories back and forth. It is okay to shut up now and then.

I know I don’t quite fit in anymore. I will proabably take some heat for this blog, and yeah, I know not everyone can avoid talking about themselves, we all do it. But how we communicate is important. As the kid says in Jerry Maquire, “I have not yet mastered the art of talking and saying nothing.” Shouldn’t we all be so lucky?


Jack B.