Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spontaneous Compunction

As a lifelong lover of language, I’m quite used to strange words popping in my head. In fact, I thrive on it. It’s why I fill out crosswords, scribble song lyrics and read non-stop. (That, and all three of those activities involve sitting - something I’m really good at.) Thing is, all that consumption is gonna cause some back-up; I’ll be off somewhere chasing soundbites and some jumbled phraseology will pass through my lips. It happened again the other day in traffic. I was at a stoplight, staring holes through Unit 4’s windshield when I heard someone repeating the same six twisty syllables. It took a second before I realized the voice was mine. I brushed it off, as it happens a lot. (If you find that strange, you’re obviously not a word nerd - but while you’re up and being so smart, explain something I can’t grasp: Fantasy Football - what is that? And how about America’s Top Model? Can you provide an affidavit for that little Eureka moment?) I got more important things to do, like figure out just what the two words I keep pronouncing actually mean. Are you ready? Huh? Here we go…

Cognitive Dissonance

Yeah, I know - not exactly musketeer dialogue, but what are you gonna do? Maybe next week I’ll be speaking in thee’s and thou’s - this week it’s Cognitive Dissonance, which - I believe, is Hospital Talk for feelin’ shitty. But you ain’t here for guesswork, so I’ll try and stick to the facts. Roll that beautiful bean footage...
Cognitive dissonance is the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time. The theory states that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions.
If you say so…but I gotta tell ya, for a guy who spent most of high school blowing smoke rings, it’s a bit high-falutin’. Let’s break it down to street level, where a schlub like me can understand it. Let’s see, ‘uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time’…Hmmm. You mean the way you feel when you’re covering a tense police stand-off and you hope that whether he gives up or gets gunned down, the guy in the crosshairs has the courtesy to do it before your favorite Chinese lunch buffet closes? Or maybe it’s the emotion that accompanies you up the widow’s porch, where you beg pardon for intruding before asking permission to stick a camera in the homemaker’s soul. Perhaps it’s the conflicting twinge you experience as you gun the engines and giggle at that smoke plume on the horizon.

I don’t know how cognitive all that is, but it’s damn sure dissonant. And that line about tension ‘compelling the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs’... That’s a little thing we camera pointers call Life. At least those of us who stop the question the madness before the glass. Most of us settle for merely keeping it in focus. But not me. No, I’m cursed with thinking above my pay-grade - savoring the insinuations of all those facts and finks I funnel to the Great Unwashed. I’m no genius - just a guy whose learned most of what he knows by processing happenstance into bite-size nuggets for the nightly news. If you doesn’t drive you up an antenna tower, it’s one hell of an edumacation. I’m just dreading the test at the end...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No, I’m cursed with thinking above my pay-grade - savoring the insinuations

And that's why I stop by every day...That and the jumbled phraseology.