First Impressions

You know I’m trying to solve the world’s problems, humanity’s problems, and there’s some guilt I’m not working the food bank, but I have issues, I don’t work well with others, and also the first problem I saw was what I’m always on about, “spanking,” (although anybody would have called what I saw more than that) and I was a kid, I wasn’t going to be working anywhere. The whole thing seemed, I’m sorry, stupid to me, and I have spent my life trying to find smarter thinking, solve it that way.

I must have thought, if I’m five and I can see how dumb these guys are, maybe I can help. Now I’m sixty-one and I think I’ve almost got it, but of course I’m sixty-one and I know no-one wants my answer, maybe any answer.

Too bloody bad, you’re getting it!

Lately, I’ve found a bit of a foil, someone with the skills to argue a large part of my answer, the Human Nature meme, from the dark side so to speak, I mean a bright soul who has seen some things, and there’s an idea I mentioned before but they helped me get another inch along with it.

I’m always on the Human Nature bit, and I’ve suggested before that a baby’s first human is Mom, and her Nature is likely the baby’s first idea of human nature – a schizoid conversation, ‘Natures’ are a Platonic abstraction, not actual things in the real world – but more generically, a baby’s first impression perhaps tells them who people are, who they are . . . OK, ‘first impression’ is a meme of the same age and accuracy as ‘Natures,’ we have had nine months of impressions before the world sees us, I mean ‘early impressions,’ don’t I.

Most of which, hopefully, are prosocializing, loving and nurturing, before what I am suggesting, the trauma of the first slap or something, and it’s also possible a kicking foetus gets a retaliatory blow sometimes, perhaps the first negative impression isn’t after nine whole months either.

But what sort of struck in conversation with my friend, what seemed to bite this time through it, was the idea that the baby’s impression probably really is of something along the lines of a simple binary nature, it’s not a bad working hypothesis for an infant, good/bad, love/hate, life/death, you have to say, the kid seems to have good priorities to form an opinion on the matter. I’ll argue now, after sixty years of life, but with a baby’s data at hand, that is some solid science on their part. Our part, of course.

I would that an education meant correcting the infantile binary ‘natures’ meme.

What hit me so firmly in this conversation was that the baby learns a Nature – from what was, for the mother an entirely contingent act.

It surely happens, that awful episode of M*A*S*H, where we suffocate a baby for silence in the presence of a predator or an enemy – I don’t see how a blow or a denied meal or some such deprivation is ever so necessary. We can say reasoned or compulsive, we can say “it happens,” I don’t think we can ever say it’s not contingent, we can’t ever say it had to be so, when would people die if someone didn’t hit a child. So there is the magic, where the contingent becomes the inherent, caregiver makes a choice, baby learns ‘what a human is.’

I’ve been saying the human nature myth is simply wrong, makes the wrong thing of us, but this made me realize that it’s both, it’s where the lie becomes the truth, where the myth and the truth intersect. The story of baby’s first negative experiences could be read either way, someone “proved” a lie to that baby, and now it thinks the contingent is immutable, or someone showed that baby the truth, I mean it really happened, didn’t it?

Not quite there yet? OK, maybe it’s not ‘the truth’ just because one baby ‘learned’ it, but there is a great assistance from other fallacies, namely consensus. If it really happened to everyone . . . then what? Plato was right, infants are right?

Yes?

Both these truths?

At the same time, as Elvira Kurt’s mother would say?

Jeff

Dec. 6th., 2021

7 thoughts on “First Impressions

  1. Jeff/neighsayer December 7, 2021 / 9:20 am

    I should explain a rather obscure reference. Elvira is a Canadian comic, and it was her joke that her eastern european mother would lament that her daughter is a comedienne and a lesbian – at the same time. 🤣

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  2. fgsjr2015 December 29, 2021 / 8:11 pm

    Fundamental human nature, especially the male and female Id, has long intrigued and frustrated me, both.

    In the social realm of race relations: although there are research results indicating infants demonstrate a preference for caregivers of their own race, any future racial biases and bigotries generally are environmentally acquired. Adult racist sentiments are often cemented by a misguided yet strong sense of entitlement, perhaps also acquired from one’s environment.

    Therefore, one means of proactively preventing this social/societal problem may be by allowing young children to become accustomed to other races in a harmoniously positive manner. The early years are typically the best time to instill and even solidify positive social-interaction life skills/traits, like interracial harmonisation, into a very young brain/mind. I can imagine that this would also be particularly important to achieve within one’s religious community.

    (At a very young and therefore impressionable age, I was emphatically told by my mother about the exceptionally kind and caring nature of our Black family doctor. She never had anything disdainful to say about people of different races; in fact, she still enjoys watching/listening to the Middle Eastern and Indian subcontinental dancers and musicians on the multicultural channel. I believe that her doing so had a very positive and lasting effect on me.)

    Irrational racist sentiment is too often handed down generation to generation, regardless of race or religion, etcetera. If it’s deliberate, it’s something I strongly feel amounts to a form of child abuse: to rear one’s impressionably very young children in an environment of overt bigotry — especially against other races and/or sub-racial groups (i.e. ethnicities). Not only does it fail to prepare children for the practical reality of an increasingly racially/ethnically diverse and populous society and workplace, it also makes it so much less likely those children will be emotionally content or (preferably) harmonious with their multicultural/-racial surroundings.

    Children reared into their adolescence and, eventually, young adulthood this way can often be angry yet not fully realize at precisely what. Then they may feel left with little choice but to move to another part of the land, where their race or ethnicity predominates, preferably overwhelmingly so. If not for themselves, parents then should do their young children a big favor and NOT pass down onto their very impressionable offspring racially/ethnically bigoted feelings and perceptions, nor implicit stereotypes and ‘humor’, for that matter. Ironically, such rearing can make life much harder for one’s own children.

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    • Jeff/neighsayer January 6, 2022 / 7:48 pm

      my idea, antisocialization theory, is that our own, the dominants within our own social group abuse and within the group, the subordinate either deflect downward (punching down, the kids say today) or they are simply charged with an anger they hold for a time and a situation when they are allowed to deflect – upon the other, in conflict of some sort. This theory predicts that racism need not be taught, or even demonstrated, perhaps that infantile identification you mention is enough, coupled with abuse from above, the new generation are motivated to seek out an Other, or to create one for themselves, to deflect their own abuse.

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  3. fgsjr2015 January 12, 2022 / 4:15 pm

    Interesting. … There is no greater difference, however superficial, amongst humans than race. Remove race and left are less obvious differences over which to clash, such as sub-racial identity (i.e. ethnicity), nationality, and so forth down that scale we tumble. (Add a, say, contemporary deadly disease to the ugly equation and there’s a real potent fuel for the racist fire.)
    Therefore, I occasionally muse, what humankind may need to suffer in order to survive the long term from ourselves is an even greater nemesis (a figurative multi-tentacled extraterrestrial, perhaps?) than our own politics and perceptions of differences — especially that of race — against which we could all unite, attack and defeat.

    During this needed human allegiance, we’d be forced to work closely side-by-side together and witness just how humanly similar we are to each other. (Although, I have been told that one or more human parties might actually attempt to forge an allegiance with the ETs to better their own chances for survival, thus indicating that our wanting human condition may be even worse than I had originally thought.)

    Still, maybe some five or more decades later when all traces of the nightmarish ET invasion are gone, we will inevitably revert to those same politics to which we humans seem so collectively hopelessly prone — including those of scale: the intercontinental, international, national, provincial or state, regional and municipal. …

    I’ve heard that, before non-white people became the primary source of newcomers to North America, thick-accented Eastern Europeans were the main targets of meanspirited Anglo-Saxon bigotry. As a 1950s immigrant to Canada from what’s now Slovenia, my late father experienced such mistreatment.

    Albeit no Stanley Milgram, I believe that if Canada were to hypothetically revert back to a primarily-white populace, if not some VDARE whites-only utopia, Eastern Europeans with a Slavic accent would inevitably again become the main target of the dominant Euro-Canadian ethnicity.

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    • Jeff/neighsayer January 12, 2022 / 7:45 pm

      Ha! And before the Slavs it was the Irish taking the guff and lobbying for “white” status, right? Always someone, which I think we’re agreeing, and it’s sort of my point, humans don’t know how to organize themselves except for a fight. Again though, I’m arguing against a pre-set human nature, I think all this trouble is human but not natural, it’s us being weird and forcing ourselves to be this aggressive ape we call “natural.” Sad to say, I’m with that nasty idea in your middle paragraph, that we haven’t evolved for a common enemy, our entire world is that humans are always our biggest threat. Because if even dear old Mom can suddenly turn predator, that’s an early, formative lesson.

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      • fgsjr2015 January 16, 2022 / 6:22 pm

        I once heard a philosophy professor say that all people should avoid believing, let alone claiming, that they are not capable of committing an atrocity, even if relentlessly pushed. Contrary to what is claimed or felt by many of us, he said, deep down there’s a tyrant in each of us that, under the just-right circumstances, can be unleashed. And maybe even more so when convinced that ‘God is on our side’. While I don’t hold much faith in scriptural teachings, I do give credence to the Biblical claim (Jeremiah 17:9) that base corporeal human nature is “desperately wicked.”

        I believe that a growing percentage of people are realizing that ‘civilized society’ should refrain from reactively self-righteously condemning the evil acts of one racial, ethnic, religious and/or cultural group over another.

        Although some identifiable groups have been brutally victimized throughout history a disproportionately large number of times, the victims of one place and time can and sometimes do become the victimizers of another place and time. Meanwhile, during civil unrest/wars and internal persecutions, many contemptible social-media news trolls internationally decide which ‘side’ they hate less thus ‘support’ via politicized commentary post.

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        • Jeff/neighsayer January 17, 2022 / 10:36 am

          well, yes, and the “right circumstances” include stuff we all experience, our childrearing, as it has been practiced, not as we wish it, is foundational in the process and the process can be carried on, completed when and if “necessary” for the group’s goals. This my point to the world, it is a smooth, unbroken progression from a pat on the bum to the “tyrant in each of us.” Fascism is a positive feedback loop, a sort of a runaway situation, feeding back more and more. I am trying to make the point that we hate the end, why do we love the beginning? But there is some myth, that there is more than a gradient, one is good and proper “punishment,” and one is abuse and we are to understand they are unrelated, connected by no science, no causality.

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