home | even the chair
Of course I do, I judge even the chair.
Every chair I might remotely consider dropping my fanny in will be judged and even those I do not intend to test. I judge on structural integrity, forecasting potential degrees of comfort, back and butt angles, distances to the floor. You can be certain I will appraise for cleanliness and the yuck factor. I will determine the aesthetic pleasure, uniqueness, cool factor, and evidence of age with its wear and tear or dated treatments. The evaluation, the judgmental calculations, run in the background with each pushing through the memory and sensory grid of my lived experiences that emanate from my gender, sensory aptitudes, personality disposition, affluent appetites, educational expertise, cultural enmeshment, pleasure seeking propensities, aesthetic potential for mind stimulation or remediation, chaotic capacities, family of origin systemic histories, etc. I will have done all this in less than the blink of an eye, zero prefrontal cortex activity. This screening will determine my potential staying power within the space housing the sitting device, the chair.
I laughed when telling someone this chair judgment ideation. As they indicate that they do not partake in this system, I mention a dining room we had just passed and they were like, “oh with the leather red chairs.” Then we proceeded to discuss their hipness and the design would actually be great in a noisy room because the chairs would cradle the occupant, catching the tablemates voice easing the immediate conversation in a crowded room. Hmmm. Yup. A room simply passed by in a moment, no intent to enter or sit, yet we both had noted the color, design, surfaces, hipness and potential sound harvesting of the…chairs.
I am not an interior designer, fabric developer, furniture maker. I am simply a human user of these butt cradling, pampering, gravity, relieving devices. It is part of of my hardwiring. This sensory and social judgment system is sophisticated, useful and fast. It is what it is.
This same hardwiring judgment system routes my staying potential for entering and maintaining relationships in real space. I am a judging machine whether I am categorizing and pigeon holing a chair, person, thought, lived or archived experience, I cannot help it; it is my very nature, perhaps human nature. However, what I may do is hold these judged instances more loosely understanding the reality that this lens, this grid, these biases are affixed to my functioning, I cannot not see except through this lens, grid, judging system of hardwiring. The act of holding my judgment loosely as small truths and not absolute, allows me to emphasize, drop down into an understanding of another’s lived experience, riding in that space with them, and coming out again, expanding my own grid system. The more I attempt to empathize beyond my own grid, to see beyond my instantaneous judgment system, the more I am exposed to the smallness of my own truths, to faulty assumptions and misinterpretations. So what? I’d like to believe the expansion of my grid, through empathy, through perspective checking, through holding my judgments loosely, could actually allow me to do some rewiring. I’ve no compulsion to be perfect, not even almost, but I’d like to expand my lived experience in a more whole way.
This expanding grid and empathy is also the source that pushes my work [object/image/language] peeling back small truths to uncover assumptive patterns that aren’t useful for myself.
Hmmm. Then there is the way in which I judge and pigeon hole a chair without running it through my primary grid, but instead have my perspective shaped directly by another’s judgment and the language they’ve wrap around their interpretations. There is much research that clearly examines and shows that the way another uses language to discuss an experience, a judgment, will shape my small truths, shape my memory. Even just simply altering a single word such as smashed to crashed in regard to a car accident will shape a direct witness’s recall. For example in one study, the group in which the word smashed was used recalled broken glass at the scene, whereas, the group in which the word crashed was used predominantly remembered the incident with no broken windows, which was accurate. Ah. So if you speak to me of a chair, in general, I will bypass my own data collection and filtering and run with your perspective. If I can reduce my calculating requirements, I will. This is supported by research. Even if my own data collection and filtering is not bypassed, my interpretation will be skewed and recalculated by your language of interpretation and emotional slant. I will embed your small truth about a chair even if it is far from reality. This is human nature. It is mine.
So, chair or human, if someone speaks to me weekly even in small ways about the chair-human for two and a half years, I cannot actually see the chair human as is based solely on my filter but instead see what you have told me to see, I judge as you have judged. You have shaped my small truths about the chair-human; you have reformed any future data acquisition on this chair-human.
People are chairs. Coworkers are chairs. Neighbors are chairs. I will perceive them through my judgment system or I will shortcut that and reinterpret them through your judgments. It is human. I see it every day. Arrogance or denial might indicate to you that you do not partake that you are immune. Perhaps.