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Old 12-03-2008, 12:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Alarming Idea

As I went to bed last night, some odd thoughts crossed my mind. The practice of looking back at the past is merely the stimulation of our memory processes. We ultimately aren't looking at anything but a memory, and I guess that part is obvious. What struck me as interesting is the following. I think of all people as generally being the same - we sleep, eat, work, etc. But this idea of how often we focus on our memories or imagination of the future is one example of what may strongly make us distinct.

Person A may rarely look at anything but the present. That is, he checks on his memory when having to remember a math equation or to think of a word or whatever. But usually, he's working with what's infront of him. When he runs into an old friend, he remains in the present - he asks how the person is doing and goes by what they currently have in common.

Person B thinks a lot differently. She day dreams frequently, conjuring up memories that ultimately guide her current day. When she goes out, she is conscious of what she's wearing because she remembers what made her feel good before rather than what makes her feel good right now. When she meets up with an old friend, she focuses on all of the fun experiences she had with that person. They reflect on the past and use that as their commonality. They may not have much in common anymore, but since they both relatively "live in the past", they still work well together.

Person A would not get along with Person B because A is focused on what's happening now, and Person B relies on the past. Say A and B were old friends and are catching up. B would have thoughts of A as a younger man, while the real and much different A is sitting there. A would possibly grow tired of B because he isn't getting much out of the interaction. B thinks A is also reflecting on their past and is keeping that in mind while they sit together. And she is wrong.

Does anyone else find this interesting? This lead me into a more concerning direction about the consideration of past memories. I personally think about the past / future all the time. When I'm in a situation, old thoughts run through my mind and end up shaping what I'm doing today. I guess it's become a habit, and I'm starting to wonder how bad of a habit it is.

Here's one example of how it might be bad. I personally can't stand cliches. When I hear a song, I want something different, innovative, fresh. The same goes for movies, books, people. I get bored with old ideas. Could this be because I value the past so much? Would I dislike cliches so much if I took things for how they are today and stopped imagining how things were in the past?

Is this idea of "not standing for cliches" a weakness - a hindrance rather than something to be proud of? Maybe to hate cliche is worse than being happy when someone rewrites a classic song or book. If I picked up a book that was basically 1984 written all over again, would Person A from above enjoy it more than Person B? Surely, B would read it and be reminded of 1984, whereas A may not so much.

This really gets to me because I live on making new things. When I write music, I strive to do something different. If this is ultimately a weakness of mine, and if I worked on appreciating the present more than comparing to the past, I wonder if my tastes and values would change as well.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-03-2008, 01:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm having a little trouble following your thought processes. Could you give us a specific example of what you mean?
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Old 12-04-2008, 07:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I guess the examples I gave aren't helpful. There are two ultimate points:

1. One major personality difference among people could be how often we reflect on the past / future. This is merely a commentary on a new possibility of why certain people get along with others.

2. The method of evaluating the present based on the past is concerning because it might be detrimental to our lives. Would it be wiser to enjoy all literature, no matter how cliche it is? Or, is it a good thing for us to dislike redundancy and old ideas?

I'm not sure anymore which way to go. I could stop caring about cliches, which are basically our habit of comparing present to past. Or, I could continue to value new ideas and thus feel annoyed at old ones.
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The problem with this idea is the personality of the person also greatly affects this aspect...For example me personally I try to learn from my past but not dwell on it...I get bored of things easily and this has been a problem in every relationship I have ever been in and each time I go into one I know about my previous relationships and try and do things differently but at the same time I look forward thinking this one could be different...you get what I'm saying? I'm not so sure you can group all humans into just 2 categories because there are so many other factors...I find this idea very interesting however that there could be two distincts groups of people that cant get along because of one fundamental difference in their train of thougt...perhaps this is where possibly the idea of destiny comes in that if you and another are meant to be or get along you will.
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Old 12-17-2008, 12:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Was it not Douglas Adams that said words to the effect that the past is a fiction invented to account for the difference between my surroundings and my state of mind?
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Old 12-23-2008, 02:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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This idea is not exactly alarming, but anyway...

I think I get what you are saying. I think Person A and Person B are two extreme examples and most of us fall somewhere in the middle. I think I dwell on the past too much. But it also helps and I wouldn't change that personality trait. I tend to enjoy most music, movies, and televisiion shows that are older. They seem to be more original to me. The older I get the more I discover that nothing is original and everyone was inspired by someone who was inspired by someone else and on and on.

Am I on the right track?
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Old 12-24-2008, 09:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I think most people are Person B. at least I am. And some times we are a mix of both A and B. some times we are in present some times controlled by our past experience/memory. It is the way brain and attitude gets tuned.

Here the biggest problem in being a person B is that bad experiences hinder taking new good ones coming on the way!
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