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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tower of Psychobabble

You've got to admire Radio Shack’s marketing chutzpah. Their new slogan has got to be one of the all-time classics: “Do Stuff.” That's it. Somehow... it just doesn’t evoke all that much enthusiasm in me. What if that were the advice your high school teachers gave you? “Whatever happens in life, students, ... do stuff.” Not all that inspiring, is it? But then Radio Shack has been sure to get the slogan trademarked, just in case another company wants to also tell us to “Do stuff” and we inadvertantly don’t attribute it to Radio Shack for coming up with that wonderful nugget of wisdom. “Hey, we told them to do stuff first! We deserve the credit...” “No, it was us! We're the ones who thought of doing stuff'!”

I’m imagining the board meeting where this slogan was brought up. “OK, it looks like so far we’ve got... ‘Your Witness,’ ‘Gooba Gooba,’ 'Yo-Yo Ma,' and ‘Bite Me.' So, any favorites here?” Then some bespectacled pencil nose with an advanced degree in Geekology intones, “Not vague enough. How about ‘Do Stuff’, dude?” And then another chimes in. “Yeah, that just sort of does it for me. It’s quixotically non-committal with a sort of post-modernistic appeal to it, and stuff.” To which everyone else in the room voices their rousing approval, and then the rest is history. So come to our store, do stuff, pay us money, and then go home again. But don’t forget to do stuff during that time. It’s crucial that stuff is done. If stuff is left undone, no telling what might happen. If you don't do anything else in your day, be sure that it's stuff. Don't settle for imitations.

What a marketing strategy, eh? I'm putting my stocks in Radio Shack right away. I want to catch this rising star, boy. Forgive me if I trip over you in my excitement while rushing to the nearest outlet. That was the missing ingredient in my day, and I just couldn't put a finger on it. Now I finally have direction in my life, and I can retire in the Poconos. All over the world now, people are hitting themselves in the forehead, exclaiming, "Why didn't I think of that?" Thank you, Radio Shack, for bringing meaning to my existence. I don't think it's too early to say there could be Pulitzer in their future. Don't want to spoil anyone's surprise, but I'm just sayin'.

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Recently, I've found that I like to live more than one day at a time. Up front, that may sound peculiar or even trite, but there is some substance to it. It becomes too hard for me to focus on just one day, and 24 hours is merely an arbitrary time period anyway. Well, it is a cycle that your mind/body responds to and has adapted to, though it could just as well be shorter or longer if the earth's rotation were different. Chess masters can think dozens of moves in advance, which can provide a facsimile for this discussion. In a sense, they're playing the game in the present and in the future. So I'm of the opinion that focus is overrated and largely undefined anyway. I think I can focus on two days at the same time as if they were one day.

While we may commonly think ahead to later in the week or next week, we don't tend to group these futures with the current time. This nuance might not matter to many of you, but to anyone for whom it does, it's important to make the distinction. We tend to categorize the nowness of our experience with the patterns of light and dark. Once we're deep into the night, the old now concludes and makes way for a new now. Indeed, the light period itself is referred to as "day", even though a day includes the nighttime. In this sense, the word "day" is ambiguous. It carries two meanings in very similar areas. When we say, "What a day," we're not excluding the evening hours from the equation. The day starts at midnight and ends at midnight, at least by the calendar. It would seem to make more sense to have the day start at sunrise instead of midnight the night before. Plus, New Year's Eve parties would be a lot more interesting that way. The ancient Egyptians actually measured days from sunrise to sunrise, and I think they had it right.

When making our immediate plans (for the "day"), out of convenience we typically set aside tomorrow's agenda for safe keeping to use only after we get to the end of the current day. If someone gets too deep into discussion about tomorrow while today is still going strong, they're likely to be encouraged not to "get ahead of themselves." This would suggest an attention timespan of no more than till the next sleep.

Is it just a psychological block, though? Why is it acceptable to be thinking of tonight's plans at 7 a.m., but not quite as acceptable to be thinking of tomorrow's plans at 3 p.m.? Why are we wont to discourage people from thinking past their next sleeping pattern (unless it's right before bedtime and the current day is "done")?

So then what is the utility of considering such ramifications as these? Stretch the mind, give it some elasticity. There's a lot more room for thinking outside the box. Aristotle would approve.

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Psychologists have said that no two people can tell whether they are seeing a color the same way, because we can't see what they're seeing through their eyes. And it has nothing to do with color blindness or not, but just speaks to the relative aspect of a property of color. There is no single correct perception of red. We can pretty much all agree on what represents red to us collectively, yet we don't know if we're seeing it the just the same way as the next person, or which version would be "right". Why would consensus determine a physical property anyway?

Which is the true red? Or is there a true red? (each of the boxes is different)

Red (or redness) can be represented as a reading on the color scale, but is mostly an approximation measured in wavelengths of light between 625-740 nanometers, with a frequency of 480-405 Terahertz. But this still doesn't tell us how various non-colorblind people may view it. Your red may be a slightly different shade from my red. It's kind of neat, if you think about it, because we each get to invent our own colors and make our own uniquely authoritative palette. Yeah, that is kind of neat, actually. Let's run with it.

(Ed. - I just realized the definition of blog is: Things you thought of in passing but ran out of time to make any sense of. Gotta love it.)


Anonymous said...

Some of what you said here, I don't understand at all. The rest made me laugh.

The colour thing: This is not cool. It's annoying. I hate it when someone calls something purple when it's really magenta. Or something wine when it's really burgundy. They say that colour is the one thing that's hardest for people to remember. Well, I heard that once, anyway. Not for me. I know my colours. I matched blinds to my bathroom vanity PERFECTLY without ever having to bring a swatch home. They are the exact same shade of dark wood. Exactly. Same degree of greyness as opposed to pinkness. And I firmly believe that if more people were like me, they'd be better dressed, happier and the war in Iraq would end victoriously.

Anonymous said...

I'm kidding of course, future commenters. Sheesh.

Rusty Southwick said...

Natasha, you may very well be the color oracle. Something like this could come in handy at some point. And I dare say it belongs on your resume'.

Anonymous said...

LOL.I thought you were saying I was the colour "oracle", like the colour "purple". I was wondering what colour "oracle" was supposed to be. Never heard of that colour.

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