Sunday 14 February 2021

I dunno, wrong?

He made this tiny little remark I immediately read as an inside joke I was not on the inside of, with the performative tone and manner of a character so embarrassing I had to try and hide having witnessed it, too late. He noticed I'd noticed, just a blink after I noticed that he'd caught himself having forgot I was sitting right next to him, froze mid-pose, and tried to disappear this, to me, new character in hopes of erasing what he'd just done while deliberating whether to look over to see if I'd noticed, and then looking over.
These shifting sequences of cognition, corresponding actions and reactions, can play out in such little time, as anyone's experienced. There's a method within film language developed to depict the intricacy, with quick cuts and close-ups. Unless locked in to interpersonal moments of heightened awareness, it usually goes unnoticed. Triggered by that which is unexpected, self-consciousness can be devastatingly punitive emotionally.
It'd be tempting to think that our conversations, being improvised, can be nothing if not full of surprises but, no, we are forever riffing on a script whose continual development had nevertheless been written long ago. If you can think it, it's been thought, said, and even searched for, virtually, so as to see if anyone's already come up with it. The few surprises that crop up can trigger involuntary laughter, or mortification.
Naturally, it would seem, there are some of us with less self-confidence, the result of which, or, indeed, which is the result of an apparent malady of hyperawareness. I'm not the first to note the fitness of mastering that potential trap through a discipline of focussed anti-focus. The cancer is the key to its own cure. The curious should be careful not to observe what's evident in others as evidence to the contrary. An avatar in all its lotus posing grace hides an inherently hostile human. See for yourself, but within yourself. Beyond this is another puzzle.
In the virtual world, we're only now beginning to understand after a generation of developing the very understanding that the person you got the email from might not be the person you'd come to identify with the address. Well, most everybody's known this for quite some time, but largely dependent on the age of one's generation, has one been programmed with the necessary tools of understanding. This too is losing relevance. Access to educational facilities that encourage digital and computer literacy is a generation older than that of the internet. Nevertheless, the kind of literacy that goes into the battle for your digital soul is anything but a required course of study. Far be it from me to say it should be.
If you're like me, you're aware that if you get an email from one of your friend's yahoo addresses, it's always the same quality spam, but you have no idea what goes into its creation and how often people really click on the link to make it all worthwhile. Likewise, the occasional message that contains certain earmarks, or the lack thereof, are not foreign to your digital correspondence. The relationships we maintain with other people develop in-group shibboleths, and often each within each have their own passwords. As such, the absence of as little as a morpheme in electronic communication might give the game away.
Up until very recently I had never considered how a person I'd come to know in the real world might evolve a distinct digital personality just indistinguishable  enough to pass, but quirky enough to make me wonder if I'd walked into an existence-sized inside joke without any setups or punchlines.
The difference between the scenario all those years ago, several years into our friendship but after that brief time away at boarding school where his character of the inside joke had been fostered, and the situation that began to describe itself via my inbox just the other day is a difference I know must be there, but one I'm not sure has any identifiable traits. You might say that I'm attempting a false ascription to a relationship simply grown apart with time, as was the case back then, which is fair. That's likely to happen anyway. But the quality is something that suddenly struck me. I can't un-recognize it.
It's a more general dulling of the angles that shape one's personality that are normally developed with the inclusion of the acuteness of the senses all at once. You know, in the narrowing world we call meatspace. It's the same thing I bitch about regarding online instruction: the subtle delay of the person behind the eyes, the removal of the body language, the disconnect of certain sensory perception and the same's fragmentation in the perception of those of others.
And then I remembered the inside joke. He was home for spring break with a friend from school. Everything in his room was the same as before he'd left, stuff I'd become familiar with alongside how each supplemented his identity, most of which I identified with more directly than others. A poster. A set of books. A puzzle. The bicycle had been brought inside, affecting a summary of our adventures going back to kindergarten.
All that's not quite what I was thinking then, but that feeling must have been in the room, naturally more familiar to me than to his boarding school chum there for the first time. Maybe he'd felt a similar awkwardness regarding our mutual friend's mode of interior decoration, which'd catalogued so much of my experience, that I had hearing his choice of voice out of nowhere.
It's a strange dynamic, getting acquainted with an old friend's new friend. The hard-earned smoothed over social hierarchy largely unconscious to human relationships is again askew. The energy is raw. A good joke breaks the ice. An embarrassing gesture ratchets up the tension. A combo of the two?

I got the joke. It was funny. But the way it was delivered presented to me for the first time an opportunity to judge what went some way toward defining his new friendship, with all the complex details of the aforementioned dynamic arriving in one choking instant.

We began mercifully enough, as it turned out we had all loved The Illuminatus! Trilogy. At some point this guy began to expound on the idea that, as absurd as the belief in literal eon-spanning Illumiati overlords may be, it could be that the actions of the world's most powerful, maybe even unwittingly to them, are motivated by the same future, into which we are all evolving one way or the other. I think he punctuated this as a sort of cart before the horse trajectory of history.
Regarding what followed, I can't tell you why it was embarrassing. You not only had to be there, you probably had to be me. Anyway, it was at that point my old pal took on this super definite posture and delivered in the most awkward way imaginable, "Isn't it somehow all too convenient that you lack proof for your theory?"