Vanity arises when you believe beauty is a moral or social virtue. True virtue needs no classification.
Today, we are talking about antipathy, something that is a part of everyone’s experience but something we don’t think much about. We tend to consider our perceptions as simply being taking in what there is to see in the environment, but in many ways this has been proven untrue.
Studies of memory show that we retain only those things we pay some measure of focused attention to, and our ability to detect things in the future is shaped by our retention of previous perceptions, but there is a flip side to that whole dynamic process. If it could be said that everything you notice and take in to process is something you are in sympathy with, then what of the things that regularly fail to get your attention?
We don’t care?
We don’t notice.
Evidence suggests that isn’t necessarily so though it is commonly interpreted that way. We subconsciously omit elements of our perception that are just as deeply rooted in our psychology as the things are that we notice.
It gets stored in the recesses of our minds?
We habitually shun small facets of experience, and with the right triggers (as shown in priming experiments) a whole complex of attitudes and reactions can be tracked and even used to predict your future behaviour based on the things you don’t see, the things you subconsciously shun.
So our behaviour in a shopping mall, for example, could be primed by what we don’t notice? Indeed, it can. The very mild stress that they deliberately engineer so that you will be more likely to make selections based on impulse and to linger in the store longer than you would have consciously chosen to do.
Really, the things you feel you control are just a small subset of the data your brain processes. The rest we habitually treat as ambient, try to convince ourselves it’s meaningless to us. It isn’t. In fact, you are regularly primed by everything from the story on the TV while you eat your burger at McDonalds, to some casual emotional reactions someone had while examining a choice they meant to make on a store shelf.
We must draw from it all the time.
The brain prioritizes it, looks for stresses and disturbances and instinctively tries to steer around them without engaging your conscious awareness of problem solving. Conscious awareness and thought is both very time and energy consuming, so the brain and body try to minimize it as much as possible, even using your amygdala, your emotional centre that has the ability to override any conscious process, to subdue any effort on your part to attend to things it has prioritized as distressing but non essential.
You aren’t actually indifferent to anything, though consciously it may seem so. Your body and neurons don’t have a neutral state. You either have an approach or an avoidance response. Your entire experience of any place you are in is coloured by those, kind of like a pointillist painting.
I have heard that said in Buddhist talks where they call it desire or aversion.
All images resolve. Your brain doesn’t leave any picture unconnected. It has to connect those dots in order to optimize memory and to continue to conserve energy. So you don’t have to have a new reaction every time you encounter an already processed thing.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.