"My Mind is a Blob"

When I was teaching high school for one frightful term, education was moving to a “New Math” which involved set theory; unions and intersections and ways of looking at mathematical truths. I never quite got the hang of it, beyond drawing circles, nor did anyone else, for the schools quickly tap-danced away from that teaching trend as too theoretical. And I tap danced away from the blackboard and into army green.

But the set concept has good application as we try to understand one another and the East/West cultures that sometimes collide. I don’t think “collision” was a New Math term . . . but it seems to fit for East/West cultural overlap. The union of our cultures – the place where values are the same -sometimes seems small. The place where they collide seems huge.
All of us, both East and West, are alike in one way. We are limited in our ability to understand that which we have never experienced. That is, we both pack our ignorance. Usually, we simply don’t have enough good information. We only see what we see, which is sometimes shaded by seeing only what we WANT to see. Or what others TELL us to see.
“Uh, Joe. You’re getting kinda thick here. Watchu drivin’ at?”
Grossly generalized opinion: Americans are more adept at accepting their own ignorance. Filipinos deny theirs. Americans learn, adjust, grow. Filipinos resist change. (Exceptions abound.)
I think most of the writers at Get Real Post (GRP) believe in what they write, about the limitations of Philippine culture and the incompetence and vindictiveness of President Aquino. I believe the yellow hordes supporting President Aquno also believe what they say, that this is a good man doing a lot of good things for a good nation. The opposing parties are firm in their respective views. Rigid.

But JoeAm can believe what he writes, that there is a bit of “beggar soul” in the cultural habits of the Philippines. And he can believe simultaneously that the Philippines is a rich, wholesome, interesting place to live, a nation that may be on the way to its welcome place as a respected, productive economic force. He can argue either point on a different day, or even merge them as one.
Each viewpoint – one by GRP, one by the hordes, and two by JoeAm – is a true slice of the pie, but none is the whole pie.
The error is when someone insists he has the whole pie.
The question is, do we draw hard and fast lines about our ideas and opinions. Are they thick lines that can’t be dented or re-drawn with new information? Are they brick walls? Or are we flexible, fluid, open minded.
Often, the need to save face or maintain reputation leads people to refuse to see or acknowledge new information. They look for information that reinforces their beliefs and skip over information that might oppose their beliefs. They defend a position long after the validity of that position has been called reasonably into question.
You look at all the good things happening in the Philippines now. The call center boom fueling high-rise construction in Manila. New casinos coming in. A strong tourism program. Debt ratings up two ticks in a year, and likely heading to investment grade next year. Corrupt people heading for jail, or like 31 DENR people, getting fired. Strong peso. Booming stock market. International reports largely positive. It is hard to sweep that under any kind of rug.
Yet GRP scribes CANNOT acknowledge the good trends at risk of losing their entire platform. So they keep flailing away, one arm whipping in the air the other whacking at a rock, throwing up arguments that get ever more bizarre or off the point. How do you spell desperation? “GRP”.
I’m a believer of soft lines, myself. Indeed, mine are so soft and flexible that the label “hypocrite” or “inconsistent” thrown my way by the thugs at GRP holds up as true, in a certain light. I have no problem with changing my mind if shown new information or the errors of my ways. That is not commonly done in the Philippines. Many a Filipino would find my tappy feet and flip-flopping mind to be weak. About as un-macho as you can get.

Well, you see, I don’t see what words have to do with manhood, and I see little need to ridicule someone who tells me my arguments are half baked or out to lunch or nutso. I’d only want to grasp why we look at the same object but see different colors and shapes.
A great many Filipinos pride themselves on superior knowledge. Unbending, self-certain knowledge. They are relentlessly argumentative, throwing up diversions or tangents or truths apart from the real discussion, to prove the certainly of their standing.
Losing an argument does not go down well in the Philippines.
Ridicule follows in short order. Humiliation is thrust down other people’s throats with glee.
It is not exactly a forgiving society.
And yet. And yet, in a different reality, it is. It forgives Enrile, a coup master, it forgives Ms. Marcos, the wife of a failed dictator, it forgives a corrupt Estrada and lets him run for President again. But that is partially because these people are MASTERS of word wrestling, of shaping realities to their liking and benefit. And they are masters of the “Get Out Of Jail” trade of favors.
  • Mr. Estrada: “Yes, Glo, I won’t criticize you while you are in office, even if you try to become a dictator.
  • Ms. Arroyo: “Okie dokie. Here’s your get out of jail free card.”
It is like listening to VP Binay defend getting P 200 million in pork for play money. There’s no stated purpose for the money. Just “here, have some, because you are our Number 2 guy”. These legislators and rulers act like this is just a Monopoly game and they can buy Boardwalk or all of Makati on a whim. They act like they EARNED the money, that’s what bugs me about it.
It is figured that Binay will run for President. I hope he gets pulverized. He defines his realities too slickly. I don’t trust him.
Well, this all seems artificial to me, the Filipino hard-headedness and slippery arguments. This need to hold onto views, even if incorrect, because one’s ego is vested in the argument. The twisting of realities by tangential arguments and half-truths.  Surreal. Absurd.
So my own personal challenge is to wade through the artificial realities that are thrown up everywhere in the Philippines, from biased newspaper reports to emotional tantrums from a certain senator to GRP propaganda. I choose to find my own reality and refuse to line up to follow an ideology, or political party’s view, or a given religious faith. Mine is a blob of a reality, a truth that shifts and drifts according the information available.
I don’t like being cemented in place. It doesn’t feel right.
I prefer to fly, and welcome it when others straighten out my occasionally crooked trajectory.
It is not a humiliation to be wrong. It is merely an unfortunate information warp in the space time continuum.
In other words, a mistake.
My bad.
Grow. Move on.
15 Responses to “"My Mind is a Blob"”
  1. Anonymous says:

    I don't really read much of GRP myself. Have seen enough though, to say it's not my cup of tea. Underbrewed, tending on the bitter side and looks to be suspiciously contaminated.My theory is that it's a front of someone interested in the presidency, if not his supporters. Not the current strong contender but someone coming from behind and is probably laying the ground for a future run.Just google the blogname and writer and someone's infamous last name. Read through the articles that come out and you'll see a lot of deodorising going on, ever so subtly though it may be.And that is today's conspiracy theory.Cha

  2. Nice characterization. Rancid is the term that passed across my mind. Some theories get proved as fact. Some just get passed along until people believe they are fact, then they might as well be . . .

  3. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: the cricket)1. Actions always "tell the tail/tale" (fruits/results)!2. Actions speak louder than words and the "remains of day" are recorded in the pages of history (if anyone is left to be able to read them or even record them)!3. Right actions have successful outcomes (win the war not the battle)!4. Wrong actions lead to disaster and distructions….!5. Brain freeze (confusion) may lead to temporary lack of movement/action/stupor, etc..but it is only a sign and symptom of "overload" and "stress" which may not become a fatality issue!6. Stupidity cannot be cured unless the individual and eventually the "organization"/organism is ready for change and course correction (witness Hitler)!7. No one is perfect and that is why no two snow flakes are the same! But when they come together they make a wonderful fantasy-land and herald the birth of a new springtime!Chirp!

  4. "Stupidity cannot be cured unless the individual and eventually the "organization"/organism is readyfor change . . ."So true. I think we are witnessing a very slow enlightenment in the Philippines. If the economy grows and improves a bit, maybe more people will start opening up to looking for more solutions rather than defending "the way we are now". I hope so. Maybe we can call it the "Philippine spring".

  5. Anonymous says:

    Joe,Like what Boo Chanco have said: "Joe America is a foreigner who provides a perspective wider than any of us who had been living here all our lives."Saluti Signore, Ciao. Its Jack

  6. Gracias, amigo. That comment made me sit up straighter. I always thought it was just old age that offered perspective, but I guess being an "outsider" does, too. Sometimes its helpful, sometimes naive perhaps, occasionally flat wrong. He said some nice things.

  7. ardeend says:

    In my experience of listening to propaganda on our local radio and the long historical tendency of GRP to skewer everyone not up to scratch in their incredibly lofty ideals, my best guess is that GRP is not a "front" for any personality. They just have too high benchmarks.

  8. ardeend says:

    For someone who's already a member of a local political alliance for the 2013 elections (think localized UNA mass bases) I can't help but feel that Binay is probably be the least evil option this 2016.

  9. Interesting. My mouth (typewriter) may be outspoken, but I shall gather more information before making a final decision. Alas, I can't vote. I can only opine.Good of you to stop by and comment.

  10. Anonymous says:

    this "blob" of which you speak sounds much like the philosophies of bruce lee (be water, my friend…..). yes, open-mindedness is something a bit lost on the filipino mind (but of course there are exceptions). the constant need to prove oneself right tells me that one isn't necessarily fully developed. i keep reminding myself to never be ashamed of not knowing. we need to tell that to everyone herewhen i found GRP, i thought they would be the leaders of a breakaway from the regular, the actual middle ground that i thought didn't exist in the phils. it's taken some time (and your musings) to straighten my head a bit. thanks, JoeAmAndy

  11. Edgar Lores says:

    Joe,Your pie example is analogous to the riddle of the five blind men and the elephant. I like your example better because you can have your pie and eat it too.In his first comment, Anonymous theorises that perceptions are sometimes held because of ulterior motives.But barring hidden agendas, the problem of mis/perception of reality has always been with us. In item 7 of Anonymous’ second comment, he suggests that the correction of perception is oftentimes arrived at via dialectic progression – thesis / antithesis / synthesis – beautifully illustrated using the example of snowflakes.There are other methods. Your method of keeping an open mind, constantly analysing, arriving at your truth by painstakingly separating the grain from the chaff, is admirable. Even so, you must admit that the truth you arrive at is still coloured by past conditioning. It is still your wedge of the pie.If it is any consolation, I do follow your method. I do not know of any other method a rational man can take, unless we are gifted with instant enlightenment like mystics. It is a hard slog. But we must persist. Otherwise, the blankety-blanks (insert GRP, GOP, commies, fundamentalists, etc.) will inherit the earth.

  12. Ah, exactly. Be water, or I prefer air . . . Yes, a site like GRP would be wonderful if it were sincere and more honorable. I thought it was great at the outset and then it became a drone of single-minded obsession that was the opposite of water, or air . . .

  13. Yes, Edgar, I write from within the confines of my pie . . . but its getting to be a fairly large slice, what with all the years it has been baking . . .

  14. Anonymous says:

    Your blog is always a delight. I used to be a fan of GRP but having looked at it again these last few weeks after being absent for a long time, I must say, wassup with them? Never mind that it is vile and venomous, but having no substance in its arguments is unforgivable. Please continue writing your insightful pieces Joe. More power to you.

  15. Thank you kindly. There is no lack of material, it would seem. May we live in interesting times, eh?

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