Monday, April 13, 2020

Reality dissonance in POV

One of the continually fascinating and renewed interesting things about being... alive? Just about being a person, just about being, is of course that my first-person experience is incredibly different from everyone else's impression of me.

Obviously yes: how could it be anything else? I have access to lots of extra internal state information, plus the impression of free will to affect my actions. And on the other hand, everyone else can see information hidden from me, for example bugs crawling on the back of my head, or involuntary nervous tics.

Obviously no: whoever I am, that's who I am. Who I feel I am is who I appear to be, it's just that there's a change of perspective. How could they be different? There's only one objective reality, and we're in it. I'm myself and you see me; when I take an action, you see it. This is consensus reality, and no one has yet been able to escape it (as far as we know).

Every once in awhile the contrast of perspectives is thrown into sharp relief, and I just had one of these moments of reality-dissonance.

Here I am, innocently tootling along and doing a language-learning exercise which is trying to teach me new Japanese vocabulary. It brought up a word I definitely think I do not know --- "stylish" (adj), "oshare(na)" --- and I look it up. As soon as I pronounce it aloud, I start to rap in Japanese in my head. Why? Well, it turns out that 15 years ago I memorized some Japanese pop-rap entirely phonetically, with no regard for word breaks, grammar, or in fact content, and not only does my brain still have that stored somewhere (team: Never Garbage Collect), but it is still indexed by phonetic lookup and also immediately available. And also, now that I am hearing the sounds I memorized in my head, my brain is cross-referencing with a lot of new vocabulary I've learned in the past year and translating the rap.

I look down. My phone screen has not yet timed out, so this entire revelation - realization - translation phenomenon has taken < 30 seconds. And now I just know a verse, in English, of a series of noises I memorized without linguistic structure 15 years ago.

This just happens, sometimes.

I have been told that I give the impression of being "quick", very clever, very smart, always ready with an answer and a call-back reference. Intelligent. The first-person experience of this is that I am strapped in to an involuntary rollercoaster, my brain whipping me through tangentially-relevant memories in a barely-controllable whirlwind. It's just lucky that I set myself up in situations where "here's a  related memory" so often contains the nugget of truth that I need right now.

Also possibly I am dissociating because it feels very unreal to be still performing my extremely socialization-based job but also to be completely isolated from all other humans.

Hello from my isolation to yours!

This post's theme word is mimsy (adj), "prim, feeble, affected." This blog post gives the impression of a mimsy humblebrag: oops.