While we read Atonement, I, like many in the class got a bad taste in my mouth whenever I read about Briony or from her perspective. One thing I did catch on to though was the part where she questions if everyone was “as alive as her”. I wouldn’t consider myself a self centered person but i have definitely had those thoughts. My version is more in an importance or perception kind of way. When I was younger, I wondered if someone in the world could actually be nearly identical to me, whether it was appearance, clothing, anything. Now I wonder more about feelings and thoughts-does anyone out there think this way? My sister is taking a class titled On Being at Brown right now and I guess it is the exploration of self and the theories about how much of it are cognitive, how much is psychological, how much is meta-cognitive. I can’t say I really understand all of that even but in my version of it, I wonder how people view themselves, how they come up with their thoughts, how they relate to others.
Being extremely shy and self conscious has many drawbacks but one of the few advantages is that I observe a lot of human behavior. If how people act is a manifestation of how they view themselves, I am not sure many people spend a lot of time in self reflection. I don’t want to be judgmental (well, yes I do, but I have to guard myself against it) but it seems to me that the guiding sense of self is to satisfy ones needs-and to do that so constantly and so brazenly that no one else matters. The examples I see of this range from the high level-talking over someone, not listening to others when they are talking directly to you, making statements that are undermining or backhanded (“oh, you got into Columbia because you are an athlete?”), talking about yourself incessantly to the low level-eating yourself to obesity, swearing, violence, disrespect of authority….actually the list could go on and on. I guess some might argue that people in our society have tough lives, that their childhoods have been difficult and I suppose, a lot of what is wrong with people is related to societal woes. But what I wonder is whether this degradation will ever stop-will it get turned around and if not, what type of anthropological changes we might see-and whether then classes like Lauren’s might occur in the social anthropology department rather than the psychology department.