Monday, July 8, 2019

An Example of Inducing Perceptual Reframing

I wrote in my previous posting that:
[Perceptual] framing comes from within, but it’s contagious. If you’re empathetic enough, and a person is willing to have their lens refocused, it’s not hard to induce a reframing.
To induce reframing in others, you first need to develop the trick, yourself (as I’ve mentioned, I’m working on a book of exercises to help people do exactly that. It’s a tutorial for a lost human faculty; for a muscle we forget to flex).

Artists - at least, great ones - intuitively traffic in this sort of thing:
"Art is any human creation devised to induce a reframing of perspective.”
...though, ironically, they don’t frame it this way.

Non-great artists simply ply their craft, painting or singing or cooking skillfully, following their training and tradition without the magic - the je ne sais quoi - that kindles transcendence. This explains why great artists are a whole other thing, and not just marginally better versions of good artists

To be moved and inspired, we must be induced into reframing. Our perspective shifts, and the world shifts with it. No one can force us, but we’re highly suggestible.

While humanity remains mostly asleep to the full scope of framing latitude (by reframing we actually traverse the Multiverse), art has been the realm where we’ve concentrated most of our fledgling efforts (also: spirituality; also: hypnosis). Those efforts go back so far that we’ve forgotten much of what was developed eons ago (link skippers, please do read that one).

So how’s it done, exactly?

The ancient Greek maxim "Necessity is the mother of invention" offers a clue. It’s a deeper observation than it appears. Artists hit dead ends when they try to inspire. That’s just not how it works; it’s like trying to push a string. Best results come from responsiveness; a sensitive willingness to be usefully drawn from. That’s what mothers the invention. That’s how artists surprise even themselves.

Last week I delivered a eulogy knowing that the people I’d be addressing would feel wrecked. I saw a way to coax them to reframe, and it worked. Afterwards, the room was unrecognizable, moods markedly lifted. I found it a bit startling, honestly.

While the eulogy was generally appreciated as a performative piece and clever bit of writing, no one appeared to consciously register the transformation. That’s normal. We’re not used to such reflection. We go through life only foggily aware that what we see and feel is a product of framing. We’re nowhere near keyed in enough to recognize shifts as they unfold.

Accustomed to a world that appears to constantly shift, we feel helplessly along for a ride we ourselves have orchestrated via our framing, leaving us too fraught and distracted to witness the through line (this explains why no one has ever driven to Boston).
The mind does two things: think and frame. We pay infinitely more attention to our thought stream than to our framing, so while we unceasingly frame our thinking (unconsciously), we almost never think about our framing. We can, however, be trained to do so (though I don’t believe this has ever previously been proposed).
Below is my effort to induce a grieving crowd into reframing. It was an artistic endeavor, though of an unfamiliar sort, prompted by compassion. It also includes elements of spirituality and of hypnosis, though they, too, are unfamiliarly applied. I offer it not as a piece of writing to enjoy, but as an example of induced perceptual reframing. It’s not a matter of following directions, nor of presenting an argument. It’s coaxing. It’s indirect. It’s intuitive and subtextual. It’s a little bit magical.
I’m good at this. I’m not great at it (the potential scope is vast and I’ve barely dipped my toe), and I don’t want to get great at it. One day, someone will be great at it. As I explained last time, that person has the potential of being the Messiah.

Florence was not a big talker.

And, like most non-big-talkers, she attracted big talkers. Her whole life! Nature abhors a vacuum.

She didn’t mind being talked at. She enjoyed time with other people. But I can assure you that whoever you are, and however much she liked you, or even loved you, when you hung up the phone or closed the door, she did something I saw 10,000 times:

[Deep breath] “Peace and quiet!"

She’d taste the silence. And she’s find it...sooo delicious. She loved silence even more than chocolate ice cream. It’s where she lived. It’s what she was. Enjoying silence for her was like silk sheets. It was like a cup of water being poured into the ocean.

Already, I’m getting toward the end of the usefulness of words. I could talk and talk without getting any closer, plus I’d self-consciously feel her waiting for the peace and quiet part. The part AFTER I shut up. The GOOD part. The part that felt to her like home.

I’m normally good at this. I’m a professional writer. But whatever I say, it will just be words filling silence; delaying the deliciousness.

And anyway, it’s not like I could pay her tribute by stringing together a bunch of “...and then she did THIS!” statements. Her life wasn’t a dramatic narrative of experiences and accomplishments. “And then she traveled to Canada!!”, etc. She wasn’t Marco Polo!

Nor was she a hovering maternal presence in an apron with cherry pie cheeks. That wasn’t her, either. There’s really nothing to be said in words here. She wasn’t this and she wasn’t that. She wasn’t even “dear old mom”. She wasn’t anything, yet she certainly wasn’t nothing.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past couple days is that whenever I seek out that delicious silence, myself, and bask in it, it’s like she’s standing right there. Right there!

So I have an idea. Rather than me going on and on, filling up her beloved peace and quiet, let’s go straight there. Let’s taste the deliciousness of silence. Not the pious “moment of silence” people do at funerals, feeling all tight and straining to think deep thoughts and making themselves sad and shaky. Let’s go the OTHER way. Taste the silence in the room...and find it delicious; find it luxurious. And in that delicious luxury, let’s see if I’m right.

If so, that means no funeral. No ending. Just the same endless repose in the silk sheets of silence. Join me. I’m about to FINALLY stop talking. The good part’s coming! Remember to TASTE it! Here I will start coiling the spring by increasing my rate of speech, more and more intensity! Look, I’m even starting to wave my arms around!! And........!!!

[Deep breath]

Peace and quiet......


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