Pic of the day: Screenshot from Sims2.
A voice in the desert
I was reading Psychology Today, something I don't do regularly anymore because it is too pop and not enough science for my tastes. But this issue (June 2005) had a small article about the day care time bomb, a worthy topic in its own right. (The more hours children spend in day care, the less satisfied are their mothers by how the kid behaves at home. Ooooh! Shock! Because you know, others will automatically raise your kids to do exactly what you want.)
What caught my attention next, however, was the cover story about those special qualities of people with a strong presence. It turns out that there is no generic charisma, rather there are at least four different types of presence. Oprah Winfrey and Nelson Mandela don't have nearly the same effect on their audience. This ties in neatly with my own vague ideas about aura. I don't mean those tight bands of color that some people claim to see around others, but the effect that a person has on those around them. You may also know it as "air". For instance, I have (or at least had) an air of honesty.
I actually have negative charisma, I think. As in "I wish someone else could have said that". But they can't. I don't play the audience, I don't even make rapport with the audience. It is like they are watching me through a one-way glass, or watching a videotape. But it is a videotape of an eyewitness. I have this "I just need to tell this exactly as it happened" aura that makes people continue to watch even though it is repulsive. You have probably seen them in dubious "documentaries" about things that are outside the consensus reality. The guy who is staring into the empty air in front of him, oblivious to the camera crew. "I don't know if they were Martians, but they were small, and grey, kinda skinny ... big eyes. Really big eyes." That kind of guy. The one who makes you almost believe, because you know he does not care whether you believe him. He just needs to tell it exactly as it happened.
So I thought: Who wants to have a presence anyway? To quote Chris de Burgh: "We must say all the words that should be spoken, before they are lost forever." Then when I am gone, people will forget me soon. But they will remember some of what I said. Not all the fluff, but the words that should be spoken. "Some guy once said that ..." "I read this on the Internet somewhere..." It is certainly better than when people go home and remember the preacher but forget the sermon. If I can say the words that should be spoken, then the spirit that is within each of you will remind you of them when you need them.
Visit the ChaosNode.net for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.