Aversion Part 1

This blog is a continuation and will make even less sense if you haven’t read Misplaced first.


Hi. How’s that? Is that better?

I’m trying here.


Aversion is not easy to control. I always think of that scene in Dune when that guy — he’s one of my favorite actors — has to stick his hand in the Gom Jabbar. Even though it is incredibly painful. Then he has to decide how long to keep it in there, choosing the pain, overcoming his natural aversion to it.

And this is some sort of demonstration of mental strength. The kind of thing I tend to find pretty ridiculous. But only, I guess, as a sort of echo of my respect for it: if we flinched at everything that bothered us …  I just can’t imagine that anyone is like that anymore. But that’s just me.

There are other ways to generate aversion. One can be offensive in the more traditional sense: if I could make part of your brain say the N-word to you over and over again, would you start to tune that part of your brain out? If I could make a part of your brain turn every bit of conversation into some childish and crude sexual reference, the likes of which you’d never heard and could never have imagined otherwise, could I make you tune that part of your brain out?


Also, there is — here’s a guy. He’s looking at a tree.


radiation: Everything ok? Are you alright?

Guy looking at tree: Yeah, I’m just looking at this tree, for the property owner.

radiation: Ok, I thought it might be something like that.

Guy looking at tree: Thank you. I appreciate your concern.

radiation: Yeah! I was thinking, I hope nothing fell on his car. It’s an older tree.

Guy looking at tree: Yes, the tree is in trouble and needs some help. I’m going to try to help it.

radiation: Oh no. That’s great. Are you going to heal it, or cut it down?

Guy looking at tree: I’m in the business of saving them, if you can save them.

radiation: That’s wonderful. Neat.

Guy looking at tree: This one I think is just in trouble from being so close to the road, the damage to the root system, and the lichen that’s all over it. Believe it or not, lichen used to be harmless. At least the lichen I grew up with, only grew on the north side of the tree? If you look at this tree it’s completely encrusted with lichen. See on that bottom limb, where it is all green? That’s all lichen, which is actually sucking the life out of the tree.

radiation: (At this point battling crying — you can’t tell, can you? I am also, as you can’t tell, wearing a towel instead of pants.) Wow. We had a tree, we lost it. It was lichen, and something– something else got it. And we cut it down, but we kept the top, the bottom fifteen feet of it, just as a memorial.

Guy looking at tree: Yes, a lot of people do that. (looking sadly at me) I think there’s a traffic jam.

radiation: Oh, this is – you can’t have a traffic jam here. It’s impossible. (This is a five-way intersection with no lines on any of the roads. The intersection of itself is the size of a small grocery store parking lot.)


A few months later what was left of the tree collapsed. No one was hurt much.

Fun story, huh? I entertain well while wearing a towel. (Always have.)


There are other kinds of aversion than pain and offense. In a place where your second language is spoken, you’ll find it takes more focus to stay in conversation than it would normally because your brain is doing extra work. That feeling of extra work is the closest example I have o what I mean here by aversion. Dissuading distilled. And you might find yourself tuning out — even if you are not the kind of person who usually daydreams in the middle of a conversation, you might find yourself more likely to do that, as your brain has a natural aversion to languages it doesn’t understand, and things it doesn’t understand in general — sometimes. If you could bottle this thought somehow, you could do quite a bit, by making others NOT do quite a bit.

Other times it has a real attraction to things it doesn’t understand. These things are ‘baited’ with a chunk of something that it does understand,. If you can link this to a thought that it doesn’t want, sometimes it will plow right into said thought like a thumb with a hangnail shoved into a lemon.

A classic example being the what-if question. If you could make the bottle the thought we think, the sound our brains make  when they haven’t figured something out yet, but are on the verge of it, that’s a bottle of something that it is very hard not to think, and even hard not to think repeatedly. If you have a question, and somehow also feel that you have the answer, when you don’t; if a thought could be misplaced in such a way that it feels like you do; then you will be drawn to that thinking that it is a natural when you do have the answer, that thread you pull, with the answer on the other side. Even after you’ve tried this a number of times, and found that there is no answer on the other side, thoughts like that are still hard to get away from, and can drive you a little nuts. But if you have the tools! of categorization! at your disposal, you can identify a thought like that as what it is, and fruitless, separate from those thoughts that have the same information to convey, which are not.

If my bottled version of this thought was in another ‘language’, for instance, than the one which you usually use to solve your problems, then after some number of tries, potentially large, you would realize that the bottled thought goes no where. And the next time it occurred, although you can’t stop it from occurring, you can identify it as a member of that group, and choose to ‘dismiss’ it – which I haven’t talked about yet. Nor have I listed the other 11 promised attributes that can be used for categorization. But right now, I need a hot shower.

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