Mar 30, 2010

Inscrutable Déjà Vu Traffic

Left 7:13 AM | Arrived 7:38 AM
This morning the 405 flew, and I arrived about the same time I always do.

I can't explain either part of that statement.

The ease of travel may have been due to a six-car pile-up, just north of my entrance, that choked back the usual overflow passing through the Galleria corridor. It may have been due to increasing amounts of spring break being observed by colleges in the area. It may have been because Passover begins tonight at sundown, according to my calendar, but not according to my Jewish friends.

I'm not sure.

As to how I arrived at the same time, despite traffic being non-existent? I can't even begin to guess. Like advanced branches of quantum theory, Los Angeles traffic will never make intuitive sense to the human mind. Our species simply wasn't evolved to interact with systems this foreign and complex. Even with mathematics and metaphors, we can barely bridge the gap. We can't predict it. We can't explain why it happened. And apparently, we can't even know how bad it is when we're inside it. Unless you can think in 12 or more dimensions, it doesn't make any sense at all.
Déjà Vu
On the fast but slow drive to Norm's, I thought about whether déjà vu was anything more than a misfire in the brain, a misfire triggering the sensation of familiarity, or maybe the sensation we associate with the replay of a memory.

I tried to remember how many occasions there have been when I experienced déjà vu so strongly that I actually predicted the remainder of the "déjà moment" before it played out.

It seems to me, there were maybe four, five, maybe half-a-dozen incidents where I'm pretty confident I predicted things accurately and aloud.

The problem is, I can't reliably say that I couldn't have predicted those same things based purely on context alone, from simple common sense, or from a pretty solid grasp of where the conversation was going. Plus, how strict was I with myself on those occasions? How accurately do I remember my accuracy? And were these moments just dreams?

They may have been dreams, everybody.

Could the sensation of déjà vu be triggered by direct electrical stimulation? Or magnets outside the temple, like in the experiments where they tamper with a person's morality with little more than a strong magnet and a cleverly constructed puzzle? Could someone have a disorder that gave them the sensation frequently? Would they think themselves an oracle? A psychic? A Groundhog Day victim?
Everyone is Inscrutable
Last night, while jogging the dog, I wondered whether I've spent so much of my life focused on developing skills to better predict people, to better decode personalities, to better decipher characters, to better speculate about what people are thinking or feeling - because, as a child, I found my father so inscrutable? Was his frequent silence and unpredictability (at least to young me) the cause of this life-defining habit?

And what does it mean that, while I can remember him telling stories (usually to other people, stories that I only overheard), while I can remember stories about things like an ambulance accident he was in, or the body they carried out of a building once - while I can remember these stories - I can remember him saying very little else that was sincerely personal? What does it say that those stories were the times I understood him most vividly, when I was young? And now I spend my life on stories.

I was thinking about this, and Big Fish, and why Stirling likes it and Aram doesn't, and whether I will be inscrutable with my children, and whether I am inscrutable, even when I don't wish to be, right now.

Sometimes, I like to be inscrutable. It denies people an easy handle, frustrates attempts to pass cheap judgments or assign rigid stereotypes. Yet, I firmly believe, if you take an accounting of my actions, you really do know what's going on in my mind, even if you're foolishly plumbing for more.

Everyone we know exists as a character we've constructed in our minds. If we are wise, we build that character based on the person's actions, their habits, what they do frequently; not on what they claim about themselves, and certainly not what is claimed about them; not on what we'd like to believe, or what we fear to believe; only on what they consistently do. We have to work out the puzzle of a person over time, careful never to blindly confirm our biases, ready always to take on a whole new understanding and recast the role entirely, if the story demands it.

I think, we must be careful how we think about characters; if we are shallowly judgmental with them, we will be the same with real people in our lives, because the brain little minds the difference.

Also, I like the word inscrutable.

I love that 30 Rock used it in a dis of Tracy Jordan's vanity plate.

"She called my vanity license plate inscrutable!"