A somewhat long-running discussion between me and adam concerns a contrast between skill acquisition habit formation. Consider, for example, the theme of "playing the game" of modern courtship and dating and all that shit. Suppose for the sake of argument (and it isn't terribly far off from the truth) that I have some sort of irrational distaste for this "game", that I feel like it's out of character for me. Argument I: (the side that adam usually takes) "game" is just a skill that can be acquired, so I might as well quit my bitching, and try to learn the skills necessary to achieve the results I claim I'm interested in. Argument II: "game" is actually better described as a semistable personality trait rather than merely a skill, so that learning "game", though entirely feasible, by definition involves changing and not merely learning, that is, it involves unlearning and retraining myself to act differently in relevant situations. On the theory of argument I, there is no cost to switching back to "the real jason" once the learned façade of "disingenuous-but-suave-jason" has snagged the (in sally's phrase) nerd princess. On the theory of argument II, however, there may indeed be a cost. The return trip back to "real jason" from "suave jason" may take just as much effort as it took to get out there in the first place.
And this presupposes that there's a "suave jason" in me at all.
I'm feeling even more sympathetic towards theory II just now, looking back at today, or for that matter, the last few years. It most certainly isn't always terribly easy for me to "turn off" things that might be reasonably be described as skills. They do seem to become habits, whether I want them to or not. Maybe it's easier for people like adam, I don't know.
In any case, it's a big tangle of fear. I know I need to find my way back to that place I know I used to inhabit, where I could like other people and like myself simultaneously. I've crept far too long along the path of self-satisfaction at the expense of being able to deal with other people. I have gotten pretty arrogant inside most intellectual contexts. Socially, I've reached the point where my concept of an ideal match has gotten ridiculously ascetic. Hello, I'd like to place a personals ad, looking for single female who doesn't care too much about food or sex or getting smashed friday night or anything that healthy young living things normally concern themselves with. Sure, what a fucking great idea.
On the other hand, in the middle of that ridiculous asceticism is my current working concept of what makes me me. Under surface whining over classes and research and girls trying to kiss me when I don't want them to and vice-versa, I'm really fucking deeply happy with where I am and who I am and what I'm doing with my life right now. I really care about hunting down nothing less than the most intensely brilliant beauty, and clarity, and lucidity, be it romantic or musical or poetic or intellectual or mathematical or whatever. I cherish the nagging fear of cloudy mediocrity, the kind of back-biting fear that comes from having really looked at yourself and having seen the basic greatness of being human. But I fear --- by subscribing to all this high-minded idealism and what's worse, convincing myself that I'm a better person for only caring about Important Stuff --- that I've stupidly cast myself in the lame, quiet corner of the great party of humanity, the corner where everyone has glasses on and looks sad and hopes someone else will take up the burden of starting conversation.