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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Violence, etc.

The Radiolab podcast on violence and empathy started out promising, but the human half is decidedly less insightful than the insect part. Disappointing.

Anyway, I don't want to discuss the subject of empathy or an indifferent universe or whatever, but rather that one of the comments left by "nerdmom" reminded me of something I sort of forgot.

A long time ago I went out with a grocery shop clerk, a slightly pudgy guy whose appearance to which I was attracted (don't ask me why). On the first and only date, within 2 minutes of talking, the physical attraction evaporated and I knew as well as he that this was not going anywhere. Nevertheless we chatted, perhaps more out of politeness than some residual hope. Nevertheless, I asked him about getting into fights with other young men, not because I was contemplating having a relationship and therefore gauging my chance of being beaten up, but merely out of curiosity. And thinking back I am a little ashamed to admit that it was a bit of a class stereotyping, because I never ask other men I met, who were perceived by me as more educated and "civilized", whether they had got into fights.

Now thinking back on that conversation, I suppose he could have been torn between the urge to show a bit of machismo and the instinct that he should not scare me off. I must admit I do not remember most of what he told me, but one anecdote stuck in my mind. He said there is no room for thinking in a fight. One entirely lives in the present, all his attention and strength must focus on the moment, so that he can hang on for just a little longer than the opponent. Hanging on, that is all that counts (at least to someone who has no training in fighting).

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