Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Too Big for a Fork?

As honored guests at a Chinese wedding, we were seated at the Bride's Mother's table along with the few other Caucasian friends of the groom. The table was set Shanghai style, plenty of forks and spoons, no knives, but to avoid embarrassing the Caucasians, no chopsticks. When the sectioned duck course came around I dutifully picked up a 2 in. cube on my fork "As the Chinese do" and tried to enjoy it. The taste was wonderful, but my discomfort in eating it was evident to the hostess, to the point that she suggested that I need not eat the duck if I didn't like it. I realized that the source of my discomfort was my absent mother, hovering over my shoulder saying "NEVER TAKE MORE ON YOUR FORK THAN YOU CAN EAT IN ONE BITE!" yes, she was shouting at me. I fully expected the slap on the hand to emphasize the message. I asked the hostess for chopsticks which I was skillful with and enjoyed the duck and the rest of the meal without offending my mother who never heard of chopsticks.

Where did the conceptual gaffe of eating something that was too big for a fork come from? Intellectually I knew that my actions were socially correct, but at the conceptual level, I was flat-ass-wrong, to the point of nausea. The conceptual truths of proper table manners ingrained from childhood were not to be denied by the simple intellectual truth of being in a different culture with different manners.


Exploringinside said...

I believe you may have experienced the effects of an engram [a hypothetical means by which memory traces are stored as physical or biochemical change in the brain (and other neural tissue) in response to external stimuli.]Dianetics claims that "true" engrams are "an unconscious, painful memory, stored in the stimulus-response unconsciousness (the reactive mind) rather than as a normal memory. When you perceived you were violating a rule that had caused your mother to yell at you, your body tensed for the expected onslaught of yelling.

J'Carlin said...

Where did the "reactive mind" come from? Why modify mind with "reactive?" The mind is that which reacts to, processes, and evaluates high level sensory data from the rest of the brain including the memory sensory data. Ingrained social conformance concepts call them what you will are part of everybody's social reality. I consider that part of the other, that is that which is not the "I" as it is internally generated sensory data that is processed by the mind in real time.

Exploringinside said...

The reasoning for reactive mind is due to a trauma connected with some events. The memory of the physical trauma [the reaction]is not accessible in immediate consciousness but the mind remembers the physical trauma and re-enacts it whenever an event is anywhere near the original cause.

If you mother yelled at you for other errors, your body might react as if you had taken too large a bite of food on your fork. You might feel a similar remorse or fear for causing your mother to yell at you. There is no science that guarentees the reactions caused by engrams but as a psychological phenomenon there is considerable evidence to suggest further study.