Monday, April 26, 2004

How Real is Real?

On my ebay ID page I have a picture of me reading a book with this title, back in 1986 (when I was 40!) It is a great book about communication and reality - not dry, but funny and thought-provoking.

I also recommend The Situation is Hopeless, but Not Serious (The Pursuit of Unhappiness)
It was from this book (and various texts of R.D.Laing) that I developed my resistance to the Catch-22 of the 'Be Spontaneous' command, i.e.

'The author finally unsheathes the most powerful weapon of all in his armamentarium, the "Be Spontaneous" Paradox. It's use is demonstrated below by two unhappiness experts: "Do you love me?"
"If you really loved me, you'd say so without my asking you."

Any request or command for a spontaneous act will cause other persons to be unable to perform the act spontaneously. Whether it's to: "Go to sleep", "Show me you love me", "Be happy", or even "Do a good job", the mere gracing of their ears with the request will make it difficult or impossible for them to perform as requested. This is the reason why actors before a stage performance are told to "Break a leg". Since breaking a leg can only happen spontaneously, it will not happen on command, and the actors are not stuck in the exquisite "Be Spontaneous" paradox of being wished to "Perform well tonight". Even the simple request by a photographer to "Smile" will evoke a faked or posed smile in place of a genuine one. True unhappiness enthusiasts are experts at the "Be Spontaneous" paradox. '

Paul Watzlawick doesn't seem to be around in his website much, but there is one page still active.

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