Friday, January 6, 2012

Recursive Wanting

recursive adj.: related to learning joined up writing for the second time (not really)

The topic of things people want is a rather thorny one, I think. After all, I may want to eat an entire slab of chocolate, but doing so will not actually make me much happier. Whereas I want to do things like write blog posts and practice guitar and what's more, doing those things makes me happier. So wanting something is not necessarily much of a recommendation, but it's probably worth being aware of.

Sometimes I think I want things that I don't, in fact want. This is confusing. What seems to be going on is a kind of recursive wanting. I don't want x, but I wish I did and since the two things are so similar, I mistake the one for the other and put a fair amount of effort into achieving x. Then I'm not satisfied.

For instance, consider TV. Most people seem to like watching TV, or at least watching some version of TV shows on their computers. I would submit that people really want to watch TV when they at least think about skipping their homework while they watch the newest episode of their favourite show. At any rate, once the homework or whatever other prioritized tasks they may have are finished, they watch the show. There's also a rarer sort of person who wants to want to watch TV, because so much enjoyment seems to be derived from it and it's generally what people do. It might not occur to these people to skip the homework in favour of the new show. In fact, even after finishing the homework, they might decide to finish up some other project before watching the show. And even once they're actually watching, they could plausibly get distracted by something else. It's not that the TV show isn't any good, but it isn't actually what they wanted.

I'm not actually sure exactly how they could've got what they wanted. When I catch myself doing things like that, I get frustrated because I'm not even sure exactly what it is I want. When I don't catch myself, I get frustrated because nothing seems to work the way it's supposed to. At least with the former, there's the possibility of doing something about it! Even if something is recognising that actually, you can't have everything you want.

So, vague goal-like entity set: start paying attention to how recursively I want things.

No comments:

Post a Comment