The Harmonizing Mind
The Harmonizing Mind:
A Paradoxical Dichotomy of Individuality and Social Conformity
‚See, a lot of the time humans as artists exist in a self-projected state of falsehood. We‚re either too close to our image to be objective in our perception, or too far away to be subjective in any matter. This only widens the void of social conformity introduced to our souls at birth.‚
-Eyedea, from ‚On This I Stand‚
††††††††††† When we think, our very thoughts are often contained by the models of language. We think in terms of what we are not only capable of comprehending, but expressing as well, with the quality of our expression being a different matter. For example, a native speaker of German is unable to comprehend and express his thoughts in English, unless he learns the patterns for which the language organizes itself first. Even though he as an individual human being has learned the language for himself, he has conformed to a collective standard of communication. In the same way, our minds are constantly being reformatted into different modes of thinking and means of expression, all of which are either grafted from external sources, or generated by inspiration from the same. It is in this duality of external reference and internal expression that our conceptions of our own individuality, and the concept of individuality itself, are products of a false dichotomy: implicit characteristics of the harmonizing mind.
††††††††††† At its core, the concept of individuality is a useful scripting tool, akin to free will or crime and punishment. With these models modifying the actions of the individual mind, there can exist an achievable sense of social cohesiveness. ‚I‚ am now held accountable for ‚my‚ actions and how they may affect myself and other people. However, with this implied responsibility comes the expectation of abiding by social customs and laws. If it is not the culturally accepted norm to dance while conversing with your local banker teller, then doing so will be met with confusion, and often negatively. The teller may perceive the dancer as being obnoxious, and is only doing their jig in an attempt to be perceived as wild.† This would be an attempt to maintain the status quo. Yet on the other side of this interaction, the dancer could simply be trying to lighten the mood of a stale banking atmosphere, and perceive the teller to be a buzzkill who is fearful of spontaneity. This would be an attempt to modify the status quo. The two conclusions that could arise from such an occurrence are either disapproval or approval.
††††††††††† Within this relative spectrum of acceptable behaviors lies individual plasticity and social congruence. It is here where we differentiate the norm from the weird, the innovators from the emulators, the radicals from the traditionalists, and so on. Although we may pride ourselves on originality and independence, this is only half-true, as we only see value in what we do based on the parameters of approval and comprehension set by other people. The ability to recognize this and adapt accordingly are the fundamentals of introversion and extraversion.
†On the extreme of introversion, we find the social recluse, who will be afflicted with paranoid schizophrenia. His modeling of reality is highly distorted, yet extremely imaginative. Where incomprehensible word salad such as ‚Goose in the sun breaks away cabbage,‚ could possibly make perfect sense to him, it makes absolutely no sense to anyone else outside of his frame of awareness. He shows difficulty in maintaining relationships, adjusting to social norms, and getting his message across to the average human being; who often assume he is just crazy. This is due largely in part to the fact that regardless of his mental health, his world view would heavily conflict with the ideologies represented in consensus reality.
On the other extreme resides the extravert. †The extravert is highly adjusted to normal society, but does not hold a single innovative thought in his mind, and simply does and believes whatever he is told. He adheres solely to the archetypes of value held by his local system of awareness, spurring little to no conflict or potential for change. Although his world view may be perceived as accurate, it is only so as far as its congruency with the models that framework the consensus reality he is currently experiencing.
Where both find their common ground is the art of persuasion: convincing another to share a personal or common belief. In itself, this form of expression requires a fair degree of both manipulation and conformity. If someone were to attempt to convince another of a seemingly outrageous claim, the one laying the claim could not tell the other outright what it is with no apparent reasoning behind it and expect them to believe it. There must always exist some level of congruency between the two people, or else no bond can be formed or found. So this innate sense potential confrontation between individuals always results in conformity, be it within the established laws of rhetoric, or integration with a subset of people who hold similar ideologies.
This can be seen in the development of countercultures such as the Hippie or Punk movements. They both prided themselves on reacting against the ideals held by mainstream society and creating a new identity for themselves. However, the individuals that comprised the subculture have always shared similar characteristics in the forms of attire, mannerisms, lingo, music, etc. Where people ‚choose‚ to assimilate into a subculture is determined by whether or not the ideologies they represent, and perceived or real faults inherent in them, are congruent enough for satisfaction to be achieved through conformity. One would experience greater difficulty in converting a Wall Street banker into a communist as opposed to a poor farmer, and a die-hard Christian into an atheist rather than someone who was brought up in a secularized society, and vice versa.
All of this is nothing more than harmonization, no different than when one experiences culture shock to then become accustomed to a new way of living. Almost everything we do is by the result of another's achievements, and theirs are the result of yet another's. As Sir Isaac Newton put, ‚If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.‚ Even then, what discoveries are made are only a consequence of compatibility and generative inspiration, which are always created by the recombination of other ideas fundamentally outside of what we consider ourselves to be. These are then applied in society by our own accord and become an external reference for another person. This renders individuality and conformity a complete paradox of mind, in that all we do, and will ever do, are the effects of others causes, and the causes of other effects.