Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Women's Moods

Venus symbol

- Have you heard about these new apps for phones that help women predict their moods? Their programmers have the idea that moods are a resource more available to women than men that ought to be taken advantage of.
- How taken advantage?
- One instance they give is that in some moods a woman may find it harder to be polite, consequently be more able to see the truth.
- Do they deny that other moods may make it harder to see the truth?
- No. But they don't rule out they may be of some other advantage. What do you think?
- Can I suggest an application of antiquated type, from those days when ideas were put to use directly to life without having to pass first through computers? It is not limited to women.
- Tell me.
- The 16th century French writer of essays, Michel de Montaigne, observed of himself that he had a poor memory. This had its advantages in writing, he explained, because he wasn't distracted by too much material to draw from, and his weakness in memory did not extend to friends: nothing in relation to friends was forgotten. I have the honor of being in this respect much the same: I can't even remember what I write. Having a memory like Montaigne's is fortunate, favoring as it does both creativity and friendship, but to go by my own experience far from perfect. The comfort and satisfactions of friendship rest on knowing our friends, but we know how limited our knowledge is of anyone, friends and self included. With our friends and ourselves our memories are too good to allow the creativity necessary to learn more.
- We are caught in a bind: we can't have friends unless we have good memory of our time with them, but we have difficulty keeping our friends, getting to know what we need to know to keep them, because memories restrain our experimental creativity. What's to be done?
- Moods - being anxious, depressed, suspicious, excited - all interfere with memory.
- They do.
- Possibly we can train them, or rather ourselves in the experiencing of them to use them as tools of observation, looking to see how our friends look different and asking if there is any truth in this new observation.
- Have you tried?
- A little.
- Any success?
- You know how many friends I have.
- I don't. How many?
- The quantity hovers between zero and one.
- Maybe it takes more practice. If I were to describe the memory type of Montaigne operating in you in its modern application it would be: forget everything except friends; forget friends too in moods; detach from moods in observation of consequences. And then keep friends! Doesn't it seem to you too much like the algorithms in the other kind of application?
- In its complexity. Otherwise it seems to ask not too little but too much of our humanity: our difficult moods, our deep feelings, and our creative thinking all brought into order.