Saturday, August 19, 2006

behind blue eyes

I’ve been a little anti-social of late. I went for a play [Fool for Love with Juliet Lewis and Martin Henderson] and came right back home. In Montreal a close friend of mine would call it my hibernation period where I’d just cut off for a few days, do whatever I wanted [like Superman cartoons?] and be back to normal in a bit. Somehow I’m not afforded the same luxury without my island of Westmount!

Anyway, I did discover something fairly cool. It’s this website called Pandora. []. Basically you can type in the name of your song or artist and it not only plays it, but starts building a playlist with songs that sounds similar. And the best part is, you can tell Pandora you like the song and to play more of this kind, or rate the song as bad and have them skip it next time around. I love the fact that any old song can pop into my head and I can listen to it immediately on the website!

At this point I started thinking about how wonderful this democratic set-up was. You give Pandora positive or negative feedback, and accordingly, you have a better musical experience. Why can’t life be like this? [Oh wait] So you know I’d love to work on a campaign right? There is this firm based out of DC and London that helped both the Clinton’s in their campaigns and does similar work now. While reading through everything it offers it really seemed like we have taken ‘thought’ and turned it into a science. How do you think? Why do you think? What external factors can we change to make you think differently? And so, in order to measure thought processes [in a way] there exist all sorts of political tools—polling research, strategic advising, war gaming, issues testing, ad testing, benchmark & tracking polls et al. But is it really possible to do this accurately? Remember ‘Blink’? Well, he said one more thing- that people do not readily admit what they are thinking when confronted with a pollster. In order to avoid embarrassment, they say they will vote for the more acceptable candidate, but come ballot-time, they check the box they really want. Of course, this is not for everyone. Most people say what they want and therefore we have polling. It made me think about what I would like better; the results or every little thought process. Is it enough to know what I think, or why I think it?

It’s the ‘why’ factor that allows you to build on these relationships; be it with the political structure or people in your life. At a personal level, it would probably spell disaster. I don’t know why I think or feel half the things I do, I just do. And while it’s perfectly lovely to share a lot of the time, sometimes it might be better to shut up. But it doesn’t work like that on a national level now does it? Although, sometimes people do need to shut up—hello pseudo—time and energy wasting—mock moral outrages!

‘Could and should’: I’d written this little piece for no one in particular about the disparities of reporting in the Middle East a few years ago entitled ‘could and should’. It came to mind last night when Carrie Bradshaw wondered if women impose restrictions on themselves, and ‘should’ themselves into wanting things they don’t really want. [Don’t laugh at me now, but Tina Fey of SNL who wrote the script of Mean Girls based it on the same idea- the image you have of yourself and become prisoner to it, and should other girls into it]. It might be easier to know where you stand on national matters, but personally? Blink and you’ll miss it.

Alright, I have another question for you. What is feminism? And who is a feminist? Am I? Are you? Do we even understand definitions enough to talk about them? I have all the makings of a feminist- but I don’t think I’ve ever described myself as one. I always joke I’d like someone to open the door for me, but it’s alright, I know how to drag my own ass home. See-- and this is where it gets murky. I’m not describing myself in any real-world terms already. What issues do I agree on? If I was asked by a pollster where I stood on ‘equal pay for women’ I’d say I’m all for it. Perhaps I wouldn’t sign up for a feminist newsletter. Probably wouldn’t unless I needed it for research purposes. So, perhaps the pollsters got it right after all. We compartmentalize different things about the same subject in such an itty-bitty fashion that perhaps it is necessary to break down the thought-process to determine which way the vote would fall.

So this probably explains why I want to be anti-social while at the same time posting on my blog. And if you need any further explanations on the subject, I am available for polling purposes. Just after I finish hibernating! 


Anonymous said...

Hi Mahima,

I dont know if you remember me - its Shiven from Eckerd College. Its been a while since i've been in touch with you or prarthna, but i got this link from your msn profile and thought I'd give it a read...interesting blog i must say..anyways, hope all is well..

Elena said...

Hey girlie!!
Why are feeling anti-social?
In my mind you are the definiton of a social person-at least back in London;)
Miss our kitchen nights!
Good luck with the dissertation.

Love u

mahima said...

hey babe! ha ha.. you know i'm probably not so much anti social as i am studying... probably a side-effect of working so hard !
i'll email soon... job update and all that! much love!

Aye Davanita said...

I'm not sure how your title is linked to the blog. Would like to hear the explanation.

Great blog. You've hit on a remarkable phenomenon - the polling/research etc. etc. that goes into understanding and playing to a human's psyche.

And thats really what the end goal here is isn't it? "playing" to a society's psyche. I'm going to use a smart quote from a fairly corny movie (one i love nonetheless). "A person is smart. PEOPLE are dumb, neurotic, panicky and sheep-like" - Men in Black I.

What is the purpose of this polling and research you talk about? Its not for any of J.S. Mill's "greater goods" is it? Arguable - I agree. Its to play to it. A means to and end. Whether its to understand the direction of a society's morale meter for a political candidate or to figure out the timing of airing the next Budweiser commercial.

And here's the most important part to me - how much of the opinions/feelings etc. represented in this research is actually OURS and how much of it is fed to us?

Knowledge killed romance as far as I'm concerned.Any action by anyone for any situation has already been labelled as X because of Y to do Z. And the Life and Times without any mystery - just becomes... The Times.

mahima said...

Good one... and in keeping with the mystery that is the 'life' I won't tell you about the title! lol
True, the one thing you have to be really careful about when constructing a survey/ questionnaire is that it isnt suggestive, because you want to know what *they* think, not plant ideas in their heads. but the latter is probably more common than the former..

Aye Davanita said...

Lets see. Perhaps you mean behind Eddie's bright blue persistent and failing eyes?

mahima said...

hahahaa... nice one.. i'm not telling !! (its a song)

ok now back to the dissertation. last few days left so i need to focus!

Aye Davanita said...

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

with reference to Eddie!?

(sigh)... say no more. Good luck with everything.