I went out on the 24" Schwinn this morning to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I passed a fellow who looked at the unicycle and then, when he looked at my face I said, “good morning”.
He pretty much stared blankly at me without a peep, then back at the unicycle and then we passed.
I actually get this look with some frequency.
There are many possible things to attribute it to, and the look is sometimes tinged with befuddlement, sometimes disdain (as in the case this morning), and sometime disinterest, but it is, in fact, for me one of the most peculiar. Which is not to say that I expect a witty reply having to do with unicycling, just perhaps a return “good morning”.
And, by the way, a half gallon of milk, 2 liter bottle of soda and bag pretzel rods adds, at least seemingly, considerable weight on the return trip.
Unicycling gives us an opportunity to make a fascinating psychological study of our fellow man.
I know the blank stare you decribed. Better still is the person who totally completely and utterly ignores the unicyclist. There’s nothing wrong with being ignored, but it’s the circumstances:
Picture this: my friend Andy (aged 50) and I (aged 40) are riding along a very narrow single track footpath by the river. there are tall plants (nettles etc.) to each side. We see a family of four people approaching. We politely dismount and stand to one side. The people walk past without even acknowledging our presence. We even said, ‘Hello again!’ in cheery voices, because they had passed us half an hour before.
This is the Total Denial of That Which is Different. It isn’t that they’re not interested in unicycling (although they probably aren’t); it isn’t that they’re just plain rude (although they may well be); it isn’t that they have anything against unicyclists as such. It is just that they are so limited in their horizons that they assess every situation by direct comparison with the familiar, and they IGNORE that which is unfamiliar. It frightens them.
We get this with the Morris dancers. We get the usual mix of hecklers, rude people, aggressive people, stupid people and so on, but we also get the people who will walk straight through the middle of the dance as if it were not there. They expose themselves to some degree of physical danger to avoid acknowledging something which frightens them more.
I think you’re right, or close, Mike. One of my favorite tactics for avoiding the continual “you’ve lost a wheel” is to be aggressively friendly in the other person’s world, completely ignoring the fact that I’m unicycling through the woods dressed in body armor. Something like “nice day for a walk, eh?” Quite often the “opponent” is so lost in trying to answer such an innocuous question, while taking into account the strange situation, that they don’t or can’t reply by the time I’ve left the scene.
all of us who are versed in physics could probably
make a scientific description of exchanges between parallel universes:
you can see them from your universe but the reverse is not true!
SF writer R.Sheckley described another syndrome called
“metaphoric deformation” or “sanchism”
(because don Quixotte saw windmills as giants and sancho
was so mattter-of-fact that he could not see extraordinary things):
since an unicyclist does not belong to the normal flow of things
people suffering from “sanchism” cannot see them! this
blows up their relation between perception and the world-as-it-should-go …
ever tried to prove your boss that he was wrong?
I can’t recall the source of this, but I read it ‘as true’. One of the early maritime explorers - Columbus or Cook? - anchored in a bay and set a party ashore by boat on a tropical island. The islanders (allegedly) could not see the huge sailing ships anchored in the bay, simply because they were so at odds with how the natives understood the world to be.
Now, it’s common to fail to notice something, or to assume you can see what you expect to see (misreading a sign or notice is a common error) but to be UNABLE to see something huge when it’s pointed out to you? We’re a strange species.
Of course, most of western society depends heavily on the opposite effect: the king’s new clothes. We see what isn’t really there. Hence a whole generation sees dining in the restaurants of certain litigious burger chains as an attractive option…
> We get this with the Morris dancers. We get the usual mix of hecklers,
> rude people, aggressive people, stupid people and so on, but we also get
> the people who will walk straight through the middle of the dance as if
> it were not there. They expose themselves to some degree of physical
> danger to avoid acknowledging something which frightens them more.
Happens with juggling: people will walk, apparently obliviously, through a
juggling pattern, or at least close enough to risk severe harm. I suspect
it to be intentional:
“If I pretend I can’t see the clubs, he will think I cannot see the hat
A somewhat larger personal space is retained if the juggler shares it with 3
knives or three torches.
Perhaps my uni needs Boudicca style embellishments sticking out either side,
and go faster flames painted on the frame?
Honest: I have a perfect hourglass figure…head full of sand and bottom
getting heavier by the minute.
There are 10 sorts of people; those who work in computing, and those who
Although conceptually not that hard to understand, I find it somewhat difficult to get my brain around all of this, particularly in the context of what I might be missing that is right there in front of me.
Does, in anyone’s opinion or to their knowledge, the fact that one is by nature curious make one immune from shutting out the evident?
Sometimes I think the person is just rattling through a list of possible ways to respond, and doesn’t come up with anything useful at the moment. They may have run through “You’ve lost a wheel,” “Where’s your other wheel,” and “You must be a circus performer” and dismissed each of them as being silly. By then you’re gone.
Just giving the guy a little credit…
I’ve also seen people conspicuously ignoring unicycles. Why not? They’re saving us from more inane comments, and indicating to us that they aren’t interested. Among other possibilities. Just as city dwellers learn not to make eye contact with people on the street who are engaged in conversations with themselves, they may choose not to get involved.
This is not the same to me as the person who walks through, or across the edge of, a juggling pattern. These people are either:
a) Not paying attention
b) Assuming your props are under control and not actually flying like any other objects you might throw
c) Trying to tell you you’re blocking the sidewalk (check to see if it’s true)
d) Clients of ambulance-chasing laywers
> Although conceptually not that hard to understand, I find it somewhat
> difficult to get my brain around all of this, particularly in the
> context of what I might be missing that is right there in front of me.
> Raphael Lasar
> Matawan, NJ
Happens at the dog park almost every weekend. Penny does something spooky
smart, and almost everyone sees it, but the new guy who was standing right
there looking right at the beautiful red husky misses the whole thing
because he knows that dogs can’t do kung fu or speak English or teach
puppies to sit on command or refill their own water bowls or unzip backpacks
The regulars, of course, have had their minds expanded via regular exposure
to my evil genius, so they get to see the suplex or whatever.
i’ve just realised why i have to uni on my own all the time now… its
because i subconciously refuse to believe that unicycling is possible
and it is at odds with my humdrum view of the universe (good vid i
probably pass people every day that are riding around town, trialing
in the park and bouncing around on the library steps.
if i ride my uni but find it impossible to come to terms with… does
this mean that i am actually invisible? am i still part of this
earthly realm or do i enter some kind of unicycle worm-hole and end up
in a different part of space.time continuum?
that was my first thought after i read your original post
i’m glad i read theu the whole thing before posting it
i just started reading ‘a salmon of doubt’, the collection of writing taken of his beloved macintosh after his death
recommended to fans and newbies alike
back to the force of ignoring
does the word ‘ignore’ and the word ‘ignoramus’ not share a root?
and does it not do this for a very good reason?
when i read about the power to ignore that which is different, it saddens me
especially when, as jjuggle pointed out, it seems to run directly against our natural curiosity
is modern living robbing us of our natural curiosity?
what else does our congested roads, polluted air and bad burgers
I doubt that it is modern living that is robbing us of our natural curiousity. In fact, historically our religious institutions and governments, often in cahoots, do their best to get us to ignore that which runs counter to what is obvious but not in their interests. This, it can easily be said, is true of the left and the right to this day. Just ask Jesus Christ, Giordano Bruno and Oscar Romero.
All things considered, it may just as well be asked how we manage to be so creative and curious in the face of the thousands of years of attempts to butcher such instincts.
Sort of on a vaguely related vein, I was watching a program called Manor House last night. It’s a British reality show wherein some family is chosen to be the aristocratic family living in a 1905 Edwardian manor and a bunch of other volunteers get to be the servants. They are supposed to live as closely as they can within the customs of the times. Apparently the family members were only to interact directly with the higher level servants and if they happened by accident to cross paths with the lower servants were to ignore them completely and the servants were required to turn around and not even look at the master or mistress. Needless to say this is very foreign for the modern folk, but I suspect it was also similarly so for many Edwardians, servants and masters.
And isn’t it one of the essential problems of democracy that the government and the people who elect it engage in mutual trust?