I finished reading Doris Lessing’s book of essays Prisons We Choose to Live Inside today. It is only 76 pages long, and it contains the essays Lessing had written for the 1985 Massey Lectures. In one of the essays called Group Minds — which is an observation of how hard one would be able to maintain an individual opinion within a world where social conditioning is perverse — “Does everything have to be so predictable? Do people really have to be such sheep?” she lamented, she mentioned on the instance where the writers in the Soviet Union, during one of their periods of severe literary censorship, had taken the steps to censor themselves before their network did. The action was called “inner censorship” and Lessing was taken aback that the writers were so naive, and prided themselves in saying and doing that. She said:
This “inner censorship” is what the psychologists call internalising an exterior pressure — such as a parent — and what happens is that a previously resisted and disliked attitude becomes your own. This happens all the time, and it is often not easy for the victims themselves to know it.
I have also been thinking a lot about my previous post and what lead me to easily fail myself before anyone else does, or even if no one else does. I couldn’t be a competitive sibling — for I am an only child and I believed I grew up with such a privilege of not having to compete for resources to do anything I want. If anything, instead of growing up willingly censoring myself, in the conditions I was brought up, I should end up spoiled. I did find my answers later, which does not lie in my own generation apparently, but I don’t think I shall discuss here.
So there are two things I shall do for 2020: one, is to no longer do self-deprecating jokes, and two, to never fail or censor myself before anyone else does. These two actions (self-deprecating jokes and self-censoring) imply that by doing these, I give other people permissions to pummel me to pieces and not take me seriously, because even I don’t think highly of myself. That will change. ⁽ᴬˡˢᵒ ²⁰²⁰, ᴰʳ ᶻᵃⁿᵃ ᶠᵃᵘᶻᶦˀ⁾
I also learned today that the streaks of white cloud slashing across the sky are called ‘contrails’. My dad liked to speculate that when the jets managed to do that in the sky, it meant that they were close enough to see us so every time I saw the contrails, I would wave to the ‘pilots’. Apparently, NASA also produced a document on how one could make contrails at home.
It made me happy to learn that in data journalism, people still remain more important than tech. “I think some people have the idea that “data journalism” means staring at spreadsheets until a story magically appears, but in the real world that almost never happens. The best stories almost always emerge from talking to people, whether they are experts or just ordinary people affected by the issues we write about. They’re the ones who pose the questions that data can help answer, or who help explain the trends that the data reveals, or who can provide the wrinkles and nuances that the data glosses over.”
For the weekend: “In the morning I drink coffee until I can see a way to love life again.”