Sunday, November 30, 2008

Glass and Bubble

It's my opinion that "is this glass half-full or half-empty?" is a lousy metaphorical question to use when determining an individual's penchant toward optimism or pessimism. The query requires a binary answer that doesn't allow for context or circumstance.

For example, one might look at a glass of water and think:

As I gaze upon yonder tumbler, I am reminded of the infinite possibilities offered to me by the Universe every day and of what a lucky individual I am to be alive. But it is nearly midnight and if I drink too much water, I'll have to get up in the middle of the night and pee.

I should also consider that the world is hovering on the brink of a global water crisis and remind myself that the tap I take for granted today may one day produce nothing but a rusty squeal and a lump of despair in my parched throat. If I allow that glass to go to waste tonight, I'll feel mighty guilty when the spigots run dry. Hmmm, perhaps I should drink half the water...but if I leave the other half behind, mosquitoes will breed in it and we'll have malaria for Christmas.

In the example above, what label would we apply to a person who drinks some of the water, pours the rest into a houseplant and then retires to bed, where their fitful sleep is disturbed by dreams of drought and interrupted by the need to urinate? Are they a pessimist? An optimist? Environmentalist? Middle-aged?

We will need more data before we make a conclusion regarding their outlook on life.

Let's ask another question:

Is your bubble half-balanced or half-unbalanced?
Obviously, that is an absurd question, since anything that is 'half-balanced' is, by definition, unbalanced.

A better question might be: "Are you crazy or what?", but for purposes to be explained later, let's stick with the question of balance.

On the dark end, we have the craziness born of despair, bleakness, anger and hatred. A person on this end might collect automatic weapons, ski masks, political manifestos and home-made snuff films. They might belong to a fringe religious cult. Their dungeon doesn't have a "safety word".

On the other end , we have the starry-eyed and dangerous delusion that "all you need is love". That might sound like a harmless philosophy until we look at four historical figures who have spread that message: Jesus Christ, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, namely.

Of those four, all suffered unfavorable legal judgment(s), all were victims of assault, two were stabbed at least once, two were murdered, one was crucified and one loved Yoko Ono.

A person who lives at this end might be identified by their collection of magic crystals, political manifestos and opportunistic con artists posing as leaders of fringe religious cults. Their Dungeons and Dragons character rides a magical unicorn named 'Patchouli'.


Words are confusing and using them can lead to mistakes. Complex ideas are best explained by slipshod charts, alliterative slogans and the gratuitous misuse of the word 'paradigm'.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce the New Paradigm of P-Harmonic Positioning:

Here's the chart. It's a simple combination of the "glass" and "bubble" questions asked above; x represents the balance of one's bubble, y represents the fullness of one's glass:

Here are some examples of words that begin with 'P' and where they might be positioned on this chart:
In the lower left corner we have "Postal". This is where the people of the sort who brought us Columbine and, more recently, Mumbai, are positioned. They have no hope and even less balance. What little power they have is invariably used destructively.

(Note: War Profiteers would be in the upper left corner, their glasses are full, but their power is still of the destructive sort)

In the middle we have "Pragmatic". This position posits : "I understand that the problems of the world are very serious but I can't do a lot about it. I won't admit it publicly, but I'm secretly glad that most of the bad news happens somewhere else."

In the upper right, we have "Prey". This is a perilous realm of good intentions and positioning oneself here is a risky, yet at times necessary, proposition. People positioned here make positive changes in the world around them. They also make excellent hostages.

What's your position?


Enemy of the Republic said...

Probably prey because I want to save the world and then my husband bitches at me because I'm always getting scammmed.

I HATE the expression half empty/half full--thank you for writing this!

yellowdog granny said...

I've always considered myself to be a 5-ball short of a rack, a half bubble off plum, and a pussy hair off of being jut plain crazy..I'm quite content with that..and since I'm trying to type this while looking around the short furry body of my cross eyed cat and haven't tossed her across the room by the bell on her collar, means I still have a modicum of control...spell check assures me that's how that word is spelled, still looks off to me..but then ...every thing I look at is a little off...
and as far as the water being half empty or half full?..There are millions of people that don't care, they just want to drink it and not get the runs afterwards.

Citymouse said...

it just depends...
right now im more toward postal.. but that is not my norm

yinyang said...

I oscillate between postal and prey; on average, I'd say I'm pragmatic leaning towards prey. Although, what would be in the bottom right corner? I think I've been there, too.

But, sometimes a half-glass of water is just a half-glass of water.

billy pilgrim said...

i have no position

like a kiss i was thrown to the stars,captured and ordered in the army of mars...

it's all out of my hands.

angel said...

sheesh allan... i don't want to say i'm pragmatic- but i don't want to be prey or postal either!
lol... very interesting dude!

Anonymous said...

I have never liked the glass analogy either. Where I am on that chart varies depending on the issue. I think I'm a hopeful pragmatist. I know there are serious problems in the world just a I know people can have serious emotional issues. And yet, I belive in good and in hope and in the possibility for change.

Allan said...

E- I think you are probably just a bit S/SE of 'prey' on the grid, ('Professorial',perhaps?)...the there are a nearly infinite number of positions, the three given were just examples.

JS- I'm putting you down under 'Phuckity!' , which is on the right end of the X axis and about halfway down the Y.

CM- I'm positioning you as "Phaithful" (spelling dozen count :)!
It's not a bad position for most people to be in.

YY- The bottom right would include good-intentioned:the Poor, Protesters, Patients and Pariahs among others...there is considerable overlap. I posit that you exhibit traits associated with 'Prodigy', which, like this blog, has no fixed point.

BP- You are unstuck in time, which is off the charts in a generally good, if baffling, sense..I'll phile you under "Phluke of the Universe" phor now.

Angel- There are more than three choices, see comments above...for you , I think 'Participating Parent' fits well. You are positioned on the good side of things, of course.

Allan said...

CW- I see a lot of Potential in your position.

Craig D said...

So the secret is to be level-headed and not very thirsty!

NYD said...

Full schmull. That damned glass containes enough untapped energy to power my laptop for fifteen generations.

As for the rest of your post: I might just be pragmatic (I am only working with the choices you provided and no including something outside the parameters you set)
anything the is not within my personal sphere of influence just doesn't motivate me into action.

Allan said...

CD- 'The Secret' is a best-selling book from a year or so's about as credible as this post. Maybe less so.

NYD- If we could tap water, we'd be powered-up and eco-friendly!

I'm positioning you as "righteously misplaced".
Your place is wherever you are, have been, will be or might go.

Best of all worlds to you!