Chapter 10

I find people confusing.

Join the club.

This is for two main reasons.

The first main reason is that people do a lot of talking without using any words.

Does anyone really think "talking" is an appropriate way to describe nonverbal communication? It at least seems too metaphorical for Christopher, particularly given what he says later in the chapter. If he knows what he is, he should probably know the associated technical terms. The necessity of not labeling him may mean that he's been kept in the dark about it for no reason.

Siobhan says that if you raise one eyebrow it can mean lots of different things. It can mean "I want to do sex with you" and it can also mean "I think that what you just said was very stupid."

I've never heard the first one before. I also haven't heard of the phrase "do sex". Maybe these are British things, or maybe Siobhan was messing with him. I have heard of the second meaning, though I haven't consciously witnessed it. I've only seen it in literature, such as here, from The Great Gatsby:

'I like your dress,' remarked Mrs. McKee, 'I think it's adorable.'
Mrs. Wilson rejected the compliment by raising her eyebrow in disdain.
'It's just a crazy old thing,' she said. 'I just slip it on sometimes when I don't care what I look like.'

The Great Gatsby is a good book. It's got interesting characters, a sensible plot, and beautiful prose. I'd rather be reading it than TCIotDitNT, but I've already read it.

Siobhan also says that if you close your mouth and breathe out loudly through your nose, it can mean that you are relaxed, or that you are bored, or that you are angry, and it all depends on how much air comes out of your nose and how fast and what shape your mouth is when you do it and how you are sitting and what you said just before and hundreds of other things which are too complicated to work out in a few seconds.

When he puts it like that, it makes sighing sound complicated and incomprehensible. I don't remember ever having much trouble understanding it, though. Maybe I'm not "normal".

The second reason he finds people confusing is that they use metaphors. I've always understood metaphors well enough, though I tend to be more aware of them (leading to idiosyncratic alterations) and use them less; maybe that's just me. Metaphors trip different people up differently. I just used one.

I'm going to list his example metaphors because he refers to them shortly afterward.

I laughed my socks off.
He was the apple of her eye.
They had a skeleton in the cupboard.
We had a real pig of a day.
The dog was stone dead.

Then he explains the literal meaning of "metaphor" -- "carrying something from one place to another" -- and the Greek words it comes from, and he concludes that "the word metaphor is a metaphor". Cool facts like these deserve a better book.

I think it should be called a lie because a pig is not like a day and people do not have skeletons in their cupboards.

Jeez, he does have a broader definition of "lie". He thinks any statement that is not literally true is a lie. That's bizarre.

And when I try and make a picture of the phrase in my head it just confuses me because imagining an apple in someone's eye doesn't have anything to do with liking someone a lot and it makes you forget what the person was talking about.

You're not supposed to make pictures of metaphors in your head. You're supposed to file the literal meaning away and recall it when necessary. You can make a picture at the same time, but it shouldn't get in the way. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't forget what people are talking about when they use metaphors. Metaphors only puzzle me to the extent that I wonder why they exist, and anyone can wonder that. Once I know them, I know them.

My name is a metaphor. It means carrying Christ and it comes from the Greek words χριστος (which means Jesus Christ) and φερειν and it was the name given to St. Christopher because he carried Jesus Christ across a river.

This much is true, more or less. I looked it up to make sure. However, he didn't literally carry Christ across the river; Christianity was well established at the time, and the small child he carried was (I assume) symbolic.

This makes you wonder what he was called when he carried Christ across the river. But he wasn't called anything because this is an apocryphal story, which means that it is a lie, too.

Will you stop calling things lies?! The whole point of disliking lies is that deliberately concealing the truth is wrong.

The Christ story does seem to be apocryphal, but St. Christopher himself may have been real. (See e.g. here and here; and the symbolic heaviness of the Christ child in the story makes the story itself implausible.) It is sloppy reasoning to say that St. Christopher is not real because the Christ-bearing story is apocryphal.

Mother used to say that it meant Christopher was a nice name because it was a story about being kind and helpful, but I do not want my name to mean a story about being kind and helpful. I want my name to mean me.

I wonder what sort of name he would want, since his characterization is so wishy-washy. I'm reminded of the conversation in Atlas Shrugged between Cherryl and James Taggart where she asks him what he means by "myself":

"I don't want to be loved for anything. I want to be loved for myself -- not for anything I do or have or say or think. For myself -- not for my body or mind or words or works or actions."
"But then ... what is yourself?"
"If you loved me, you wouldn't ask it."

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This page was last modified on 30/06/2016 (dmy).