In North & South! What a neat project. Armitage fans world-wide, spreading the word. Go Army.
It was a long spring semester and the three days this weekend came at just the right moment, possibly the last possible right moment. I’ve slept enough, three days in a row. I’ve finally been able to give myself the privilege of thinking about the last few months and smithing plans for the next few. I’ve jotted down notes, worked on my novel, read some fanfiction, caught up with Armitageworld, and — oh yeah, I rewatched North & South.
Going to bed now in order to have plenty of sleep. With dreams of Mr. Thornton on my mind. It’s interesting that he’s come back into my thoughts so heavily recently — I think it’s because my vocational world is churning again. And for the first time in a long time, I think I understand what’s going on and I’m excited, if also frightened. It’s nice not to be sad about something that’s happening in my worklife, for a change.
If you know me, you know this kind of commemorative holiday makes me increasingly angry. And I read this week that one of the U.S.’s leading presidential candidates is promising pre-emptive war if elected.
One blogger crying in the wilderness isn’t going to stop the further conduct of wars. So rather than trying to be poetic or thoughtful, which I’ve done in the past, I will limit what I have to say to one thing. If we’re going to use this holiday for political purposes, as we inevitably will, here’s my political program. If we want to respect the sacrifices that our fellows have made for us, especially those who died in war, let’s respect the sacrifices living people have made in the past and current servicemen and -women are making today. This isn’t about our public pieties or private griefs or thanking veterans for their service or what makes us feel good about ourselves. This is about those of us who are adults putting our money where our mouth is when we thank those folks. We need to end veteran homelessness. Put those people in jobs. Fully fund medical care for veterans with disabilities and health problems. We as a nation asked for these sacrifices to be made — whatever the merits of the causes themselves — and it is time for us to pay for them. Maybe if we were a bit more honest about the total expenses of the war, we would be less eager to engage in it.
I’ve been hearing about this book for quite some time, and had been studiously avoiding reading it. I’m not a fan of pop psychology, and tend to feel that even experimental psychology is too heavily involved in trying to make everything emotional into the consequence of some physical or organic condition to explain much to me. But the book has been taking the talk-radio circuit by storm, business professionals seem to be reading it, and it has finally penetrated into the circles of student affairs professionals, a group to which I now belong. My professional association is doing a group read of it, and so are the advisors on my campus, and the campus offered us a free copy if we wanted to participate, so I thought, why not?
In case you haven’t read it, the book discusses the experiences of people who have the personality trait of introversion (one of the “big five” characteristics said to make up human personality). Introverts tend more often than not to lose mental energy from interactions with others, particularly group interactions (as opposed to extraverts, who tend to gain mental energy from such interactions). It’s important to keep in mind throughout that the author, Susan Cain, is discussing Jungian / MBTI introversion, which means she isn’t specifically concerned with many things sometimes conflated with introversion (shyness, sensitivity, misanthropy, social anxiety, agoraphobia, depression, etc. — introverts can experience these things, too, as can extraverts). Also, for everyone who’s about to raise her hand and say, “But I am an ambivert!” I’ll just say, that’s fine, and it may be true, but that’s not a category this book concerns itself with. Cain doesn’t give a final definition of introversion, although she offers a list of twenty common characteristics of introverts. As background for my perspective on what I’m about to say: I have seventeen-and-a-half of them. I’m a pretty classical Jungian introvert too, apparently; I’ve been MBTI typed three times since 1994 with the same result.
There are things I didn’t like about the book (like Cain’s reading of the Eleanor/Franklin Roosevelt relationship on the introversion/extraversion axis, her attribution of the 2008 banking crisis to excessive extraversion in the financial sector and her implicit position throughout the book that introverts are smarter, more sensitive, better problem solvers, and just plain nicer people than extraverts — if I were an extravert reading this book, I’m not sure I would have been able to finish it). However, I have rarely read a work of pop psychology in which I felt my own behaviors so fully understood and explained. I hadn’t considered the potential intersection of “high reactivity” with introversion before, for instance, and I found that interesting. My biggest issue with the Jungian introversion/extraversion spectrum, however, has always been that although I have all the qualities of an introvert, if you only know me casually, you might not ever guess. I’ve got good social skills, I am not in the least shy or hesitant to answer questions, I never suffered from stage fright when performing music, I speak extemporaneously all the time, and I have lectured and seminared with students successfully for two decades — all things usually attributed more to extraverts than to intraverts. I’m also relatively inflexible — what Cain terms “low self-monitoring” — although I’m willing to try, I don’t typically find it at all easy to change myself to fulfill others’ expectations. What convinced me about Cain’s book, however, was the explanation she provided for people who can successfully masquerade as extaverts for brief periods of time. Cain writes, “[I]introverts are capable of acting like extraverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly. […] When people are skilled at adopting free traits, it can be hard to believe they’re acting out of character” (pp. 209-210). I think this notion of adopting free traits explains a lot for me, anyway. I am not an extrovert but I can play one in the classroom.
We’ve had a lot of discussion about this over the years with regard to Richard Armitage — the problem of the actor who is apparently at least slightly, possibly more than slightly, introverted. If he’s an introvert, in fact, then Armitage is a nice example of Cain’s point about how the stereotypes don’t overlap neatly — consider his interest in stage combat and skiing, for instance. Over the years Armitage has described himself as “somewhat reserved,” “shy,” and “not an entertainer,” even though his self-presentation while playing The Crucible was strikingly different, he described himself as having changed, and it remains to be seen what we will notice in the future. How to resolve the contrast between personally being reserved, wanting to avoid the limelight, and so on, and a career that requires one to perform for people, sometimes live (and that was initially the variant of the career he preferred), and in recent years, meet dozens or hundreds of fans on a particular evening while doing promotion? Armitage may be an introvert, but for the sake of something of work he considers important, something he values highly, he masters that part of himself and does what he needs to do.
You’re blocked because of an ad hominem comment you made. Did you think I would forget? Although the question you ask is legitimate, it’s also possibly trolly and we’ve been there before. The answers you are looking for are potentially here.