Monday, March 24, 2008

Judgement vs. Observation

Human beings intrigue and repulse me at the same time...I'm very much included in that statement. It's a line I've had running around in my head since the self isolated days of middle school. But the thing that's been constant is my interest in the conditions of individuals...where do people come from, how do they get to where they are at any given time on their journey. In art school students are normally encouraged to draw from life, literally and figuratively...experience the world around you, consume it, digest it, interpret it, allow it to inform who and what you are and who and what you do. With that practice over the years I find myself sort of wondering about certain individuals paths that got them to the point where some guy is sitting a mere 10 feet away, half staring and logging something into his book. It's always been a practice for students of animation to get the quick sketch down, observe the subtleties of human behavior, use it in the characters we animate...note how someone walks, note specific postures, watch for any small "ticks". This has become one of my favorite things to do-just sit...and watch...and wonder about a person or group of people and the dynamic that each in the group brings to the group.

Whether it's some sort of wierd guilt or something, I don't know, but at times I feel as if I am making a judgement, something we are "taught" not to do from very early on. I don't view my thoughts as judgements but I do find myself wondering how someone could end up a certain that seems painful, miserable, unhealthy...and "who am I to paint such a picture for myself"...a representation unsupported by fact...but sometimes it's pretty obvious that someone's situation is terribly unhealthy and I want more for them.

A place where this is SO evident is a television show we all know...COPS...some of it's pretty humurous but when you stop to think about it, that show is mainly about exposing what ails our humanity (at the same time exploiting those indivisuals)...poverty, missed opportunity, can make your own list. I don't really intend on making this about anything political ...if anything I am apolitical. The other day I saw a segment with these 2 brothers somewhere in southern Florida who'd been fighting. One dude had a bloody face and he kept claiming he didn't want to press charges, he was drunk and had fallen and hit his face on a coffee table. As the "investigation" progresses we find that another brother had hit him in the face with an ashtray after being assaulted by the bloody brother with a metal boat paddle (which the mother told the cops she'd thrown it outside). They took both brothers away, noting that one of them had just gotten out (bloody face brother) of jail that week. Listening to them talk, noting what kind of haircut each had (it looked like a fresh haircut so what prompted him to get up that one particular morning and say "I'm gunna get a haircut today"), what they were wearing on top of their crying mother made me feel a kind of pity I don't like to feel (I'm hoping it was more compassion...but they are the same thing). Again, being taught that feeling pity is a bad thing, I wondered if I was observing or judging. For me they seem to be the same thing since I can't observe with objectivity or indifference. I want to know things about them...their story...and maybe that's what is most intriguing to me is not what I'd just seen, which in itself was sad, but what is the backstory...what was childhood like? Mom seemed to be loving...her hair that stiff straw-like blonde, obvious smoker, short and overweight. So then I want to know what HER childhood was like...watching her cry I wondered what she was like when she was happy, content. Yeah, I know, COPS...but there is a lot of pain in people's lives...the show is about "catchin bad guys" but somehow I feel like what's happening goes a little further than that.

One more example (of several hundreds) is a guys who was caught going into some wooded area...he was by himself and the cop said it was a known crack smokin hangout...well of course they found a pipe and a piece of rock...He was extremely embarrassed that he'd just gotten out of some sort of rehab...they called his parents (dude was in his mid to late 30's) to come and get him...they refused...that was hard to watch...knowing that he'd caused his parents a lot of pain but unable to pull himself together...a sort of betrayal in his mind I'm sure...but backstories...what was he like life...what did he like to do...happy? content?

All of that interests me a great deal. I do it on the train or bus or wherever. There have been times when I've wondered if who I am observing has felt connection and pleasure of love-making. Not that I see myself in that situation with them, just wondered about the connection aspect something like that brings to someone's life and if they've experienced it. But then a little voice says "stop judging them"...

Stories are made from life and I am so interested in what people's experiences have been to lead them to this specific point in life...only imagining what can happen that may change that path or not. So as I'm writing, I'm saying to myself 'Self, I really love people'...but I know that something is going to happen today that will have me thinking differently for just a few moments.

To those I have silently observed and wondered about I thank you for allowing me to do so (even though I didn't exactly ask for approval) and know that if my observation turned to judgement it was only that I hoped for something more or better, and if it wasn't needed, for continued happines and contentedness..