Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Read Between The Lines


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"Candy says I'd like to know completely
What others so discretely talk about..."

In the old days of Cold War there used to be a science called "Kremlinology" which studied and intended to decrypt the mysterious politics of Soviet Union, a Communist superpower shunning the kind of media publicity we have accustomed to here in the West. Using such sources as the Communist party ultimatums, the pages of Pravda, even official photographs, Kremlinology was a continuous exercise in detective work for Western political commentators who desperately were looking for any hints about what was happening inside the byzantine corridors of the Kremlin, which Soviet politician currently found himself in favour or disfavour, and so on. This was the art of reading between the lines.

And indeed, one tries to read between the lines, to interpret all the clues available. Even silence might be a meaningful clue (or then, not). What people leave unsaid might mean even more than what is actually said: trying to read their faces, gestures, gaps in conversations, quips, possible Freudian slips. There is an unspoken vocabulary, human cryptography.

After 9/11 had taken place, there were some people who claimed they had thought there had been proverbially "something in the air", even for months preceding the events, but one couldn't exactly put one's finger on it until it had happened. Only with hindsight they could realise they had sensed or foreseen something. Or detecting from a photograph a person who is going to die soon, but not really understanding this intuitive feeling until the person in question is gone.

A person with intuition can be a barometer of people and situations. There are also people with narcissistic personalities who are as if managing to control the weather around them by their moods and whims: which way the wind blows today?

In all walks of life, politics and arts, envy seems to be an endlessly renewable natural resource. One may done one's best to rise above it all but suspicion still remains. When one does not fit to people's more or less accepted and regulated schemes and pecking orders, a social exclusion might await behind every corner. So called friends suddenly turn their backs. A sensitive person might not be able to stand it. We all know this logic already from our schoolyards.

"Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?"

A paranoia-inclined person can see one's whole life as one vast Kafkaesque conspiracy theory. "Everyone is against me, constantly plotting against me". Having a creeping suspicion that your loved one is cheating you. Why does the conversation suddenly stop when one enters the room? Meaningful gazes, hesitating answers, never getting straight answers to questions. Accidentally catching a glimpse of secret handshakes between conspirators. David Hemmings finding a corpse in an enlarged photograph in Blow-Up. Gothic monsters perched on Notre Dame silently following these little games of us for centuries. -- Watch out, though: unless one wants to become a paranoid schizophrenic, some possible omens and auguries are better left just unnoticed. Sometimes filtering things out of one's mind is the best solution.