Stickman Readers' Submissions May 26th, 2010


I will start off with a few definitions or excerpts taken from Wikipedia:

Perception (excerpt from perception and reality): The processes of perception routinely alter what humans see. When people view something with a preconceived concept about it, they tend to take those concepts and see them whether or not they are there. This problem stems from the fact that humans are unable to understand new information, without the inherent bias of their previous knowledge. A person’s knowledge creates his or her reality as much as the truth, because the human mind can only contemplate that to which it has been exposed. When objects are viewed without understanding, the mind will try to reach for something that it already recognizes, in order to process what it is viewing. That which most closely relates to the unfamiliar from our past experiences, makes up what we see when we look at things that we don’t comprehend.

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(Example: Korski's belief that learning Thai language does not gain insight to the Thai culture). This is so funny, I could not resist!

Insight can be used with several related meanings:

  • a piece of information
  • the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively in Greek called noesis
  • an introspection
  • the power of acute observation and deduction, penetration, discernment, perception called intellection or noesis
  • an understanding based on identification of relationships and behaviors within a model, context, or scenario

(Example: Akulka's belief he has gained a more valuable insight into Thai culture).

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Personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by a person that uniquely influences his or her cognitions, motivations, and behaviors in various situations. The word "personality" originates from the Latin persona, which means mask. Significantly, in the theatre of the ancient Latin-speaking world, the mask was not used as a plot device to disguise the identity of a character, but rather was a convention employed to represent or typify that character.

(Example: Will be explained below).

The reason for the definitions above is to show how some people perceive a word or phrase is not how an author may have intended them to receive said word or phrase. Some readers are so 'hell' bent on the phraseology of writers, that they lose the point of the authors submission. Why I said in a previous submission that all stories can be worth there weight in gold. Just be slightly objective and you can gain valuable insight to these stories. How many times have we had an argument with friends, siblings, parents, relationships, etc. because we did not understand what they were trying to say? How many times do we perceive a situation incorrectly? I would say countless. What happens when we cool off and start explaining? It usually goes something like this:

Person A: Why would you say that to me?

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Person B: I never said that!

Person A: You said……..

Person B: That is not what I meant!

The example above applies to all people and all languages. How do we get to that point? I would suggest it comes from our perceptions of said events. Because as defined above, it is our preconceived notions about said situation. Between any two people, over time, this can be lessened of course, but I doubt can ever be truly corrected because of our individualism.

How can a person think if he/she reads a book or searches the internet about a culture, he/she can gain more insight than living in said culture and speaking the language? That, of course, has been the debate as of late. Let me give you an example of how, I feel, reading a book only may cause detrimental damage. Look at child discipline in the US. 50 years ago, children were disciplined in what many call corporal punishment. Of course now a days we have so many laws preventing this (banned in 30 states at least). How did this come about? Was it because too many kids were abused? I don't think so. I think it came about because 1000+ psychiatrists decided to write books about the perfect way to raise a child. Maybe when the first book came out, it might have offered some better suggestions in raising a child, but who knows now-a-days. There are so many books with conflicting views, that we are so lost. Many can argue that without fear, children become undisciplined and at this point in our history, US children, I believe, are the most undisciplined children on the planet. People are not allowed to use their own experience for raising a child, but must follow the set guidelines of books and now case law. This is not to say that books are not a truly valuable source of information, but they are not the sole source!

Let's discuss for a moment about taking our teerak back to the US. She has a preconceived notion of how grandiose her new life will be. She sees all farang are rich and the new opportunities are limitless. We know the reality, but can not truly explain in words or books how her life will be. She must experience this first hand. We enroll her in a citizenship class and maybe even an English class to help her become a citizen. As she goes through the citizenship class what does she learn? She may learn some US history, the constitution, our national anthem, etc. Now she may come home one day after class and ask said husband about the national anthem. What happens? Husband says, "Ummm, ummm, ummm." In her mind she knows the Thai national anthem and is struck with disbelief how her teerak does not know. How could she have gained this insight from a book? Which book? How many is she suppose to read? This is just an example of how insight can be gained from first hand experience. I could list many examples, but I am sure you get the point.

How can an educated person fight against any one person learning? One author on this sight suggests he will never have an intelligent discussion with Thai people, because of there poor education system. Suggesting they should be more educated before he could truly appreciate having an intellectual debate. And yet in another article he says learning Thai is basically useless unless you meet some sort of set criteria. This is pure hypocrisy! We become educated through many mediums including books, schools, experience, etc. Why would someone vehemently dissuade others from learning Thai language? I can only think of one reason—said person is lazy and does not want to devote the time therefore will want to convince others why they do not need to learn! No matter what the subject is, if you want to learn it, please go do it and never listen to frivolous dribble about why you should not. And if you feel you want to share the benefits or insights of said subject, then please do and never worry about these clowns trying to convince you that learning, no mater what it may be, is ever wrong.

One author suggested that some sort of dual personality may be the result from learning a new language. Well again I think that the original submission describing this was not implying what some may have inferred. The reason I listed personality above was to show that we are still ourselves no matter what language we may try to learn. Will learning a new language influence my behavior in a situation? I believe so and fits the definition above. Does this give me a dual personality? Absolutely not, unless I am bi-polar or have multiple personality disorder. I am still me, but maybe with a different perspective. A Thai woman does not have dual personality because she moves to the US and learns English. She may learn her new rights as a woman in the US and this may change her behavior in some fashion because of this new education. This may then change her personality in some degree with this new knowledge, but in no way gives her some dual personality. That is just a silly statement.

Insight vs. benefit. Again we get the 'wordsmith police' attacking a definition. If someone says they gained insight and technically it was a benefit by definition, does it really matter? How a person may use a word to describe his situation again will fall into the imply vs. infer category. One definition above says insight is a piece of information. So how can one say another does not gain insight into a culture by learning the language if he/she gains just one piece of information? That is ignorance at its finest. I know more than you, so therefore you must listen. Ridiculous in any form. I do not have to provide examples of the insights or benefits to learning a foreign language to prove to someone it is a benefit. To me, common sense applies. Learning anything new can always be a benefit to some specific situation. If I speak Thai and find myself in some location in Thailand that my handy little lonely planet does not assist me with, what do I do? I ask a local, who most likely speaks no English, for his assistance. Does this give me insight or is it a benefit? If said local tells me where I am and what I need to do to get out of the situation, then maybe it can be defined as a benefit of knowing Thai. If I find that because I spoke Thai and the local is very appreciative of my language ability, did I gain some insight into the culture that I had not experienced yet regardless whether a book can tell me this? It is all your own perspective.

In the debate of learning Thai language there are two main groups: 1) Learning is a benefit and 2) Learning is not a benefit. Well if you want to learn Thai and feel by doing so it betters your life, I and anyone else do not have any right telling you different. If you do not think it is a benefit, I would recommend you STFU and pick a different topic to cry about. Why are so many authors so cynical about some topics? Because misery loves company? It astounds me the negative perspectives so many have. If someone is happy and feels positive about learning and sharing his/her experience, why do some feel the need to tear them down and try to remove their happiness? I will never truly understand this, but I am sure it is definitely "Misery loves company". If a person chooses to give up all worldly possessions and move to a monastery, good on him if he/she is happy. This is not for me, but I would not try to denigrate him/her because they choose a different path than me. I would not need to be provided examples of why this is good for him/her. I would believe that this is what works for their life. The same is with language. If you feel it is a benefit and has provided you with better insight, then I am happy for you. It is not a question of right or wrong. There are no absolutes. If one can gain understanding by living in a culture and speaking the language of said culture (of which I agree with completely), then it is your choice and your path. If one thinks he/she not need to live in a culture or speak the language of said culture to gain insight then that is your choice and path. But to denigrate others or imply the are incorrect because of lack of examples, only proves ignorance. No one set of beliefs is correct. We can surely agree on that. Maybe I am the type to learn better with first hand experience than someone who can just read a book. This is my life. This is how I am.

To summarize: Our perception is our reality. What benefits you gain, may not benefit me. What insights you gain, may not be as insightful to me. It is all perspective. We are a sum of our life experience. From beliefs, upbringing, location, interactions, and education. We have different personalities. We have different learning abilities. The point is that we each think, act and do things in a different manner and as such will have a direct effect on our perception of life in general. To summarily disregard a persons insight/benefit because they did not do what you expected them to do (i.e. provide some concrete evidence) is just plain silly.

That's all for now.

Take care gang,


Stickman's thoughts:

Thanks for your submission.

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