What’s Really New Here?

What exactly do you see when you are introduced to something really, really new? To something you never ever saw before? To something you have no associations with? What exactly do you see in such a situation?

What did the Indian, out for a stroll at a beach of the east coast of America, see when Columbus arrived with his tall ships? What would he make of such a tall ship? He has never ever seen something like it before. What are the ‘materials’ present in his mind to associate such a tall ship with? Most likely the Indian didn’t see much else but a series of ripples on the water surface. When we see something really, really new… we have serious trouble associating it with things we know of, things we’re familiar with, things we (dis)like and/or (dis)trust.

When asking “What’s really new here?”… one seems to imply that he/she expected to see something really new – even exciting perhaps, but didn’t really manage to get a hold on it. Expectations are not met. This may be caused by anything ranging from a total lack of associations (like the Indian above) to associations pointing in some or other familiar direction.
In case we’re introduced to something new and we are able to associate this new thing with things we already know of… we easily overvalue our available associations and somehow undervalue or even neglect the aspects that didn’t really match.
When we’re explaining something new, we very often use metaphors to make new things (more) clear and understandable using known things. Metaphors use existing things to point at similarities – not equalities. Differences, alas, cannot be metaphorically pointed out.

So… whenever you find yourself reading (some of) the articles at this site – the Information Roundabout… and that question emerges in your mind: What’s really new here? Then, please, do take a moment to – now consciously – find out what’s going on in your mind.
Are you like the Indian above? Or does your mind prevent you to see and understand because it already made you jump into some more or less familiar conclusions? Probably it’s a mix of the two. Some of the things, concepts, phenomena you read about here might be Indian-new to you; others may sound mistakenly familiar.

Please reconsider, reread and rethink again [1] – if you want to. You, perhaps, may even want to raise a question or formulate a reply; you’re more than welcome to do so!

December 2011, Copyright (c) 2011 – Jan van Til/Information Roundabout

1. The article Just Thinking might be of some thinking help here.

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