The Shallowness and Deceptiveness of Surfaces (a morning ‘off-the-topper’)

90% of icebergs are under water.

Think of the massive thundering waterfall upstream and the pleasant calm waters of a pool far below.

Or the stranger you pass every day, never talking to them. And one day, on a whim, you stop to say hi, and their entire life history pours out within half an hour, or as long as you stand and listen politely.

Each of us has a history some 90% long and deep that most others don’t know, care about, or never get to hear.

The same might be similarly said about contexts in general–all the things, people, situations, settings, events that define us and create possibilities and opportunities, as well as limits, obstacles, and limitations. These being similarly long and deep, some 90% within us, behind us, around and about us.

“There is more than meets the eye.” Certainly most of Shakespeare’s 37 plays prove that over and over. And appearances can be very limited and deceptive. Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear for starters. “Still waters run deep.” “Nothing is but what is not.”

And a moral gap often that delineates psychopaths and other serious criminals from most other ordinary folk. The Iagos and Ted Bundys.

And, as well, that other strange experience when people look at you and assume or intuit, or perhaps project their desires or preferences into you, seeing what they want to see. The sort of thing that makes us speak or draws to strangers for some inexplicable reason quite apart from “Don’t talk to strangers.”

These people look interesting or attractive in some way. They look like ‘neat’ or ‘beautiful’ people, as we used to say in the ’50s or ’60s. A certain indefinable charisma. You just want to be with these people, be close to them; you instantly trust them with all sorts of private or personal information, even confidences!

Yes, we live on and by surfaces, make snap judgements, automatically dismiss or gravitate toward others, not seeing or knowing their various 90%s of baggage, cumulative experience, and whatever else.

In mysteries, Holmes and Poirot are forever confronted with surfaces, most of them baffling and ambiguous–larger, more pronounced variations of real-life situations. Our pleasures in watching or reading along, come from vicariously untangling whatever human mysteries of a given story. Much the same I think for millions of amateur psychologists out there who become interested in someone and try to ‘fathom’ them and their 90% depths, searching for keys to understanding and explaining to one’s own satisfaction. (You see this over and over in Hitchcock movies like Spellbound or Psycho.)

But always the fascination with and unexpectedly bumping into that elusive, massive, shifting, changing 90% heft. Angels and devils at opposing ends of the continuum. (Desdemona and Iago.) And many a recognizable Othello fool, ‘gull’, or ‘dolt’ trying to navigate his or her way through deep waters searching for the sources of and ‘answers’ to the ever-changing, essentially ‘unfathomable.’

Titanic vs. iceberg. Titanic loses. The ways and limits of the world, man and Nature, particularly human nature.


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