Affliction #1

A few days ago, I was bicycling along the waterfront—Marina Green, for those who know San Francisco—when I suddenly remembered something that happened to me the day after the 1989 earthquake—the “Kind of Big One,” as some people here call it. I was riding my bike through the hardest hit section of the city, the Marina, checking out the damage, when I saw ahead of me a stooped, white-haired man. He was around 100 yards away, and from that distance I couldn’t make out his face, but somehow I knew instantly that it was Joe Dimaggio. When I got close, I saw that it was indeed him. I’m not even a sports fan. That reminded me of a day ten years earlier when shortly after entering the Stockton tunnel I saw, from the same distance or greater, a large group of walkers coming toward me. The tunnel was loud with passing cars, so I couldn’t hear them talking, but the moment I saw them I had the instantaneous thought, “Germans.”  And it turned out that it was, indeed, a group of Germans.

We live in a time where many people insist that the only mind that’s real and trustworthy is the rational intellect. But that’s wrong. I find the intuitive mind more fundamental and of greater value than the dry, crusty intellect. More entertaining, too. We need the rational mind to make sure that we don’t go overboard, but our denial and suppression of intuition is killing the spirit. It’s one of the three great afflictions of Western Civilization.

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4 Responses to “Affliction #1”

  1. embee Says:

    Your intuitive recognition of DiMaggio really rang a bell…it’s happened many times that I recognized people I barely knew, or who were public figures, when they were so far off I couldn’t see their face or clothes. I’d somehow absorbed their personal details, style of moving, of holding themselves, without even realizing it. This is fascinating to me because it suggests our capacity for noticing and absorbing phenomena in our lives, which gives rise to our intuition, is virtually limitless.

    • markbittner Says:

      I knew a guy once who was a big Bob Dylan fan. Listened to him constantly. One day he was in the basement of City Lights Bookstore and found himself oddly distracted by a guy who was crouched, looking at some books on the lowest shelf. The stranger had his back to him and he was wearing an enormous hat. My friend finally had to position himself to see the face of the man who was distracting him so. So, you know how this ends. I think if you sit around listening to someone’s records constantly—as my friend did—you become so familiar with the singer’s “vibe” that you recognize it out in the world. It says something about our nature.

  2. gailpeterson Says:

    yes it does (say so much about our nature) – and I have so much to say about this… at a later date. I am just so glad that I have stumbled upon this site after having just viewed the/your movie. I have so many bells quietly ringing and I hope to once again capture my spirit and help it to soar once more – thanks be for this connection and opportunity if ever so fleeting… fledgling, gail

  3. Ian Says:

    Ive noticed a similar thing when watching movies..When you see the credits you can usually do pretty well at matching up the names to the correct actors even if you only have a passing familarity, or no familarity at all with that particular performer. I don’t remember where I read it but someone once wrote that if your emotional self was somehow able to walk into a room without the rest of you, it would still be instantly recognizable to everyone who knows you.

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