Nuance

I recently published an essay about sensitivity. The gist of the essay was thinking through the notion that sensitivity roughly equates (or perhaps perfectly equates) to intelligence. Definitions aside — the main idea is that being sensitive to a thing or situation or what not is not as inherently bad as societal conditioning may be spraying (in fact, it may be actually good, really good!).

This essay is kinda the opposite side. Or perhaps a different take on a similar idea. The topic here is around nuance. And it’s a projection of sorts because I — the person writing this essay — bias towards _liking_ nuance. It makes my brain feel comfortable and cozy. I so often see situations that lack nuance, or more acutely people who lack an understanding of the nuance of a situation, and roll my eyes in discomfort. This is similar to the story of sensitivity — can they not just see the light? Can they not see what my mind calls the truth? Can they not see the diversity? The alive-ness?

I could go on and on — and trust when I say my brain wants to — but this is besides the point. This essay is actually about the case against nuance. Or rather, more positively, the case towards simplification.

Perhaps intelligence is more about being able to simplify. Now this is not my instinct. I like nuance. And I think growing up I was often robbed of nuanced explanations for various reasons that are perhaps not worth diving into too much detail here (but high level there would situations where for instance the way my parents thought about the world lacked nuance and that version of the world was then explained to me in a way that I found unsatisfactory. Perhaps you find yourself in a similar position).

Headlines sell. And in order to be effective, it may not be enough to simply be able to see the details. You may also need to be able to abstract the details in such a way, package them up so that other people can understand them and hear them and really process them appropriately. That burden may be on you, not other people.

Simplifying ideas for others is also a benefit to yourself. A lot of life may be a process of packaging and repackaging different ideas so that they resonate in a way that you and others are satisfied with. Is this motion or is this progress? Reality is already a thing. Physics tries to condense into autonomous equations we can understand — but is that motion or progress? Is elimination of nuance a good or a bad thing? How do we take the noise of the earth and simplify into what we define as good or bad in the first place?

As you can tell with the above, my relationship with nuance is…well…nuanced :).


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