Sunday, February 28, 2010

Aber Etwas Fehlt

 Ever sensed that something was wrong with something (or someone,) before you could pinpoint exactly what it was?  I'm suspicious that part of our brains run on autopilot.
For example, years ago my brother told me he was at the mall and noticed an odd man.  He couldn't articulate what made the guy stand out, but something seemed off.   It took a few more seconds before my brother noticed this detail:
The guy was missing an arm.
My brother was mortified.  He knew it wasn't nice to stare, but whoops, he'd been staring!   His autopilot brain noticed right away and hit the "something's wrong" alert.  Meanwhile, his thinking brain couldn't figure out what was wrong at first.  By the time he thought,Oh!  He only has one arm.  I'd better quit looking at him, because that's rude, it was too late. 
I bet this happens a lot.   Did the guy with one arm know the mind works this way?  Or does he think Geez, so many gawkers.  People have no shame!"
 It doesn't just apply to strangers at the mall.  Autopilot brains notice stuff.   I live in California, but nowhere near the flammable wilderness.  Yet, I can be at my appartment with the blinds drawn and notice the slightest orange tint in the daylight.  Again, I'm not thinking gosh, there's a subtle amber tint filtering in.  I conclude there's a distant fire.  It' more like I'll be reading a book, think hmmm... something's off... it a forest fire?  Then I turn on the news and confirm my suspicions.


stray said...

Is this the same as when you know something's different about someone but can't figure out what... and then later you learn he shaved a mustache?

Namowal said...

Yep. That's an even better example than what I came up with.
BTW, the Aber Etwas Fehit refers to part of an opera where characters are singing about how wonderful their town is, but the protagonist keeps responding "Aber Etwas Fehit..." (loose translation : "but something's wrong...")
When I sense something is off, the quote pops in my head.

Sally said...

Did you study German?

booda baby said...

Veilleicht etwas ist orange.

I was married to a lovely man - a gentleman in the truest sense (the sort who belongs to gentleman's clubs) - and he had a deformed arm. I think rather than thinking anything at all about it (although he might have), he always was prepared to help anyone over their discomfort.

I always thought that was quite the burden to take on. But then, I'm no gentleman.

Namowal said...

Hi Sally,
I haven't studied much German, but I know a few words.

Booda baby,
Seems like(?) something is orange?
The problem with me knowing a few words in another language means I get stumped quickly after I show it off.
Sounds like that guy had class. If I had a deformed arm, would I have his attitude? Or would I be embarrassed, perhaps blaming every rejection and hassle I ever faced on it?
...I had one friend who believed people disliked her because she was tall. Lots of complaints ending with "because I'm tall!" coming from her...
...but that's another blog post.

booda baby said...

Ha. Isn't that always the problem with EVERYTHING?

Actually, I've never heard the word 'fehit'. I'm quite fluent in German, IF (and ONLY if) you call sloppy street/half invented language fluent. Yah, I'm a big fan of just changing the definition. :))

Still, if something's wrong then I thought maybe it's orange.

It's sort of hard to be funny in German.

Sally said...

Ich kann verstehen ein bischen. (sp?)

Namowal said...

"You can understand a bit?"

Of course, if I hear someone speaking German (or Spanish, or Japanese) It sounds mostly intelligible, peppered with a few words I know.

Linda said...

The only phrase I remember from German class is Ich habe Hunger.

Namo, how did you get that "4-color" dot pattern? I love it.

Namowal said...

"I [am hungry?]"

Hi Linda,
It's a photoshop filter: Filter>Pixelate>ColorHalftone.

You can adjust the alignment (or misalignment.) I the latter is more popular, as halftones from the old days always seemed a bit "off".

Linda said...

Thanks Namo, I can't WAIT to try it.

Yes, I'm hungry.