Pleeblandia

Thoughts from the front lines


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Your first this, your first that; how about your first love.

Your first love, your first everything. Is that always a good thing?

Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood explores a similar concept towards this idea of attachment to ones very first love.

In the novel, one of the main characters, Ren, develops a serious attachment to her boyfriend/friends with benefits known as Jimmy. The main issue here is when they break up their alliance. Ren goes through a troublesome period she describes as very dark; “I wondered what I was doing on Earth: no one would care much if I wasn’t on it anymore” (Atwood 227). Throughout the novel, Ren just can’t seem to forget Jimmy. No matter the number of years or acquaintances she’s had, Jimmy is always in the back of her mind.

Interesting I thought, why are we so affixed on our first love?

Here are a couple reasons that may answer this cryptic question.

Simply put; no one ever mentions their second kiss, their second car, their second house because your first anything is what’s really special. An analogy given by psychologist Art Aron, professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook says that our first love is like skydiving, “meaning, you’ll remember the first time you jumped out of an airplane much more clearly than the 10th time you took the leap” (McCarthy). This makes sense; jumping out of an airplane is definitely scary and exciting all at once, and so is falling in love for the first time. You’ve never seen yourself in this sort of situation and you don’t know how to handle it like you previously would.

 

first love

Another issue surrounding this fixation on our first love is that most likely we will think back and romanticize about it. How perfect everything may have felt, the butterflies in the stomach, the innocence, thinking how love really had no limits. To this day one might think back to those times and how your first love made you feel. Even if there were moments where you couldn’t stand the site of each other, you’re more inclined to recall the good experiences shared together.

In addition, a first romantic relationship “is the only time you’re ever in love where you’ve never had your heart broken” (Carpenter). Yes relationships after your first can make you think what was I even doing with this person in the first place, but also there will never be again a situation where you haven’t been hurt. Being with that first person was the purist form of love because you haven’t been knocked down yet and ultimately this relationship becomes a template on which we compare everything else with.

Finally, first relationships may be lurking at the back of our minds, whether we realize it or not. This little section of our brain that keeps it stored gets activated with new interactions. There is a chance that you meet someone who reminds you of your ex, even in a subtle way. In turn, that little area of your brain is triggered. Ren experiences this moment exactly when her current love interest, Croze, wants to have sex. She thinks to herself, “I don’t want to have sex without loving the person, and I haven’t really loved anybody in that way since Jimmy” (Atwood 394). Ren can’t stop herself from taking a trip down memory lane because any male will make her reflect on Jimmy.

All in all, it is difficult to not think about that person with whom you’ve experienced so many new feelings and emotions. Everyone moves on eventually but it’s okay to have these brief moments of nostalgia… so long as it is controlled.

 

References

Atwood, Margaret. (2010).The Year of the Flood. Toronto: Vintage Canada.

Hill, Amelia. (2009). Why we can never recover from first love. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/18/relationships-love

Hopkins, Michael. (2016). 3 Reasons It’s So Hard For You To Get Over Your First Love. Elite Daily. Retrieved from http://elitedaily.com/dating/getting-over-first-love/1484465/

McCarthy, Ellen. (2016). Why we never really get over that first love. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/02/12/why-we-never-really-get-over-that-first-love/?utm_term=.1d3376fadb9d


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You can’t spell slaughter without laughter

One of the aspects that give Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake its quirks and charm is all the gore and brutality present in the novel.

To be specific, Jimmy and Crake have a fascination, borderline obsession with browsing through certain online sites. These sites include, but are not limited to dismemberments, animal cruelty, live executions, lethal injections, electrocutions and even assisted suicides.

This enticed me to dig deeper.

Why, as humans, are we so intrigued in observing certain things? Why are we so morbidly curious?

It’s almost as if “we’re paradoxically drawn to repulsive things” (Vsauce).

Leaving Jimmy and Crake’s world and entering our own, some unpleasant things can involve car accidents, natural disasters, possibility of a fight, disfigurations, etc.

Did it ever cross your mind why you might watch people eat a spoonful of cinnamon, gross tasting jellybeans or extremely hot peppers?

Before I explain the reasons why one might be so morbidly curious, it’s important to know what goes on in your brain to make us feel enticed by dreadful things.

brainparts

When we are faced with danger, we get frightened. The stimulus produced creates a signal that travels to the amygdala near the base of the brain and proceeds to travel to the hypothalamus. Certain neurotransmitters are released like dopamine and epinephrine.

Dopamine is basically the brains reward system and is released when you come face to any pleasurable activity for that matter. If we look at dopamine and food, when we eat, there’s an air of satisfaction. The brain motivates us to seek, encounter and be curious for our own sake. Well, the same chemicals are released when we experience a threat, making us more attentive and finding it difficult to look away.

Now, getting back to the extensive reasons for being morbidly curious.

A pretty straightforward answer can be that at least if we look, we know because I’m convinced uncertainty is more unpleasant. Don’t sit there and tell me you haven’t been in a situation where you weren’t rubbernecking, the act of “slowly driving by a car accident and [turning your] head to see anything gory” (Urban Dictionary).

Another approach: sometimes the pressure to not do a certain thing makes us want to do it even more. When you try to suppress something, it can actually make it more present. If there’s a taboo against viewing a certain thing, it’ll increase your desire to be exposed to it.

Morbid curiosity can also be perceived in the sense that we want to experience someone else’s suffering without actually have it happening to us. Thinking could this ever happen to me, which allows us to share certain empathetic feelings.

It could also be like a little personal pride having witnessed a disturbing scene and being able to overcome it without chickening out, almost like a challenge accepted and conquered.

Lastly, some might get joy from overlooking others’ misfortunes. Hear me out here; sometimes viewing these scenes where other people are angered or violent without any of our involvement can actually help us reduce our own frustrations or aggressions as if they were actually satisfied.

We are not evil people, don’t worry. We do feel guilty for being interested in these types of things but still can’t look away, like Kanye West said, “why everything that supposed to be bad, make me feel so good?”

 

References

AbnormalBoy. (2004). Rubberneck. UrbanDictionary. Retrieved from

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=rubberneck

Atwood, M. (2003). Oryx and Crake. Toronto: Vintage Canada.

Dickerson, K. (2013). Here’s What Happens In Our Brains When We Get Scared. Business Insider. Retrieved from

http://www.businessinsider.com/our-brain-chemistry-when-we-get-scared-2013-10

Olsen, P. (2015). Catharsis in Psychology: Theory, Examples & Definition. Study.com. Retrieved from

http://study.com/academy/lesson/catharsis-in-psychology-theory-examples-definition.html

Vsauce (2014). Why Are We Morbidly Curious? Youtube. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbdMMI6ty0o

West, K. “Addiction”. (2005). Late Registration. Roc-A-Fella Records & Def Jam Recordings.