Saturday, August 22, 2015

Inside Out: The Feels So Fine

Last night, I took my daughter to see Inside Out.  I had seen it earlier in the summer, but Soph Spew needed to see it before she goes back to college (and, yes, we have already given many of her old toys away a la Toy Story 3).

It was great to see the movie again.  It was fun to see my daughter's reactions, including to:

Bingbong's passing.  Yep, many tears were jerked.  My favorite part was still the abstract thinking chamber.  I love not just the deconstruction part but that the next stage is ... two dimensional.  So, it might be a nice dig at post modern literary critics!

I really liked the idea of the various islands that are the key components of one's personality--the memory complexes, rooted in a core memory, that shape how Riley (and the rest of us) look at the world.  She had friendship island, family island, honesty island (for realz?), hockey island, and goofy island.

Of course, I then had to ponder what what are the islands of memories shaping me besides the standard ones that Riley has (Family, Friendship, Goofy):
  • Ultimate Island.  No hockey for me despite 13 years in Canada.  Indeed, I nearly blew the hockey question on the Citizenship Test.  But ultimate has been an important part of my life since even before college but especially so there and afterwards. 
  • Curiosity Island.  This could also be Analytical Island, as I have always been very, very curious about stuff, and have pursued heaps of questions and not just in my professional life. 
  • Camp Island.  I spent most of my formative summers at camp, where I had a lot of core memories that continue to resonate today with little chance of falling into the memory dump.
  • Obie Island (Oberlin's colors are yellow and red).  No doubt that my experiences at Oberlin shaped my outlook on all manner of things from becoming a political scientist to pondering polar bears as time lords to the cultural and political relevance of Star Trek and other stuff to how I think about privilege and discrimination.
  • Grad School Island: the five years in San Diego not only shaped what kind of political scientist I would be, but created many memories and incepted memories (I only remember parts of my bachelor party, the rest are implanted by the reports of others and some pics I saw).  
  • Travel Island: my earliest memories are trips my family took to Mexico, Venezuela and exotic places like Cape Cod.  This island has gotten much bigger the past eight years thanks to the NATO project that is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Poker Island: I have been playing poker on and off since high school, it has helped enrich me ... with friends I would not have, and entertained me often over the years.  Also, it has shaped how I think about things: understanding probabilities as they apply to life, bluffing, poker faces, playing from positions of weakness and strength, etc.
  • Food/Beer Island: Lots of memories tied up with good food and beer.  Beer only became relatively significant later in life, but lots of key memories tied up in food: the cakes my mother would deliver to me on my birthday at camp, steak sandwiches growing up in Philly with vanilla milkshakes, etc.  A key memory test was after my junior summer abroad Eurotrip when my dad asked me what I ate, and I was able to tell him about pretty much every single meal over the course of that month.
  • Old Job Island: As I am on my fourth academic job, I have a bunch of memories, both good and bad, tied up with the places I used to work.  These shape my expectations and my appreciation for my current situation.  On the edge of this island is Pentagon Peninsula as I was only there for a year.  Still, my memories of that experience are pretty deeply implanted.
  • Social Media Island: Six plus years of blogging and tweeting have created a fair amount of memories, some (blogging) more easily recalled (searchable) than others (twitter).
I am probably forgetting a few.  Clearly, as the movie shows, memories get more and more complex over time, and so do our emotions.  My one gripe, other than the father having anger in the control seat and the mom having sadness, is that I still think that we had more than five core emotions (the movie has joy, sadness, disgust, anger, and fear).  Is love just a complex combination of some of the five?  How about empathy?

Anyhow, Inside Out quickly became close to the top of my list of Pixar movies,* in the running with Toy Stories 1-3 and the Incredibles.  No, Wall-e is not anywhere near the top of my list: post-apocalyptic movie with fat shaming?  No way.

* Dan Drezner had a fun post ranking the feels of each Pixar movie awhile back.


L'il Steve said...

I don't think there's really much brain science behind the "core memories," unlike the other aspects of Inside Out, but it is a really cool concept. Kim and I actually use it all the time in our conversations. I haven't really thought that much about what my islands would be, but there'd be a Texas Tech one (and I'm seeing Cherie and Bobby tonight!).

Steve Saideman said...

Lucky you, give them my love!