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> Do I Push Buttons?

Do I Push Buttons?

I mentioned, above—hierarchically above, i.e., in Reaction Against Button-Pushing—the idea that I myself might push buttons, and now I'd like to expand on it a little.

After discovering that I could respond to button-pushing in newspaper articles without even being aware of it, I got to wondering whether I could be doing the same thing on the output side, pushing buttons in my essays without being aware of it. It's certainly possible. In How Associations Wear Out, for example, the fact that the friend I used to walk to school with was a girl doesn't really have much to do with anything. I think of it as an integral part of the story, but it's no accident I see it that way.

On the other hand, I do sometimes restrain myself. In Religion, I needed to pick one of several propagation factors as an example, and although I'm sure I immediately focused on the one about sex, I ended up using another.

The general impression I have, which a random sample of essays confirms, is that I do pretty well at not pushing buttons. (In other words … boring!) That fits with my intent as I described it at the end of Reaction Against Button-Pushing: I want to propagate ideas that are not in themselves good replicators, so I'd better not take attention away from them by pushing buttons. Or so I figure.

Of course, most of the books and movies I like, refer to, and quote from are just big nests of button-pushing of various kinds. That's entertainment, I guess.


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@ January (2001)