Type 4s are strange birds to many of the rest of us, and of course they are secretly, if not outright, proud to be seen as such. After all, who would want to be just like everyone else? In my last post, I mentioned that 4s scan the environment for raw material, and that material can be tangible or intangible. Here’s an example of how this scanning affects 4s’ ability to focus—or not. My partner, who was a 4w5, wrote this piece for one of my newsletters about 10 years ago. I’m operating on the assumption he won’t object to my posting it here now. In any case, he can’t.
A Four Looks at Focus
A rather drab auditorium in the public school mode. I grip the edges of the podium and clear my throat.
“Thank you for asking me here” … I peer nervously into the wings to my left and right … “to discuss ‘focus.’” I glance at my notes: a single bond sheet bearing unconnected words scrawled at arbitrary angles, which, while possibly from the same pen, are as various in style as a Saul Steinberg. Is his work, particularly the later pieces, drawing or cartooning? The editors are in on it, one would think; they present him almost solemnly—a double-truck in The New Yorker. Geez! There I go with the print media jargon, after lo, these many years. So, a cliché, already. I enjoy a well-worn cliché (itself a cliché, that.).
Got to regain my focus, I suppose. After all, what’s the point? A water glass has been thoughtfully or, for all I know, automatically provided by the lecture committee. Or the lecher committee (if they only knew me!). I’m here about … water. That’s it! Last moment consideration: left over from previous speaker? No lip prints. I sip with caution.
Humans are about ninety-seven percent water, unless I made that last fact up. I do sometimes, which is okay with me except that sometimes I forget I did so. I’m already keeping track of a “gazillion” factoids. (I’m running an inquiry as to the origin of “gazillion”—suspect it’s commercially fabricated teen-speak. Not like “googol,” which is a real word for a real number: one followed by one hundred zeros. It was supplied by a mathematician’s eight-year-old kid.) If humans are mostly water, why do they carry plastic liter jugs of the stuff and hit on them while they’re driving, whenever they can tear themselves away from their cell phones? If they intake that last three percent, will they morph into slurpy, silvery water creatures like in “The Abyss”?
I always have trouble with these two film titles. “The Abyss” is the underwater rat in real time, and “The Deep” is Jacqueline Bisset in a wet tee-shirt. No rat.
But on with my little talk. Can one achieve one-hundred percent liquidity? Not without dying. (And what about exceeding one-hundred percent? Folks used to pledge support to one-hundred percent, when they meant seventeen with some luck, and then some Stakhanovite* pledged a hundred fifty. Before long it was two hundred. Soon a gazillion. Or a googol.)
Two notable water tortures were the Central Asian, which consisted of forcing a captive to drink until his electrolytes were flushed or exhausted and he died, and the more famous Chinese, which when you think about it, was only marginally about water. This latter is akin to standing at a podium trying to focus your thoughts to the point where others will perceive them as coherent. …
“To begin with, Marcel Proust was a Four.”
~ ~ ~
When I (very warily) asked him to describe his thought process to me, he replied:
How did I produce the little commentary on Four thought (and already I must resist the pull of “forethought”)? Come to think of it, forethought was the whole thing. Given the need for a matrix to represent my customary mode of thought, I elected to address a gathering—conceptually, of course. I lay down on my bed with my hands locked behind my head and just let ‘er rip!
Letting ‘er rip is not, for me, a bizarre exercise. I do it whenever I’m not doing anything else: personal TV, private jukebox, novel in progress. But wait, voices clamor. How do you ever arrive at a functional reality? The swarm in my consciousness envelops, when it needs to, a desired central objective. I may not, at the outset, be aware that I’m seeking something, and I may not have sufficient data to move on before I have isolated that central point. There is a newish branch of mathematics which proceeds in just that way: it’s called “fuzzy logic.”
I like this image of a swarming consciousness, which he certainly described better than I ever could have. It’s so different from my own laser-beam approach that it makes me laugh now. How many times I wanted to tear my—or his—hair out. The man could riff on any theme imaginable. And he could imagine quite a lot.
* From Merriam-Webster: “a Soviet industrial worker awarded recognition and special privileges for output beyond production norms.” (I had to look it up.)