Step into the unknown for a minute or two. Recognize that what is familiar to you is actually very strange to others. This of course is one facet of the ‘sociological imagination.’ As a person who studies the discipline of sociology, I have come to recognize the utter importance of thinking myself away from the familiar, and the normalcy of every day life is not where I spend my time. I also believe that the answers to many of the worlds complex problems are found elsewhere in the imagination of humanity, or even in the imaginations of other animals such as dogs.
Look at it this way for example, ‘certainty’ is a resolve that comes from an absolute in your mind with regards to a thing. You don’t have to be a scientist like me to figure that out. Yet, ‘insanity’ can come from the same certainty, would you agree? This is a strange familiarity in life, and there are many. Or, what about something like manifest imagination? The feeling of perhaps establishing yourself with absolute certainty in a condition that you desire? That is the opposite of making the familiar strange. Paradoxes are possible. Can you imagine a person you know as someone different, like a doctor for example?
So…what about the familiar being strange? Well, we listen to other peoples anecdotes all the time, and often they do seem to be very strange. We give our reactions accordingly, and often try to relate somehow, or in some cases pretend to be empathic. Does that sound familiar? Then we look at the structure of a situation without even realizing it. At this point it becomes easy to make inaccurate judgements of a person, place, or thing. And thus, we should learn to keep our science value free. So, in order to relate to things, we have to make things that are familiar to us, strange.
We need to develop this very vivid awareness brought on by personal experiences, the relationships we have to the spirit of the times, the wider environment, and society. And remember that ‘relativism’ is a good friend when making the familiar strange, or making the strange familiar. Or, even reading this paper.
Jay R. Marchant