I only just learned that “What You See Is What You Get” was a phrase spoken by Geraldine Jones and that knowledge makes the phrase even better for me. I love understanding the differences between people, especially when they’re honest with themselves, because then I can learn and grow. That was my approach with A Story About Self-Confidence: What’s In A Name?, a month~long story at Eville Medical in the Sammohini Arc of “The Story.”
I like to imbue the WYSIWYG mindset into everything I do.
I don’t mince words, I’m not passive-aggressive, and I play fair – well, …almost always. Passive voice can occasionally be useful. I don’t always need to strike for the jugular. With that in mind, however, I am reminded of a recent conversation at work. I’ve been wearing a green hat into work because the bright lights have been triggering migraines-without-auras, but since I wear many hats, I enjoy owning many hats. I’ve been bringing them in for fun and I was talking to a passive-aggressive colleague about my collection of hats.
I was talking to another colleague about the situation and we agreed that as long as the clothes are clean and tidy, what does it matter if they’re not new and stylish? If I enjoy wearing the same hat daily, and I find the others inferior, why would I switch it up unless for some fun of my own decision? For people like that, I’ve generally noticed a lack of empathy toward the sort of WYSIWYG lifestyle that might drive someone to wear the same hat, wear their heart on their sleeve, wear clothes outside of their gender norm, or myriad other personal decisions that require a certain boldness.
I respect others for what they choose to be.
However, I will not respect bad behavior from any individual, so that respect doesn’t protect someone from acting against legal or moral decisions. With that caveat in mind, if the activity is not outwardly illegal or doesn’t harm anyone, what problem should I have with it? If a person wants to have a face tattoo, that, for me, is the same as someone having different skin color or dressing outside of their preconceived gender norm or having a scar inflicted on their face against their will. It’s an external thing.
Does the person have worthwhile internal values or morals?
Then that should be the overarching concern of the situation. The first person I met with a face tattoo was at some show that I saw passing by and he looked angry. I didn’t say hello. The second person I met had beautiful flower tattoos, who was nice, articulate, and was volunteering somewhere to help others. Our perceptions are based in our culture and education. Would understanding people with face tattoos help us accept them more? If that’s how they want to be, then that’s how we should accept them as, even if our deep-seated biases might inspire us to think in certain directions.
Tattoos are featured more symbolically in this novel.
No one has a face tattoo. There are characters that, similarly, fit within the ‘what you see is what you get’ mentality where they are steeped in their own personality and culture, and operate outside of traditional thought. Fairydust, Alex, and Chris are the louder examples, but Josh, Hank, and even Sammohini herself have values that exist outside of the traditional ways of thinking. Even the portrayal of Sammohini is honest and without pretension, leading to a sort of unique writing, editing, and reading challenge where characters will stutter, misspeak, and navigate in directions outside of traditional fiction.
Nils is somewhat the counterpoint to all of this.
But even that’s contestable because while Hank implies that his culture is one steeped in a sort of isolationist discrimination, unlike some of the characters that might say things directly or indirectly that might seem lacking in acceptance or nuance, Nils just wants to be left alone to work. He does talk arrogantly and is a little sleazy. However, that doesn’t directly imply any sort of outward prejudice, just a sort of misanthropy toward everything that isn’t serving him or advancing his career. That, too, is a sort of WYSIWYG mindset, where what you see might be rude but that’s only because he isn’t playing the polite game without any sort of gain for himself.
However, you are free to read into these characters however you want.
Maybe that’s what makes the WYSIWYG concept so tricky? Seeing is a subjective experience based on what you can see and how you see it. Easy example: I wear glasses, so everything has less depth of field. Nuanced example: The aforementioned face tattoo concept. There is no pure, mathematical formula for determining the WYSIWYG of a person. They just are who you interpret them to be, based on the evidence they present and what you can infer based on how they act.
Is Sammohini a WYSIWYG character because of how honest she is?
These sorts of metatextual questions are useful to a certain extent but then cause the idea to disintegrate into a series of hypotheticals and questions about questions. I merely think that it’s useful to think about how we look at characters, look at ourselves, and look at others, in relation to our own biases. Do we like the main characters of stories because they are the main character? Or because they display traits that make us like them? Do we encourage them to overcome adversity because we enjoy the story they’re in or because we want them to succeed?
I, for one, like Sammohini because she’s honest.
Unlike some other characters with hidden motives, unscrupulous natures, where they’ll lie to me while I’m writing about their actions, large or small, Sammohini is willing to show aspects of herself that are not graceful or perfect, and those imperfections endear me to want to continue writing about her.
We need more WYSIWYG-ian characters.
|Quotes: [1,2] While this might seem passive-aggressive to include here, I won’t say the name, and I think this individual wouldn’t care.|
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium, my personal experiences, and my professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: Thinking about aspects of this novel that might be offensive to others.|
|Related: Other 2019 Novel writings. It doesn’t exactly fit into the Sober Living essay series unless you want to consider how AA and NA are great for helping you express yourself and your inner demons to an anonymous but empathetic crowd.|
|Picture: There’s no special trick with this template picture. It’s just to fill the space acceptably.|
|Written On: December 26, 2019 [44 minutes, from 3:45am to 4:29am, while listening to a live performance of the Cinema Symphony from the Ghost In The Shell soundtrack, written in WordPress.]|
|Last Edited: December 26, 2019 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|