The Golem

byKaj_Sotala10y7th Mar 20099 comments


Anthony Ravenscroft writing on why it is important, in a relationship, to honestly communicate your grievances to the other person:

If you don't present your gripes to the responsible party, you cannot humanly bury those complaints - it's just not possible to "forget" about something that has hurt or stung you. Actually, you are probably "testing" these complaints against your experience of the person, trying to figure out what they would say, how they would react. You create a simulacrum in order to argue this all out in your head, and thus to avoid unpleasantness. Certain conclusions are made, which you file away. When another problem comes up, you then test this against your estimates of the person, which have been expanded by your previous guesswork.

Eventually, you will have created this huge guesswork of assumptions, which are so far removed from the actual person that they likely have no bearing on the reality. I call this "a golem made of boxes", a warehouse-sized beast that has nothing to do with the simple small human being from which it is supposedly modeled.

When I have had such a golem used against me, I was told by my lover that she had kept a rather ugly situation from me "because I know how you'd react." I described to her exactly what the situation was, as I'd pieced it together very accurately (you can do this with the actions of humans, not the humans themselves). She was stunned. When I described for her how the root assumptions she had made were very largely off the mark, she actually became very angry with me, defending the golem as though it represented the truth, and therefore I must be lying! In the end, she could have better determined my reaction from writing down the possibilities on slips of paper and choosing one out of a hat. ...

The golem is handy, but almost entirely dishonest. It begins from faulty (incomplete, biased) data, and runs rapidly downhill from there.

The map and the territory. How have you had the golem used against you? When have you, yourselves, made the mistake of resorting to a golem and had it blow in your face?